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HR help desks for effective teams

Transform how HR support teams operate by providing them with the HR help desk tools needed to create great employee experiences.

A guide to human resources help desks

Senast uppdaterad April 2, 2024

Your HR department manages a lot—from payroll, policies, and employee benefits to employee experiences. An HR help desk is the easiest way to manage it all and everyone wins: HR staff get the right tools to do their jobs well, and employees get support when they need it. Read on to learn why your HR department should use an HR help desk.

What is an HR help desk?

A human resource help desk is technology HR teams use to manage and solve employee issues and requests efficiently. When employees have questions concerning benefits, payroll, medical or disability leave, or any other company policy, they can address it through the HR help desk platform rather than struggling through an endless chain of back-and-forth emails.

HR teams use a help desk to manage requests from multiple channels, like email, Slack or Microsoft Teams, and more. They can integrate a self-service portal to streamline their workflows and automate responses to common HR process questions. Just as you want to give your customers the easiest and most accessible path to answering their questions, your internal operations should allow your employees the same opportunity.

An HR help desk also provides HR staff with insight into the types of recurring employee cases, enabling the HR team to find resolutions preemptively and establish standardized processes to fix problems.

Why does your business need an HR help desk?

As a customer-first business, your customers’ happiness takes precedence over nearly everything. After all, if your customers aren’t happy, they’ll take their business elsewhere. But placing a high priority on your customers shouldn’t lead to a neglected workforce.

Your employees aren’t machines and you can't expect them to work like one. If a high-value employee feels they might be more satisfied working elsewhere, nothing is stopping them from jumping to the competition.

According to Gallup, businesses that scored in the bottom quarter for employee engagement underperform the top quarter of businesses in other key metrics. Some of the performance differences Gallup identifies between the two groups include:

  • 81% higher absenteeism
  • 18% less productive
  • 23% less profitable

Disengaged and unsatisfied employees hurt the bottom line—but it’s a solvable problem. Implementing a standardized system to handle employee requests helps you improve employee satisfaction because employees know that they’re being listened to and served promptly.

Human resources help desks make it easy for companies to manage high volumes of employee requests, streamline processes, and standardize service delivery and responses. The result is more efficient and effective HR teams and an overall better employee experience.

What are some core features of an HR help desk?

HR help desk software can only improve employee satisfaction if it provides the right tools for your HR team. Here are some of the top features to look for.

Essential HR help desk features

Omnichannel ticketing system

Ticketing systems make it easy for HR team members to manage and effectively respond to employee issues and requests. Help desk admins can set up the system to ensure the right tickets get sent to the right individuals. An omnichannel ticketing system further improves performance and response times by consolidating communication channels so HR staff have a single view of all tickets.

Businesses can support employees across multiple channels like email and Slack, and the conversation stays connected. This ensures HR agents have key context—like an employee's job title, their past support issues, and their manager—at their fingertips to deliver the most effective support over any channel.

Omnichannel ticketing systems also enable agents to change communication channels seamlessly. For example, when an employee reaches out over Slack and the agent needs to switch to email, it can be done efficiently without interrupting the conversation. What’s more, team members can create tasks and alerts for each request, tag and reassign certain duties to others, and categorize requests by urgency or topic.

Self-service

Staffing limitations are a common barrier for organizations looking to improve efficiency. Adding an HR help desk self-service portal helps extend a lean team’s ability to assist employees.

Self-service enables employees to find answers without involving an HR employee. HR staff can build an internal knowledge base that addresses employees' most common questions. The knowledge base can include the employee handbook, onboarding documents, and standard operating procedures. HR teams can also suggest articles from the knowledge base to reduce the time they spend handling tickets.

Reporting and analytics

HR help desks provide HR leaders with the reporting and analytics capabilities needed to monitor and continuously optimize their internal support operations.

You can measure interactions such as:

  • Article views: Identify which articles in your internal knowledge base get the most traffic.
  • Requests: Determine what types of employee requests are submitted the most and to which HR teams.
  • Response time: Measure how quickly HR members are responding to requests.

Tracking key help desk metrics reveals trends and gaps in service delivery and team performance, allowing you to make informed decisions that improve support operations for HR staff and employees.

Apps and integrations

HR help desks can enhance your department's functionality by connecting with the other apps and platforms your business uses. This can eliminate the need for manual data entry, reduce the amount of time HR staff spend swiveling between different systems, and ensure information is up-to-date by integrating with HR systems like:

  • Payroll
  • Time off requests and employee attendance records
  • Employee management tools

Integration with communication tools, such as email and messaging platforms, helps employees collaborate and provides them with real-time notifications. Employees can also request help from HR without leaving the system they're already in and use every day, like Slack and Microsoft Teams. The amount of time that’s saved from these interactions may seem small when viewed individually, but it adds up over time and ultimately leads to greater productivity.

AI and automated workflows

Just as automation allows your business to serve your customers better, so too can it help your employees. AI-powered bots can respond instantly to employee queries and escalate complex issues to HR team members.

Many HR departments use automation to respond to repetitive requests. Automation also helps support critical workflows while upholding service quality and service level agreements (SLAs). Automated workflows reduce the amount of manual effort HR teams spend on administrative tasks by removing certain responsibilities from their workload. Leave requests, new hire onboarding, and ticket routing can all be accomplished by setting up automated triggers.

What are the benefits of using an HR help desk?

From improved employee satisfaction to increased team productivity, there are several benefits of using HR help desk software. Here are a few that positively impact your workforce.

Key HR help desk benefits
  • Improves employee satisfaction

    Satisfied employees are loyal employees, but it only takes one or two slipups to chip away at that satisfaction.

    Say an employee puts in a PTO request well before their planned vacation. They wait patiently for a few days but never get a response. The employee emails HR only to discover the original PTO request was overlooked. The PTO request is eventually approved, but the employee remembers the frustrating experience.

    HR help desk software helps teams head off communication gaps, offering a reliable system for handling employee requests and avoiding mistakes that negatively affect employee morale and satisfaction. After all, the benefits you offer your employees are among the reasons they accepted the job in the first place. They shouldn’t struggle, or worry, to ensure they get those promised perks.

  • Enhances employee onboarding

    When a new employee joins your team, the goal is to get them acclimated to the job as quickly as possible. It’s likely you already have a system for onboarding in place, but modern technology can speed up the process so new employees can start their actual work sooner and succeed in their role. It also helps ensure questions from new hires are answered promptly and accurately.

Here are some of the ways HR help desks make this possible:

  • Employees access help center content to review company policies and find step-by-step process instructions.
  • Employees can reach their HR help desk team on convenient channels like Slack and email.
  • Businesses can build a self-service portal where employees can manage and track their requests.
  • Businesses can provide fast, 24/7 support with a chatbot to assist employees who work outside of the organization’s core hours.

Onboarding is a cross-department effort that requires tight coordination between teams. HR help desk software gives you the tools to standardize the recruitment and onboarding process so the experience is smooth for every new hire, regardless of which team member is assisting with it that day. Being hyper-organized and efficient during this process also gives new employees a strong first impression of your organization.

  • Boosts team productivity

    Giving employees the tools they need to be effective in their roles should be a priority for every company. HR help desk software is specialized for this field, so teams are more productive once they’re using it.

    The software centralizes and organizes HR requests into a unified system, ensuring nothing gets lost and reducing the amount of time spent searching for information. It automates repetitive tasks, such as ticket routing and follow-ups, freeing HR staff to focus on more strategic activities. Collaboration features enable seamless communication and knowledge sharing among team members, helping them to do more in less time.

  • Helps with proactive issue resolution

    Few things can kill employee motivation like an unconcerned employer. If your employees are regularly encountering issues with your internal processes and you do nothing to resolve them, your employees will quickly become frustrated, and in turn, disengaged. However, proactively addressing issues increases employee satisfaction.

    With help desks, HR staff can view metrics in real-time, which allows them to identify potential issues before they have time to escalate. For instance, if a high volume of inquiries revolve around a specific topic, like how to make a PTO request, your team can write a self-service article with relevant instructions.

  • Provides actionable insights

    Information gained from employee feedback is limited by what employees recognize as an issue and/or what’s worth improving. Collecting data on your internal operations can fill the information gap and provide evidence to support any claims.

    Help desk software provides analytics tools that let your management team spot patterns in HR support, such as HR ticket response times and resolutions. Data-driven reports offer insight into how well your HR team performs, which allows you to make adjustments wherever they appear to fall short.

What are some use cases for HR help desks?

HR service desks have multiple applications within a company, and you aren’t pigeonholed into using them just one way. Here are some examples of how companies have used their help desks to streamline workflows and improve the employee experience.


How to choose the right HR help desk software

While HR help desk features are typically the first things you look at when choosing a software, it’s important to evaluate other factors prior to selection. Here are a few criteria to consider and questions to ask before selecting software.

3 questions to identify the best HR help desk software

Is it agile and easy to use?

In general, HR software should adapt to your company’s processes and preferences, not vice versa. Your service desk should have flexible and customizable features to support your needs.

Any software you choose should easily configure and adapt to align with the organization's unique workflows, and allow you to quickly set up and customize ticket categories, forms, and automation rules. It also needs tools that facilitate communication and collaboration between HR teams and employees, so you can resolve issues quickly and efficiently.

What is the time to value?

Choosing software with a short time to value (how long it takes to see the benefits of the software) enables your team to get up and running so they can address issues without skipping a beat. This helps you maintain employee satisfaction.

Some software may appear to check all the functionality boxes at first glance but upon further inspection has major setbacks, like taking weeks to set up and become operational. If it takes a long time to train your team, or if you have to build automations from scratch, your employees will likely become frustrated.

What is the total cost of ownership?

The cost of a product can be a huge barrier for companies selecting a help desk. Unfortunately, the advertised price doesn’t always account for the total cost of the software. If you select a free help desk ticketing system, you might discover the service costs thousands of dollars more than you were expecting throughout its life cycle.

Investigate if the software has hidden fees, like necessary add-ons, and see if you need a designated programmer to create necessary functions to stave off any extra costs. Many software are ready to use once purchased, and there are plenty of options out there with low total cost of ownership. Just make sure you do your research.

Frequently asked questions on human resources help desk

Here is some additional information regarding HR help desk software.

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Whether you’re a fast-growing company or an established enterprise, the Zendesk HR help desk can improve how your team operates and serves your workforce. Sign up for a free trial today.

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