The foundation of what powers an effective Human Resources (HR) team are the systems, processes, and data used by the people on the team. A well-oiled team may not garner a lot of attention because everything is working well. That’s why I like to say that an effective HR team is like the plumbing in your house. When it’s broken, it can’t be overlooked—or outshined by any other aspect of the house. But when the plumbing works fine, it’s the last thing anyone thinks about. Suddenly, those Spanish tiles seem just as vital to the house.

Implementing a Human Resources Information System (HRIS) is one of the primary investments any HR operations team can make. No doubt, an HRIS helps HR teams realize a greater degree of efficiency by providing a way to manage core processes in a central location, and to extract data in a controlled, accessible way. But it’s tough to choose the right system—there are many options out there, big and small—and even once you’ve rolled out a system, much of the day-to-day support that HR provides still happens over email.

The email alternative
When I arrived at Zendesk last year, I was surprised to find that our HR team’s day-to-day interactions were powered by our product. As customer service software, Zendesk didn’t seem like an obvious choice for HR. Yet the majority of what employees and managers—our customers—need or want to ask can be handled by anyone on the team, or through our self-service portal. Whether they send an email or use a web form, a ticket is created that the entire HR team can see. It’s allowed our team to communicate with everyone we service in an organized, simple way—and whoever is free can handle the request, leading to faster responses.

Using help desk software has allowed for transparency, responsiveness, and empowerment that we didn’t have when emails were flying between individuals, unbeknownst to anyone else—much less me. As an HR leader, I now have visibility into who’s handling each ticket, which requests we haven’t yet solved, and what’s trending.

What an HRIS can’t tell you
The combination of an HRIS and email alone don’t provide the insight needed to truly power the most effective version of HR support you can offer. What I’ve learned in the past year is that help desk software can offer a whole slew of valuable information including insight into:

  • How are we perceived as an HR organization, and how we compare to other teams internally
  • How satisfied employees are with our solutions
  • Whether we’re staying on top of the flow of requests or are inundated beyond capacity
  • How quickly we’re responding
  • What are the trends in terms of things employees and managers ask about at particular times
  • What topics people ask about most frequently—and how we can cut down on those or make it easier to find the answer
  • Who on the team excels at addressing issues
  • What content on our internal Help Center is most and least popular

Not to mention, we can see whether employees and managers are using self-service and whether we’re effectively reducing repetitive requests. To see how it works for our team at Zendesk and get a peek at some of our dashboards and metrics, read the full post. But don’t just take it from me—UTi scaled their HR operations and achieved a 98 percent employee satisfaction rating while using Zendesk as their HR help desk.

Curious if Zendesk is the right solution for your HR team? Learn more about internal help desks, or read more from David about how to be a good manager.