Sandy Kemsley's Vlog - Treating Your Employees Like Customers
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Treating Your Employees Like Customers

By Sandy Kemsley

Video Time: 6 Minutes

Hi, I’m Sandy Kemsley of I’m here for the Trisotech blog with some practical tips for internal facing processes. I spend most of my time with clients looking at core line of business processes that form part of the customer journey in some way. But there are also significant benefits to making your internal processes just as good as your customer facing ones.

Let’s look at a process that most employees go through, onboarding.

Once you’ve decided to hire someone and made them an offer, you probably send them a whole raft of forms to fill out: employee information for your HR system, tax information for your payroll system, background information to be checked for security clearance, employee benefits go to your benefits insurer, computer and other equipment requisitions, relocation, visa, other work requirements… You get the picture. Lots and lots of forms. And a lot of them have the same information over, and over again: name, address, birth date, social security number or other government ID… Some of them will be ancient pdfs that require the employee to print them, hand write the information and then sign the forms and scan them before submitting them on paper or emailing them back in. Now all of this is a colossal waste of time and effort. The new employees time obviously spent on filling out the same information in different formats on multiple forms. And also, the time that’s spent by HR, IT, and admin people, retyping that information into other systems, and then of course, there’s going to be time spent correcting data, since you can be sure that somewhere along the line someone is going to retype something incorrectly and it will have to be fixed at some point in time.

Now, in addition to people’s time, this type of process also increases the end-to-end time of the entire onboarding cycle since there are manual steps along the way. So, your new employee might show up on their first day of work, but they don’t have a desk or computer because their paperwork is still stuck somewhere. Funny story that actually happened to me once.

Customer onboarding processes get a lot of attention because customers don’t have much loyalty towards companies. If you handed a new customer 10 paper forms and told them to fill it out all by hand all different variations of the same information and then to scan it in before you even open their account, they’re going to go somewhere else! Now, your new employee probably isn’t going to walk out just because you gave them a reasonable amount of onboarding paperwork to do, but it’s going to leave them with a bad impression of how well the company is run. And they may not be wrong about that because you’re showing just how little that you value your employees time, and how bad you are at finding efficiencies within your operations.

So, how do we fix this?

The big trick is to start thinking of your employees as your customers! so if you’re in a department that serves employees rather than customers (HR, internal IT services or admin) then employees actually are your customers. Their presence justifies your department’s existence and if you don’t do a great job at it your department might be targeted for outsourcing. Since internally facing services are rarely part of a company’s competitive advantage it’s important that the services are performed correctly and efficiently, but they don’t need to be done internally in order to be done well.

So, what if you want to redesign your onboarding process around the new employee journey, as opposed to a customer journey, rather than having a collection of forms that you’ve accumulated over the years that you just dump onto a new employee? So, what would this look like?

First of all, the onboarding process needs to be integrated and online. This means one unified place where the new employee can enter any information that you require. This means that you have to stop using these kludgy old PDF forms. Your portal is not a place for them to download the same old forms to be hand filled signed and scanned in, but rather a data-driven interface for directly capturing information and then pushing it into the required systems behind the scenes.

The second thing is never ask the new employee for the same information twice. You already have that information the portal needs to be able to directly integrate with all the information repositories: the HR systems, payroll systems, etc. So, any information that you’ve captured from them already, should be there in one of those systems. So, you want to be able to pull that back and then use that, have them, augment it with what information might be missing, and then initiate processes in other systems, such as IT service management or even with external agencies, like for doing reference checks or security clearances.

Now the third thing is you want to give the new employee visibility into the process, so that they understand what still needs to be completed to finish their onboarding, and whether that prevents them from starting their job. They need to see the cause of any delays in case there’s something that they need to do to move things along.

Now when you look at your current onboarding process through the new employees eyes what do you see? Is it some mess of mismatched paperwork and manual processes that consumes hours of their time and requires a lot of replication of information and effort? Or is it a streamlined integrated experience that asks for and offers the right information at the right time? Most importantly what does your onboarding process tell your new employee about your company and about you, and how you value their time?

Follow Sandy on her personal blog Column 2.

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