HR Help Desk – When Worlds Collide!

I spent a good part of my early career working in telecommunications, specifically for Internet providers.  I started off in customer service, but soon found myself running Technical Support.  With a handful of really good technicians, we ran a help desk that answered just about every question you can imagine.  Calls about the Internet being down for no good reason (the power was out in the customer’s home, which will slow you down a bit) to explaining the physics behind twisted copper wiring and signal attenuation (“You mean people in the ghetto can have DSL but my two million dollar home can’t?!?”) came up on a regular basis.  If you’ve ever wondered what kinds of call come in, there are plenty of stories you can read.


Our job, at its most basic, was to be available and to have the answers.


Years later I was recruited into HR, and spent my time working with employees across the company.  While I had a good amount of management experience at that point, I had no idea what kinds of questions were going to come my way.  Sometimes it was good news (“I’m getting married.  How do I add him to my insurance?”), sometimes not so much (“I’m pretty sure I just saw Chuck harassing his assistant, but she’s afraid shell be fired if she reports it.”)  But it was always interesting.  (Interestingly, there aren’t many website with HR stories.  We tend to keep them under wraps and only share them verbally.)


And my job, at its most basic, was to be available and to have the answers.


I bring this up because I’ve seen HR professionals recoil a bit at the term “HR Help Desk.”  For some people, it conjures up images of long hold times, indecipherable technical jargon and, let’s be honest, geeked-out hackers sitting in a dimly lit room somewhere across the ocean, delighting in your inability to make things work on your own.


The truth is most help desk technicians are chosen because they are knowledgeable, patient and have the ability to diagnose and repair a problem over the phone.  They are the conduit between the user and the information, and often are called up on to translate between the two sides.  It’s not so different from what most HR pros do all day long.


I like to think of an HR help desk as an amalgamation between HR and IT, taking the best of what HR does (caring for the well being of employees, ensuring they are treated fairly and their personal benefits are fully leveraged) with the strengths of IT (remote diagnosis, problem solving and information management) and creating something that delivers value effectively and efficiently.


What’s not to like about that?

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