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How to Set Up an Employee Help Desk

An Employee Help Desk is a centralized function within an organization that aims to assist the workforce in matters relating to IT support, training, HR matters and in some cases, even customer issues. With the increase in remote working and hybrid work models, it is a useful function that provides assistance to the employees as and when it is needed.

How to Set Up and Manage an Employee Help Desk
The benefits of having an internal help desk aimed at supporting your workforce quickly outweigh any initial setup costs and difficulties you may encounter. Being able to perform with minimal disruptions not only benefits productivity, it also increases the morale of the employees, as they have less frustrations and they can feel comfortable knowing they are supported. With streamlined processes, the HR department is also able to keep abreast of issues and act quickly when needed.
An employee help desk will combine technology and human resources to create an accessible interface for employees to address their questions and workplace problems.

What does your team need to work faster and better?
You need to take into consideration what the team behind the help desk needs in order to provide a fast and useful service to your workforce. They need to have a full understanding of what is required of them, and they must have the tools to meet these needs.

  1. Make use of automation to reduce manual processes. Implement an automated HR ticketing system that can assign tasks and send automated responses during key stages of the process. With routing workflows, there should be some intelligent routing rules that can assign tasks by capacity. Automation can help to ensure that all tasks are handled quickly and as effectively as possible.
  2. Have clear and concise internal discussions. When it becomes necessary to consult with other team members, avoid endless threads of email that quickly get confusing and messages get lost in the flurry of back and forth.
  3. Performance analysis. Include a tool that allows you to measure performance in real time. You can measure the average time it takes to resolve a problem; identify any bottlenecks and take action to improve - whether it’s with additional resources or better staff training.
  4. Low maintenance. Ensure that all the tools you provide your help desk with are easy to use. Systems should help, not hinder processes. Ensure all software is compatible with existing email and HR solutions for a seamless help desk environment.

6 steps for setting up an employee help desk
While it might sound intimidating, setting up an employee help desk is not that difficult. With some careful planning, use the following steps to guide you:

  1. The most important starting point is determining what your helpdesk will offer. It is not possible to offer everything and trying to do so will only result in failure. Consider historical data from your technical support and HR departments - what are the common areas that are often problematic? Think of issues like onboarding of new employees, registering for training or organizational benefits. When it comes to IT support, what should an employee do if they can not access the VPN, or if they encounter a security issue.
  2. Consider the resources that you will need, and what you have available. This applies to technology and human resources. A two tiered system is often recommended, where the first tier focuses on technology issues. Provide a means for employees to search for answers using online portals or community forums and FAQ pages. Should this not suffice, the user then has the option to escalate the matter where they can interact with someone to deal with their specific circumstances. An example of such a system could be when an employee wishes to download a form to apply for training. They can simply search a repository for the required documents. However, if an employee wants to request specific training where they need to motivate for it, they can then speak to an individual to discuss the requirements.
  3. All queries and matters should adhere to a priority system. While each person might deem their problem to be urgent, this is not always the case. All matters logged with the help desk must be addressed, but less urgent matters should never take precedence over urgent matters. Technology can be used to set expectations of the employees using the system, for example, upon logging an issue, an automated response that acknowledges the ticket, but at the same time suggests alternative courses of action while the employee waits for assistance will not only provide evidence to the user that their matter is being dealt with, but it could actually solve the problem in the interim.
  4. Ensure that various departments agree on the standards and how responses should be personalized, especially with automated replies. These should fall within the company’s corporate identity and it should allow for addressing each employee personally, rather than a simple generic “Dear Sir”.
  5. While technology is useful, there must always be an option to speak to an actual person. Ensure that you assign the correct resources for this. Employees may wish to speak about personal matters that can not be discussed with a machine.
  6. In order to keep the help desk relevant and useful, you must track your key metrics. Employees may need to be reminded of the existence of a help desk. Internal memos may be needed or an alternate way of highlighting it to the staff. Also ask employees who have made use of the system to provide feedback. Use this feedback to make adjustments and improvements as required.

What do employees want from internal support?
In order for your help desk to be useful, your employees must want to use it. There are a number of expectations that employees have which you should consider when setting up your help desk:

  1. Easy to reach Employees do not want to have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops to log a problem. If they’re experiencing difficulties, another tedious process wrapped in red tape will simply frustrate them more. Make it as simple as sending an email.
  2. Zero fuss and no unnecessary communication In most cases, the employee does not know what the problem is, nor how to fix it, they just want it fixed. Involving them in endless email chains and remote support sessions will just be time consuming and annoying. The help desk team should take care of things.
  3. Prompt resolution If the issue is preventing an employee from continuing their jobs, no doubt they will be anxious if the problem is not resolved timeously. The help desk should be bound by a SLA to ensure they comply with realistic resolution deliverables.
  4. Status updates Find the balance between flooding the employee with tons of emails and leaving them in the dark. Should a problem require additional time, notify the employee accordingly.

Tips for Building an Excellent Internal Help Desk Department
While a help desk for employees is a necessity, especially in larger organizations, it can quite easily become a white elephant if not used and managed correctly. There are a number of things to keep in mind:

Create a Clear Unambiguous Service Level Agreement (SLA)
The help desk is a service provider to the rest of the organization, and as such, it makes sense to implement an SLA to formalize and document the expectations from the department. This will help reduce any confusion or conflict in the long run.

Matters that should be included in the SLA:

  • Expected turnaround time for an issue
  • Communication process including acknowledgement of receipt of ticket
  • Escalation process when needed

Develop a Positive Proactive Help Desk Culture
A help desk is not different to any other department in that it has financial constraints within which it needs to operate. However, a help desk should never falter from providing a service due to budget cuts or cost saving. The priority of a help desk is to streamline all other processes within the company, without which, the company can not function, resulting in even more financial losses.

Hire Good Competent Employees
The success of the team is the sum of the effort and attitude of all its members. Make sure you have a team that works well together. Any weak link will cause the entire department to be ineffective. Provide training for your team to ensure good morale so that you can retain the skills you have and need.

Develop a Workflow
Make sure you have a clear and transparent workflow to prevent end user dissatisfaction. A proper workflow benefits everyone involved, whether end user or help desk staff member. Help desk team members can quickly and easily see the status of any ticket at any given time even if they were not working on it. This allows them to give prompt and accurate feedback but they can also pick up the ticket and run with it if necessary as they have all the information at hand.

Management can also get a status overview at any given time allowing them to identify any potential bottlenecks. They can then reassign or escalate matters as necessary.

Help Desk as a Partner
It’s important for everyone within the organization to understand the role of a helpdesk. The department is as integral as any other department and should be treated as such. They are not there to be abused to resolve everything that should go awry. Employees should alway attempt to resolve the problem themselves first, rather than expecting the help desk to do it.

Remote Support
Providing the help desk team with a robust remote support software solution is integral. Oftentimes, a help desk employee can simply log in remotely and resolve an issue within minutes, rather than having to try and explain over a phone call or via email to the end user.

Removing the need to travel from location to location also allows the help desk team to work more effectively and waste less time in transit.

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