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Changing HR helpdesk trends under COVID-19

Blog: Capgemini CTO Blog

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. It affects every aspect of our lives, at home and at work, and there is no set path to follow. It has transformed the way most people work and interact, and has, therefore, changed HR.

We have the privilege and responsibility of supporting our clients’ teams through the circumstances of COVID-19 – the HR helpdesks we run for them are hearing from their teams everyday. This is giving us a unique opportunity to see the work issues that are currently top-of-mind for our clients’ teams. We’ve also observed some interesting regional differences in the implementation of lockdowns and related behaviors as these are imposed and lifted.

Here’s what we’ve seen so far.

The importance of a focal point and the need for human interaction

When people have concerns and queries – and they do now, more than ever – giving our clients’ teams a single point of contact and HR helpdesk to reach out to is absolutely vital. This means there’s no confusion for them about where to turn, and we’ve ramped up our availability and responsiveness in line with demand.

The shift in the way people use HR contact channels in times of need shows that people like engaging with people. Picking up the phone or chatting live to a centralized HR helpdesk staffed by a human being is now the most popular form of communication. While “less voice and more self-service” was a popular trend in pre-COVID times, our teams are witnessing a steep fall in usage of self-service channels.

Why? We think it’s for two reasons. One, their queries are more complex than usual – and when that’s the case, it’s generally a good idea to interact with someone who’s better informed than to search for information oneself. And two, it’s the human element. On the phone, it’s another voice, another person; and even on a webchat, you know you’re communicating with an individual, someone with a name, to whom you can talk and explain things – someone who can also chat about the weather, ask you how you really are, and care about the response.

However, while humans are answering more of the difficult and emotional questions, robotic process automation (RPA) is still answering some of the easier questions, helping to provide continuity of service through balancing the workload between people and machines.

Changing topics of conversation

COVID-19 has caused a behavioral change among employee populations that HR leaders should consider in their organization. The top 4 topics are:

Regional differences

In addition to the trends I’ve just summarized, we’re also looking at regional differences, and at what might be learned from countries as they emerge from lockdowns. China and Italy will lay the groundwork for our observations, and we’ll be hearing more about these differences in future blogs.

To find out more about how Capgemini’s Digital Employee Operations can provide critical communication management and effective remote service delivery, as well as enable your workforce to operate at the right level of performance during crisis, conact:

Read more  from our colleagues across the Capgemini Group about how they are helping our clients run their business operations during these challenging times.

Anjali Pendlebury-Green  is an expert in the field of HR outsourcing and transformation, specializing in delivering HR solutions that leverage global outsourcing platforms, leading edge technology, stack offers, and process standardization. Anjali has led award-winning HRO teams for large multinational companies with a special focus on the manufacturing sector.

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