What Is HR Service Delivery, and How Is It Evolving?

Providing seamless services should be a major priority for business leaders, and central to that is HR service delivery strategy. As the global workplace continues to evolve, HR service delivery must evolve alongside it.

This article was updated to reflect new information on 10/23/2023.

The gap between where employees work and where they call home is closing, and human resources (HR) service delivery is evolving as a result. According to research from Buffer, 98% of employees would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers. As such, a major shift in how businesses deliver benefits, resources, and solutions has become necessary. 

Simultaneously, employees have come to expect more from their HR solutions. People no longer accept the divide between consumer technology and workplace systems. If personal smart devices are intuitive, why are so many HR tools difficult to navigate?

When it comes to meeting those expectations, HR service delivery is falling behind. This study from Leapgen shows that only 15% of enterprise and midsize organizations consistently deliver personalized digital experiences. Worse, only 25% of respondents indicated they were able to provide positive experiences through their company portal. 

When HR service delivery is at its best, it’s seamless. Whether in everyday tasks or significant moments, HR service delivery is the mechanism by which employees navigate their work life. Without a personalized service delivery model, employee experience suffers. 

What Is HR Service Delivery? 

Acronyms such as HRSD (human resources service delivery) and HRIS (human resources information system) can sometimes be confusing. HR jargon can also make it hard for your employees to understand the tools they use. Fortunately, the term “HR service delivery” contains its own definition.

98% of employees would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers.

HR service delivery refers to the solutions, processes, and models a company uses to deliver services to employees. Service delivery includes everything from employee benefits to career advice. This function supports the life cycles of employees (as well as contractors, freelancers, and prospective candidates) from onboarding to exit.

Service delivery affects every employee, from senior management to new hires. Regardless of the technology your business has implemented, it’s essential to evaluate your approach. The best way to properly assess the services you provide is to understand the four most common models. 

What Are Examples of an HR Service Delivery Model? 

Historically, HR teams delivered services through an open-door policy. If an employee had a request, they’d speak directly to their HR contacts. Similarly, paperwork was distributed into the hands or onto the desks of employees. In the modern workplace, new solutions aid these integral processes.

There are four major models of HR service delivery. The right model will depend on the scale of your organization and what case management system you have in place. Understanding the day-to-day work lives of your employees is critical. Assess your existing employee experience, and then match your needs to a service model. 

  1. Traditional service delivery: A team of generalized HR representatives manage the everyday HR needs of the company. HR services are regionalized, meaning a local HR generalist will support the regional worker population. This is still common at smaller companies. 

  2. Shared service delivery: A diversified team of HR generalists and HR specialists split HR tasks by branch. By separating strategic and administrative responsibilities, each team member develops expertise. In this model, HR team members work in a single unit, called an HR shared-service center.

  3. Self-service delivery: Employees and managers have the freedom to access resources when needed. This is carried out through the company intranet, a dedicated chatbot, or adaptive digital journeys. Simple HR requests don’t require employees to wait for a response from their HR team.

  4. Tiered service delivery: Fusing HR shared service with self-service, tiered service delivery creates multiple levels of service options. As requests pass through each tier, the service is increasingly personalized. The process ensures that HR departments only handle requests that cannot be automated. This is most common at enterprise companies.

How Does Tiered Service Delivery Work?

The rise of machine learning, especially in search engines, means employees expect the information they need quickly. More than that, they expect a seamless employee experience, driven by a robust HR service delivery strategy. Data from Sapient Insights Group shows a 12% increase in key business outcomes (including market share, profitability, and customer satisfaction) when a company has an HR systems strategy versus when they do not. At the cornerstone of that strategy is a tiered approach to service delivery.

HR service delivery is the mechanism by which employees navigate their work life.

Each tier in a tiered service delivery option supports employees by directing them to the right level of assistance depending on the nature and complexity of the request. The quality of that process can have a major impact on employee satisfaction. The most common tier system model progresses as follows.

  • Tier 0: Self-service. This represents the first port of call for employees, where they consult the company knowledge base and virtual agents. As service delivery has evolved, what was once considered Tier 1 is now termed Tier 0. Increasingly complex requests are possible with the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide contextual and insightful responses.

  • Tier 1: Contact the HR service center. After self-service options have been ruled out, the next step is enabling employees to communicate with the HR service center. Usually this will be an HR generalist, and most cases will result in a first-contact solution. If an HR team member can’t resolve the request, they are well positioned to escalate the issue.

  • Tier 2: Escalate issue to HR specialist. If the request requires specific expertise or compliance checks, it will typically be forwarded to an HR specialist. Usually these requests will require precise actions that only an HR specialist has the permissions or business skills to complete. 

  • Tier 3: Arrange a meeting with HR management. ​​If a request is sensitive or could impact strategy, sometimes it’s necessary to involve an HR business partner. This could be a request centering on a personal issue or an emergency. However, few cases will reach this final tier.

By meeting your employees naturally at each step, the tiered system makes HR requests quick and easy. The more you reduce friction, the more your employees are able to work on what really matters. That’s the value of an approach to services that adapts to employee needs.

The Benefits of HR Service Delivery

By focusing on people-centric HR service delivery, companies can better provide user-friendly digital experiences. By following HR service delivery best practices, you’ll improve adoption rates and create a more adaptable infrastructure. But what are the tangible business benefits of personalized HR service delivery?

Only 15% of enterprise and midsize organizations consistently deliver personalized digital experiences.

The 2022 Digital Experience Delivery Practices Survey from Leapgen found a correlation between automated HR service delivery and business benefits. Respondent organizations who answered “yes” to having deployed such a platform were, compared to their peers:

  • Three times more likely to have broadly deployed employee and manager direct access (i.e., self-service) 

  • Twice as likely to report high adoption of direct access 

  • Eight times more likely to have a “comprehensive HR knowledge base” 

Many businesses will find that the cost effectiveness of their HR solutions is reduced if they do not use an integrated approach. Concurrently, they risk employee burnout because of the administrative burden of redundant systems. Understanding what employees want must be at the cornerstone of any digital HR service delivery program.

The Future of HR Service Delivery

The bottom line for any business looking to optimize its services is simple: personalization. By customizing the HR service delivery process to meet each employee’s needs, businesses can provide more timely and accurate services. At the same time, companies can more accurately keep track of their HR service delivery results. This isn’t just the future of HR service delivery—this functionality is here now. 

Those results, in turn, form the backbone of employee personalization. Businesses can utilize that data to create unique and meaningful experiences at the employee level, accurately matching their offerings to evolving employee needs. Without analytics to understand what your employees need (as well as when and why), your services will always miss the mark.

The final step in modernizing HR service delivery is AI and automation. Automation makes the process of requesting HR services faster and easier. It also reduces the amount of time it takes to process requests, enabling employees to focus on more important tasks and HR teams to be more strategic. Then, AI surfaces tailored content based on an employee’s skills, location, and preferences, providing a truly individual experience. In a world where people expect their personal technology to adapt to their needs, work should be no different.

More Reading