Knowing more about shared service centres improves satisfaction, researcher finds
Organizations and government bodies are making ever increasing use of shared service centres for the provision of their HR services. How employees perceive these centres depends to a large extent on what they know about how such a shared service centre operates. This is the conclusion reached by Jeroen Meijerink in his PhD thesis. He recently obtained his doctorate from the IGS research institute within the University of Twente on the basis of his research into satisfaction levels with HR shared services centres among employees and managers. His research is not only relevant for HR departments, but is also applicable to other centrally organized services (e.g. finance, communications).
When an organization opts for an HR shared service centre, it chooses to make services such as personnel and payroll administration, recruitment and staff training available through a centralized department. At the same time, the department is run on a decentralized basis: local sections of the organization determine what services the shared service centre offers and under which specifications.
Meijerink examined the factors that make HR shared service centres into a success. "There are significant differences in how the users of a shared service centre experience the quality of the services offered. Even in cases where everyone uses the same service provider. My research has shown that when employees and managers know more about how a shared service centre works, they are more satisfied."
For example, in one organization staff complained about the length of time between submitting an expenses claim and receiving the actual reimbursement. "The shared service centre said it would take three days at most to handle the claim, while its customers complained that claims sometimes took three or four weeks to process. Ultimately, the source of the problem turned out to be the manager of the employees in question, who was taking too long to approve the claims. This delayed the entire procedure."
Meijerink continues: "This example clearly shows that the perceived success of an HR shared service centre depends not only on the design and quality of the centre, but is also highly dependent on the users themselves. If an HR shared service centre wants to succeed, it will also have to focus on developing the knowledge of its customers and users. Make the user of the shared service centre part of your focus."