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The IT help desk is a Catch-22 for many employees – while they may face challenges in the office, the service desk is not always capable of addressing their problems.

The statistics bear this out: According to Forrester’s new Future Of Work Survey, although a majority (66%) of employees are in touch with the service desk at least twice a year, many employees avoid the desk altogether. In fact, a third of those surveyed (in countries from the U.S. to U.K. to France to Germany to Australia) skip the desk for various reasons, and this is in spite of the fact that 67% of employees who use it report they are satisfied with the service.

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Forrester’s findings on the future of work

While the technological aspect of the service desk is, of course, critical, soft skills are also essential for IT help desk employees. Positive service interactions are of utmost importance in resolving issues.

While many support strategies can be automated, human-to-human interaction is still the preferred route for most employees. According to the report, “for most technology issues, employees still prefer to interact with a human than use self-service mechanisms.”

IT help desk employees, according to the survey, may be doing everything they can to resolve issues, but may lack the authority to make the necessary changes in order to solve solutions for longer-term problems.

Even when IT help desk members can solve a problem – and 47% of employees say their issue is fixed in less than an hour– problems that are recurring still pose challenges and can become discouraging for employees. The report notes hat this has made employees “apathetic.”

The work-from-home situation has complicated matters. Because of this self-reported apathy, a mere 47% of employees in the report said that the service desk “adequately supports their remote work experience.”

It’s true that some help desk teams are unable to deal with the problems coming in from remote employees. Help desk employees are, in general, overwhelmed by the onslaught of issues coming in, especially as the remote office has become integral to business operations.

For instance, as TechRepublic previously reported, a recent study that gauged the experiences of 200 IT decision makers reported that 65% of these teams in the U.S. are “suffering from unsustainable levels of strain and [believe] something needs to change.” Furthermore, nearly all of the respondents in the survey (94%), pointed to hiring challenges, retention and skill shortages as the culprit for these issues.

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Addressing the employee experience should be a priority, and according to Forrester’s report, less than half of employees (40%) say that the service desk solicits feedback.

Forrester’s report shows that these issues with the IT help desk may result in a poor employee experience, which is a concern in itself.

“Meeting employee needs will require a shift in mindset around technology experience — from IT to finance — and a reexamination of the role the service desk plays in empowering employees,” the report states.

How to improve employee satisfaction

Here are three ways business leaders can address the problems.

Solicit broad feedback

Employers may be resistant to asking employees about their experiences, but they are missing a great opportunity for improvement.

In 2021, Forrester data showed that “65% of software decision makers report adopting, having adopted or planning to adopt end-user experience management solutions — many of which have native user surveying capabilities. Organizations that haven’t done so should make this a priority for this year.”

This should extend beyond the traditional reports of experience during the interaction to overall experience, which can include employees who may never visit the help desk.

Senior leaders should be accountable for help desk experience

51% of infrastructure decision-makers point to a team goal for EX that has an accountability mechanism. But they’re not always simple.

“Technology silos complicate this; for example, end-user computing can’t take responsibility for the performance of finance applications,” the report states.

Still, senior leaders should be on top of finding shortcomings and improving the overall technology experience of employees.

Develop internal IT talent — tenure is undervalued

As veteran IT specialists develop a knack for identifying quirks, they can be helpful in training a new talent pool that could be upskilled, and help employees figure out their own ways to identify shortcomings in the technology.

According to Forrester, “clear career progression, including sponsoring certifications, can prove an organizational selling point during skills shortages.”

Ultimately, taking a proactive stance will benefit employees and employees in addressing tech issues that can become chronic, leading to dissatisfaction, increased workloads and less productivity at the office. Investing in the employee experience should be a top priority.

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