All things IT are successful thanks to the skills and wellbeing of the people who support it—of course, I’m talking about service desk and support agents.
Your fellow co-workers on the service desk work hard every day to make sure issues are resolved in a timely manner and customers and employees are taken care of.
Even though it’s easy to measure the performance of your service desk based on metrics like ticket resolution rates or tickets moved to level 0 support, it’s not easy to measure how your agents are feeling and how they are doing emotionally.
With Thanksgiving next week, it’s the perfect time to ramp up your appreciation to the service desk, so here are four ways you can say “Thank You”.
1. Support and Recognize your Team
In the book Nine Lies About Work by Marcus Buckingham, the author mentions that, according to research, “…positive attention is thirty times more effective than negative feedback in creating high performance on a team.” Positive attention, however, is not limited to a simple “good job” or “well done”, but also tied to reaffirmation and constructive feedback.
For example, in many instances after a ticket is solved, customers are sent a survey to check on the performance of the service delivered. This is a great place to start when it comes to recognizing your team.
“Praise does wonders for our sense of hearing.”
– Arnold H. Glasow
If there is negative feedback, then IT managers can talk in private with the employee to figure out what went wrong and how to improve it.
When there is positive feedback, managers can send an email to the support agent with the survey results thanking them for taking good care of the customers. This email can also include the salesperson in charge of the account, the agent’s supervisor, and other people within the organization.
Service Desk Real Life Story
A customer support and operations leadership team recently took the support team out to a nice dinner after they achieved a major key goal: to reduce the open backlog tickets down from 300 to 50. The support team hit that goal, achieving 49 tickets 3 times in 6 weeks! Since then, the agents have gone on to hit 39 tickets. Most likely, this motivation and improvement didn’t simply come from a nice meal from the company, but rather from the appreciation that the IT managers showed towards the support team.
2. Provide a Work Environment that Allows Decompression
Although service desk agents spend most of their time in, well you guessed it—a desk, it is still important for them to step away from the daily routine to clear out their mind. This will not only give them an opportunity to unwind, but also increase their productivity and focus.
- Analyze their workload and understand the pressures of the job. Learning about the service desk challenges is the first step to providing the right type of support to your agents. For example, if adding more resources to the team is difficult, then give the agents additional tools that can help automate routine processes to relieve some of the workload.
- Give them the opportunity to take a physical break. Encouraging employee wellness so that they feel better physically can be as simple as offering passes to a nearby gym or yoga studio.
- Offer office comforts inside (and outside) of the workplace. If getting away from the desk gets challenging, then provide a comfortable work environment, such as proper office equipment or upgraded desk chairs, and work from home options that can increase employee focus, so they feel at ease while doing their job.
- All work and no play? No way! Planning something fun like monthly team lunches or even corporate activities like laser tag or bowling is not only a great way for employees to decompress but also to feel appreciated.
3. Offer Ways to Achieve Professional Development
You can also show your agents your appreciation by learning and understanding their aspirations and helping them achieve them. Professional development is not necessarily a tangible object to show gratitude, but it can help them grow, which will in time benefit your organization.
“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
– Richard Branson
Some Employee incentive programs may include:
- Offering specialized trainings including software or career advancement courses
- Sending employees to conferences where they can learn more about specific areas and interact with others in the industry
- Providing mentorship programs and coaching from managers
- Developing soft-skill training such as time management and communication—your service desk may spend more time with your customers than you think!
4. Don’t Forget About Mental Health and Overall Wellbeing
Mental health issues are not often talked about, but they are more common in the workplace than you may realize. 2018 research from Capita Employee Wellness found out that “79% of employees say they have felt stressed in the last year, with nearly half (47%) now admitting it is ‘normal’ to feel stress and anxiety at work.”
Employees might not necessarily feel comfortable when it comes to talking about or addressing mental health, so a powerful way of thanking your agents is by offering the necessary resources to support them. As Stephen Mann, Principal and Content Director at ITSM.tools says, “We talk about ‘work-life balance’ but this is wrong before we even start. We should be talking about ‘life-work balance’.”
“We talk about ‘work-life balance’ but this is wrong before we even start. We should be talking about ‘life-work balance’.”
– Stephen Mann
A good way to do this is by working closely with HR to develop some kind of program or guidance so that your employees can better understand how these health issues may affect them and how they could approach alleviate them.
Another way of supporting employees is through mental health days so that they can take a break from personal stresses or simply take a day to recover and recharge. Mental health can certainly have a long-term impact on your employees, especially when left unattended. If your employees are not doing well outside of work this can affect how they perform on the job.
Appreciation Goes a Long Way
Although the three initial points in this blog are not a set solution to address mental health in the workplace, they can certainly help create the right environment for your service desk to feel supported and motivated. And by combining all of the previous elements, you can show appreciation to your service desk agents all year round.
On another note, nothing gets the point across more than simply acknowledging that your support team is doing a good job, and a verbal "Thank You" can go a long way, so to all of our support teams out there we say…
Thank you all for your hard work!