The emergence of hybrid HR/IT professionals should reduce many of the problems besetting hard-pressed IT managers and increase efficiency, says Madeline Bennett.
There ‘s a new type of professional in the world of technology – the hybrid HR/IT manager.According to analyst firm Meta Group, many organisations are appointing staff who straddle these two functions, because the management of IT staff may require a specialised approach that is not always best served by HR generalists.
I ‘m sure the notion of a combined HR/IT role will be welcomed by IT chiefs who have to deal with a growing list of tasks of increasing complexity and importance – data management, regulatory compliance, security and so on.
Indeed a recent survey from the Chartered Management Institute and recruitment specialist Adecco found that 55 percent of IT managers believe they are being overloaded with work; while a third are putting in an extra 14 hours outside of their contractual hours; and the same proportion feel exploited by their employers.
Surely these overworked individuals will see the benefits of having their very own employee resources manager. The hybrid expertise will help to recruit the most suitable IT staff; ensure that good people are retained; deal with the less competent; and assign staff to appropriate roles across the organisation. But the HR/IT manager could have an uphill struggle when it comes to nurturing a happy workforce.
A separate study by research consultancy Orc International recently found that IT staff are less happy than staff in other sectors because of limited training opportunities and a lack of recognition of their efforts.
The HR/IT manager will also have to work hard to keep up with all the latest technology developments, training courses and professional certifications, to ensure they can understand the current skills required by their organisation and predict where future skills shortages are likely to occur.
But for firms that appoint an experienced person to handle this role, there could be big benefits, especially in areas such as employee monitoring and flexible working, both of which require significant input from HR and IT.
The monitoring of employees ‘ internet and email use is pretty common in large organisations, but it ‘s clear that good policies are not always in place. There are too many instances of companies losing unfair dismissal cases because they have failed to properly inform staff of monitoring practices.
Hopefully, a joint HR/IT manager would be more likely to ensure such policies are properly developed and implemented. Flexible working can also touch both IT and HR departments, particularly when it involves home working. Companies allowing staff to work outside of the office need to have good procedures in place to assess requests for home working, and to manage the technology and set up computers and network connections. They also need to address issues such as health and safety, and insurance.
Incorporating IT expertise into the HR team will make it easier for HR to take responsibility for home working initiatives.Another benefit of the combined role would be to free other IT managers to focus on business strategy and technology development issues.
Surely the advantages should prompt many more organisations to consider introducing hybrid HR/IT managers of their own.