IT may be HR’s saviour

by 14 Oct 2008

IT AND HR are becoming more closely aligned as employers realise that being up to date with technology is imperative to meet the demands of younger employees.

As western workforces age, the impact and demand of younger generations within organisations is increasing. Employers, therefore, are finding that the need to meet the demands of generation Y’s technical expectations is vital to the functioning of the business.

“You’re seeing rooms where VPs of HR and CIOs (chief information officers) are sitting down, sleeves rolled up together at the same table, asking how do we do things differently,” said Wes Wasson, senior vice president of IT provider Citrix Systems.

According to Wasson, the expectations of the younger generation are driving a much closer relationship between HR departments and IT departments. Gone are the days when IT was just used for induction, to give new employees their desktop, application and security codes. Instead, it is becoming an ongoing relationship whereby the employee is given more autonomy and decision as to the types of tools they need to do their job.

“As HR groups start to work with IT, it is transforming the way they do IT, so that when a new employee comes in to work for the first day, instead of giving them an old PC with a bunch of applications and saying ‘This is what you will use’, they say ‘Here’s your environment and here’s your list of all the assets we can provide you’,” said Wasson.

Web 2.0 is another way in which HR are increasingly recruiting and integrating new employees. Through social networking sites such as Facebook, young employees can develop working relationships with other members of staff. It also helps break through bureaucracy and red tape – which generation Y are reported to actively dislike and rebel against in the workplace.

“It’s everything from how you connect them into the flow of the workforce to how you deliver the tools that they need to do their job,” said Wasson. “When HR bring in a new employee and asks if they want to get to know the executive team off in their ivory towers, here they are. Here’s their Facebook account. You can see pictures of them, pictures of them with their family.”

Another trend driving a closer relationship between HR and IT is the increasing demand for work/life balance and flexibility in the workplace. There has also been a huge shift in where people want to do their work, whether it is from home, in the evening, from abroad or with their family. In order to retain and provide for these employee needs, employers need to move to an “on demand”service and, according to Wasson, employers will see immediate benefits from providing the necessary tools for this flexibility.

“Another kind of trend you’ll see there is around areas like ‘hot desking’…Instead of having 5000 people in an office, there’s only a certain amount of them there on any given day because the others are teleworking,” said Wasson.

Wasson said that this type of working model allows employees to work when they want and employers soon find that instead of employees working less, they actually work more, with many employees working seven days, very early in the morning before work hours and often in the evening.

“One particular company – who moved to this model where they let employees work from anywhere – gained about 500 man years of extra productivity,” said Wasson. “The employees were off-the-charts excited – especially as you got down to the young folks because they viewed it as the company letting them work from wherever they want. ‘If I want to work from Starbucks, if I want to work from home I can do it’. It’s one of those things that sees both parties gain.”

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