HR: It's time to make friends with the IT department

Why there is no room for technophobes in the modern human resources team

Why there is no room for technophobes in the modern human resources team

Human resources and IT might seem to be as far apart as any two departments in the same organisation can be: one looks after the people, while the other one looks after the things - like servers, routers and mainframes.

But increasingly it will be in the best interests of the whole organisation if these two very different groups get on a bit better, and maybe even learn from each other, according to experts.

Before anything else, HR managers need to make sure they are talking to the IT team about technology developments that could benefit their department. That may well mean reaching out to the IT team - perhaps starting at the top with the CIO.

By working more closely HR and IT can make themselves more effective

By working more closely with the IT department, HR can make itself more effective
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

"It's not the case that HR people need to be technology experts but they need to be aware of the possibilities and need to know what they want from IT," Vanessa Robinson, head of HR practice development at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said.

That doesn't mean that everyone in HR has to be up to date with the latest technology buzzwords. It's more important that the HR department is open to the conversation - and knows who to talk to.

David Smith, vice chair of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation's technology group (REC) told "Compared to 20 years ago, HR managers need to be technologically savvy, they need to be IT proficient to do their job. If you're a technophobe in an HR role it's going to be severely limiting as to what they are able to do... You've got to have people that are IT proficient within HR making sure that they are exploiting technology to the full."

And while HR is mostly focused on people, technology in the shape of systems for recruitment, induction, staff development, performance management and employee retention are playing an increasing role in the human resources department.

"You would hope that the HR manager knows what they're looking for generally and then the IT department, as a support or service department for anything to do with systems, would be in a position to advise the HR director on the types of systems that are available so that the HR director can pick the best system for the cost for the company," Smith added.

Getting close to the IT department can also help HR get clued up on advances in IT that might be useful in the future even if they aren't immediately obvious.

"HR can use technology very effectively to engage with the rest of the organisation. At its simplest, the establishment of intranet sites can allow sharing of internal information," the CIPD's Robinson said.

Social media can be also incorporated into the intranet to allow for upward feedback via discussion boards, the sharing of ideas through knowledge repositories or solving problems more collaboratively.