The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

How Can HR Help Support Today’s Higher Ed IT Workforce?

iStock_000018170510SmallAccording to a recent EDUCAUSE study, IT staff and organizations are being asked to adjust to increased IT consumerization, more options for managing and sourcing technologies and staff, a broader interest in IT’s transformative potential, and decreased resources. As a result of these changing expectations, institutions are looking to hire IT staff with business skills equal to their technical skills. And this necessitates a shift in the way IT staff are recruited, hired and retained.

Survey Findings
Findings from EDUCAUSE’s Today’s Higher Ed IT Workforce study and 2013 Core Data Survey revealed that during FY12-13, institutions spent 4.1 percent of their IT budgets on outsourcing, likely meaning they were looking to the business world for many of their IT needs.

Surprisingly, technical acumen did not appear at the top of the list of skills needed to be successful in a higher ed IT job — instead, the top desired skills were the ability to communicate effectively and think strategically. The top reasons IT staff stay at an institution are quality of work life, benefits, flexible work hours, new technologies and opportunities for advancement. And CIOs’ top three factors for maintaining an adequate IT workforce are competitive compensation, expanded professional development opportunities, and additional budgetary resources.

How HR Can Help
The findings of EDUCAUSE’s research point to a few recruiting, hiring and retention implications for HR as they relate to IT staff. We should be asking ourselves the following questions: What pay flexibility is needed to attract and retain IT staff? Are our classification structures current enough to reflect the changing market? What steps can we take to find quality IT candidates with the necessary business skills? What can we offer these employees in the way of professional development? How can we help our best IT employees envision a long-term career with our institutions? How can we help create a leadership pipeline in IT? How do we help employees adapt when their job demands change (as jobs in the IT field so often do)?

Once we start answering these questions, we can begin to formulate a plan for how best to advise, support and engage our IT workforce.

For an in-depth look at how HR can help in hiring and retaining a qualified and competent higher ed IT workforce, check out CUPA-HR’s free on-demand webinar, The Changing Higher Ed IT Workforce: How HR Can Help, and the related Q&A document