Double hatting is on the rise (but where’s the money?)

While most senior HR professionals are double hatting in their current role, the majority are not getting paid any extra money for taking on this extra work, according to a new survey of Australian HR executives.

The survey found that 78.5 per cent of respondents are double hatting (one person-two roles) while 57 per cent of their colleagues are also taking on two roles at once.

The exclusive survey, which was conducted by HR Partners in conjunction with Inside HR magazine, also found that 90 per cent of professionals who double hat don’t get paid any more for doing it.

However, more than half (55 per cent) of HR executives who currently double hat are in the $200K plus remuneration range.

While every industry segment has HR executives who double hat, the majority (65 per cent) are in multinational corporations of one sort or another.

“I first started to hear about “double hatting” four to five years ago in the period after what we call the GFC,” said MD and founder of HR Partners, David Owens, who recalled some senior HR professionals working in international banks were asked to do a local role, but also pick up a regional portfolio as well.

“As time went by I noticed that a number of senior leaders in HR also had other portfolios attached,” he said.

“If you are short on the competencies or skills then workplace stress and unhappiness are sure to follow”

Owens observed that sometimes these portfolios were related, like people and culture, and this evolved into HR and corporate relations, or HR and reputation.

“There appeared to be more and more people doing this, and of course a willingness on the part of the executive to accept a dual role – the ‘double hat’.”

What started as a post-GFC response by international banks soon became much more common in ASX listed businesses, said Owens.

With 41 per cent of HR executives who currently double hat doing so in their current job from day one, Owens said there is clearly a wide acceptance of this being normal practice for many.

“It is widespread in multinational corporations and 87 per cent of respondents believe it’s a permanent feature of the landscape,” said Owens, who added that this has a number of implications – and presents a number of challenges – for HR executives.

“Make sure you have the skills and abilities to do the job(s) well. If you are short on the competencies or skills then workplace stress and unhappiness are sure to follow,” he said.

“You may well need to be a highly skilled and truly committed worker to make something like this work well, dependent on portfolios of course, but it’s nothing short of a test to do two jobs well at the same time.”

Fatigue and burnout are potential risks, and Owens advised considering the long-term effect of working at capacity for an extended period.

“Only half the people double hatting commenced the job in that format, the other half have found their workload has evolved to the position they are in now,” he said.

“With 90 per cent of people saying it earns them no extra remuneration it’s got to be provide some other upsides.”

Owens recommended HR executives make sure they are ready for double hatting from a skills point of view, and also said it is important to have the professional support of peers and the senior executive team prior to appointment.

“Be clear on what it gives you professionally. If it’s not more remuneration as it is in most cases then why do it?” he said.

Craig Donaldson is editor of Inside HR magazine, and is responsible for the strategic planning, creation, production and ongoing development of the magazine, its online presence and social media platforms.


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