Social media has already proven its value in connecting with customers and potential customers and now HR is getting in on the game. HR practitioners increasingly use LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to connect with current and potential employees.
The social sites we know and love bring some great benefits to your people and culture but do have their limitations. Any internal communications are best directed via an Enterprise Social Network (or ESN) to ensure confidentiality and security of information. The most popular ESN is Yammer but there are many other great solutions out there including Jive, Chatter and IBM Connections.
The ways HR teams are starting to harness social networking include:
- Employer branding
The cool cats in the HR world are all over this, several years ago a zendesk YouTube video went viral amongst HR types looking for a better way of demonstrating their culture and what it was like to work with them. My advice is to choose your channels wisely, think which employees you want to target and find out where they hang out on social media so you can use your time with maximum impact.
Would you post a job ad in a newspaper? Probably not! Seek has been our ‘go to’ place for a while now but ads tend to attract a large volume of applicants who just want a job, rather than ones that really want to work with you. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn tend to attract people with a genuine interest in your organisation. Although you might get fewer applications you are likely to get more relevant applicants.
- New Communication
The old company newsletter was important but rarely done well. Often several days were spent creating content that was rarely read in its entirety. Social media now offers us the outlet to drip feed content in manageable chunks that employees tend to flick through during moments of downtime (in a lift, waiting for a meeting to start, on the commute to work). Not only are bite-sized pieces of information easier to read but they are timely. You can get a communication out to all very quickly – even if these people are away from their desks and rarely log in to their official company email account.
Your enterprise social network offers a daily insight into the health of your organizational culture without an expensive engagement survey. You can see how senior leaders engage their teams, view whether negative comments by employees get rebuffed by peers, and observe what kind of behavior is positively recognized by peers and managers.
- Industrial relations
This brings to mind a large organisation in Perth, their ‘old school’ IR approach is putting a major project at risk. They lost control of the communication flow with their employees and are very much on the back foot with negotiations. Flip that into a proactive IR strategy involving social media and you have Cape UK who were able to successfully avert unofficial industrial action at their power station in Lincolnshire by using social media to address collective issues.
- Learning & Development
Social networks can be used to continue learning beyond the time limit of a traditional training session. Groups can be created where learning can be shared and join projects to embed the new knowledge into the organisation. Learning and development is also benefiting from open source technology such as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). These can offer quick and cost effective online training resources to your team or enable you to create internal online learning programs that target the specific learning needs of your organisation.
With the end of a ‘job for life’ three decades ago we are now seeing boomerang employees who leave, only to return some years later with new ideas and new skills. These employees have seen that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side and can ‘hit the ground running’ on their return. In the past organisations would have left it for the ex-employee to reapply for any suitable roles. Now social media can retain the connection and allow the employer to proactively tap into this talent network.
If you are looking to invest in social technology in your organisation, the quality of your implementation matters just as much as the quality of your technology. There is one big organisation in Perth (that shall remain nameless) that thought they could harness the power of Yammer just by switching on the system. Sadly the old adage ‘build it and they will come’ is not true of a social platform. Your internal social network needs regular content and engagement along with endorsement from the top to maximize the benefits.
Looking into my crystal ball I can see sentiment around social media in the workplace becoming more positive. A series of high profile legal cases have highlighted the boundaries for what can and cannot be said and done in the social realm so we now know where we stand. We are starting to see social media policy actively endorsing employees as brand ambassadors rather than focusing on the complete ban of social media access. Soon social media in the workplace will be as familiar as the landline phone on our desks once was.
Pauline has a passion for people performance and spent her entire working life helping organisations, teams and individuals perform at their best. Her expertise in the HR technology space enables Pauline Tarrant Consulting to operate as a trusted partner to the HR team to explore how to get the best from existing technology and explore new solutions that offer best-fit improvements to their business.