Extolling the virtues of social media for HR purposes

It’s probably not much of a surprise that this posting will extol the virtues of social media for HR purposes – tempered with some words of caution of course.

Clearly, social media needs to be part of any HR professional’s tool box and overall communication strategy. It certainly shouldn’t be the only means of communication, but it’s a powerful medium already being used extensively, both internally and externally. Harnessing and governing it will assure that corporate messages are accurate, consistent and targeted.

At a minimum, every organization should have a social media policy to protect itself from misuse. Too many employers have been burned by being late to the game in developing a simple yet sound policy.

Ideally, total rewards professionals will use social media to leverage the collective knowledge of the organization to drive some form of human capital ROI. The big question is how?

Achieving the highest returns on investments in human capital means attracting and engaging employees’ attention and imagination. We see social media as a natural HR play to do just that in the following areas:

  • Recruiting. Tapping LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo and other networking sites is a critical step for organizational promotion to candidates, for selection of job seekers and for review of qualifications.
  • Testimonials. As communication professionals, we’ve been tapping into employee success stories for years. They resonate with colleagues by sharing HR successes from the end user’s perspective. In a well-governed model, actual employee testimonials – managed through internal social media tools – can be a powerful way to drive employees to appropriate behaviors.
  • Organizational competitions. Whether it’s a sales challenge pitting one division against another, or a wellness challenge seeing which group can lose the most weight, internal competitions are hot right now. Playing off of behavioral economics theory, people get engaged in local competitions that have real and personal benefit.
  • Volunteering. To drive an environment of camaraderie, many organizations are allowing employees to tap social media platforms to support either small group or organization-wide volunteering opportunities. With HR’s central coordination, social media can become the conduit for like-minded collaboration efforts around external volunteering projects.
  • Collaboration. Social media is certainly best at, and as defined as, deriving value from collective knowledge. No where is this more organizationally valuable than in knowledge sharing among colleagues. HR can set up the right tools, methodology and governance to allow cross-functional collaboration.
  • Employee profiles. To best tap the knowledge of the collective whole, it’s critical to know the expertise that lies within. By establishing deep employee profiles on every potential contributor, those with distinct skills can be identified and accessed, even if they aren’t active social media contributors.
  • Alumni networking. For both knowledge management and ongoing recruiting purposes, we’re seeing a big move to use social media to keep alums connected with the organization.

Now, some words of caution…

  • Keep the social media policy basic (non-legalese) so that people will actually follow it and be clearly aware of consequences of not following it.
  • Experience has shown that users will self-police online conversations, but be particularly careful to have enough filters in place that inappropriate content can quickly be pulled.
  • Know that social media is not right for everyone, so key messages that develop organically may need to be repurposed into other media.
  • Social media is not a one and done approach. It’s an ongoing interaction, so it’s important to constantly be plugged into the dialogue.
  • It’s happening already. Your employees are communicating on Yammer, they’re sharing their thoughts about the organization on public sites, they’re creating alumni groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Monitoring these channels can help harness positive knowledge that’s shared and control the negative.

Effective employee communication is essential in meeting corporate objectives. We can help ensure the proper development of your social media strategy and tools and can help you successfully integrate it with your company’s existing communication strategy.
Ask us how.

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