Social Media Week: Integrating social media into HR processes

Jon Ingham continues his series of articles for Personneltoday.com on HR and social media.

HR has access to a broad range of opportunities for introducing social media or Web 2.0 into HR processes, supporting the move to a more social workplace and creating a new approach to people management – HR 2.0.

These opportunities also exist at various different levels. Firstly, there is efficiency. For example, in recruitment organisations can use social media to tap potential recruits more easily, for example by advertising jobs and searching for candidates using LinkedIn. But this is really only using the site like a giant jobs board – which it is – but it is also much more than this. The more significant opportunities arise from tapping into the social nature of LinkedIn and other web 2.0 applications.

This is how organisations can also gain the benefits of increased effectiveness. For example, social recruiting can be used to provide better quality joiners than may have ever been possible before. There are a number of ways an organisation might do this – perhaps by forming a community, whether this is on Linkedin, Facebook or a proprietary social network (the choice being determined by the organisation and the people it is interested in recruiting). 

This is all about using the technology to develop new and deeper relationships, which the organisation may then be able to tap when it needs to do so.

When I worked as an HR director at Ernst & Young more than a decade ago, the firm developed an approach in which we aimed to build relationships with potential recruits over the longer-term, believing that this was the only way we would be able to recruit the very best, rather than just simply very good, people. 

We called the approach ‘head farming’ (as opposed to head hunting) because it was about growing relationships rather than simply harnessing them. And we believed the approach was a vital part of our employer of choice strategy. Despite this, the approach was slow to be taken up elsewhere – it was simply not that practical for most organisations to put this much effort into their recruitment. But that situation has now changed; social media makes it quite simple for any organisation to proactively develop relationships with the people it may want to recruit (as E&Y is now doing with its Facebook graduate recruitment site).

Social recruiting can even be used to develop the social nature of the workplace – creating better connections, relationships and conversations, or social capital, through the recruitment process. Of course, this can be done without using social media as well.  Look at Goldman Sachs, which globally invests over 100,000 hours each year in conversations with prospective employees. 

To an extent, this investment is about ensuring the firm recruits the very best people that it can, but it is actually much more about ensuring new joiners have an existing network they can tap even before they start work.

The best examples of social recruiting provide each of these levels of benefits – efficiency, effectiveness and the development of social capital. The same is true in other HR process areas too. 

After recruitment, the other most common uses of HR 2.0 are in internal communication and in learning. Social learning, for example, helps people to learn more effectively, through informal conversations with each other, but it also enables the learning of a whole team, community or organisation, supporting culture change. 

And there are further opportunities for using HR 2.0 approaches in onboarding and orientation, performance management, succession planning, career management, outplacement and even reward – though social payroll may just be one step too far!

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