The APQC Blog

5 Ways Social Media Has Changed HR

Social recruiting is among the top 5 HR trends that HR functions are prioritizing in 2014. Yet, using social media in the performance feedback process is not a priority for HR. These are among the findings of APQC’s newly released HR Performance, Priorities, and Trends survey report. According to guest blogger Dave Clemens, senior writer for Rapid Learning Institute and writer of The HR Café Blog, social media has already changed HR. Read his thoughts and you might consider having your HR function place even more priority on social media.

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5 Ways Social Media Has Changed HR

By Dave Clemens

No matter who, where or how old you are, social media has almost certainly changed your life. Across America, kids and adults of nearly every age communicate via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumblr and dozens of other social media sites.

And social media has affected the way a lot of Americans work, too. That's especially true for Human Resources professionals in the year 2014.

Here are five big changes in HR that social media has brought about:

1) How you recruit your people. Gone are the days when managers simply advertised a job in the newspaper or on a corporate website and sat back to wait for resumes. Now you can look for "passive candidates" – i.e., people who might be interested in changing jobs and have the qualifications you need, but haven't contacted you – via all sorts of social media applications. And even when evaluating active candidates in the traditional recruiting mode, you can use social media to dig into their backgrounds and find out both what makes them tick and how a range of people think about them.

2) How you manage your people's performance. One of the biggest shortcomings of the traditional review process is that it takes too long for managers to notice how employees are really doing and give them helpful feedback. Annual, or even semiannual, reviews are likely to lag far behind the dynamics of someone’s actual performance. But with social media, there's no need for managers to wait months before telling people how they're doing. A quick Tweet, for instance – like "Nice presentation this morning, Bill! Atta boy!" or "Gail, saw your report. Let's all remember not to call major clients Big Kahunas" – takes only a moment to compose and lets managers stay on top of performance in real time. And if you wish, you can leverage the collaborative nature of social media to set up rapid, informal 360-degree evaluations of employees, too.

3) How you communicate with your people. Employees – especially younger ones – spend at least as much time on their Facebook or Pinterest pages as they do checking e-mail. So if HR wants to put out the word about a key policy change, remind people of an open enrollment deadline, or encourage people to sign up for a new wellness program, social media is an ideal channel.

4) How you provide training and learning for your people. The face-to-face, instructor-led model will always have a place in your training mix. But social media – either through third-party sites or your own internal social platform – allows you to supplement such training with collaborative learning, games with a business objective, and/or tailored on-line courses.

5) How you monitor what your people say about you. Once upon a time, if an employee bad-mouthed you to a friend, the criticism stopped there. Today, if employees choose to complain about their employers on a social media page, thousands of people can see it, and for a very long time. HR has got to be aware of this trend and decide how restrictive or otherwise the organization wants to be in tracking and reacting to employees' outside comments. Remember: Certain kinds of remarks may be protected by law, such as comments about pay or working conditions in your organization. You probably don't want to make policy in this area without legal advice.

Can you run an effective HR function today without social media? Maybe. But your competitors are ever more likely to be using these tools to sharpen their organizational performance. You don’t want to be left behind.

Dave Clemens is a senior writer for Rapid Learning Institute and writes The HR Café Blog. His work has appeared in The Associated Press, World Press Review, and in several human resources, employment law, and business newsletters. You can connect with Dave via Twitter @TheHRCafe.