Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
23 Apr 2010

A fact of life: social media in HR

23 Apr 2010 • by Changeboard Team

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter

The UK has the 3rd largest Facebook penetration in the world, LinkedIn, perhaps the most well known professional networking site, has 60 million users worldwide and Twitter is processing around 50 million tweets a day many of them happening during working hours. Social media is a reality, particularly for Generation  Y generally held to be people born after 1975 for whom it is an integral part of the fabric of life.

Cable & Wireless: how social media works

Mathew Lowery, head of talent at Cable & Wireless, explains:

As part of what the FT has called the largest corporate turnaround in the UK in the last 50 years, we are working in a fast-paced business and recruitment environment and social networking has been a key tool to raise brand awareness, tap into new pools of talent that we may not have traditionally explored and also simply to keep internal and external audiences in touch and included with whats going on. And its a great medium for broad brush learning & development too.

For example, we were keen not to only attract people who habitually rotate through jobs in telecoms companies so to tackle this we developed a microsite about the telecoms industry, asking people for their experiences and with a blog linking to past debates and through to our recruitment website. The positioning was that we are trying to recreate the telecoms industry and ourselves as a company if you want to be a part of that come and talk to us. Video job ads showed people what its really like to work here and a live forum invited  prospective recruits to talk to real people in the business during and after the recruitment and offer process.

To tackle this image proactively we developed a microsite about the telecoms industry, asking people for their experiences and with a blog linking to past debates. The positioning was that we are trying to recreate ourselves as a company if you want to be a part of that come and talk to us. Video job ads showed people what its really like to work here and a live forum for prospective recruits to talk to real people in the business.

When business change happens as it does continually we use social media to help build cohesion. When we became involved in a hostile acquisition process we used Facebook for people to talk to their opposites in the other business helping them begin to see us as human beings they could work with. We keep in touch with our employee Alumni Network through LinkedIn and a Facebook group as well as using Live Messenger to get people talking and we use sophisticated live chat tools to do local temperature checks among employees. 

To help learning we have a series of News Feeds employees can tap into a subject area and have info pushed to them as its created. And there are blogs tied to our flagship learning programmes.

Open and honest engagement

The  Challenge for social media in HR is that theres a huge amount of information coming your way so:

  •  In recruitment, be very clear what type of person youre looking for to allow you to filter.
  • Spend time thinking about fraud. Only 12% of job applicants undergo formal screening and theres been a 50% increase in candidates hiding facts on their CVs.
  • To help candidates, consider an online interview bay    they can go online and have a mock interview with a potential employer. McKinsey do this.
  • Set up a blog to allow people to talk about their employee experience. Sometimes what they post will not be favourable but it will be honest. It shines a light on the reality of your organisation.
  • Start with the end in mind who do you want to speak to and what do you want to say to them. Dont assume they wont find out the truth tell them the truth. We need to adopt the notion of an honest engagement we have increasingly been lied to as employees, consumers and voters people want honesty.

Social media is here to stay

Learn to love the internet; its not just for techno geeks. It's here to stay and can be a powerful tool in employee and colleague engagement.

Social media is here to stay. We need to understand how to use it and educate managers not to be scared by it. We have to embrace and understand Gen Ys obsession with social media  and get Gen X to embrace it too.

There is Challenge and opportunity for every business in thinking how to reorganize in a world of ubiquitous communication. We must help internal and external audiences understand the real picture of our organisation because information will get out there anyway.  Were learning every day how to use social media as a tool to contact and get feedback from customers and connect with recruits. People simply want an honest dialogue and playing a full part in this new open source society is also an exciting prospect.