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    HR and New Technology - follow up

    A quick follow up to the HR and New Technology post from earlier this week.  A point I should have made originally, in fact. Here it is:

    If HR does not start learning, trying, embracing some of these new Technologies (Twitter, Yammer, YouTube, Facebook all the usual suspects), they will take root in the organization anyway, HR won't know what the heck happened, and jump back into classic 'regulate, monitor, make a policy so we don't get sued' mode.

    Months ago I 'claimed' the Yammer domain for my organization.  I invited two or three HR colleagues (who are pretty tech savvy) and tried to get some interest and momentum in the tool.  But nothing happened.  Could not get the HR folks to see the value (or even attempt to see the value) in a tool that allows micorblogging, threaded discussion, image and file sharing, groups formation etc.  In a 'perfect' world, HR would lead the drive to adopt these types of tools in the wider organization.

    Today, out of nowhere, I noticed a flurry of activity on our Yammer network.  It appears like one class of students have decided to sign up for Yammer and create a group to facilitate collaboration and information sharing. This could have just as easily been a faculty or administrative department, the specifics don't really matter.  What matters is that the organization did it on its own.

    And what happens if this group discovers Yammer to be a great tool and spreads the word to the wider organization?  Maybe they'll get some kind of recognition or be recognized as 'innovators'.

    Exactly he kind of PR that most HR departments really need.  That's ok, keep processing the forms, keep folks paperwork up to date, and try not to get noticed.

    Rant off.



    HR and New Technology

    Over the cold, snowy weekend read this quote from Gartner's 'The Effects of Social Software on Your Employer Brand'

    The typical HR department's failure to understand or take seriously social software and its effect on employer brand and Generation V is a significant weakness, and it will affect the ability to reach Web-savvy candidates and to mine the company's current talent base.

    Flickr - Matt Hamm


    The article goes on to exhort HR departments to take a few simple starting steps to begin to understand the Social Software environment and the potential impact on your Employer Brand.  Here a just a few simple, basic, and essentially free steps that any HR Department can take starting right now:

    1. Start listening - review what employees and prospects are saying on Twitter, Glassdoor, and by Google Blog searches
    2. Create some simple 'Day in the Life' videos hosted by some of your superstar or well-know employees and post them on YouTube
    3. Create a survey or wiki page to collect and evaluate real candidate's experience and impression with your employer brand, your corporate website, and your application processes.  You may think you have a great site and simple process, but it doesn't matter what you think, it matters what the candidates think.  If you wnat to be bold, embed a Meebo chat room on your job site, and start interacting with candidates in real-time.
    4. Start a blog. If your HR director does not blog at all, you are missing a huge opportunity.  The HR Director's title really could be 'Chief Talent Marketer'.  So marketl!
    5. This one is important - Get out of the HR Department (yes, put down those files, I9 forms, and direct deposit authorizations) for a while and talk to your Marketing, PR, and even IT departments about what they are doing in Social Software.  Learn from their experiences and explorations and see if you can't leverage the internal experience for your HR initiatives.

    There are loads of other approaches and opportunities for the informed HR pro to start leveraging and exploiting the new landscape. I won;t go on and on, if you want an even longer list, see Michael Specht's excellent list on 52 Social Media Ideas for HR.

    The point really is, You can't get away much longer as an HR department ignoring these opportunities.

    Otherwise, you'll still be pringing three-fold 'It's fun to work here' brochures and feeling satisfied.



    A Class Session Wordle

    A Wordle from the transcript of my HR Technology Class this week:

    Are there any guesses as to what this class session was about?



    How much HR Technology do you need?

    One of the really cool bonuses of teaching a class at RIT, which has many deaf and hearing-impaired students, is that frequently classes are supported by a C-print Captionist.  For those who are not familiar with the term, a C-print Captionist creates a complete transcript of everything that is said in the class, (similar to a court reporter).  During class, the captions appear immediately on a computer screen setup near any students who need to rely on the captions to better follow the class dialogue.  A day or so after class, the full transcript is converted to a document, which students can download, and that I also post on the class wiki.  It is also interesting for me to take a quick review of the transcript to do sort of a 'self-evaluation' of sorts. 

    In class this week we were focusing on Performance Management as a part of an Integrated Talent Management strategy, and discussing the software solutions that support the performance management processes.  Yesterday I was reviewing the transcript and came across this.  One student, posed the following question:

    If I have a small company and if I wanted to use regular paper or forms (for Performance Management), can I still be effective? Or is it necessary to use or incorporate technology?

    In class, in real-time, with 20 people looking up at me for wisdom I gave the following answer (slightly edited for clarity, and to make me appear more intelligent):

    Since you are in the HR technology class, I am going to tell you that you have no success using paper forms. (Laughter).  It can be effective for small companies to use paper. But we for a larger organization (paper) is not going to allow a company to leverage their talent in a way to seize opportunities. If a company decides they need to exploit a new market and buy a new factory or hire a bunch of new people and you don't have systems like these in place, being able to deliver on those strategic plans becomes hard.  Companies that aren't exploiting technology are at a disadvantage. Very small companies can live without this stuff. Once you start moving up the market in size and reach, especially global reach, this is important.

     A decent answer, I think in the moment.  If I had more time to reflect on the issue and the answer, I might have talked about the Gen Y worker not wanting to work for an organization with such primitive processes, or the efficiencies and cost savings that can be derived with simple automation. 

    But at the core the question of how much HR Technology an organization 'needs', has to be answered by each organization individually.  I don't think there can be a generic 'blueprint' that says, if an organization has 1,000 employees, then they must have systems for X,Y, and Z processes.  It just is not that simple.  Which is why I suppose we have an HR Tech class, and why there are several consultancies that assist organizations develop their HR Technology strategy.  The uniuque characteristics, challenges, and culture are all factors in the discussion.

    How much HR Technology does your organization need?



    Facebook and LinkedIn for Recruiting - The students speak out

    So if you are a breathing, upright HR Professional in 2009 I know you have read countless blog posts, articles, or attended webinars exhorting you that you need to be mining social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn for recruiting purposes.  Whether it is to network with and uncover passive candidates, (the primary use of LinekdIn) or research and background check prospects (primarily what recruiters are doing on Facebook), you have been told over and again that you need to be leveraging these tools in your recruiting efforts.

    This post isn't another one of those 'How to recruit on Facebook' pieces.  If you are interested in that sort of thing, check out the HR Tech News blog which ran a fine series of 'Recruiting on Facebook' posts early in 2008.

    In my HR Tech Class for this week's discussion assignment I asked the class to offer comments and observations on this new trend in recruiting.  These students are quite likely in the target demographic for many recruiters, mostly young, educated professionals working on an advanced degree.  And they are almost all on Facebook and LinkedIn.  So what do they think about recruiters and employers 'snooping' around their social networking profiles?  Here are a few of the best comments from the class:

    The general consensus was 'beware what you post online':

     Even though we might not like it, we have to realize that employers are going to be googling our names and we have to be careful about the type of information we put online, because if we put it there it is fair game for anyone to see. - 'S

    On the usefulness of Social Networking in onboarding and relationship building:

    If employees can be 'friends' with their manager on facebook then that could help them to have a mentor. It's a safe and informal way for the employees to interact with their managers on a social level where they can learn from each other. - 'A'

    One student astutely observes ways in which the progressive organization is starting to leverage these social networks in a more positive manner:

    For example, companies and organizations have taken up these social networking sites to create their own business networks as a motivation to maximize interaction and networking among their own employees, even with the CEO. It not only limits to the networking connections, but to more job opportunities. For example, I have noted one CEO posting on Twitter about job opportunities. - 'V'

    There were many other comments and observations in the discussion, some students really wishing that their Facebook information would remain strictly personal and never be used in a professional situation. But realistically, they realize that the horse is out of the barn, and anything they post on any site is likely ot one day be scrutinized by employers and recruiters.

    A really good discussion, any one have a recommendation for the next HR Tech issue we should discuss?