Why your HR program needs to be social

by 08 Nov 2012

HR managers can benefit greatly from making their programs social, as it can head off problems that often become intractable, such as divisiveness, low morale, and infighting. Nathan Brumby provides his tips.

There is a new phenomenon sweeping through the employee management world and its called social HR. 

It’s being driven by the accelerating proliferation of social business platforms inside businesses, and its changing the way that management interacts with their staff. 

People have become familiar with connecting with their friends through personal social networks, and now the workplace is becoming more inclusive and interactive. 

Social business can be defined as providing social software technology to workers that enable them to connect more efficiently with each other, be more responsive to customers, and handle mundane internal tasks with ease. 

The core of this movement is an internal communications network that makes it easier to carry out our work life, and connect seamlessly with the people around us. The promise of social business is the creation of a more engaged employee base. We now expect easy access to information and a professional culture that uses the Internet to build powerful work relationships. 

HR managers can benefit greatly from making their programs social, as it can head off problems that often become intractable, such as divisiveness, low morale, and infighting. 

The daily grind processes in a workplace are intensive and frustrating, as employees are often too busy with their core responsibilities to contribute to improving culture and helping the HR manager. 

Tasks such as employee surveys, staff recognition, information sharing, and recruiting staff typically fall onto the thinly-resourced HR department. 

Deploying social collaboration platforms inside a company speeds up the decision-making process, provide a better environment for teams to collaborate, and nurtures better employee engagement. 

It also makes each worker accountable and their contribution to the business more transparent, as tasks can be tracked and activity viewed via online collaboration tools. 

These new tools allow employees to set up personal work profiles, blog, participate in forums and receive social stream updates about what their colleagues are doing.

Platforms available include Yammer, recently acquired by Microsoft, Socialcast, or internal corporate wiki’s. These platforms break down silos, and enable HR managers to engage staff about new learning and training programs, recognise individual staff performance, and create a central location for easy knowledge sharing. 

A company’s social network can house knowledge forums, include search functions to find internal content, and motivate employees to work together and generate new ideas that benefit the organisation. Instead of instructions being sent down the line by senior management, teams contribute to activities such as how to improve product development or customer service. 

Senior management trying to implement a change program across a large enterprise often look to the HR department for a strategy. Change requires new skills and staff can often be resistant or fearful about being challenged. 

By placing learning tools into a social platform, workers can acquire new skills at their own pace. HR managers can target each worker or department with specific training modules. 

We are continually adding social features to our Deputy platform, which allows managers and employees to communicate about daily work tasks and upcoming shifts. Our experience is that productivity and morale increases if you place work responsibilities into a social-style stream. The goal is to encourage your teams to be socially integrated with the company, and come to work with an enthusiastic attitude. 

Every staff member contributing to the success of your business deserves to be treated with respect. By providing them with a social collaboration platform that makes their work life less stressful, everyone benefits. 

The HR manager now has a huge opportunity to embed their communications and activity functions into the daily work life of the people they aim to serve.


About the author

Nathan Brumby is CEO of Deputy.com, a social business platform that connects managers and their staff by placing daily work schedules and tasks in the cloud.