HR 2.0

By Joe Shepley posted 09-01-2011 07:13



In my last post, I talked about how HR was an area of particularly intense social media (SM) activity at the organizations I work with. I tried to describe not only why HR as a discipline is a good candidate for SM-enablement but also what SM-enabled HR might look like at an organization.

What I didn’t do is to discuss the real business benefits of enabling HR with SM…for the purposes of that post, I just kind of assumed that applying SM tools and techniques to HR would be a good thing, without getting specific.

For this post, in the interest of doing my due diligence, I figured it would be a good idea to spell out a few of the benefit areas a SM-enabled HR department could expect to realize.

So here goes…

#1. Reduce HR support costs by delivering core HR processes via self-service channels

Ask any HR person and they’ll tell you: they spend a ton of time responding to routine employee requests. Answering questions about corporate policies or employee benefits, providing copies of official forms, directing non-HR inquiries to the right resource outside of HR, producing up-to-date employee contact information—these and lots of other routine requests eat up an HR staff’s bandwidth, which could be used for higher-value HR activities, like reporting and analysis, strategic planning, education and outreach, or employee lifecycle management.

Trying to shift some of this routine work to self-service delivery is not new to E2.0—HR departments have been tackling this problem for years with good old E1.0 tools like intranets, portals, and SharePoint sites. But the new crop of E2.0 collaboration, community, and expertise management tools give HR departments new, and more effective, options for building successful self-service capabilities.

#2. Reduce hiring/onboarding costs through the use of collaboration tools

Ask any HR person or departmental hiring manager and they’ll tell you: hiring and onboarding employees is expensive and time consuming. The manual processes at every step of the way, the lack of much technology beyond the unholy triumvirate of shared drives/email/and hard drives, the reams of paper forms shuffled back and forth between candidate/new employee and HR—from start to finish, the whole thing is often a mess. And even when organizations have tools to help manage the process, they often have them for discreet segments of the hiring/onboarding process (like processing applications or delivering mandatory training), which limits their impact on the end-to-end process.

Again, this is not an E2.0 problem, but E2.0 collaboration and community tools provide new options for solving them.

#3. Reduce the costs associated with current levels of turnover by providing a fuller onboarding/mentoring experience to new hires

Ask any HR person and they’ll tell you: the only thing more expensive and time consuming than hiring and onboarding employees is responding to employee turnover—although at most organizations, the total cost of turnover to the organization is not typically known (although HR folks and departmental managers with high turnover are aware of the magnitude of the problem). And even more important than the total cost of hiring/onboarding (and therefore of replacing a given employee when they leave) is the breakeven period for any given position, i.e., the amount of time that person needs to remain at a company for that company to have gotten their money’s worth for what it cost to hire and onboard them.

As with #1 and #2, not purely an E2.0 problem; but one key success factor in employee retention past the breakeven period is an effective mentoring program, which is nothing new—well-run companies have had them in place for a long time now. But by and large, they’ve relied on face-to-face, one-on-one mentoring models, which, although they have benefits, also have some downsides: What if the mentor assigned is too busy to spend the time required? What if there’s a personality mismatch between mentor and mentee? What if the mentor, for whatever reason, isn’t doing a good job?

E2.0 community and collaboration tools can extend the reach of a mentoring program beyond a one-on-one mentor relationship to include a community of mentors, thereby relieving the single point of failure of the traditional mentoring model.

#4. Reduce legal and compliance risk by managing key employee lifecycle processes in an enterprise collaboration platform

Although multi-million dollar lawsuits get most of the attention at organizations, companies can spend as much time and money (or at least a very significant amount of them) managing the smaller stuff, e.g., ankle-biter and/or single litigant cases. And a large portion of these at most companies are HR-related: wrongful termination, discriminatory hiring practices (which can also be class action, multi-million dollar litigation), etc.

Not to be a broken record, but as we saw with #1 - #3, #4 is not an E2.0 problem—HR organizations have been dealing with litigation and compliance risk for a long, long time now. But the use of E2.0 tools to address the kinds of business problems I’ve outlined in the first three sections allows HR departments the opportunity to keep the content and information relating to key portions of the employee lifecycle in a single system (or at least coordinated systems). If an organization has a single collaboration platform to enable the hiring process, the performance review process, and the SOP authoring process, then the discovery efforts for the typical wrongful termination lawsuit will be much less burdensome than if these three processes are managed across shared drives, email, hard drives, and paper.

And beyond that, the use of E2.0 tools to monitor consumer social media sentiment can give HR the heads-up that a wrongful termination lawsuit may be on the horizon, e.g., “im gonna sue ur a** @ACME u messed w the wrong guy this time,: which gives legal more time to do early case assessment and prepare for the potential discovery effort.

The final word

There are some other, fuzzier benefits to SM-enabled HR, like employee satisfaction and the overall quality of the workplace, but I tried to stick to harder, more quantifiable benefits in this post. I also limited myself to general categories of benefits that would be applicable to most organizations; you likely have more organization- and industry-specific benefits that SM-enabled HR could deliver.

On that note, jump in an share your thoughts: have you seen other benefits from SM-enabled HR? Other challenges? Had some successes (or failures) trying to do the stuff I’m suggesting? Share your thoughts and get the conversation started.

#HR #Collaboration #socialmedia #e2.0