Is Social at the Heart of Your Talent-Management Strategy?

As organisations think about the lifecycle of talent management, they typically define the relationship between themselves and their employee in four distinct stages: hire, inspire, admire, and retire.

More than 90% of organisations have successfully incorporated social technology into the first stage of this lifecycle. They use tools such as LinkedIn to locate top-talent, Twitter and Facebook to help humanize the organisation, and rely on sites like github and Stack Overflow to better understand the capabilities of specific candidates. Unfortunately, many firms fail to capitalize on the power of social networks to enhance employee engagement during and after employment. Below, we’ll look at three reasons why enterprise social networks will become increasingly important within other stages of the employment lifecycle.

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Effectively solving complex problems requires cultivating the right team

Social technologies provide a mechanism that encourages the development of communities around shared interests and offers participants a low-involvement way to better understand the activities of colleagues and peers they admire. The ability of social technologies to help locate relevant experts (and uncover tacit knowledge) supports employees who are working to address complex situations; however, in order to grow, organizations must also cultivate new experts. It is here that social technology distinguishes itself from traditional word-of-mouth referrals. By allowing staff to ‘follow’ people who inspire them, or those working on interesting projects, new hires can quickly discover existing networks, and weave themselves into the fabric of the organization. Membership in these networks allows passionate employees to amplify their contributions, connects them to resources, and helps them learn more by working together with colleagues to solve problems.

Social technologies can help meet employee demands and build social capital

Everyone brings certain expectations to new career opportunities. According to research by the Conference Board and Inc, within the considerations employees give to jobs, compensation only barely ekes out a spot in the top 10. Many others fall broadly into the categories of inspiration and admiration. Here, social tools can help organizations excel at attracting and retaining high-performing staff, and can unleash the value of workers’ global and diverse networks and experiences.

Top Considerations Social Technologies Can Deliver Value By
Purpose • Providing visibility into the work of others
• Helping staff understand how their work fits into the big picture
• Showcasing the value delivered to clients and society
Defined goals • Soliciting feedback from the public and from teams to establish goals
• Reaching into broad networks to see what other high-performers have done to achieve goals
Responsibilities • Understanding team capabilities
• Locating the right resources for opportunities• Delegating and managing collaborative development
Autonomy • Providing an effective way to delegate and collaborate
• Allowing more visibility into progress, and thus providing opportunities for small failures that surface low-risk growth opportunities
Flexibility • Combining with video conferencing and VoIP technologies to support location-agnostic work arrangements
• Maintaining employee connectivity to professional networks while on parental leave
Attention • Providing a platform for passionate employees to make real contributions to an organization, and allowing senior leaders to see the contributions and publicly express gratitude
Opportunities for innovation • Enabling staff to elicit feedback on new ideas, and to solicit participation in side projects
• Helping support ideation and refinement of ideas for further development
• Supporting connections to external networks to incorporate the very best thinking from elsewhere
Open-minds • Helping staff learn about diverse perspectives on complex issues
• Demonstrating that for every characteristic that distinguishes people, there are many more that unite them
Transparency • Facilitating authentic conversations across organisational boundaries (divisional and hierarchical)
• Supporting open communication with customers and merchant to improve outcomes for all stakeholders
Compensation • Incorporating external perspectives on total rewards, and allowing people to vote on what might be included in offer packages

Improvements in social capital enhance operating performance

In his article Working in the Connected World: Social Capital—The Killer App for HR in the 21st Century, social thought leader Valdis Krebs demonstrates 11 ways that the ability to find, utilize and combine the skills, knowledge and experience of others (defined as social capital) lead to improved outcomes for individuals and their employers.People with better social capital:

  • Find better jobs more quickly
  • Are more likely to be promoted early
  • Close deals faster
  • Receive larger bonuses
  • Enhance the performance of their teams
  • Help their teams reach their goals more rapidly perform better as project managers
  • Help their teams generate more creative solutions
  • Increase output from their R&D teams
  • Coordinate projects more effectively
  • Learn more about the firm’s environment and marketplace
  • Receive higher performance evaluations

Although in some of these cases, value accrues primarily to an employee, more often improved social capital improves operating performance of the whole firm. Social technologies help employees more effectively build social capital by simplifying expertise location, enabling low-intensity collaboration, and facilitating the combination of skills, knowledge and experience of a diverse workforce. Participation in social enterprise social networks is not limited to the hosting organization. Many organisations allow participation by third parties (clients and partners), and by alumni. Especially in relation to retired alumni, social networks provide a low-involvement way for retirees to stay connected to peers, and to provide valuable insight gained through decades of experience.

What does this mean for your organisation?

According to research by McKinsey, the effective application of social technologies can help companies improve the productivity of high-skill knowledge workers by up to 25%. Embedding social into the beginning of an employee’s journey with an organisation can help set the foundations for later expansion. Moreover, it can help capitalise on the networks employees bring into businesses. Some may dismiss 300+ friend social networks developed through years of university; however, electronic social networks offer a low-involvement way to maintain ties to large groups, most of whom enter the business world together and are willing to (at very least) engage in the types of bonding and bridging that form the basis of long-term professional relationships.

I have helped leading organisations use social technologies to more quickly resolve problems, tap into global networks to resolve complex problems, and improve worksite safety. Although many social software solutions are easy to deploy, durable benefits are more likely by following a focused approach. If you’d like to learn more about opportunities for social to enhance your business performance, and want to understand the right first steps, I’d love to have a conversation with you.