Social media is the biggest shift in thinking and communication since the Industrial Revolution. It’s bigger than the fax machine 1,000 times over. Companies and brands can engage their customers and friends can connect with friends online. It’s a place where everyone and anyone can have a voice and participate in the conversation happening online and in real time.
Like most things in life that involve change, there are those that embrace the change and there are those that do not. In the corporate world, departments like information technology and marketing adapt well to the change. IT because they’re job is to protect information and the online infrastructure, and so walls are built around knowledge, websites are blocked, and data is protected. For marketing, change is easy as the department looks for the newest, fastest, and most cost effective way to market a product, drive sales, and fatten the bottom line.
When it comes to the corporate world, HR is often one of the last to adapt to change. Mostly because they are the keepers of policy, procedure, order, and the employee. They were the keeper of the employee until social media changed the game.
Social media changes Human Resources in 3 fundamental areas:
- Employee Communication. Before social media, employers communicated to their employee using in person meetings, email, memos, and interoffice mail. Changes in policy or corporate restructures were communicated the same way. There was control, predictability, and a flow to the communications as well as change. Enter social media. Employers must now communicate changes to their organization making the assumption that by telling one, you are telling all. Gone are the individual meetings where HR travels to one location at a time, announcing terminations and restructures. A single tweet or Facebook update serves as public notice to any type of corporate change throwing a wrinkle in the corporate communicate process.
- The Voice of the Employee. Before social media, companies could rely on break room suggestion boxes, employee hotlines, and closed room meetings as a way for employees to raise and express concerns. A company’s biggest fear was a EEO Charge or a letter to the editor. Enter social media. Through social media, blogs, and online forums employees can now share their experiences and suggestions good as well as bad. Like consumers companies have little control except to monitor, address the change, and continue to communicate.
- Employer Branding. Even during a recession, employees have choices. In the past, employers communicate their job openings using one-way conversation tools like the newspaper, job boards, or career fairs. HR and Recruiting teams are now seen as an extension of their PR and Marketing departments except their target audience using social media is candidates not consumers. Of course in many cases, these are one in the same. HR and Recruiting teams are forever changed as they use social media to talk directly to the candidate if they are active, passive, or indifferent.
Social media changes HR, forcing them to consider technology and the online conversation in everything they do. Online social platforms are where the conversations HR and senior executives can no longer afford to ignore. Social media changes business. Social media changes HR. Social media is engagement. Social media changes everything.
Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a HR consultant, new media strategist, and author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. Jessica is the host of Job Search Secrets, an internet television show for job seekers. Photo Credit