The business case for leveraging social media in HR.

“The future belongs to people who see possibilities before they become obvious” – Ted Levitt

  • Hierarchy never appeals to me and I hate it
  • I value flexibility, innovation and openness in my work
  • Title or position does not matter to me as long as the organization taps my inner potential to the fullest
  • Do not try to control or command me instead collaborate then I will listen
  • I prefer open and honest real time feedback from my colleagues on my performance to annual appraisal
  • Pay check do matters but what equally matters is how meaningful my work is in the context of what I do and the impact I have on the organization and society as a whole
  • Leaders should inspire me

The above statements in a nutshell exemplify some of the values and expectations younger generation workforce hold today. The gap between demand and supply of work force is widening today due to lower employability of graduates in India resulting in talent war among companies. Going by the current scenario, I feel the battle for talent among companies would get intense as top talents today have more choice to select from. Unless the employability rate goes up quite significantly or the company has an attractive employee value proposition aligned to their business goals, vision, culture and core values, it will be a hard won battle for many. The impact of limited talent pool on companies due to lower employability has already resulted in poor quality hire, higher acquisition cost per recruit, lower productivity and unnecessary delay in getting the recruit onboard immediately after graduation. If this is not curtailed or nipped early, it will soon start affecting companies bottom-line.

 Given the scenario,

 How can companies become an employer of choice so as to attract right talent in the market, retain and engage them in order to achieve stated business goals aligned to their core corporate values, culture and vision?

How can organizations create a compelling and consistent experience for current and prospective employees across various touch points of the brand they interact with at different stages or points of an employee life cycle? 

How can companies leverage existing technologies or embrace future technologies to attract, nurture and retain current and prospective talent pool?

As critical talent consists increasingly of Gen Y in many sectors, it is imperative for organization to create and deliver a compelling and relevant brand experience across employee life cycle touch points underpinned by a strong leadership team at the top who not only inspires but also takes the team along with them in the pursuit of achieving or even exceeding the stated business goals without compromising on the core values of the organization. For instance, thinking small, not being collaborative, micro managing and being hierarchical are few things which are unacceptable in Google.

 World class companies do not just focus only on salary as the key means to attract top talent but also place more emphasis on other areas like autonomy, flexibility, openness, intellectual challenge and provide enormous scope for professional development. Great companies care for their employees not just professionally but also personally to foster strong sense of employee loyalty for the brand. Having a compelling and relevant EVP is just one part of the story in building a strong employer brand. How well a company communicates and consistently delivers on its brand promise is the key to succeed and sustain. A well defined and clearly articulated employer brand strategy aligned with business goals, values, people and process gives companies an edge over their competitors in the talent market.

 Social media is one of the most powerful platforms for companies to communicate their employee value proposition. It is an effective way to reach out and connect with Gen-Y and even Gen –X as they slowly move towards accepting and embracing these platforms. Leaders responsible for talent acquisition around the world think that social professional networks will shape most of the recruitment in the future. According to LinkedIn’s global recruiting trends, social professional networks, employer branding, increasing use of data analytics for better hiring and retention, internal hiring to stop talent walking out of the door and mobile recruiting were identified as key forces shaping the future of recruiting. To further augment my business case for social recruiting, a survey by Jobvite on social recruiting found that 78% of recruiters have made a hire through social media and 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media for their recruitment efforts. LinkedIn, face book and twitter are the platforms of choice for recruiters. Amongst these social platforms, LinkedIn dominates all stages of the recruitment funnel (showcase employer brand, search for candidates, post jobs, seek referrals, vet candidates pre-interview). Interestingly 73 % of the recruiters said that they are likely to look at a candidate’s social profile for professional and cultural fit.

 Traditional means of reaching out to prospective employees has its own share of limitations in terms of cost, time and potential to attract passive employees who otherwise might not apply. According to survey done in 2013 by SHRM on social recruiting, it has been found that more than three-quarters (77%) of organizations reported using social networking sites to recruit potential job candidates, an increase from 56% in 2011 and 34% in 2008. The majority (80%) say the primary reason is the ability to recruit passive job candidates who might not otherwise apply or be contacted by the organization.

 To get the best of both the world, many organizations use a mix of traditional approach such as company’s website, job boards, recruitment agencies and modern social platforms like LinkedIn, face book and twitter for recruiting and employee engagement. Compared with 2008 and 2011 data, organizations are increasingly using social networking websites to target candidates with a specific set of skills (69%), to increase employer brand and recognition (67%), and to allow potential candidates to easily contact their organization about employment (57%).( As per SHRM survey 2013 on Social recruiting)

 Social media can accelerate the entire recruitment process and once prospective candidates are on board, social media can also be used for collaborating with peers or SMEs (Subject matter experts within or outside an organization) for ideas sharing, mentoring and even training. Many organizations today have online discussion forums, blogs which facilitates open communication, idea sharing and learning. Companies like HCL, Infosys, and Wipro have their own internal networking sites (Meme, Infybubble, and MyWiproWorld respectively) to facilitate learning and engagement among employees through blogs, communities, Q&As and forums.

 Progressive organizations also use Gamification which fosters employee engagement and learning. For instance, Marriott, one of the global luxury hotels has its own Face book game called My Marriott which introduces prospective hires to its hospitality business. The game allows candidates to set up and manage their own virtual hotel business allowing them to bring in set of business skills to create infrastructure, hire and train employees and ensure profitable operations and happy customers.

 There is no doubt that social Media can positively impact an organization in areas like talent management and employer branding if sufficient capabilities are built, purpose & strategy clearly defined and last but not necessarily the least proper governance or checks in place to avoid foreseeable or unforeseeable risks arising out of social media abuse by employees that will eventually damage corporate reputation.


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