Adding Madness to Method: Social media in talent hunt
With competition for talent intensifying, social recruitment is a top priority and organisations are increasing their investment in this channel
4 out of 5 Indian companies use social media for hiring, and 2 out of 3 have a corporate page on social media platforms
Gurgaon, Wednesday 15th February. “We finally got the deal” sighs Yash as he logs off from the conference call. As Vice President Corporate Solutions, the first thing that strikes him is who all should he share the good news with. Everybody! He tabs onto the internal platform and posts it on the company wall, “Deal Clinched”… and as if the entire company was waiting for this very post; congratulatory comments started to pour in within seconds, followed by customary ‘Like’. In the heart of hearts he knew that the solution they had offered was just the perfect one; and the presentation his team member Vasanthi had made was indubitably mind-boggling. He congratulated Vasanthi on her wall, calling her the ‘superstar’ who made the project possible. The entire corporate solutions team can see the excitement and the ‘likes’ kept pouring in. Midday and charged up Vasanthi tweeted, “Today is one of the best days in my life #lovemyjob”
Anxious about the job interview at his dream firm at 11 a.m., Ravi woke up early, did his tweeting before the morning cup ‘o tea, browsed through the alumni page on LinkedIn, updated his status on Facebook and rushed. Ravi is greeted by the panel of interviewers who seemed to know him better than he expected. He was taken aback when the interview began with references to his Facebook discussions of his interest in snorkeling. He spent an easy hour talking about his all-time passion, and walked away smiling.
7 a.m. - the alarm rings; Meghna is still tired from last night’s late evening call but gets out of bed to open the door to the house maid. She cannot live without her although she works from home, and especially not today. The company is deploying a new L&D system for its Level 1 & 2 employees globally and being the L&D-Lead for India, she needs to be trained along with her peers across 100 locations to ensure a smooth transition. Starting 7:30 a.m., the next 8 hours will be packed with discussions. Opening the process-flow, Meghna’s head is swarmed with questions; but she’s glad that she no more needs to email her concerns to the different people. Her company’s enterprise social network allows Meghna to initiate a chat on their virtual platform and pace her learning with the help of the complete team.
A social dynamic seems to have entered the very nature of business. The technologically advanced stage that businesses operate in, and the social media savvy talent pool that is fast making its way into the workforce, have made social media gain acceptance in organizations much faster than the www in 1995 or the ERP in the 1980s. Today, the usage of social media tools in organizations is still experimental and ad hoc in most cases, wherein the focus is to build a sizeable ‘following’ on social media platforms. But this is fast changing.
From the days when the debate centred on whether or not to allow social networking sites in the workplace for fear of drop in productivity, to a time when today organizations are increasingly incorporating such practices within the formal system, social media has found its business relevance. Businesses have moved to where the dialogue is, that is, towards community engagement. The advent of social media has led to the consumerization of technology and opened up new avenues of conversation with costumers (consumers and employees alike). Organizations are gradually accepting the power of this medium and are actively making transition from being broadcasters to being mediators of a conversation. There is a tremendous increase in the brand equity when an organization effectively builds on its social media presence. Similarly, an effective use of social media can also help organizations attract, engage and retain the best talent.
Why organizations should turn “social”?
The McKinsey Report, The rise of the networked enterprise, December 2010, indicates that the payday for social media is due sooner than expected. In fact, in the last 2 years, an increasing number of companies across industries have started resorting to social networking, not only for marketing their products and services, but also to address concerns related to sourcing, engagement and learning & development. Research shows a significant increase in the use of Web 2.0 technologies; 40 percent companies having increased the use of social networking and 38 percent, that of blogs. Among those using Web 2.0, a large majority stated that they receive measurable business benefits, be it either in terms of more effective marketing or faster access to knowledge. Nearly 80 percent of respondents affirmed that social media has increased the speed of access to knowledge while 41 percent said it has led to increased employee satisfaction.
Social media platforms have become intrinsic to the new workforce and talent management too can benefit from this new wave. Organizations have started using social media effectively to redefine the way they interact, engage and influence employees. This has been driven primarily because of the changing talent demographics, where a larger percentage of the present workforce belongs to the younger generation, the millennial or the Gen Y. Further, organizations must also prepare ground for the Gen Z, who will join the workforce in the next 10 years. While on one hand, their early exposure to internet and social media will be an advantage, organizations need to proactively prepare themselves to better attract and engage these generations who will be technologically smarter and more self-directed.
Getting the ball rolling
Businesses, both big and small, are flocking to social media platforms. Social is the new way of thinking and managing. However, the 2011 Altimeter Group report states that most of the organizations are still early in their social business maturity. The report highlights the fact that 33 percent of the organizations are experimental (i.e. they have conducted trials but do not have a formal strategy), 22 percent of the organizations have a formalized program but short-term direction, while 6 percent are mere beginners when it comes to social media. Further, a survey of 2,100 companies conducted by SAS, reveals that many organizations cling to old paradigms, using social media for one-way flow of communication message, instead of capitalizing on the opportunity to monitor, analyze and participate in millions of conversations among consumers (internal as well as external). In fact, 75 percent of companies surveyed did not know what and where their most valuable consumers were talking about them and that applies to employees too.
The need of the hour is to integrate the social layer into the structure of the organization to leverage its true power. In the context of talent managment, this will mean innovating the way talent is sourced and managed, and turning this function upside down to make the most of the underlying madness of social media.
Employers are following their target talent segment into social networks. The Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2011 found that 89 percent of respondents had the intention to recruit through social media that year, up from 83 percent in 2010. With competition for talent intensifying, social recruitment is a top priority and organizations are increasing their investment in this channel. There is clear indication of employers planning to increase spending on candidate sources with 55 percent affirming that they will increase their budgets for social recruiting this year. Further, referrals, direct sourcing and social networks, are the top-rated external sources for quality candidates.
The Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2011 also indicates changes the recruitment departments will adapt to, as they move towards adopting unique environments of multiple networks to reach and engage their targets. LinkedIn has led in recruiting usage each year and 87 percent of those surveyed use the professional network, which is up from 78 percent last year; 55 percent use Facebook and 47 percent use Twitter as social tools for recruitment.
The social media hiring numbers are similar for India too. According to the GTM & People Matters Study of the ‘Most Talent-Friendly Website’, social media hiring is mainstream where 4 out of 5 Indian companies use social media for hiring, and 2 out of 3 have a corporate page on social media platforms. Further, 60 percent of the respondents affirmed that they plan to increase investment towards social hiring, employee referral and career sites in 2012.
Today every aspect of business is an extension of people’s lives and is therefore influenced by the manner in which the social media savvy talent pool engages with one another. For marketers and HR professionals alike, social media is the game changer.
Managing talent socially
The 5 Cs to social media viz. content, conversation, collaboration, community and collective intelligence, apply to the talent management space too. Firstly, content represents the knowledge and information exchange that is critical to business. This does not only refer to the access to open content on platforms like Wikipedia and YouTube, but also refers to organizations using internal platforms for employees to document, generate and share content that enhances the collective body of knowledge. Secondly, conversations at workplace are no more restricted to meetings and conference calls, but take place on a real time basis and in open platform available on the company’s internal social networks. Finally, the new talent pool demands collaboration at the personal and professional levels through continuous connect on social media. Increased use of online communities has built a sense of togetherness and a stronger bonding, as people are able to engage more effectively and share ideas and thoughts in open discussions on topics of interest.
Today, social conversations are effectively used by organizations for talent acquisition. New tools allow organizations to have access information about their prospective hires even before they interact in-person. These platforms act as ready references about potential candidates. Instant and constant conversations have made information exchange very open and candid, and this allows companies and prospective talent to learn about each other without hassle.
Social conversations also promote learning, collaboration, engagement and culture building, that lead to employee engagement and retention. The collaborative approach of social media enables quick and collective problem solving, drives innovation and therefore, enhances productivity. This has led to an increase in community of people with similar interests within the organization, which in turn creates higher employee engagement, affiliation and therefore, higher talent retention. Furthermore, the opportunity to share ideas on social media platforms has propagated a culture of constant ideation and innovation, which add to talent effectiveness. The social recognition that individuals gain on these platforms are increasingly acting as a motivator to enhance talent engagement.
Social media role in employee life cycle
The contagion of social media has spread across different stages of an employee’s lifecycle, right from selection, recruitment, on-boarding, retention, development, analytics, learning, to alumni engagement.
Employer branding: “Leveraging social media for talent management is a great way of building an employer brand with your target audience - existing and prospective employees,” says Aadil Bandukwala, Talent Acquisition Advisor, Dell India. Social platforms act as a broadcast medium to position the employer brand and can be used internally and externally to drive engagement and attract the best candidates. Companies are also using social media to communicate their vision, mission, outlook and in turn, providing a way for candidates to experience the workplace even before joining, thereby effectively starting the on-boarding process much before the candidate is actually hired.
Social hiring: The comprehensive networking clout of social media is indubitably helping companies find talent and vice versa. Potential candidates no longer have to wait for an opportunity to knock at their door; they can follow companies, they can participate in their discussions and showcase their expertise and eagerness to work in the organization. From an organizational perspective, social media platforms help gather information about candidates faster, as opposed to resumes and other traditional sources. This gives recruiters more clarity regarding the suitability of candidates with respect to the job and the organizational culture. Organizations are also leveraging social media for referral programs and reference checks, further making the process of sourcing, hiring and on-boarding, more effective.
Learning, from monologue to dialogue: Learning and development is one area which has seen tangible and direct gains from social networking platforms. L&D is no longer a monologue; it has moved towards collective sharing of knowledge through networks and communities. Skill communities and idea generation platforms are emerging as new means to connect people globally to allow sharing of knowledge. The use of social media reduces the otherwise associated training cost and time investment. Abhijit Bhaduri, Chief Learning Officer, Wipro, shares, “The Client Engagement Managers at Wipro have a community called CEMunity, which is an e-group, where employees regularly post information about the clients they are working with. When someone needs any information on any particular topic, they can ask questions on this platform and get answers.” Tools like podcasts, blogs, RSS feeds and webinars, are also being increasingly used by companies to encourage a culture of continuous learning.
Engaging & recognizing, socially: Social media platforms encourage employees to connect with each other, celebrate and recognize achievements. An environment of reinforcement and encouragement has the ability to create an engaged workforce and this is maximized when the organization as a whole is involved in the activity. Social recognitions can make this happen. For example, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories has its own internal portal called URJA – ‘U R Just Awesome’. URJA enables employees to appreciate and acknowledge the good work done every day by someone in their team or within the organization, in real time.
Managing careers differently: The millennial experience career differently; the journey starts way before they apply for a job. The access to information allows for a better choice of their dream company. Once in the organization, one can join communities or networks of professionals and be part of discussion forums to start building competencies required for next roles. Transparency of jobs, requirements and access to people in that community, empower employees to take charge of their growth. For example, Cisco’s portal ‘Talent Connections’ is a platform that not only helps employees find internal job postings, but also provides the opportunity for new openings to be filled from talent within the organization, by reaching out to employees who have the required skills and interests.
Engagement beyond employment: Alumni pages and groups on open social media platforms allow organizations to stay connected with its ex-employees and their networks. The alumni groups, in turn, become brand ambassadors of an organization and contribute to the community and the employer brand image. This continued relationship also helps in enhancing the chances of increased referrals and re-hiring.
Is your company ready to be social?
The success or failure of a social media strategy is rarely determined by access to resources or skills. Rather, it depends on the personality and culture of the organization. Companies that effectively use social media shoulbe be able to articulate its business case. Additionally, the organizational DNA must support the required culture and line managers should champion the strategy. The following are the basic building blocks to help assess if your organization is ready to leverage the opportunity.
First things first, organizations need to clearly articulate how ‘social’ is linked to their business success. These organizations understand that community, collaboration, conversation, collective content and intelligence are linked to best business performance. This invariably implies, that for a social media strat
Secondly, the social media strategy needs to be built around the readiness of the organization’s culture. One needs to deal with what is and not what one wishes for. Is the organization prepared to decentralize communication and empower people to be flexible and reactive? If the answer is in the negative, then the forward looking approach should be towards education and not towards execution yet. Perhaps, this might take the organization a few steps back, but when different functions are trying to centralize the process, creating layers of complexity for people to use social media effectively (for example, legal or HR demanding to approve every tweet or blog post), is a sign that your organization might not be ready.
Thirdly, to build a social media friendly organization, managers need to be involved, and champion the initiative. While they have to be aligned to the vision, they also need to understand the benefits and the opportunities arising out of being a ‘social media friendly organization’. Like with any other transformation, here too, the supervisors have the ability to mobilize people and lead the change from the front.
Though a journey of change and transformation starts with initial fanfare (not to forget the hiccups), business and HR leaders need to set realistic expectations and be patient. It takes time to build a strategy and connect customers and employees with it. The same holds true for a social media strategy, especially if cultural changes need to happen first. Exposure, education and access to expectations from customers and employees, are certainly the catalysts for change.