During the past couple of years there has been so much talk and debate about using social media in the workplace. I think it’s safe to say that social, for the most part is owned by marketing. This makes sense for many reasons, but I think the primary re
ason is that people view social media to be a “marketing thing”. But, what about HR? We all know that it’s a “no-brainer” that all organizations need to be using social media, why is HR so slow to adopt social media? Sure there are many organizations across the globe that are well ahead of the curve in this regard, but for the majority mixing HR and social media is like mixing oil and water.
Before we dive into the top reasons why adoption of social media in HR is so low, I just need to get this one thing off my chest.
Bare Bones Social…
Social media is just a communications channel, albeit a very powerful one. But it’s still just a communications channel. I know this may seem rather simplistic but if you strip away the technology part of social media and ask yourself what social media does, I’m quite confident that you’ll think of things like conversation, communication, talking, sharing, telling, listening, reading and engaging. All of these things are characteristics of communication.
Back to Social Media and HR…
Here we go! The top reasons why HR is slow to adopt social media are:
#7. Employees are blocked from using social media.
For starters, the pros to employees using social media far outweigh the cons, but for many organizations employees are blocked. Because HR is all about people, the idea exists that HR has no strategic need to use social media. If you’re not enabled you simply cannot do.
#6. It’s a risk compliance thing.
With so many significant global events taking place during the past decade, the corporate world is highly regulated and policed—for social media, the perceived stereotype that organizational risk flies through the roof when organizations put their corporates lives online is alive and well. For HR, the traditional gatekeepers of people structures, processes and policies, using social media seems to be counter-intuitive to minimizing corporate risk.
#5. Because the c-suite says “no”.
There is not much to say about this but the fact that executives make… well… executive decisions. I don’t think anyone in the right mind would dive into the deep-end of social media when the c-suite says no.
#4. HR hates change.
Of course most things in life are all about perception. Does this statement have any truth? You tell me. Using social media represents a huge change for many people, and generally speaking, people hate change regardless of how good the change may be. I will not lie; learning the nuances of constantly evolving social media platforms takes a lot of dedicated work and time. Now throw in the wrinkle of someone using social media strategically within their work. It’s often easier to just ignore social media and let someone else worry about it.
#3. The social media misconception.
As I explained earlier social media is just a communications channel. In my work, unconferences and conferences that I have both organized and attended, and general conversations that I have had, there is a huge misconception of what social media is. It is NOT just about blasting stuff out there. For HR practitioners, many struggle with making the connection between how social media can help them be more productive in their work. For those that do use social media, many use them to perhaps advertise job vacancies, publish corporate videos or search for employee prospects. There is so much more it can do to add HUGE value to HR.
#2. HR does NOT generate revenue.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had this argument with people but it’s been many. This notion that HR does not contribute to top line results is extremely short-sighted. HR is responsible for the people component of any business. What generates revenue? People, not strategy, not process, not plans, not technology. It’s people. Social media is about people as well, people engaging and having conversations with other people that share mutual interests. Think about the impact that HR can have on things like quality of hire, internal communication processes, employee engagement, employee learning, performance management, payroll, scheduling, retention, and the list goes on, all by using social media. Yes, by using social media.
The number one reason why HR practitioners are slow to adopt social media is because they lack the necessary education and skills to use it effectively. I would say that 70-75% of HR practitioners, regardless of age, that I work with today are at the beginner level of social media competency. They are just starting out and trying to learn the basics of mainstream platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and blogging. Without the technical abilities you’ll never use it.
So, do you agree with my perspective on HR being slow adopters to social media, or do you think I’m blowing smoke?
Marc is founder of the Pan European HR Network.