Is HR Ready for Social Technology?

Here is a short interview that I did with an HR peer about using social technology in the workplace; I was the interviewer.

ME: What do you think of employees using social technology in the workplace?

CLEVER HR PEER:  Well, I’m not really sure… it appears that our employees who are on their Facebook are not really doing any real work for the benefit of the company but I hear all the time in the community that social media is a good thing.

ME: Does your company integrate social technology in its business practices?

CLEVER HR PEER: I have no idea.

ME: What about HR?  Does HR use social technology platforms?

CLEVER HR PEER:  We don’t.  We have software that we use to help us handle the large volume of applicants, but we only use it for organizing resumes and candidate profiles.

ME: What are some of the social platforms that you’re aware of?

CLEVER HR PEER: Facebook and Twitter.

ME: Do you use Twitter?

CLEVER HR PEER: Ummm, sure I do… I have a Twitter account and I tweet.

ME: What do you tweet about?

CLEVER HR PEER: Well… I don’t tweet that often, and when I do I usually tweet about new jobs in my company, or I just tweet to my friends on occasion.

ME: Do you use other social platforms?

CLEVER HR PEER: I have a Facebook account and I use it primarily for communicating with friends and family.

ME: Hypothetically speaking, if your company were to leverage social technology for business, what would you think they could do?

CLEVER HR PEER:  I have no idea but perhaps use it for sales and marketing.

ME: How could HR use social media?

CLEVER HR PEER: It could be used for recruitment purposes.  As an example, I have used my personal Twitter account to post jobs that my company is recruiting for.

ME: So what happened?  Were you able to identify how effective tweeting job posts were?

CLEVER HR PEER: We did receive a higher volume of applicants than we normally do but I’m not sure if that was because of me tweeting the job opportunity.

The interview went on, and we ended up having a pretty good conversation about HR.

By the way, I’ve had about a dozen or so conversations like this in the past 6 months within my HR peer group.

If the responses above sound like what yours would be, don’t worry…. my gut is telling me that you’re not alone, and to be perfectly honest, I would say you’re the majority of those who really don’t know how social media can significantly help them be more successful as HR practitioners.

Social media is still very new, and the world is still trying to figure it all out, and what it means for business.  The tools and platforms that exist today are far more effective than yesterdays, and tomorrow’s will be better than today’s.  I have also seen an explosion of niche HR social platforms such as ClearFit, ZuzuHire, Rypple, Yackstar, Yammer and I Love Rewards to name a few.

This is how I think of social media and HR:

1. HR is about the people side of business—helping leaders optimize workforce talent performance through the employee lifecycle so that business goals are achieved and exceeded—it’s the infrastructure (a.k.a. foundation) that employees stand firmly on during the course of their work.

2. Business as we know it is global and highly technological—meaning that business leverages technology to sell, market, promote, communicate, develop, etc…

3. Social media is highly cost-effective and efficient web technology that connects people, audiences, communities and interest groups.  It also has the capability to significantly reduce manpower that is required to perform and complete traditional business tasks and activities.

If people are leveraging social media for a variety of business reasons then it naturally makes sense that HR be part of this equation.  Yet, HR is still on the outside looking in.  Why?

I don’t have the answers but here is a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts:

  • HR education is deeply rooted in traditional concepts and theory—where is technology, business strategy and human workplace psychology?
  • HR practitioners are technicians—meaning that we are reactive to business needs, and perform tasks because we have to (i.e. legislative, compliance, risk, administration).  Essentially, we hide behind process because it’s comfortable and safe.
  • HR practitioners are not always tapped into the business issues that their organizations face, what these issues mean, and what they are doing to solve them.  Better yet, they don’t know how what they do support their organizations’ achieve results.
  • HR is not technologically savvy—I’m not talking about coding, programming, website design, etc… I’m talking about user experience, platform/content benefits, etc… thinking in-line with providing employees with a better employee experience while increasing productivity and reducing operating costs.
  • We think that social media is all about socializing—e.g. talking to my friends on Facebook.  Social is absolutely a huge part of the equation, but the majority of social platforms can be leveraged in business.

What do you think?  Do you agree with me?  Is HR ready for social technology?  If not, what can we do to change this?

Let’s get the conversation started!


Jeff Waldman
FusionPoint – “Infusing Life Into Connected Brands”



  1. […] the majority of my professional experience is with Canadian organizations.  Here is the problem… the HR community in Canada does NOT possess the knowledge and understanding of HR technology, the necessary technological skills or the ability to evaluate the strategic impact of HR […]

    • Christine McLeod on June 6, 2011 at 6:06 am

      I agree there is a big big gap in HR competence in all things SOCIAL- but not just social media- we are in a place where we need to reinvent how we connect with employees from PRE-HIRE phase to their entire life cycle with new tools AND a new paradigm that starts with beliefs that are radically different than corporate has today- that open is ok for much of the information flow in companies. That leadership has less to do with title and more about how much influence that person has… and reputation for adding value… and so many more beliefs.. I can feel another blog post coming!

  2. SWrightBoucher on August 27, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Christine,

    Employer branding may not be at the top of the priority list for everyone today, but I think it should be.  As baby boomers retire, the competition for great talent will heat up.  Social technology is the most effective way to manage – and monitor – one’s employment brand.

  3. Christine McLeod on August 30, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Thanks so much and you are so right…. it’s one of the main things we are going to be talking about at http://var/www/vhosts/ when we bring 99 top leaders together for one day, in one place to talk about the value of social technology in enhancing EVERY part of the employer culture and strategy!