Wednesday 15 June 2011

Using technology and social media for engaging relationships


  There’s been quite a bit in the HR press recently on HR technology and especially social media, perhaps in the run-up to the UK’s HR Software Show today (I’m not going to this as I’m holding on for the USA’ much larger HR Technology conference in October, and the new European one in November).

HR Magazine has a quite nice article on social media, and notes a number of its major benefits including communication, recruitment and learning.  However, whilst the article notes that there is more to social HR than appeasing Generation Y it largely seems to focus on this.

For example (and it is only an example), the article includes a comment from Nick Holley at Henley suggesting:

“Social media is here to stay.  We need to understand how to use it and educate managers not to be scared by it.  We have to embrace it and understand Gen Y’s obsession with social media – and gen Gen X to embrace it too.”


Well yes, and I certainly agree with the first half of the quote.  But I generally blog most days of the week, tweet a fair among and use other tools more sparingly too.  That’s pretty obsessed and I’m no Gen Y.  The generation thing really isn’t the point.

If you want to know what is the point, you might like to tune into HR Magazine’s HR Vision interview with me: ‘Why should HR directors use social media in their business’ (see the lines on my forehead if you don’t believe I’m a fair bit past the Gen Y mark).  This is also trailed in the HR Magazine article – though it’s not yet up on the website at the time of writing.


There’s another good article over at People Management which includes a broader review of HR technology in the cloud as well.  For example, it includes CedarCrestone’s finding from its 2010-11 survey that HR generally prefers pay per use provision, supporting Could based delivery (see here if you wish to participate in the 2011-12 research).

This article emphasises the benefits of social media for employee engagement, including a comment from Patricia Eyoma at Unit4:

“Employee engagement has become a top priority now because there’s been no opportunity to offer salary increases.  If we can enable employee surveys or screen sharing, things that promote a culture of information-sharing or having an input into decisions, then we can offer a way of enhancing relationships within an organisation.”


Let’s leave aside the idea that screen saving is going to compensate for a salary increase for a moment and focus in on the point regarding relationships.  Social media does help people build relationships, there’s no doubt about that, though again, I think there are probably more appropriate tools than screen sharing to do it.  And relationship development definitely improves engagement (even if Kenexa argues with this).

I just wish that more organisations would value relationships for themselves rather than a means to something else, eg engagement.  Relationships are a vital aspect of social capital which is probably a more direct source of competitive advantage than engagement or other aspects of human capital (and a greater competitive opportunity than strategic positioning and core competencies too).  You can see more about this over at my Social Advantage blog.

Actually, my last post there referred to some work I’m involved in developing a management hack for love.  As part of our discussions on this, Lisa Haneberg at Management Craft sent me this quote from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his book, Flow:

“It is in the context of intimate friendships, however, that the most intense experiences occur.”


This is why relationships drive employee engagement, but they also support people achieving the state of flow too.  And that state is where people perform at their best, and develop towards their full potential – individually and together too.  This is the main reason why social media‘s impact on relationships is as important as it is.

In fact, it’s ‘the point’ I refer to in the HRvision interview as well.  Pop back in a week or so to see if it’s up there if you want to know more!



  • Consulting - Research - Speaking  - Training -  Writing
  • Strategy  -  Talent  -  Engagement  -  Change and OD
  • Contact  me to  create more  value for  your business
  • jon  [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I do think that generic, socially focused forms of social media are NOT necessarily the way to go. There are more and more software solutions available that enable networking about certain business functions or aspects. Here at UpMo, we are developing an enterprise SaaS solution, called UpMo Career Mobilizer. It matches employee skills, experiences, and career goals with actual open positions in their company and has a social networking component for getting feedback about open positions and internally network to get where you want to go at the company.


Please add your comment here (email me your comments if you have trouble and I will put them up for you)