Monday, 22 April 2013

What is Social HR?

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 09.25.46.png  I'm not normally very good at remembering to send posts to HR Carnivals, but this month this is being done by Anita Lettink who I think generates some very interesting ideas for HR, so it's one that I particularly wanted to enter into.  Oh, and it's on Social HR, which is also where I seem to be spending most of my time these days.Anita says the carnival was triggered by a post from Paul Taylor at Bromford on 'how social is your CEO?' and has therefore invited contributions on 'how social is your HR?'.


I'd like to deal with he social CEO first.  This is something I've spoken about previously and I also linked to another recent post on the subject in the Social HR community:

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For me, the key issue isn't whether your CEO is on social media.  They may want to be, they may not. The choice depends on a lot of things including them and their priorities and the culture of the business, etc (I think Paul expresses it very well too).

And OK, it's not going to help if they ignore their social tools completely but I don't think they need to feel that they should be using them extensively.  Now they do need to connect with their employees, and they probably need to be quite 'social' to do this.  But the biggest issue for me, and I believe for lots of people these days, isn't whether a CEO is using social media.  The big issue generally today is their reward.

If a CEO is on 354 times the average employee they're simply not going to connect with other employees.  They can tweet all they like but they're just not going to be able to connect.  It's why I thought Lord Wolfson's actions last week to distribute his £2m bonus to Next's employees was such a great thing to do.  Now he's a social CEO.

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That then leads us onto social HR.  And this, again, I don't think is just or mainly about social media.  And although there will be exceptions for most HR Directors social HR isn't going to be about the size of their own rewards.  Instead it's about how they're injecting social approaches, and looking for social outcomes, in their people management and organisation development work.

If you want to understand more about what social HR looks like - and that includes the broader 'being social' elements as well as the use of social media, for each process in the employee lifecycle, and beyond, they stay tuned in the Social HR community as I'm going to encourage some discussions on each of these processes there.


However, there is another difference between the CEO and HR.  Some of social HR is normally going to be informed through the use of social media.  It's also the newest element of social HR for many people and organisations.  It's one that can go badly wrong if mis-handled.  And it's the area where there is the greatest and fastest change.  HR does need to understand and sponsor social media.

For a CEO I don't think this is that important.  For HR, it is.  We need to be using social media ourselves, as practitioners and as functions.  And we need to be using it socially - for connection.  And we need to be using it where appropriate to support our HR processes too.

But the key thing is that we need to be using it ourselves - as this will help us understand these technologies' opportunities and limitations.


There you go.  Oh, and I know I've not really addressed Anita's question about assessing how social your HR is.  But before we can assess this we need to understand what we're measuring ourselves against.  And I hope I've explained why, for me, this is about being social, and perhaps using and understanding social media ourselves, and not just about incorporating social technologies into HR.  That's why the HR Carnival remains important and relevant too.


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