2015: Social HR Becomes A Reality

por Jeanne Meister

In 2014, we saw organizations use social technologies for recruitment, development and engagement practices. The year to come will bring even more transformation to human resources.

The year 2015 will see the advent of what I call “the consumerization of HR,” where employees expect an “intelligent mobile user experience” to guide their access to HR resources. Employees will increasingly expect their employer to have the same user experience as when they reserve a taxi on Uber or Lyft, pay their bills on the Bank of America mobile app, or order food on Seamless or GrubHub. The mobile interface will be the employee’s primary conduit to a host of personal and business applications; putting pressure on HR to increase mobile adoption for recruitment, time and attendance, learning, goal setting and internal company newsletters.

As a recent MIT Sloan research report showed, 57% of workers now consider ‘social business sophistication’ to be an important factor when choosing an employer. Even more noteworthy: according to the report, “Moving Beyond Marketing: Generating Social Business Value Across the Enterprise, that group of workers ranged from age 22 to 52! The use of social collaboration technologies in the workplace is no longer a Millennial request.

Indeed, today we are all adopting an increasingly ‘Millennial’ mindset. (Millennials are born between 1977-1997) According to the recent Facebook Demographics report, the fastest growing demographic on both YouTube and Google+ is 45-54 years old. This points to the increased computer literacy of an older demographic, as well as the value they put in staying up to date on modern social tools. Sloan’s and Facebook’s research suggest that we are no longer divided into a world of either digital immigrants or digital natives: Instead, we are now all digital citizens.

2015: HR Creates Social Employer Brand Playbooks

Based on workers’ increased prioritization of ‘social sophistication,’ we can expect in 2015 to see more forward-thinking HR leaders make the connection between solid social media strategies and a competitive business model. And once they recognize that link, they will find themselves compelled to improve outdated HR policies.

2015 will be the year HR departments start creating “social employer brand playbooks” to gain competitive advantage in sourcing and developing top talent.

Looking at the big picture helps to determine those priorities. Here are seven social HR trends to watch in the coming year as organizations leverage all forms of social collaboration to re-imagine how they find, develop and engage employees.


1. Employees At All Levels Become Social Brand Ambassadors

In just the past few short years, companies have gone from viewing social media as a danger to be avoided to training their employees to be social media brand ambassadors for the corporate brand. As I noted in a previous column, top companies like MasterCard now use tools like the Conversation Suite to guide the interactions their employees lead online. MasterCard’s Conversation Suite is a social media listening program that showcases the millions of relevant conversations about the MasterCard brand taking place around the world at any given point, via a 40-foot LED monitor in the center of the MasterCard headquarters.

MasterCard has also built a robust social media training and communications program, an online social media community site composed of short videos on how to use MasterCard social media channels – and, ultimately, how to become a social ambassador for the firm. To date, more than 40% of MasterCard’s 8,000 employees are Social Ambassadors, meaning that they frequently share positive MasterCard content with their friends on their social channels and via blogs on both internal and external MasterCard platforms.

PepsiCo has made a similar move. The global food and beverage company turned its Intranet inside out by allowing employees to easily share content from the company’s internal newsletter to their personal social media channels. PepsiCo determined that a good 85% of the content on the company’s internal newsletter was suitable to be shared externally; for example, articles like the one in CEO magazine that ranked PepsiCo number 7 among the best companies for leaders.

For other companies, developing social ambassadors can start with the commitment to use social media to aggregate all types of inquires from consumers & employees.

Often these aggregation platforms are known as “social media command centers,” and they serve to deliver the message that the organization is serious about building its social brand both internally and externally.

Being a social brand ambassador is not only an option for employees. In fact, in today’s hyper-connected workplace CEOs and senior executives are expected to have an active social presence as well. Doing so builds brand authenticity and reinforces the company’s ability to source and hire the best talent. Forward looking HR leaders will work in 2015 with senior executive teams to communicate the importance of honing social leadership skills in their communications with employees, customers and investors.


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