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Do HR Leaders Have to be Social?

Hosted by: Facebook

The question we are really asking is ‘Are social media skills a must for HR professionals?’ The Chapman Consulting Group recently held a networking session at the offices of Facebook in Singapore where this topic was discussed among thirty HR Leaders from a range of industries. 90% of those in attendance rated social media high on their current HR agendas, and throughout the discussion it was clear that the spread and prevalence of social networking is having a massive impact on how HR operates today.

Changing Landscape

Ten years ago, Facebook didn’t exist, fast forward to 2012 and the company announced more than one billion active users. Launched just over a decade ago, LinkedIn now has over 225 million registered users, all of whom are looking to establish or increase their professional networks. Another relatively young organisation, Twitter, now has over 550 million active registered users and in 2012 brought in over $250 Million in annual advertising revenue.

In addition to these established and well-known Internet brands, internal social networks are also commonly used by organisations to enable collaboration and to enhance communication within the enterprise. As a result, questions arise around whether this should fall under the remit of the HR organisation, as it does concern the management of corporate culture.

It was agreed that at a minimum, today’s HR Leader must be equipped to advise the business on their social networking strategy, while some will be asked to take ownership of the entire social media setup. This could include a blog platform for Senior Leaders with a feedback and discussion mechanism; a ‘collaboration space’ for members of a project team to share content and ideas; or simply an online newsfeed about what’s going on in the company. The ability to consult and make well thought through choices regarding what should be communicated and how, will likely require the development of a new skillset for many HR professionals.

Social Recruiting — the Essential Skills

It would not be an overstatement to say that recruitment has been revolutionised by social networking. Dedicated networks like LinkedIn are changing the rules of the game and making it easier and more efficient to recruit. The CV/ resume has been replaced by this ‘personal branding,’ which requires HR Leaders to extend their skills in this area as well. Rather than reacting to requests from the business, the current trend is to build a pipeline of talent by anticipating the needs of the organisation and reaching out to the right candidates early.

How does all of this affect recruiting? According to Matt Chapman, CEO, The Chapman Consulting Group, ““We often get asked whether LinkedIn is adversely impacting ChapmanCG. The good news is ‘not much’. We, like everyone, are using it as a positive networking vehicle to connect with people we either know or want to know. But it is no substitute for a ‘real’ relationship, much in the same way that Facebook is not a substitute for a ‘real’ friendship. Our job at ChapmanCG is to intimately know what our HR network is up to. We track and interact with them at every step of their career and every movement in their team. Having such close contact across so many people is no simple task, but it is something I take very seriously with this business.”

Cooperation Platform — Community Management

Initially many organisations had concerns about the potential negative impact social media might have on productivity. Today things have moved on and now there is a greater emphasis on how to best channel the use of social tools to enhance team building and productive communications between employees. More and more companies are now using these networks to develop internal communication and promote the sharing of best practice across the business. Groups of employees become communities and HR practitioners are increasingly asked to take on the role of ‘community manager’ to ensure the maximum benefits are derived from these virtual groups.

Work-Life Balance

The development of social media at work of course brings up the issue of the permeability between our work and personal lives. Social media does enable productive global communication that was previously either impossible or impractical, but it can also blur the lines between work and home life. It is the responsibility of the business, HR, as well as every individual employee to ensure that the technology is used sensibly and respectfully.

Social media is a pervasive part of how we now operate in both our personal and professional lives. While the changes in recruiting are undeniable, HR is also using the technology for onboarding, teambuilding, employee communications and even training. This rapid evolution does require a new set of skills for HR Leaders, as well as close monitoring and deep reflection on the use and performance measurement of social media usage. The changes can seem overwhelming at times, but the opportunity cost of choosing not to have any type of social media presence is too great to be ignored.

The Chapman Consulting Group would like to thank Madan Nagaldinne from Facebook for hosting this meeting, and we look forward to further Asia Pacific HR Leaders’ meetings in 2014.


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