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Don’t Stigmatize Social Media’s Positive Effect on the Organization

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Greg Belkin
on April 04, 2013

What are the most critical topics in human capital management that should be on your radar in 2013? Topic #13: Social and HR.

Those that know me well know that I am a pretty hard worker. I come in to the office early, work hard during the day, and am known for grabbing my iPad to respond to issues after the kids have gone to bed. (What else was I going to say? The boss reads these blog posts from time to time!)

In this economy, we are all working hard. However, despite this, social media is still in constant use during the day for almost everybody. Even for me. We all crave a little gossip with our morning assignments. We all need to see what this person or that person did last night, or the latest topic of conversation is. Unfortunately, we are also a little paranoid. We don’t want managers to come by and see that familiar blue bar at the top of our screens. Thank goodness for the Alt+Tab button on the keyboard, right?

Truth is, the craving to consume information and news is inherent and insatiable for the vast majority of human beings. (Why do you think that tabloids in the marketplace, and gossip magazines, are so successful?) As a manager myself, I love this quality of curiosity in people and would rather embrace and take advantage of it, than fight it.

Take the intersection of social tools and HR, for example. The whole concept of social media is based on feeding and encouraging curiosity, conversation and information-sharing. These qualities can intersect with HR in important ways, helping to harness work issues and providing a community in which to discuss them, and share knowledge and ideas. Social media also makes accessing information and resources that much easier because, for most of these environments, resource management is a key built-in feature of the functionality. So when people are curious about one issue or another, or have something to talk about, they can do it in a forum that fosters productivity and efficiency. At its best, it’s a forum that drives itself: employees helping employees. That takes the burden off managers and frees up time.

Here at Peoplefluent, we use Socialtext (yes, they are owned by the same mother ship as Peoplefluent, but I would argue that we would have most likely used them anyhow. (A subject for another blog.) Socialtext is pretty cool because it allows us to share all types of information and internal knowledge and enables us to connect with peers in the same manner as you would on, say, Facebook. For new hires, this can be a dream: one single place to find those pesky W-2 documents, onboarding materials, and the best places to grab a sandwich near the office.

So, my point is this: Social media is here and it’s not going anywhere. As managers, the best thing we can do is take advantage of and embrace this phenomenon and use it to the advantage of our organizations. If people are using social media in their personal life, chances are the jump to using social media in their business life will be a short one.

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