Social Media Trends: For HR — and For Organizational Transformation

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Deloitte recently published its 2012 Human Capital Trends ReportThe report highlights trends that are driving HR organizations to make leaps in capabilities and performance — ranging from globalization, to risk management, to utilizing cloud services.

If you’ve been to the Benz blog before, you know we’re all about using social media to boost your employee benefits communication. So we love that Deloitte’s report has a chapter dedicated to social media and mobile devices — and how they’re influencing HR services.

What’s driving this trend?

Times have changed since 2009 when we wrote the EBA article, “What if social media is just a fad?”

Now, only 13 percent of business execs believe social media in business is a fad, according to a Capgemini survey. Which means businesses are getting with the times. And for good reason — a recent Towers Watson survey found that companies that embrace change and social media are anywhere between 2.4 to 6.3 times more likely to be effective in communication.

With 96 percent of Americans on Facebook, mobile devices and social media are changing the way people interact — in a way that is unrestricted by time, proximity, or organizational boundaries. In their personal lives, people have come to expect the instant gratification that comes from having knowledge at their fingertips. And now they’re looking for the same thing from their employers.

This sparks many opportunities for HR to remain relevant. Social and mobile technologies allow HR’s customers to create real relationships in virtual communities. These communities can morph HR portals into social platforms that encourage evolving content and employee engagement. Throw mobile devices and apps into the mix, and you have on-demand service.

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How to implement

For HR organizations, developing and implementing a strategy for social media and mobile devices is a necessity. Deloitte’s report shows you how with these steps:

  • Define a coherent strategy that spans business functions. Mobile devices and social media will affect departments beyond HR, like Marketing, Legal and Public Relations. Work closely with department leaders to create a holistic approach.
  • Complement your current HR communication. Social media is meant to enhance your traditional communication channels, not replace them.
  • Identify the desired outcomes for HR, employees and the overall business. Are you using social media to stay current or to improve your operating models?
  • Create an integrated solution. With all the different free apps, cloud services and social networking sites available, it’s easy for HR individuals to dive right in. But failing to integrate individual solutions into HR and the company’s overall social media strategy can lead to data problems, inefficiency and an overload of user interfaces.
  • Facilitate and moderate. Discussions will spring up naturally, but HR can add a lot of value by encouraging the dialog, helping to connect the dots and answering questions. By fact-checking and moderating, you can ensure the conversation stays on track and doesn’t spread false information.
  • Grow and improve. Social media platforms can provide a wealth of information on possible improvements. Listen to people’s suggestions and critiques, and use those ideas to seed and nurture online communities while encouraging people to participate.

Deloitte ends their social media chapter with the prediction that as more people use social media and smart devices to collaborate, communicate and conduct their daily business, organizations that hold back and use a wait-and-see approach will be forced to play catch-up when they find themselves outpaced by their nimbler social media-adopting competitors.

HR has the opportunity to stay on the forefront — and the payoff is great. We know benefits is one area where you can harness the power of social media and mobile devices.

Jennifer Benz is Chief Strategist and Founder of Benz Communications, a San Francisco-based consultancy that focuses on custom, comprehensive benefits and HR communications services. Jen is an active member of the Council for Communication Management, the International Association of Business Communicators, the Northern California Human Resources Association and Women in Consulting. Contact her at