How Social Media is Changing the HR Landscape

Corporate HR duties were a little less hectic before social sites became a mainstay medium of communication. Now, there are dozens of major social media platforms that HR representatives need to keep tabs on to ensure employees are maintaining good conduct. Likewise, it’s a whole new window into learning about prospective new employees as a sort of “soft background check.”

Let’s explore a few of the main topics HR should be cognizant of.

Social Media in Recruiting

Social media can be a stage on which to build your brand’s identity in the public eye, not only from a sales perspective but also for accessing potential hires.

Begin by posting about new or recent hires and a brief bio about their professional journey that led them to your brand. This can not only share your goings-on with your audience but also illustrate to potential future candidates that your brand is a wholesome place that attracts good talent.

Establishing that you care about your employees’ journeys in this way with your social media audience can later draw in future employees.

The other convenient aspect of social media is that many platforms, like LinkedIn, offer free hiring tools, which can be an attractive alternative to most paid applicant tracking systems.

Instant Messaging

As far as distance communication goes, e-mail and phone calls have been long-standing favorites. But the last 15 years have seen major instant messaging tools rise to the occasion in equipping businesses both large and small with quicker and more agile modes of communication.

HR personnel should be wary, however, that instant messaging tools need to be monitored just as much as e-mail and phone calls. Due to these systems’ nature, employees may be more casual with instant messaging; however, HR reps should still monitor these systems as much as e-mail because there is liability involved in the casual features they present.

Hiring and Firing

What many at-will employees do not realize before it is too late is that the comments and speech they make outside of work on social media can be cause for their dismissal.

Defamation, slander, and overtly harmful comments about the brand you work for are often not tolerated, and it is perfectly reasonable to judge employees’ longevity at a company based on their temperament outside the workplace.

Grim as it may seem, we do forfeit certain rights when we choose to work for a business. Although each state may have different legislation that may or may not protect employees, most states are at-will work states, which essentially allow workplaces to fire employees for any reason other than protected classes of discrimination.

However, as we touched on before, what an employee does or says on social media can also make a recruiter want to hire the person in the first place. Wholesome activity and interests displayed through a social media account can inspire a positive impression of a candidate.

Likewise, HR reps should consider researching candidates through social media to verify whether their character is of good quality.

However, this is a double-edged sword. Do not interpret a candidate’s absence from social media as an indication that that person has something to hide. Many people aren’t keen to use social media and, therefore, shouldn’t be judged poorly for not being on social platforms.

Remote Obstacles with Socialization and Communication

On the one hand, social media goes a long way toward connecting people who are apart. On the other hand, the remote culture associated with social media presents plenty of communication challenges. It can be difficult to serve as a substitution for in-person interaction.

Remote communication can often lead to poor interaction, as there is often a loss of tone, urgency, inflection, and emotion. As little as some may care to admit, emotion is a strong drive of inspiration and motivation in the workforce, and when that component is stripped from the equation, it can leave many workers feeling dull and neglected.

It can also cause “cliquey” behavior, whereby employees only interact with a select few coworkers and may be hesitant to extend this social circle. For example, you might work in a company of 50 people and only connect with 3 of them each week because those 3 people are the only others assigned to the same project you’re on.

To some extent, remote communication takes more effort and time because writing an e-mail often takes longer than just speaking to someone. Because this type of communication can require more of a person’s time, workers may become more cautious about initiating a conversation in this way, as they typically don’t want to impose on other people’s time. It’s simpler to bond with a coworker over lunch in a break room when there’s nothing urgent.

Likewise, body language and tone can go a long way toward expressing acceptance and comfort with other coworkers. When you remove that from the discussion over e-mail or an instant message, it can make all actors appear cold and rote.

This is why HR personnel should equip workers with the necessary means to imitate real-life interaction as much as possible. An effective way companies can do this is by maximizing videoconference meetings whenever possible.

Audience Differentiation Across Platforms

It’s important to identify early on which social platforms are right for your business’s purposes. Not every social media platform is created equal to that effect. For instance, TikTok attracts many young people, so it may not be the ideal place to hire for high-level job positions.

It’s probably no surprise that LinkedIn attracts more business-minded professional personalities, while Instagram’s audience often contains artistic minds with an eye for visual details.

Seek to understand the platform before placing your job description on it. The last thing you want is a flood of applicants who share the same undesirable traits because they’re part of the audience of a social platform that doesn’t reflect the traits you’re searching for.

Getting Up to Speed

There’s a lot involved with digital monitoring in today’s world. HR representatives will therefore want to get on the ball with how behavior is shifting to a digital playing field. Always account for employees’ privacy, but also make sure they aren’t expressing things they shouldn’t.

Also, keep an eye out for employees who appear distant, and ask them what would help them feel more involved with daily dialogues. Unifying your digital communication is necessary to prevent recklessness and apathy in the workplace. Don’t let it slip through the cracks!

Indiana Lee is a Guest Contributor at HR Daily Advisor.

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