HRExaminer v2.46 December 2, 2011
Table of Contents
in the human capital management sector over the last 25 years and currently heads up CMG Group. China was the Chief Operating Officer of SHRM and sits on the Advisory Board at RiseSmart. China is a sought-after speaker and thought leader in the human resources marketplace. Full Bio »
Apps Don’t Create Community
by China Gorman
“Community” is a word thrown around a lot in the HR space.
We hear about talent communities, employee communities, learning communities, and professional communities. And they’re all powered by apps. Or at least that’s what we’re led to believe
The leading super consumer apps – FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn – have created the illusion that relationships created online are real relationships. They want you to believe you can create meaningful friendships, depend on them and, best of all, monetize them.
I think it’s horse pucky. The super apps are brilliant. No question. And they keep people connected. But they don’t create relationships.
I don’t believe real relationships are created online. I have thousands of Twitter followers. I have relationships with about 150 of them. True, I “met” some of these folks on Twitter. But until I met them face-to-face, or had a telephone conversation with them, I didn’t have a relationship with them. And after I met some face to face or had telephone conversations with them, I chose not to invest in a relationship. We’re connected. That’s all.
Same thing with FaceBook. I’m connected to all manner of people – most of them I don’t know. Lots of them I used to know – from high school, college, former work places – but I don’t know them now and certainly haven’t invested in any type of a relationship. I also have lots of “friends” on FaceBook that I’ve never met and have no interest in meeting. We have “friends” in common and that’s it.
LinkedIn has a more defined purpose. Professional networking on LinkedIn has value to me in a way that being friends on FaceBook doesn’t – except with people who really are my friends. Networking and being willing to share professional information with people I don’t know is something I’ve done throughout my career. I’ve helped lots of strangers and lots of strangers have helped me over the last 30 years – with and without LinkedIn. Except that once we help each other we aren’t strangers any more. We have a real relationship. But that’s still not a majority of my connections on LinkedIn.
This is all to say that entities (individual or collective) that want to create community need to focus on creating relationships rather than generating mountains of connections via social technology apps. Thousands of followers, “friends,” and connections might make you feel like you’re part of something big and special, but they aren’t relationships. And I’d be hard pressed to call them a community.
So would John Sumser at HRxAnalysts. He just published The 2012 Index of Social Technology in HR and Recruiting. It’s fascinating. His observations are spot on and his list of organizations providing social technology to HR, while not exhaustive – where is Achievers? – is certainly robust.
The big takeaway? Today, social technology and HR are about data. Pure and simple.
Social technology and HR aren’t yet about community building – although everyone thinks they are. In fact, Sumser characterizes social media technology for HR as “anti-social.”
“Much of what is called social media or social technology is really an emerging approach to being able to collect and use new forms of data. …While the results are somewhat anti-social, organizations are developing an appetite for the information in social media sites. That data helps clarify the characteristics of the human capital that an organization deploys.”
“While the promise of social technology is increased levels of intimacy between individuals and their world, the current reality has more to do with surveillance.”
Wow. “(T)he results are somewhat anti-social….” “(T)he current reality has more to do with surveillance.” Could we find two words more at odds with building community than anti-social and surveillance?
The thing is, I think he’s right. HR sees the “promise” of social technology, but hasn’t yet figured out how to use it for much more than data collection. The “promise” of the power of communities is there. We can all see it. We can smell it. We can feel it. We want it so badly we can taste it.
And we’re looking to technology providers to help us get there. As the HRxAnalyst report shows, there are a great many providers working on social technology applications for HR – many established firms and many more startups. But it would appear that within this sector, the applications are about data collection and analysis, not community creation and growth. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of data – especially as it relates to acquiring and managing people. In fact, HR needs to get much more comfortable and facile with data.
But let’s all be real about this. HR isn’t really creating communities through social technology apps. HR is gathering a lot of data that it can’t yet put to work to engage its workforce and plan for the future.
The promise of social technology gets us all excited about the power of communities. I wonder when that promise will be a reality.
If you’ve been listening, the swarm of industry newcomers are busy proclaiming the death of the job board. The idea is that social technology is going to quickly replace twenty year old job board technology in the same way that the web replaced print ads. “Any moment now”, the breathy evangelistas shout, “the future will be thrust upon you. You’d better get on board.”
You can excuse a vendor like JobVite for exaggerating the importance of social media. Their services depend on social technologies for velocity. You’d expect their materials to underline the case for their products. After all, that’s what marketing folks do.
It’s another thing entirely when conservative analysts start repeating the hype. Recent analysts report echo the JobVite story that social media is growing in ways that threaten the existence of job boards. Jobvite claims that 16% of all recent job hunters used social media to find a job. The Bersin number is 10%.
In both cases, this marginal usage is described is dramatic.
Today, LinkedIn is nearly 10 years old. Facebook is almost 8. Twitter is 5. By the time that the web was 10 years old, every single one of the fortune 2500 had had an employment site for at least 10 years.
The social web is growing very, very slowly as a replacement for the existing infrastructure (compared to the rise of the web). At this rate, the replacements for the current top 3 social sites will be the ultimate winners. (Yes, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are today’s Prodigy, Compuserve and AOL.)
And, this is not going to be solved with referrals.
So while the conventional wisdom is that job boards have a short life expectancy, let me refer you to two interesting examples:
- The Behance Job BoardBehance is a 21st century company that specializes in helping creative people accomplish stuff. They make to do list notebooks and software. Focused on accomplishment, they are becoming a current day version of Nightingale-Conant with an emphasis on grassroots inspiration and peer to peer motivation. The job board is a supplemental revenue source for like minded people. (Nightingale-Conant would also be a great place for a job board)
- MediaBistroA prototype for virtual community, MediaBistro serves the New York publishing industry with education, networking, advice and job listings. The job board is central to both revenue and community development
In each of these cases, job boards (like classified ads of old) are significant revenue sources for operations with existing audiences. One can easily imagine that this approach will continue to grow and support any organization or individual with an interesting group of followers.
The other arena in which job boards have reasons to believe in near immortality are the places that concentrate job listings into a single location.
Most employers (over 98%) have fewer that 500 employees. Their ability to reach beyond the rigid confines of their networks is non-existent. They have to have broader access to the labor market than referrals and networking can provide. Job boards are perfect tools for this group.
Firing At Will
by Heather Bussing
Jay Shepherd is no ordinary employment lawyer. Sure, he has the license and lots of experience using it. But he’s really an entrepreneur who thinks like a designer.
Q: How many designers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Does it have to be a lightbulb?
Shepherd believes light bulbs are useful, but never the complete fix.
You may know Jay Shepherd from his employment-law blog Gruntled Employees. I found him through a tweet by William Tincup quoting Shepherd’s response to the question: “Who owns an employee’s social media contacts?” Answer: “Shut Up.”
His new book about termination of employment, Firing At Will, begins: “I love baseball.”
Shepherd is no ordinary employment lawyer.
When I finished the book last week, it dawned on me that if CEOs and VPs of HR followed Shepherd’s advice, employment lawyers will be obsolete.
It’s that good.
Here’s why. Shepherd puts business first. He cares about how the company works, what makes financial sense, and whether employees want to work there. “Disgruntled employees sue their employer. It’s better to have gruntled employees.”
While Shepherd understands the risks and costs of litigation, he also realizes that draconian policies, hot and cold running edicts and micromanagers increase, rather than decrease, the chance of getting sued.
Instead of trying to manage risk, he talks about how to manage people, including the managers.
But Firing At Will is not for the timid. Shepherd recommends that you throw out your policy manual, get rid of progressive discipline, and (gasp) treat people differently.
And when it’s time to fire someone, which is usually earlier than you think, Shepherd guides you through the questions to ask, what to say, and what paperwork to use. More importantly, he teaches how to handle a difficult, emotional situation both professionally and respectfully.
Firing At Will is a smart and common-sense approach “to the riskiest thing you can do at work with your clothes on.”
You can get the first chapter for free and order it here. Better yet, call your local bookstore.
I got invited to join the so called Microsoft Talent Network. Being a good 21st Century pseudo-nerd, I wanted to avail myself of all the potential opportunities for work at Microsoft. Knowing that networks are really good things, I wanted to expand my reach and the interesting people I know. Certainly, I thought, a cutting edge tech company would be able to help me network.
I should have paid attention at the intro. It said:
What is the Microsoft Talent Network?
Signing up for the Talent Network allows you to receive customized job and event alerts sent to you via e-mail. You determine the types of jobs sent and the frequency you receive them.
How do I sign up?
It’s easy! Just enter your e-mail below. You will be taken to a sign-up page to customize your alerts. Once you sign-up, you’ll start receiving messages!
Is my information confidential?
Yes! Microsoft adheres to strict privacy regulations. We will not share your information with anyone.
In other words, it’s not a network at all. It’s an email list that you can sign up for to receive notifications from Microsoft. That has been the state of the art in job alerts for over a decade. There is nothing new here.
It’s not a network at all. There is nothing about it that is a network.
The first an most important part of communicating an employment brand or building a powerful candidate experience is clarity. Calling things by trendy names when the people you are talking to understand the language makes you look silly. When potential employees from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google see this badly named job alert system, what do you suppose they will think?
At best, they will think that this is the work of an HR Department that is completely out of touch with the world of social media. That would be the best possible outcome. More likely, they’ll see it as further evidence of Microsoft’s retreat from relevance.
Employment Branding is a business that requires diligent attention. Every nuance of every utterance has to be scrutinized. While the rules are morphing for the social media universe, the are not moving as fast in corporate branding.
Microsoft is struggling to recruit exactly the sorts of people who will be turned off by this lack of attention to detail. As the story gets repeated, it will start to sound like “This is why HR can not be trusted with the employment brand.”
The fix is easy. Call it Job Alerts. Stop pretending that it’s something that it’s not. Honesty trumps puffery every single time in today’s employment market.
This article is about time clocks. Most HR folks have at least a passing familiarity with these objects. Punching the clock is synonymous with having a standard issue job.
The Time Clock Shop offers an endless array of approaches to time keeping. Ranging from the standard issue punch clock ($246) to the biometric wonder with internet connections ($1,700ish), time clocks serve a variety of functions that include security and time tracking. Time clocks can collect data from cards, badge swipes, biometrics and PCs. The units are often integrated with software systems that calculate and submit payroll data.
Time clock makers, like every other manufacturer of 20th century artifacts are about to be disintermediated. In the current regime, Payroll systems are a hardware software integration that usually requires a physical replacement of the time clock when functionality is being improved. It’s a microcosm of the enterprise software problem.
This week, small Canadian based time keeping company released the first cloud time clock. If you’re like me, that seems worth one large yawn. “Cloud based time clock,” I thought, “Next stop, cloud based first aid kit.”
It seemed so bizarre that I sought out the CEO.
It turns out that the company, Replicon, is yet another Canadian backed player in the HR nexus (think Rypple, Taleo, PeopleFluent,and the up and coming Ontario software mafia). With 7,200 customers and 1.5 Million regular users, Replicon has a small but interesting share of the overall market for time and attendance products.
The cloud time clock really is the next wave. An android tablet, customized for the function, is wirelessly tied to the local infrastructure. The company monitors performance at headquarters. Software is updated routinely and seamlessly. Hardware replacements are eliminated. Badges are read by a camera that also photos the person documenting their time. It’s a comprehensive integration.
It’s priced at $99/month/unit all in.
The company’s video is focused and nearly painless.
This is one more example of the way that consumer technology is driving innovation in the tiniest of niches. Time keeping is one of those HR chores that, if done poorly derails the organization. By letting the consumer marketplace provide the toolset, Replicon is embracing the 21st century.
The story here has less to do with time clocks than the sorts of things HR is going to encounter in the coming months and years. As technology creeps into the organization in the pockets and briefcases of employees, a whole range of old fashioned things will get automated.