· 2 min read · Features

Why social media should have no place in social HR


According to some influential sources, 2013 is set to be the ‘year of social HR’, signalling the tipping point where social media becomes an all-pervasive part of recruitment, HR and company culture.

While there is no questioning the utility of social media within all of these functions, the true value and meaning of social HR is about social identity within the company's four walls and not how many times a company tweets and posts on Facebook.

The recession has had a profound effect on the way many businesses are managed. Conventional wisdom says that a business must reinvent itself to prepare for coming out of a recession. This recession is different though, as businesses must also accept that the employer / employee relationship has changed forever. Add to this the potential for four generations to be working together it's time for a new way of managing and that's where socialHR comes in.

Social HR is a model for engaging employees and building high performing teams. It's about treating employees as individuals and integrating them into our teams. It recognises that teams have their own dynamics that need individual attention.

The best news is that, as businesses battle to understand this shift, it's a great time to be an HR professional. The skills needed will be much more strategic and way less administrative. More personal and less procedural. It takes real people to develop authentic programmes that engage employees and create high performing teams.

I've been part of the HR software world for over 15 years and have been involved in many of the new developments but I'm sorry to say that the HR software industry has largely missed the point with social HR. It's jumped on the bandwagon by building all sorts of 'essential' tools to integrate social media into our working lives but that's not the point - social HR is not about social media (great though it is).

Social HR is about respecting the individuals that work for us and developing ways to integrate them into high performing teams. These teams then need their own social identity that has:

• Shared models - i.e. knowing how the team would react in any circumstance

• Clear membership criteria

• Differentiation from other teams

• Internal regulations (rules of membership)

• A sense of control over destiny

Great teams have a strong social identity - members share a high level of respect, they support and trust each other. A well-formed team performs well and is resilient.

We all have our own individual identities made up of morals, beliefs and standards, but most people feel a strong desire 'to belong' so we join groups (teams). Because individual social identity is partly derived from how we perceive our position in such teams, it's essential for businesses to manage what it means to be a team member. Get this right and our employees will be engaged and motivated, get it wrong and employees will move on.

HR software can never replace the individual touch of a true HR professional but it can, and must, support them in their work. It's time we in the HR software industry stopped playing with Facebook and Twitter in the name of social HR and accept our responsibility to provide the platform for great team performance.

The job of HR software is to provide a foundation - to help communicate, inform, share and support the team. It takes real people to build a team but software plays a supporting role.

Jonathan Richards (pictured) is CEO of online HR systems provider breatheHR