Bringing Web 2.0 to the HR World

Updated: May 06, 2009

Issue


Web 2.0 technologies, such as social networking sites, wikis and blogs, are finally gaining mainstream traction as a powerful part of an HRMS (Human Resource Management System). Recent research shows that an increasing number of organizations are informally experimenting with and benefiting from the use of these tools for business purposes. The study, conducted by global professional association and think tank Human Capital Institute along with talent management software provider Cornerstone OnDemand, revealed that more than half of the companies surveyed use communities of practice groups and chat/IM (instant messaging), with other popular applications including corporate social networks (49 percent) and blogs and/or wikis (39 percent).

Analysis

It's no wonder. Web 2.0 tools can help with plenty of HR functions, from tapping into talent pools to encouraging greater collaboration among disparate departments. Even large enterprises are catching on to the benefits Web 2.0 technologies can confer upon HR. Take, for example, Ernst & Young. The professional services behemoth leverages its public Facebook group to connect applicants with interns and employees. Members are able to access job opportunities, employees, videos and relevant news releases, as well as participate in polls and surveys. And then there's global consulting giant Deloitte which, as part of its first-ever film festival, invited employees to post YouTube videos of their experiences at the firm. As a result, Deloitte was able to tap into a brand new source of potential candidates.

"With the social networking sites, it's really about accessing a passive pool of candidates," says Morgan Chmara, a research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group.

But that's not all. Web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis let HR professionals easily publish information to employees, from product updates to the latest market trends, ensuring real-time knowledge transfer and information dissemination.

So why are HR departments finally adding cutting-edge Web 2.0 technologies to their companies' traditional HRMS? For starters, today's 20-something millennials are more likely to be lured by Facebook profiles and MySpace events than yesteryear's static job boards. "Social networking sites are the way Generation Y is demanding that recruiting be done these days," says Chmara.

Another reason HR is warming up to Web 2.0 is to cut costs. Rather than purchase and install pricey collaboration tools, Chmara says that, "Web 2.0 is a far richer and cheaper way to reach target audiences both internally and externally through the use of blogs, wikis and social networking sites."

Vendor participation is also driving the adoption. "Even big companies like Oracle and SAP offer add-ons to some of their applications that facilitate working with social networking sites to gain greater efficiency and value," says Chmara.

Leveraging Web 2.0 technologies to bolster HR functions, however, carries risks. There's always room for overuse and abuse when granting employees unfettered access to tools such as Facebook. As a result, Chmara says that, "As with any technology, you want to make sure that you have proper policies and processes in place to reduce these sorts of risks." For example, HR professionals should be made aware of what information they can and cannot share through a public site. Nor should HR personnel attempt to gain access to private or confidential information beyond a public profile. Failure to abide by these policies could open a company up to security threats and liability concerns.

Next Steps

For more information on Web 2.0 technology, check out our many research briefs on the topic, including "Web 2.0 for CRM Users," "10 Ways to Improve Web 2.0 Security" and "50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence On." Be sure to also visit our HR Resource Center for comprehensive research, community-contributed content and advice from Focus Experts.

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