Joel Cheeseman wrote an interesting piece on Web 2.0 a couple months ago in the Industry Insider.
An outsider is led to believe such cutting-edge tactics in the employment space are the rule. In reality, it’s the exception. The percentage of companies publishing blogs full of embedded YouTube videos, Flickr photos, a roll call of MyBlogLog users and links to Facebook fan sites is probably in the single digits. Fortune 500 companies taking this approach are easier to find than Bigfoot. ((Cheeseman, Joel, February 15, 2008. “HR’s Struggle with Web 2.0.” The Industry Insider.))
Cheeseman gives a good perspective on what’s going on and what’s going wrong.
- HR is at the bottom of the heap. A disconnect between recruiting and marketing is quite common in corporations. While creative brainpower focuses on selling products and services, getting candidates through the door takes a backseat.
- The IT department, like marketing, pushes the online needs of HR to the backburner. By relying on excuses like “we’re just too busy right now,” or “here’s why that won’t work,” IT easily pushes aside initiatives from the department that doesn’t understand technology, and doesn’t know how to push back.
- Legal says no. Just the idea of a lawyer getting involved can kill an initiative before it’s even born. It’s easier to just go on with business as usual instead of try something new and innovative. Additionally, even if blogging, video and social networking efforts are approved, they are viewed as potential legal land mines and headaches if site visitors get out of line.
- Turnover. HR departments tend to see a lot of turnover. Many employees spend limited time in the recruiting profession, hoping to land a less stressful generalist position or move on to higher-paying jobs in management or other departments. This leads to HR departments that prefer to play it safe and not stray from traditional recruiting tactics. People like to stay in their comfort zones, and recruiting is no different. Playing it safe means staying employed at most organizations. ((Ibid))
Honestly, I’m struggling with what we’re using Web 2.0 for and wondering why it’s useful. Do we really need blogs for recruiting, or wiki’s for employer branding? Is a social network useful? I’m a huge advocate of 2 things that have to do with Web 2.0.
- Networks are indeed very useful if we employe them for the enhancement of collaboration or innovation.
- Web 2.0 is great when it comes to usability.
Those 2 items aside, I’m not sure Web 2.0 is really adding that much value to HR. Perhaps I’m not a visionary, or perhaps I just haven’t seen it work yet. But unless we’re using this stuff to really create value, we’re just spinning our wheels and focusing on the wrong things.
I’d love to see organizations with good governance, processes and policies around the use of blogs, wiki’s and networks. I’d love to see these enhancing productivity and innovation. I’d also love to see them improving engagement. But I don’t think we need to implement Web 2.0 because we think it’s the right next thing to do. Let’s be thoughtful about what we implement, and how we do it. I’d rather see us behind the curve rather than recklessly moving ahead because we think it’s the right thing to do.