The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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The Hype Around Facebook and HR

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I mean really, what’s the big deal?  This is yet another social networking tool that has invaded our work spaces.  First it was personal access to e-mails during work hours.  Then it was dating sites.  (I once worked with an organization that noted some administrative staff were spending as much as 30% of their time browsing dating sites).  Now it’s Facebook.  Not only are we dealing with personal conduct issues and productivity, but HRIT and IT organizations are also looking at how the organization can use Facebook to its advantage.  This dichotomy of use it versus restrict it is really pretty confusing as different HR organizations are taking very different looks at the technology.

TUC wrote a piece called “Facing up to Facebook” clearly advocating restricting access to these applications.

Handled properly, personal access to the internet during breaks could be a valued benefit for staff, and also help employees develop useful IT skills. Many employers have a Web use policy, making it clear to staff what is and is not acceptable. Publicizing this policy is the best way to ensure that staff do not use the internet to waste time on company time.

I agree that we don’t want our employees browsing for dates or seeing what level of “vampire” they can become on Facebook.  (If I get one more invitation to become a Vampire, I think I’ll vomit).  However, Facebook is also a great way to network, not only socially, but also professionally.  It really does not matter if you’re using Facebook or LinkedIn, but there is some component of networking with professional peers that might go on here.  I myself operate different levels of social and professional networks on both Facebook and LinkedIn, mostly because there isn’t a single platform that has everyone I want to connect with.

I think more at issue and more debatable is the integration of Facebook into the HR technologies we can implement.  At least Lawson and SuccessFactors have some form of Facebook integration and it blurs the line between work and personal life.  After all, some employees really do keep Facebook private and don’t want you as an employer to have any access to their pages.  I’ve also heard of a few employers that actually go in and create Facebook pages for their employees – really without the permission of the employee.  After all, at that point you are creating an on-line identity for someone, with an organization with questionable privacy policies.  I like how TOC phrased it to me:  Facebook integration (with HR) is kinda gimmicky.  Certainly it’s an interesting model to be thinking about, but there are many integration, privacy, security, and governance issues that really need to be thought about before diving into Facebook integration and identities for your employees.

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2 responses to “The Hype Around Facebook and HR”

  1. Chuck Allen Avatar

    I sometimes wonder if “old Facebook” (before third-party applications and before the adults got involved) was just as valuable to employers as “new Facebook”. You can understand why old Facebook provided fertile fields and efficiencies for a company like Ernst and Young that needs to recruit thousands of college graduates each year. You could imagine a pretty clear business case for such a company putting a few hundred thousand dollars of direct/indirect investment in building a Facebook presence compared to spending the money trying to be on-campus everywhere. Within “new Facebook,” the question out there is whether companies are spending money on FB applications that simply will be lost in the noise (or create more internal noise).

  2. The Other Systematic Avatar

    Not that gimmicky is bad, if it fits your brand and market model.

    IMHO Facebook is naturally moving towards a value proposition based on advertising. I suspect the quality of individual’s profile data is too circumspect for value to recruiters, and there are plenty of cases where folks who have graduated in the past few years have so much youthful exuberance demonstrated on their Facebooks that they won’t allow co-workers to see them if they want to be taken seriously.

    On FB one tends to blur the line between personal and professional identities. I don’t see much of that on LinkedIn.