Social media and the HR function: The IBM perspective

Last week I was able to join an event run by the Human Resources Director Network about social media and the HR function.

Meeting synopsis –

Social media has had a profound effect on how we work and collaborate in our personal lives. More and more, organisations are looking to take these ways of working and bring them into the enterprise to empower their employees to be more productive. This creates challenges and opportunities for HR. What happens to your culture when you empower individuals to collaborate across silos at will? What is the impact on performance management? How do leaders communicate and interact with front-line staff in an engaging and authentic way?

Hosted by Jon Mell, Social Business Leader, IBM, he offered his perspectives on social business and specifically how this way of working empowers HR.

Social business:

  1. The ability for an organisation to use its communities to improve its performance
  2. Using technology to reduce the distance between people and the knowledge/information/skills they need to be more effective/efficient/innovative

IBM believes that social must be embedded into core business processes. They also strongly support external employee social advocacy because it drives business results:


IBM employee engagement.png

IBM is also predicting that employee reward and recognition is moving from being valued for what you know to being valued for what you share, and that this underpins the ethos of social business (and the company culture at IBM).

The HR function is using their internal social platform Connections for:

Increasing visibility for corporate and strategic comms

The CEO posts a quarterly video blog to communicate strategy, vision, and developments with the global IBM community. This top level support for the platform means that other senior leaders within the business also regularly use the platform for communication in order to cascade information throughout the business to ensure all IBMers are kept up-to-date with business direction and what this means for them in their day-to-day roles.

Talent spotting – great for succession planning

HR have been able to fill gaps or identify people for secondments/new projects by using Connections to identify experts across the globe. They may be individuals who are currently working in a completely different role, in a totally different part of the business, who may not have been considered through traditional methods. By being able to track talent via their Connections contributions, IBM is able to more easily identify strong internal candidates.

Nipping rumours in the bud before they comes facts

HR have been able to spot issues they thought they’d solved by monitoring comments under leadership blogs and corporate comms. HR are actively using Connections as a diagnostic to temperature check the organisation. It’s very important for IBM to be able to monitor employee sentiment through Connections as they map their employee engagement score to their earnings per share target.

Pre-hire engagement and recruitment

The company has special part of Connections dedicated to pre-hire engagement. Once a candidate has been accepted for a position, they’re invited to join a separate area of Connections to meet their manager and team members in a virtual setting. They’re also able to access lots of information about what it’s going to be like when they start their new role – from what happens on Day 1 through to where’s good to go for lunch.  As well as kicking off the onboading process, this is also an invaluable ‘test’ for IBM as it lets them (and the candidate) find out in advance if someone’s not the right fit for the business before they officially start.

They use their recruitment site to attract talent. The website highlights IBM’s values and practices – the purpose is to get the potential candidate asking ‘do IBM’s values match my beliefs?’.

Other areas of note from the meeting:

There were a few other areas of conversation worth noting too:

Recommended by a couple of the HR Directors there was this company which offers social recruitment training:

Thought Glassdoor was bad? You’ve seen nothing yet…


Memo App Lets Workers Vent Anonymously – WSJ

In this book Vineet Nayar – HCLT’s celebrated CEO – recounts how he defied the conventional wisdom that companies must put customers first, then turned the hierarchical pyramid upside down by making management accountable to the employees, and not the other way around. (see picture above about employee engagement driving client experience driving business results)

Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down: Vineet Nayar: 978142213906…