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Stuart Lauchlan

Head of Editorial At Sift Media

Read more about Stuart Lauchlan

Analysis: The rise of Salesforce’s social Work.com

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Work needs to become socially-enabled for employees to escape the restrictions imposed by traditional HR software applications.

That was the ley message from Software as a Service provider Salesforce.com as it launched Work.com, a rebranded version of the Rypple application that it acquired earlier this year. 
 
Work.com is a social performance management system, which provides a set of tools that sit inside applications used by key personnel in departments such as HR, sales  and marketing.
 
The tools are intended to enable employees to communicate with colleagues using social media, help align them with company goals and motivate them by providing them with recognition for work well done in real-time.
 
Not like Workday
 
What Work.com is not, however, is an HCM system of record such as those offered by Oracle, Workday or SAP‘s SuccessFactors – and that’s the point.
 
John Wookey, Salesforce.com’s executive vice president of Work.com and social applications, says: “I’ve been in the software industry for 20 years but was blown away last year by this vision of cloud, social and mobile.”
 
“It made me realise that we needed to re-imagine everything and rethink every enterprise application that we’ve built over the years,” he adds. “We went back to first principles and built Work.com from the ground up to be social. We didn’t build it for HR, we built it for everyone.”
 
The world of work is changing, he insists. “Business is social, work is social,” says Wookey. “Innovation happens because people are motivated. When that happens it is magic. When we talk about how it happened, we talk about passion and hard work, but we never talk about HR software. HR software is about admin, it is not about success. We need to align our teams to deliver success over and over and over.”
 
This means an end to traditional approaches to performance management which, in most organisations, typically takes place on an annual basis rather than an ongoing one.
 
"Traditional performance reviews are all about the process, and they don’t work – they’re actually demotivating," says Wookey.  "It is a little unfair to criticise them, but the fact is human resources systems are not looking to solve this problem. They are not really about management, they are about administration.
 
Work.com performance reviews, on the other hand, are "about the content" and provide a single place from which managers can pull all the information that they require – from feedback, recognition and coaching notes, to goals and key results.
 
This enables them to have a "simple, content-rich and relevant conversation or performance review at any time", Wookey attests.
 
Out of date HCM
 
The problem with most of the HCM systems in place today is that they are based on out-of-date philosophies, he claims. “Systems today are based on processes from 50 years ago,” Wookey says. “When I graduated from university, my dad told me to find a big company and retire there. That isn’t relevant now."
 
Instead he believes that today’s workforce is more collaborative in nature.
 
"Facebook is about people connecting – that’s becoming one of the core strategies for every single business that we have. Goals that have need to be done together. We hear more and more than people are more interested in who they’re working with than who they’re working for," Wookey says.
 
Facebook actually helped Salesforce.com to develop Work.com. The social networking site was using Rypple prior to the Salesforce.com takeover and integrated it with its Workday HCM implementation. 
 
"Facebook takes talent development and assessment very seriously, so we worked with them to develop a capability in Work.com that lets managers look across their entire team and rate and rank their employees and recommend promotions," explains Wookey. 
 
Facebook’s global chief information officer Tim Campos says: “Social is inherent in who we are as beings. We are social beings. Social companies have just tapped in to that. Facebook is only 1% finished. The way we get there is by growing our workforce and continuing to invest in our workforce."
 
In his view, it is not about the hierarchy, titles or the like. Instead it is about the relationships between people, which means that tools are required to help people understand them.
 

“We’re excited about Work.com. It de-emphasises the cost centre and instead focuses on relationships between employees. So our workforce is encouraged to provide genuine feedback every day not just during the performance review cycle,” he concludes.

 
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Stuart Lauchlan

Head of Editorial At Sift Media

Read more from Stuart Lauchlan
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