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Charlie Duff

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HR – do we have the technology, and do we love the technology?


Are HR managers geeks in disguise or firm technophobes? According to a recent survey most of us are into social media and tech but just wish we had more resources to spend on these shiny things. But is this accurate? On HRzone we’re investigating where you stand when it comes to technology in the organisation.

Take part in’s digital workplace survey

(Please be assured that all survey responses are anonymous. The overall survey findings will be published on after the survey has closed.)

A year ago we reported that eight out of ten were using social networking to some extent, and since then it seems our relationship with technology has only grown – now we’re using it as brand building to help our organisations become employers of choice, connecting with in-house cloud tech like Yammer or G chat to keep in touch with colleagues and twittering to relay important messages – plus we’re bigging ourselves up with our very own fan pages on Facebook. This is the fun side, but on the flip side, we reported a worry in the HR ranks about how to manage this explosion, how to deal with employees putting more into Scrabulous than making their workplace fabulous, and fear about how the company might be perceived in the wider community – and how any negative comments might be handled – or worse still, not handled at all.

Then there’s equipment, the recession, legal issues, the affordability of consumer products, Gen Y – how do we manage a generation which sees access to an iPod and a mobile phone as a basic human right – and how can we harness their enthusiasm and web savviness to make our workplaces better?

There are further concerns to be added: is making communication easier and ensuring almost continuous access to emails and other work processes such a good idea after all, or does it encourage poor work-life balance? Then again flexible working has saved money and time in all sorts of situations, not to mention being a hugely popular policy amongst employees. But where does work end and life start – and indeed, if work spills over into personal time, surely personal time will spill over into work? Or are we more sophisticated these days, understanding and trusting our employees to get the work done?

Earlier this year another survey was released, revealing HR was indeed using social media – for communication, personal brand and enhancing knowledge as well as recruitment and company brand enhancement. George Krautzel, co-founder and president of, who delivered the research, said: “HR professionals are using social media to expand their pool of knowledge beyond their office walls. In doing so, they leverage the experience of professionals like them to make more informed decisions and avoid costly pitfalls.”
And a further 71% of respondents also used social media to interact with peers, with almost half saying that they had built up a personal knowledge network by establishing such connections.

This week another survey has been released, citing the reasons HR is now using social media. It claims 82% of HR professionals now use social networking as part of their attraction strategy, but need more time and resources to dedicate to using this tool. That’s according to the latest research by talent management specialist Ochre House.

As part of a social media and employer branding webinar Ochre House asked attendees whether they had a dedicated resource for social media – less than 30% did. Although the majority used social media, 45% admitted to not having a formal social media strategy in place and only 23% measured its return on investment.

When asked what barriers prevented them from using more social media for recruitment the most common answers were: time, resources and acceptance from management who favoured more traditional methods or believed tools like Twitter to be trivial.

“It’s really positive to see that so many organisations are seeing the value of social media and using it as part of their recruitment strategy,” said Helena Parry, Market Development Director at Ochre House. “However, it’s clear there is still some way to go in terms of really making it an integral part of the recruitment strategy with enough buy-in and resources for it to work to its full potential. With the continued growth and influence of social media this is definitely something companies need to be looking at in 2010.”

We’ve decided it’s time to get to the bottom of all this IT and HR nonsense to make sense of the role HR plays in shaping the types of technology tools, devices and related policies adopted in today’s workplace – and we’re casting our net wider than just social media. Our research arm, K2 Advisory, wants to understand your organisation and the role you as an HR professional are playing.

Kate Hanaghan, Research Manager at K2 said: “HR professionals play an integral role in developing policies that support the use of technology in the working environment. There has been a real shift in the way we use devices and tools at work – for example, how many people have a Blackberry now versus five years ago? However, there is still a gap between what workers want and need and what they get. And some of that is down to how HR and other business functions collaborate with the IT department.”

The following survey is quick to take, and all those who complete it will receive an overview of the findings. We’ll also be reporting on the findings in depth here, so make your view count by taking part in’s digital workplace survey.

(Please be assured that all survey responses are anonymous. The overall survey findings will be published on after the survey has closed.)

One Response

  1. Having and loving the technology

    — Caroline Attwood FRSA Compos Mentis HR Systems Consultancy

    An interesting read.  From my experience too few organisations understand that HR related technology is in fact their most powerful tool and therefore they frequently fail to deploy and exploit the full applications they buy –  never mind using the considerable powers that underly the social technologies that now abound as a business tool.  The problems are deep rooted but often lie in the inherent conservatism of organisations that frequently do not acknowledge/understand the importance of HR as a strategic function and don’t have it represented at Board level and the fact that HR themselves often don’t have the clout necessary to get acceptance of the huge potential that lies in their use. We still see HR related systems as IT "projects" and not the catalysts for massive organistional transformation that they actually are.   

    As for staff utilising "socia" sites rather than working – this can be regulated and managed through policies that clearly define which sites can be used and accessed and the amount of time that can be spent in the workplace using such facilities and monitoring it carefully – much as we did and still do with the Internet as a whole.  

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