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Sean McPheat


Managing Director

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‘Humanising’ HR through social media


Traditionally, HR’s main involvement with social media has been to police employees’ online activities and ensure that they are not breaching company policies if using social networking sites within working hours.

But the function is also gradually starting to see the benefits of employing the channel more widely itself. A recent survey conducted by SysComm International found that 80% of employers currently use LinkedIn to source and recruit potential employees, for example.
While recruitment is the most common application for such tools within the HR department at the moment, there are many more potential uses, both externally and internally. If we look at recruitment specifically, however, it becomes clear that it is not enough to simply to post new job ads on corporate social networking sites and hope that the best talent will magically appear.
HR needs to work with other departments to ensure that the employer brand is a strong draw for potential candidates. It also needs to take responsibility for letting possible employees know why they might want to work for the company.
By producing videos or blog posts about the firm, its history, atmosphere, culture and achievements, which includes employee testimonials discussing things such as benefit packages, HR can demonstrate that they represent an employer of choice, thereby encouraging the best candidates to apply.
Another important consideration, however, is using social media to help ‘humanise’ both the organisation and the HR department itself to internal staff.
Enterprise social media tools can be useful here to facilitate smooth and fluid communication between departments. Company intranets can act as a great platform for this kind of communication, but if you don’t have the budget, there are a number of free-of-charge online social media platforms out there too.
Internal communication
Setting up a private company presence on either the Facebook or LinkedIn social networking sites can also encourage discussion between different functions and help cut the number of face-to-face meetings required to discuss pertinent issues. Such discussion platforms can likewise enable staff to communicate directly with managerial teams without needing to set up time-consuming meetings in order to deal with any problems or queries.
Senior leaders can also use these tools as a vehicle for discussing issues relating to takeovers, mergers or job cuts, while at the same time providing workers with a forum to set up their own discussion groups to talk about the situation further.
It is likewise possible to use them as a vehicle for undertaking staff opinion surveys and conduct what have been dubbed ‘temperature checks’ with employees in real time – an activity that can prove invaluable in times of drastic change. This is because members of staff may feel uncomfortable in discussing these issues face-to-face so being able to voice opinions in a safe online environment can be of real comfort. 
On a more positive note, enterprise social media is also useful for keeping people updated about changes in company policy, any recent achievements and important inter-departmental information. Setting up a newsfeed direct from the corporate website or blog to keep staff informed of any changes or developments as and when they occur makes it easy to communicate with the entire company with very little effort.
But the important thing for HR professionals to remember when considering how best to use social media is that they need to have a clear idea of why they want to go down this route as well as well-thought through goals. They should also have a good understanding of how each of the different tools work and some insight into which is likely to be most appropriate offering in which context and why.
Social media can play a vital role in improving both the quality and depth of employee communication and, if used effectively, can help to humanise both the company and the HR department, improving staff satisfaction in the process.

Sean McPheat is founder and managing director of HR consultancy and management development firm, MTD HR.

One Response

  1. Internal career management

    I agree with you Sean.  As a Leadership Consultant and Career Coach I spend a fair amount of my time helping my clients think about how they can raise their profile and develop their personal brand.  It seems a shame that social media is used for these purposes only when people are thinking of leaving an organisation.  I would love to see social media used internally to allow employees to manage their careers and organisations retain talent.

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Sean McPheat

Managing Director

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