Employing Mobile Applications, Social Networks and Collaboration Models in HR

Social media and mobile applications have now permeated almost every part of the business landscape, but one area where they are having a particularly profound effect is in HR.

As the physical workplace becomes more fragmented, online communities, mobile devices offering opportunities for remote working and social networking are becoming increasingly important tools to engage employees and boost productivity.

For forward-thinking companies, the relationship an employee has with their social media and online presence starts from the very beginning of the recruitment process to attract top talent.

But platforms also have a clear role to play in retaining human capital as competition for talent intensifies and companies enter a new phase of growth following the recession.

Social Media

Recent research from Salesforce.com revealed 75 percent of CEOs now acknowledge the power social media has to attract and retain top talent, the potential it holds for communicating with employees and its powerfor enhancing employee engagement.

Social media recruitment is one area in particular experiencing growth, as members enteringthe workforce become more tech savvy. However, a clear divide is emerging in the industry between those that do it well, and those that don't.

James Swift, director and founder of Beyond Interactive, explained: "A lot of companies seem to think that just being on Twitter and posting jobs is a social media strategy, as opposed to actually getting involved in two-way dialogue and speaking to candidates, being transparent and letting them know what it is like to work at the company."

For HR departments facing tightening budgets, social media recruitment can also bring with it significantcost savings.

Writing for HR Magazine, Jon Hull, head of resourcing at RS Components, revealed 35 of the company's 51 senior positions which opened up in the year leading to August 2010 were filled through social media. These employees were recruited at £714 cost per hire, compared to £7,500 for those brought in through traditional channels.

RS originally started with a small test with LinkedIn, and has since entered into a longer-term commitment which combines the advantages of the social network with the company's own tools.

"Social media delivered an average time-saving of four hours per candidate for the line managers involved and over seven hours per candidate for our in-house recruitment team," he added.

Mobile Applications

Smartphone sales have grown phenomenally over the past 12 to 18 months, and are expected to continue doing so as more people adapt to the convenience of accessing the internet on the go, no matter their location.

Paul Daley, director of HR consulting and services at Ochre House, predicted the use of smartphones will transform the recruitment landscape, explaining: "It's much more user-friendly than having to actually actively sit down at a desktop to look for a job."

The platform was said to be particularly effective for business professionals who do a lot of travelling and are not actively searching for a job, but appreciate the convenience the mobile internet offers them.

More companies are also beginning to use mobile applications as part of their overall training and development strategy, with the key features being described as "timeliness, proximity [and] versatility" by David Mallon, principal analyst, Bersin & Associates.

Examples of mobile learning laid out in the group's m-Learning: Mobile Learning is Finally Going Mainstream – And It Is Bigger Than You Might Think study included Coca-Cola creating an application using social media and mobile to better understand how consumers interact with Web 2.0 and improve their marketing to the younger, tech-savvy generation.

Accenture experimented with the possibility of the platform with its uPodcast, which allows influential figures in the organization to share their knowledge through podcasts. Eleven percent of the total workforce have now accessed the 180-odd podcasts uploaded.

Josh Bersin, chief executive officer and president, Bersin & Associates, concluded: "Today's enterprise learning functions risk becoming irrelevant if they do not rapidly respond to the power of new mobile technologies to both deepen and hasten the sharing of information across organizations, and to the changing needs and expectations for learning by new generations and geographies of employees."