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Sunday, March 01, 2009

HR 2.0

This post is obviously inspired by Web 2.0. which also happens to characterize the changing face of the workforce.

This is the age of uber amplified social networking where people connect and build relationship with other people across the globe without meeting them face-to-face, in a physical sense that is. They exchange information freely and guide each other in carrying out tasks that are as mundane as picking the right gadget to as complex as finishing a project at work.

Along with the emergence of these exciting social networking tools are real information security risks and productivity hindrances. Because of the last two, many have demonized these new tools and made bold moves to get them out of the workplace. I feel though that this is a wrong way of responding to it. i feel that this response is akin to sticking it out with the type writer while the rest of the world are using computers.

The flood gate of web 2.0 has opened and will not be closed again. The best way to respond to the situation is to find out how to best profit from it. HR Managers in particular need to familiarize themselves with the beast that is web 2.0 before they even try to slay it, because maybe the beast is tameable. Sorry if I went too far with my metaphors. What I mean is maybe there is a way for the company to harness the benefits of interactive web and manage work better so that employees won't get stuck to updating their facebook or friendster accounts all day. A couple of things come to mind.

At exeQserve, I make it a point to not restrict the use of social networking tools available on the web. I encourage my staffs to join egroups, put up a linkedin account, join interest groups in ning and to blog. I want them to use these networking tools to connect with people who could be future clients. I also encourage them to solicit information and contribute some as such is the nature of online social networks. The value of information and education we get from people on the other ends of the web is unmatch-able by class room training or education.

How can we handle the security and productivity issues? For security, my answer is education and trust. Talk to your team members about the risks involved when using interactive web. They need to be aware of information they are not allowed to share. They need to be aware of the risks involved in downloading programs, etc. They also need to develop the habits of securing their PC's from viruses and other risks. I mentioned trust. After communicating these to them, tell them that you trust them that they will do the right thing.

For productivy, my answer is performance management. Clarify their goals, set performance standards and be firm with it. You don't need to take away their access to myspace or multiply for them not to slack off. Without clear goals and firm performance expectations, they will easily find other ways to slack off.

Lastly, the increasing penchant of people for social networking opens up the opportunity to change HR's role from being the school principal to the company's chief social networker. Find a way to connect with your employees. Make your company intranet look more like the social networking sites they adore. Make those features available for them to use not only to build relationships internally but to train each other and help each other out in their work. I think this has a lot of potentials that are largely untapped in many organizations.

3 comments:

  1. in a workplace, web 2.0 requires new sets of rules as when we started jumping on internet wagon.

    i believe it is more of a management issue than technical. if facebook becomes a business tool, I wonder when the boss asks his staff to accept "facebook friend" invite but he refuses, will there be sanction because he does not want to allow his boss a peek on his "wall"?

    i am for the use of web 2.0 in the workplace particularly by generation-x who are immigrant and are playing catch-up with Gen-Y who are the natives and are fluent with web 2.0...

    regards,
    Joel Guevarra

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  2. Wow! good point there Joel! That scenario will definitely put the relationship between boss and staff to the test! I'm glad it hasn't happened to me, but if it does, it only means I need to work harder in earning the trust and friendship of the people I work with. I would probably even leave a note on my facebook invite that says Don't feel compelled to accept this. Accept only if you feel we're friends enough to have this connection :) How about that?

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  3. fair enough Ed. But would it be good to see a rule/guide to protect staff from harassment, like how we came up with a law on sexual harrassment.

    more scenarios, like when a competitor knocks on your web2.0 site, would you allow?

    again, the best course now is to be one among the web2.0 community and learn with them, be fluent. only then you could help come up with a new set of rules.

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