Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Web 2.0 and HR

Corporate HR departments are saddled with the extremely broad set of tasks associated with personnel management and employee relations. As such, these business units are in an ideal position to make the most of new technologies that now fall under a loose-knit category of next-generation, Internet-based collaborative tools referred to by the name "Web 2.0."

Web 2.0 is a general phrase attached mostly to new communications media, such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds — all technologies used to distribute information and foster a sense of community among a discrete group of individuals.

Indeed, reaching a new level of employee collaboration has become an important goal of many HR departments. Enterprises ranging from far-flung global corporations to small businesses are looking for better ways to manage, motivate and even recruit employees through the use of Internet-based technology.

“I would define Web 2.0 for the HR department as a collection of interactive services, delivered through the Web, which allow employees to take greater ownership of their own experiences within the organization. Web 2.0 will have a substantial impact on all aspects of employee-service delivery, including recruitment, candidate screening, training and performance management,” said Greg Moran, managing partner of Better People LLC, a sales-focused recruitment outsourcing firm.

Oracle Corp. and other vendors refer to corporate Web 2.0 endeavors as "Enterprise 2.0." Amy Wilson, director of Oracle’s human capital management strategy, explained, “Enterprise 2.0 is the use of Web 2.0 technology to transform how we share information within an organization.”

In terms of injecting a corporation with Enterprise 2.0 capabilities, HR can be a great place to start. “Employees can leverage communities to identify goals; use colleague ratings and reviews when choosing professional-development course work; and share informal tips and techniques. They can also subscribe to an RSS feed to jump on upcoming opportunities,” noted Wilson.

Despite the promise of Web 2.0, companies overall have not plunged in to these new technologies. However, some businesses are pondering limited moves in this direction, said Michael Rudnick, global director of portal and intranet consulting at Watson Wyatt Worldwide in Stamford, Conn. “Companies have not appeared ready to roll out team-collaboration suites, blogs, social networks, wikis and MySites for all of their employees as a big bang. They have, however, dipped a toe in the water with pilot use of the technology,” he observed.

While some HR shops are not yet sold on the idea of using Web 2.0 tools for social-computinglike efforts in the corporate setting, many departments are starting to view these new technologies as an on-ramp for internal efficiencies. “Self-service portals are driving a new wave of communications internally for dissemination of important employee data. These portals, typically powered by messaging components, allow employees to check out forms and documents and submit information or make requests,” said Jon Doyle, vice president of business development at CommuniGate Systems, an Internet content-solutions provider based in Mill Valley, Calif.

Employee performance management is another area in which many HR departments seem open to the idea of exploring the use of Web 2.0 technology, noted Alan Todd, chairman of Corporate University Xchange, a Carlisle, Pa.-based company that provides corporate research and advisory services.

“Now it is possible to give each employee a custom view of how he or she fits into the overarching strategy of a corporation," said Todd. "For example, new technology makes it possible for the employee to have a dashboard showing the status of individual task completion and where the employee stands relative to the completion of short- and long-term goals,” he stated.

More and more, new, online learning techniques tied to Web 2.0 technology are becoming a big part of equipping employees with the skills necessary to reach such goals. “The content for online learning programs often resides in a hosted environment, and programs are delivered to the user’s Web browser in customized form,” said Julie Ogilvie, senior director of corporate marketing for SkillSoft, a provider of e-learning solutions such as Open Learning Services Architecture, which incorporates Web 2.0 tools.

Not only must HR departments use online learning and performance monitoring to manage and groom a corporation’s existing work force, these business units are tasked with the often difficult job of recruiting highly qualified talent. “We see more and more of our clients moving away from two-dimensional, Web-based job boards to the more interactive virtual environments that actually improve the reach of their recruiting efforts and aid in candidate screening,” said Don Best, director of marketing at Unisfair Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based vendor that provides online events — such as virtual job fairs — for large clients, including Cisco Systems Inc., The Nielsen Co. and IBM.

While the benefits of Web 2.0 tools are becoming increasingly clear to HR departments, many still associate the technology with more personal, social purposes. Therefore, translating the use of these powerful communication tools into the corporate setting will require some substantial internal change.

“For this transition to be successful, it is important for HR to realize that incorporating Web 2.0 into its organization is as much about providing the tools as it is creating the right culture," said Joe Lichtenberg, vice president of business development at Eluma, a Tewksbury, Mass.-based Web tools vendor. "Senior executives and top management need to demonstrate a willingness to use collaborative technologies themselves — whether that be blogging, contributing to a corporate wiki or other such activities,” he said.

1 comment:

Stu said...

Good read as always Cindy!

Stewart Higgins
Intranet Expert
Intranet Software

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