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Networking the way to success: online social networks for workplace and competitive advantage.



[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Today, complex human resources The fancy word for "people." The human resources department within an organization, years ago known as the "personnel department," manages the administrative aspects of the employees.  challenges face companies large and small, and most of these have negative impacts on employee and company communications. The advent of globalization globalization

Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation
 and the prevalence of mergers and acquisitions have made it harder than ever to ensure employees in disparate locations have a consistent work experience and live through a unified corporate culture. Talent pools are shrinking, turnover is high, brand is increasingly paramount, and recruiting costs are growing. Yet one of the most interesting and potent resources for addressing these issues remains a relative mystery to most human resources leaders. Online social networking See social networking site.

social networking - social network
 may be the most powerful solution not yet built into the corporate plan.

The Advent of Social Networking

In the last few years, online social networks like Facebook and MySpace, along with professional networking sites like LinkedIn, have exploded in popularity, with an estimated aggregate total of more than 170 million subscribers. New social media tools are cropping up every day. While many employers view social networking as a threat to productivity and block access to popular sites, some visionary employers have figured out how to leverage powerful social media tools and online communities for efficiencies and competitive advantage.

Social networks are an important workplace consideration for keeping up with employee demands and communication preferences, as well as for maintaining innovation and competitive advantage. Some early adopters are fighting turnover, increasing engagement, affinity and retention, and recruiting passive, retiree, and boomerang talent through the use of social networks. Others are facilitating knowledge transfer and collaborative processes through company social networks, while simultaneously driving new business development.

The possibilities for leveraging social media tools to broad success are enormous. Most early acting companies begin social media strategy consideration through the marketing department. Others evaluate it from the standpoint of corporate communications Corporate communications is the process of facilitating information and knowledge exchanges with internal and key external groups and individuals that have a direct relationship with an enterprise. , updating Intranet (knowledge center) strategies by adding social features to existing processes. A select, innovative few are embracing a new approach to human resources strategy that uses online social networking to bridge internal and external communications and tackle pressing recruitment and retention concerns. We don't know yet what the optimal strategy looks like, but why wait for that to try something with so much power and promise?

Challenge and Response

Let's review the statistics. More than seventy-five percent of 400 human resource executives from 40 countries surveyed recently by the IBM (International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, NY, www.ibm.com) The world's largest computer company. IBM's product lines include the S/390 mainframes (zSeries), AS/400 midrange business systems (iSeries), RS/6000 workstations and servers (pSeries), Intel-based servers (xSeries)  Institute for Business Value and the Economist Intelligence Unit The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is part of The Economist Group. It is a research and advisory company providing country, industry and management analysis worldwide and incorporates the former Business International Corporation, a U.S.  (1) said they are concerned about their ability to attract, retain and develop future leaders Future Leaders is a UK schools-led charitable organisation that aims to widen the pool of talented leaders especially for urban challenging secondary schools. It was founded in March 2006 by Nat Wei, a former founder of Teach First. . In other studies, as many as four out of five companies express worry that they will not have the talent they need to fuel their businesses in the coming years. Despite the current economic downturn in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. , human resources executives are bracing bracing,
n a resistance to the horizontal components of masticatory force.
 for a looming looming: see mirage.  talent crunch that is widespread, global and has already become apparent in the IT, scientific and technical sectors.

According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

A research agency of the U.S. Department of Labor; it compiles statistics on hours of work, average hourly earnings, employment and unemployment, consumer prices and many other variables.
, by the year 2014 the number of U.S. employees ages 55 to 64 is expected to grow by 42 percent and the percentage of workers over 65 is expected to increase 74 percent. Overall, the American workforce is aging, and many younger entrants to the workforce are not developing the skills they need to fill key roles opened up by the impending im·pend  
intr.v. im·pend·ed, im·pend·ing, im·pends
1. To be about to occur: Her retirement is impending.

2.
 shortages. At the same time, human resources leaders in many industries are reporting spikes in voluntary turnover, as young workers are markedly less likely to stay in their jobs than in the past. The average college educated worker in the United States will hold 10 or more jobs between the ages of 18 and 40. (2) What's more, 72 percent of educated workers between the ages of 26-30 will stay in their jobs less than two years, and 87 percent will hold jobs for less than five years.

What can social networking do? Companies may prepare talent pools--networks of interested candidates in persistent dialog with the recruiting organization. Beyond building and leveraging talent networks that coordinate with recruitment marketing campaigns, companies also may address top considerations of young professionals through the introduction of online communities.

A recent Harvard Business Review Harvard Business Review is a general management magazine published since 1922 by Harvard Business School Publishing, owned by the Harvard Business School. A monthly research-based magazine written for business practitioners, it claims a high ranking business readership and  (3) study revealed that among high potential young leaders, individual responsibility, social and enjoyable colleagues and a congenial con·gen·ial  
adj.
1. Having the same tastes, habits, or temperament; sympathetic.

2. Of a pleasant disposition; friendly and sociable: a congenial host.

3.
 workplace are the most important factors impacting loyalty to employers. The study also indicated that opportunities to learn and grow are critical, as are team-based work and collaborative decision-making. Another recent survey of employees about the benefits of social networking at work (4) reports that 74 percent of employees consider work culture assimilation Assimilation

The absorption of stock by the public from a new issue.

Notes:
Underwriters hope to sell all of a new issue to the public.
See also: Issuer, Underwriting



Assimilation
 challenging, and 25 percent report having quit a job due to lack of social connectivity. An incredible 77 percent of 20-29-year-old employees find social aspects of work essential to workplace satisfaction, and 80 percent of workers indicate connectedness is critical. In essence, culture and social environment are incredibly valuable to young workers. Employees want to be connected to colleagues and the firm and to learn from peers and managers. This kind of feedback supports what human resources executives have suspected for years; connectedness is what keeps people engaged at work. Well-planned company social networks can foster such linkages.

Implications go beyond recruitment and retention. Connectedness is often linked to workplace performance. As outlined in the book The Hidden Power of Social Networks (5), decades of research indicate networked teams out-perform their competition. And, within teams, on an individual level, the high-performance distinguisher--more than technology access or personal expertise--is having access to a large and diversified personal network. (6) This is no surprise when you consider the statistics: more than 80 percent of employees across all workplace generations indicated they are more likely to listen to information or recommendations if presented by someone they trust and know; 63 percent indicate the quality of information they receive through trusted networks is higher than any other. (7) In other research, employees are as much as five times more likely to turn to a trusted connection for information as to an institutionally provided source. (8)

Corporate adoption of social networking, while new, is already showing enormous benefits. By offering employees the tools and technology to reach out and connect with one another, organizations can facilitate a collaborative corporate culture, while benefiting from a wide range of improved efficiencies, in everything from sourcing and recruiting, to on-boarding and learning programs, to improved alumni, diversity, women's and retiree communications. Many process improvements may be found through efficient social networking programs and organizational connectivity.

What is Online Social Networking?

Terms like Social Media, Social Networks, Blogs and Online Communities all refer to a philosophy known as "Web 2.0", a term coined several years ago to indicate a shift in user preference and activity towards online self-publishing and content collaboration. Social networking and social media leverage a system of contributory con·trib·u·to·ry  
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or involving contribution.

2. Helping to bring about a result.

3. Subject to an impost or levy.

n. pl.
 and collaborative media and knowledge management tools to put power in the hands of a community of online users--collaborative networks--vs. corporations or traditional media outlets or institutions.

A Google search Google is owned by Google, Inc. whose mission statement is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". The largest search engine on the web, Google receives several hundred million queries each day through its various services.  for "Web 2.0" turns up more than 70 million hits, the relatively new Web 2.0 tech conference is one of the most popular today, and the World Economic Forum in Davos has newly introduced panels on the world impact of Web 2.0. Media. Coverage of social media and social networking has been extraordinary, with nearly daily mentions of Web 2.0 in leading business magazines. Time magazine even made "You" (each individual Internet user Internet user ninternauta m/f

Internet user Internet ninternaute m/f 
) the Person of the Year in 2006 to indicate the extraordinary business and social impacts of Web-based collaboration.

Social networking is the bringing together of various Web 2.0 communications tools and methods and marrying the collaboration and user-generated content publication they enable within a connected online network. Much of the hype around social networking is attributed to the proven affinity for hundreds of millions of people worldwide for publishing personal information and content in open forums on social networks that are open to the public.

Of the most popular social networks, LinkedIn, focuses on professionals, facilitating expertise requests and business inquiries, and providing job postings and research tools. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to source from millions of professional profiles. Some companies boast of as many as 25 percent of regional hires through LinkedIn. As recently as March 2008, the LinkedIn Professional Network had more than 23 million members, approximately half based in the United States, and with millions of U.K., EU and Indian professionals participating as well. MySpace is more oriented towards friends and mutual interests, and it boasts more than 100 million members in more than 20 countries, making it among the most trafficked sites on the Web.

Another of the Web's most popular sites, Facebook, was originally started to connect college students and alumni. In the last few years, membership has grown to more than 75 million, spanning 80 countries. Despite the site's college roots, now as many as 40 percent of users are between 35 and 50 years old. In addition to its social component, Face-book has appeal to many companies for marketing initiatives, recruiting and employer brand leverage. Its mostly college-educated demographic represents a critical talent segment, and profile content tends to be more conservative and private.

An estimated 50 percent of employers screen applicants through profiles on popular social networks. (9) However, social networking is often frowned on by employers because content employees publish may be unprofessional and inappropriate to publish in the corporate public domain. To combat these concerns, popular public social networks are working to enhance user security levels to facilitate restricted permissions and access among professional and social contacts and content.

Social Networking at Work

Increasingly, albeit slowly, employees, colleagues, work groups and, in some cases, entire workplaces are self-selecting into corporate social networks. Often sponsored by or set up by corporations in addition to or in tandem Adv. 1. in tandem - one behind the other; "ride tandem on a bicycle built for two"; "riding horses down the path in tandem"
tandem
 with intranet sites, corporate social networks allow company employees to engage in collaboration and business networking This article needs sources or references that appear in reliable, third-party publications. Alone, primary sources and sources affiliated with the subject of this article are not sufficient for an accurate encyclopedia article. , acting as both internal and external brand ambassadors through their communications, preferences and online activities.

Some companies are stuck grappling with legal concerns and threats to changes in corporate culture, while only an innovative few are taking important steps to tackle planning challenges and embrace this new wave of interactive communications. Corporate social networking can provide transparency across departmental, affiliate and even geographic barriers, allowing the corporate community to connect and identify internal or external talent for projects, new roles and opportunities, while encouraging collaboration to solve functional and cross-functional problems. It also can be used to create or augment an internal directory, potentially to be linked to existing human resources systems. Leveraged correctly, social networking can present a potent marketing and branding mechanism, a virtual water cooler, and a catalyst for enhancements in corporate culture.

According to Forrester, (10) between 25 percent and 30 percent of companies with 500 or more employees are seeding investments towards Web 2.0 communications and the kinds of online collaboration tools that are cornerstones of social networking. When asked why they are adopting the trend, 74 percent say it improves the efficiency of business, 64 percent feel the need to keep up with the competition, 53 percent claim it solves a particular business challenge, and 45 percent cite employee demand. The move towards company networking, however, is often driven through marketing or IT groups, without coordinated human resources efforts.

Real Time Applications

In a recent Business Week article, (11) the head of technology for British Telecom The telephone and communications carrier that provides services in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It used to be a division of the British Post Office, but was privatized in 1984 under Margaret Thatcher's administration. , J.P. Rangaswami, articulated the huge value to corporations in leveraging social networks. He pointed to the vast and growing arsenal of online communications tools to connect with employees. He told Business Week, "We've spent years talking about the value of the water-cooler conversations. [Through social networks] we have the ability to actually understand what these relationships are, how information and decision-making migrate. We see how people really work ..." He noted that it's the younger generation who are forcing the change, "The new people come infected with the new world ... A new class of super-communicators has emerged ..." He should know! More than 16,000 of British Telecom's employees collaborate with online social media tools, 10,000 are on Face-book, and the company has recently launched its own internal corporate social network, built as an extension to its existing intranet. It links employees with similar skills and interests and allows visibility into employees' contributions to the company's collective body of knowledge.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer began a journey into social networking in 2006 to increase inter-team communications and facilitate collaboration. Pfizer launched an online community specifically for Web 2.0 strategy evaluation, and created a lab for testing social technologies. The company is launching a corporate social network solution for R&D employees worldwide, and a full-blown corporate social network for all employees, possibly to be named "Pfacebook." Simon Revell, Pfizer's manager of enterprise 2.0 technology, hopes the network tool will offer greater visibility into the skill sets of Pfizer's worldwide talent base and offer a way for employees to reach out to one another. "We have to put the user at the center of this, and we have to understand it from their perspective," says Revell. (12) Among other uses, the network will provide content feeds based on job function, interest or expertise. This solution will allow visibility into what colleagues are reading and how they react to the information, thereby pulling subscribers into collaboration.

Financial services The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page.
 powerhouse A fourth-generation language from Cognos that was introduced in the late 1970s for midrange computers. It supports both character-oriented, terminal-based applications as well as Windows clients. Applications developed under PowerHouse can be imported into Cognos' Axiant client/server environment.  Morgan Stanley To comply with Wikipedia's , the introduction of this article needs a complete rewrite.  is also looking at online social solutions to improve work collaboration. The goal is to "transform how the company connects to its people, ideas and capital," according to Adam Carson, a company associate who is taking the Web 2.0 charge. Carson believes the move towards corporate social networking is imperative: "It is not an 'if' anymore--it is a 'when' and 'how'." Half of the company's 55,000 employees are under 35 years old and experienced with social networks. Morgan Stanley already uses corporate networking to facilitate collaboration at work Collaboration at Work is an American based organizational-focused think-tank comprised of international researchers and practitioners working to promote organizational justice; it has become a widely cited theory-to-practice think tank on dispute resolution and ethics in . The firm uses online social networks to communicate internally and with clients. Its 10,000-person IT team is kept closely in the loop to ensure that security and permission are built into all company tools to comply with strict regulations. (13) According to Carson, "If you can tap into the power of your company better than your competitors.., that is a competitive advantage."

Many other firms have agreed. Citrix Systems Citrix Systems' (NASDAQ: CTXS) is an American technology company, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with subsidiary operations in California and Massachusetts, with additional development centers in Australia, India and the UK. , the global leader in application delivery infrastructure, recently launched an employee knowledge network, connecting its workforce through community-based blog solutions that enable employees to receive content feeds relating to relating to relate prepconcernant

relating to relate prepbezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc 
 job functions and interests. (14) Japan's leading retailer UNIQLO, also implemented a blog content management networking solution with mobile access to connect a 700-store workforce to corporate headquarters. This included connecting floor personnel who had limited computer access. The solution enables real-time information collaboration See data conferencing.  and process development. (15)

According to IDC, Telephone customer service and call-center company Alpine Access provides connectivity and facilitates conversation and information collaboration and a "virtual water cooler effect" through a more sophisticated internal social networking and community platform. (16) Serena Software, a 27-year-old organization, is "redesigning its business for the new century" (17) by using social networking to enable functional internal communication and create a new online marketplace to promote new products and services. Serena set a company mandate to use Facebook on "Facebook Fridays" to educate and encourage employees of all generations to embrace a proven shift in online and interpersonal communications. Since then, the company has shifted towards an increased use of a private company social network that replaces inefficiencies in existing processes and technologies. The Serena community has layers of visibility for the public, Serena customers and partners, and internal employees. Its branding is sophisticated and edgy, in keeping with Serena's company Web site and brand.

Networking and Talent Management

In an era of shrinking talent pools and an ever more transient workforce, social networking provides a new an innovative way to address a number of talent challenges, including employee engagement, connection to the corporate culture, continued connectivity of transitioning workers, such as corporate alumni and retirees, and collaboration across geographies. Dow Chemical and others are using social networking to leverage talent internally and externally. Dow has had great success with its recently launched corporate social network called "My Dow Network," which serves retirees, former employees, women and current employees. Senior management, business leaders, HR, and PR all are involved in strategizing the corporate online community. More than 40 percent of Dow's current workforce will be retirement eligible in the coming five years, making talent considerations and career transitions essential to core business strategy.

This social network solution seems to be bridging generational gaps, and has even led to an increase in rehires. In its first three months, more than 4,400 employees, including 800 retirees signed up on "My Dow Network" and started connecting, resulting in 130,000 first- and second-degree community connections (a first step towards network adoption and activity). Simply by creating a community for retirees, Dow maintains the knowledge base to ensure productivity, while retirees gain a broad personal and professional network with the ability to stay connected or even to re-enter the workforce and have access to critical retiree benefit information they need. The results indicate an unconditional success; in the first few months alone, Dow received 24 full-time and 40 contract job applications through the network as well as Employer of Choice award designations by Workforce Management Workforce Management (WFM) encompasses all the responsibilities for maintaining a productive and happy workforce. Sometimes referred to as HRMS systems, or even the larger ERP systems (Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP). There are many software vendors within this space. , Computer World and Business Week. (18)

Connecting corporate alumni is an easy place to start corporate social networking. It creates a competitive advantage for leveraging talent, facilitates new business referrals, sparks applications from alumni to potentially rejoin re·join 1  
v. re·joined, re·join·ing, re·joins

v.tr.
To say in reply, especially in sharp response to a reply.

v.intr.
To reply.
 the company, and is another avenue for brand ambassadorship. Alumni rehires tend to stay on the job longer and cost significantly less to hire. One company's early alumni network evaluation metrics metrics Managed care A popular term for standards by which the quality of a product, service, or outcome of a particular form of Pt management is evaluated. See TQM.  showed 10 percent of hires in one region coming through the social net work, resulting in a cost-savings of more than $1.4 million in third-party recruiting fees. (19) Furthermore, research indicates that rehires make for markedly better performers (being as much as three times as productive according to the Recruiting Roundtable). It makes good sense to include alumni as well as current employees in a talent-focused corporate social networking solution.

Efficiencies in social effectiveness, learning and on-boarding of new hires also are important to assess. Several leading financial organizations are evaluating corporate social networking for on-boarding of new hire classes to allow them to learn from one another. A networked affiliation with the new employer also can be used to bring in the participation of mentors and knowledge leaders, not only at work behind the corporate firewall, but socially, online, for constant learning and team-building. Companies also are evaluating the benefits of surrounding online learning resources with community applications to generate knowledge networks, discussion and insights surrounding existing company documents, and learning materials.

Corporate social networks are commonly used to connect large workforces to one another. After years of mergers and growth, many companies have enormous populations in the tens of thousands spread across many locations. One of the most successful and widely publicized pub·li·cize  
tr.v. pub·li·cized, pub·li·ciz·ing, pub·li·ciz·es
To give publicity to.

Adj. 1. publicized - made known; especially made widely known
publicised
 successes in connecting disparate employees through corporate social networking is Best Buy. In 2006, the international electronics retailer launched "Blue Shirt Nation." This corporate-sponsored network connects employees from its myriad of retail outlets to share information and ask questions of one another. The online community actually is outside of the Best Buy firewall, moderated by its users, and has more than 20,000 active members, 85 percent of which are sales associates. Started by two marketing managers as a weekend project, the community provides a forum for authentic and un-moderated communication including discussions around operational issues and suggested policy changes. Leveraging this tool, Best Buy was able to spread the word about new benefits resulting in 40,000 employees signing up for a new 401K program. But beyond just information and communication, the turnover rate at Best Buy dropped from 60 percent to only 8.5 percent in the networked group since the advent of this online community. (20)

Employee and External Communications

To address the inevitable disconnect disconnect - SCSI reconnect  between employees, IBM has set up its own employee social network, successfully connecting more than 30,000 employees. The network, which allows activities such as event planning Event planning is the process of planning a festival, ceremony, competition, party, or convention.

Event planning includes budgeting, establishing date and alternate date (rain date), selecting and reserving the event site, acquiring permits, and coordinating transportation
, photo-sharing and discussion groups, is intended to help employees build relationships across a large, geographically distributed enterprise. Like IBM, another computer giant, EMC (1) (EMC Corporation, Hopkinton, MA, www.emc.com) The leading supplier of storage products for midrange computers and mainframes. Founded in 1979 by Richard J. Egan and Roger Marino, EMC has developed advanced storage and retrieval technologies for the world's largest companies. , launched a corporate social network with the vision of connecting their 37,000 employees with customers, partners, influencers, new hires, and other industry constituencies in a vast knowledge and productivity network--a total enterprise community of as many as 370,000. Viewing the opportunity to address business challenges created by having several silos of information within the company, the EMC project was funded by the Marketing eBusiness Group, the same group that provides Web solutions and portals, along with a corporate executive sponsor, the Global Marketing CTO (Chief Technical Officer) The executive responsible for the technical direction of an organization. See CIO and salary survey. . The solution required help from IT and HR, as well as a dedicated team to ensure platform continuity and user-enablement community development. Networking goals include conversational collaboration, identification and building upon communities of interest, and collaboration for content, documents, projects and teams.

The network as it exists today is for EMC employees only, sits behind the firewall, and was introduced via word of mouth (vs. corporate mandate). Within the first six months it attracted 3,500 active users, including 80 or so employee-generated communities. Chuck Hollis, the executive sponsor for the community, believes the solution facilitates important collaboration and conversation. In his own blog, he has written that the EMC online community "has significant business value, even for the casual observer." He also points out other unexpected benefits: "email traffic is down, ... a new "external quality" blogger [emerges] every 3-4 weeks [creating] lively, business oriented discussions on dozens of topics." Hollis now believes there is high business value derived from these internal communications This article's grammar usage needs improvement. Please edit this article in accordance with Wikipedia's .  and that the online social network has increased employee satisfaction, enriched the work experience and positively impacted corporate culture. Says Hollis; "I am now a believer in the transformational power of E 2.0 [enterprise social software] ... at a personal level and at a corporate level." (21)

Mitigating Risks

There is no question that online social networking tools have vast potential and are already changing the way companies and employees do business. The question for corporations is not if they should launch an online social network, but what kind of solutions, for which business purposes, and how.

Despite the many examples of successful corporate social networks, many companies remain skeptical that there is value in spending time online, and they worry about the risks associated with these technologies.

Currently 65 percent of U.S. employers block certain Web sites from being accessed behind the corporate firewall, and half of those specifically block access to social networking sites. (22) This resistance is partially to keep employees from wasting time, but it is also due to risk aversion risk aversion

The tendency of investors to avoid risky investments. Thus, if two investments offer the same expected yield but have different risk characteristics, investors will choose the one with the lowest variability in returns.
. The risks to employers of allowing access to these online sites can be managed, however, and are far outweighed by the benefits.

Corporate interest and participation in social networks have impacted the way users think about their own representation on line. There is some indication that profiles are becoming more professional and appropriate for public consumption. Regardless, there is concern about what employees may say online. Blogs are conversational and published in real-time so the potential to compromise an employer--intentionally or inadvertently--is increased. Employers can legally monitor and evaluate employee online communications by ensuring all employees sign aggressive technology and confidentiality policies with restrictions that can be expanded to cover social networking. These state that employees clearly understand and follow company policy on appropriate use of electronic communications. That said, there are definite risks to terminating or disciplining an employee for online conduct outside of work; several state and federal anti-regulation acts can be interpreted to support employees in these cases. And, beyond legal considerations, the ethics of monitoring employee behavior outside of work present a set of complex challenges.

For the workplace and company constituencies, building secure, exclusive networks is likely the best option for addressing a number of these issues. Most corporate concerns and legal risks about social networking are alleviated by secure, company-sponsored community solutions. Employees themselves prefer secure communities, citing security and trust among driving considerations. (23) Technologies provided by companies that build and deploy private social networks include options for role-based access to content and various levels of permission for network contribution and activity.

Finding a way to embrace technology trends and communications preferences to meet the needs of both the company and its constituencies is critical and not out of reach. By evaluating and creating intelligent, enforceable policies, companies can allow employees to communicate using a full array of popular communication tools, while ensuring legal and reputation risks are mitigated. Human resources leaders should be far more involved in discussions surrounding possibilities and advantages for leveraging social networking, instead of focusing on concerns of reputation risk or wasted productivity.

Time to Get Started

Many of the social, collaborative, developmental, contributive and collegial col·le·gi·al  
adj.
1.
a. Characterized by or having power and authority vested equally among colleagues: "He . . .
 workplace experiences desired by young workers can be facilitated through online social networking. Similarly, many company challenges, including bridging geographic and generational divides, increasing retention, improving process and workplace innovation, and building new businesses, can be enhanced through strategic online community initiatives. Innovative companies have begun implementing and encouraging the use of online tools to create communities where employees can connect with one another at work and beyond.

Where well-planned corporate social network strategies have been deployed, companies have seen early results indicating dramatic strategic and operational value across many success measures, several of which directly impact human resource initiatives. Purely from a talent perspective, corporate social networking has the potential to help business leaders identify internal talent across departmental and even geographic barriers and to help capture the attention, interest, collaboration and contribution of the broadest employee community. It offers a solution to enhancing on-boarding and developing programs through social awareness and knowledge transfer in a peer-driven and collaborative fashion, connecting employees with whom they need to know. And, it can help talent planners track employees through various career stages, from the time of entering a prospective talent pool within a corporate community, through hire, promotion, alumni status, boomerang hiring, career development, retirement and beyond.

While corporate objections to social media and social networking are not uncommon, well considered electronic data policies and carefully chosen technology platforms can address these and provide solutions that are secure with ample control mechanisms. Working through risks and objections, and executive strategy, policy and goals, human resources leaders and senior executives can leverage corporate social networks and online employee communities to develop and protect a tremendously important company asset-invaluable talent.

Because employees themselves are seeking connectivity not just at work, but also in the world, we are apt to witness a shift in attitudes towards the role of online social networking at work and the growing emergence of corporate social networks. As social media tools and solutions become ubiquitous, it will be ever more critical to chart a company course through the vast and evolving online social networking meta-verse. As the trend grows, even reluctant companies may have to reevaluate policies and reassess reassess
Verb

to reconsider the value or importance of

reassessment n

Verb 1. reassess - revise or renew one's assessment
reevaluate
 opportunities to enable the power of online social networking for corporate advantage.

Ten years ago, the Internet was perceived as a huge corporate threat. Today we'd be lost without Google and e-mail. Tomorrow, social networking will be seen as just as valuable.

References

"A Journey in Social Media: How One Large Company is Approaching the Opportunity", C. Hollis, VP-CTO Global Marketing, EMC Corporation EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC) is an American Fortune 500 and S&P 500 manufacturer of software and systems for information management and storage. It is headquartered in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, USA. , 2008; Chucksblog.emc.com; Chucksblog.typepad.com/a_journey_in_socialmedia.

"Online Social Networking, Legal Risks for Businesses: Identifying and Minimizing Liabilities in Company and Employee Misuse," M. Jackson, et. al., May 14, 2008.

"Corporate Social networking: Increasing the Density of Connections to Power Business Performance," SelectMinds Research-Based White Paper, 2007.

(1.) "IBM Global Human Capital Study: Looming Leadership Crisis, Organizations Placing Their Companies' Growth Strategies at Risk," IBM.com, October 18, 2007.

(2.) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics News, Friday August 25, 2006.

(3.) Harvard Business Review "Why the Best of the Young Keep Leaving" (2007).

(4.) "Workplace Connections," SelectMinds/Intellisurvey Report, March, 2007.

(5.) The Hidden Power of Social Networks, R. Cross and A. Parker, HBS HBS Harvard Business School
HBs Hepatitis B Surface
HBS Heinrich Boell Stiftung (German Political Foundation)
HBS Household Budget Survey
HBS Hogere Burgerschool
HBS Hawaii Biological Survey (Bishop Museum) 
 Publishing, 2004.

(6.) "Rising Above the Crowd: How High-Performing Knowledge Workers Differentiate Themselves," Accenture Institute for Strategic Change Working Paper, 2003.

(7.) "Workplace Connections," SelectMinds/Intellisurvey Report, March, 2007.

(8.) "Gartner's Survey on Managing Information," Number: COM-15-0871, Gartner, Inc., 2001.

(9.) "Online Social networking, Legal Risks for Businesses: Identifying and Minimizing Liabilities in Company and Employee Misuse," M. Jackson, et. al., May 14, 2008.

(10.) "Case Study: Northwestern Mutual's Web 2.0 Journey," G.O. Young for Technology Marketing Professionals, Forrester Research Forrester Research is an independent technology and market research company that provides its clients with advice about technology's impact on business and consumers. Corporate facts
  • Founded: 1983 by George F.
, October 1, 2007.

(11.) "Beyond Blogs,"Businessweek.com: The Future of Tech, May 22, 2008; "Blogs Will Change Your Business," Businessweek.com: The Future of Tech, 2005.

(12.) "Pfizer launches RSS (Really Simple Syndication) A syndication format that was developed by Netscape in 1999 and became very popular for aggregating updates to blogs and the news sites. RSS has also stood for "Rich Site Summary" and "RDF Site Summary.  for R&D and eyes "Pfacebook" social network," Computerworld.com, Blogs, May 16, 2008.

(13.) "Morgan Stanley, Pfizer turning to Web 2.0 tools," WebWereld.nl, September 7, 2007.

(14.) "Citrix Online Citrix Online is a division of Citrix Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS) that sells Web-based remote access, support, and collaboration software and services. Its products are GoToAssist, GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, and GoToWebinar. ," Six Apart Case Study, 2007.

(15.) "Fast Retailing's UNIQLO," Six Apart Case study, 2007.

(16.) "HiveLive Powers Alpine Access Online Community For Its Vitual Workforce," HiveLive Case Study, 2008.

(17.) Serena Software: Stretching the boundaries of Enterprise Social Networking, IDC Buyer Case Study, 2008.

(18.) "Stem the Brain Drain brain drain
n.
The loss of skilled intellectual and technical labor through the movement of such labor to more favorable geographic, economic, or professional environments.
 with Social Networking," Human Capital Institute Webinar, March 20, 2008.

(19.) "Talk to Me," Human Resources Executive Online, October 2, 2007.

(20.) Groundswell ground·swell  
n.
1. A sudden gathering of force, as of public opinion: a groundswell of antiwar sentiment.

2.
, Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, C. Li and J. Bernoff, Harvard Business Press, 2008.

(21.) "A Journey in Social Media: how one large company is approaching the opportunity", C. Hollis, VP-CTO Global Marketing, EMC Corporation, 2008; Chucksblog.emc.com; Chucksblog.typepad.com/ajourney_in_social_media.

(22.) "Online Social Networking, Legal Risks for Businesses: Identifying and Minimizing Liabilities in Company and Employee Misuse," M. Jackson, et. al., May 14, 2008.

(23.) "Corporate Social Networking: Increasing the Density of Connections to Power Business Performance," SelectMinds Research-Based White Paper, 2007

Lauren Leader-Chivee is a Senior Associate with the Human Capital Strategy team at Booz Allen Hamilton Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., referred to as Booz Allen is one of the oldest strategy consulting firms in the world.[1] The firm formerly had two consulting divisions: WCB (Worldwide Commercial Business, also known as “The Commercial Side”) and WTB , where she advises diverse corporate clients on best in class innovations in Human Resources. She has been an HR executive with Office Tiger and Credit Suisse The Credit Suisse Group (SWX:CSGN, NYSE: CS) is a financial services company, headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland. It is the second-largest Swiss bank, behind UBS AG. .

Ellen Cowan brings many years of Internet business development, marketing and consulting experience to the area of corporate social networking and human capital and talent management. At HiveLive, Ellen consults corporate clients on private social networking and community solutions for employees, customers and partners.
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Author:Leader-Chivee, Lauren; Hamilton, Booz Allen; Cowan, Ellen
Publication:People & Strategy
Date:Dec 1, 2008
Words:5130
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