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Harness the explosion of self-expression



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Enough has been said about HR’s need to become a business partner, but Madan Nagaldinne, head of HR for APAC at Facebook, provides an answer to the “how”.

Everyone wants to know how to become a best employer, and create a culture with incredible innovation and adaptability. Most, however, do not understand there is no magic bullet – they need to do a series of small things, enhanced by technology. My passionate belief is HR has to own the conversation on the organisation’s mobile, digital and social strategy; be it a five-location bakery or a global bank.

Let me ask you, do you use social media to communicate with your friends and family? I’m sure all of you are nodding in agreement.

Now, do you use similar services to communicate with your co-workers on work issues? My experience is that one in three will agree to this.

Finally, do you have a company mandated messaging application installed on your phone, supported by your IT team, that serves as a communication vehicle in your company? Only about 2% of people I ask this to have raised their hands to this.

What we all experience between 5pm in the evening and 9am the next morning is the information superhighway. What we experience between 9-to-5 in a working day is the exact opposite – the speed at which communication moves and decisions are made are hijacked by an email dinosaur, which does not allow companies to implement a simple mobile app for the employee base.

So, here is my argument: HR, not IT, has to own the company’s mobile, digital and social strategy.

This strategy impacts key metrics such as productivity, headcount, innovation, communication, culture and leadership effectiveness, and for HR to continue to be relevant, it has to show data on each to the leadership team.

We keep talking about having a seat at the table and this is an opportunity to do exactly that – to have a well-informed opinion on the company’s social, digital and mobile strategy. Of course, each industry will have its own challenges of transparency or encryption, for example, in banking or defence, but we cannot let that hijack our original thinking that communication is good for mankind, and it is good for companies.

Here is my argument: HR, not IT, has to own the company’s mobile, digital and social strategy.

This does not require immense investment in enterprise software. There are plenty of free tools available that seamlessly allow instant communication, free calls or video messaging.

The minute you enable two-way communication over a 24-hour pipe, you can expect massive productivity gains. When your employees have all the information they need about their projects, how to do them, who to contact, and what is happening in the company, that automatically frees up about 20% of a manager’s time. Managers will still need to give direction, set goals and invest in the development of their teams, but the organic nature of free-flow dramatically benefits them.

In addition, employees will comment on your products and services on a regular basis because they now have a voice, and they are directly involved in the success of the company.

More so, all the time that we spend onboarding people, or sending out a memo and following that up with a town hall, can be done via social – that brings 50 meetings down to one post!

Employees get a chance to ask questions, read others’ views, and post their comments, unlike typical top-down communication.

In cases where employees in two offices are facing a similar client challenge, the managers may be connecting maybe once in three months. When you open up communication by sharing wins and losses instantaneously, HR can have a real impact on the way work gets done and the way companies innovate, just by allowing people to share ideas, learn and connect.

Keep in mind, you do not need to teach employees how to do this. They already know this, and check social media multiple times a day!

HR can have a real impact on the way work gets done and the way companies innovate, just by allowing people to share ideas, learn and connect.

My final point – just like companies do not charge for water or stationery, they cannot afford to be stingy about IT equipment or software. These are productivity tools that we need to invest in to enable and empower our employees.

I believe HR has a significant chance to seize the opportunity here; by not doing it, we risk losing the respect of the C-suite.

HR has to harness the explosion of self-expression, and use that to create a material competitive advantage for the organisation. If you do, you are going to not only get that elusive seat, but you can also take your career, your team and your company to stratospheric levels.



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