A human capital strategy for social mediaorganized around defining talent needs, discovering sources of talent, developing talent for ongoing high performance, and deploying talent to the most appropriate areas of the businessis critical to a companys ability to effectively embrace and benefit from social media.

Just as consumers today can define and create their own content using YouTube or Wikipedia, employees now can define and create their own people practices without any centrally defined limits, choices, or policies designed to serve particular employee segments. With employee-defined personalization, for example, individuals can define the learning they need through wikis, blogs, YouTube or Facebooklike applications, and on-the-job experience.

To encourage employees to learn new attitudes, behaviors, and skills, companies must review talent development programs and incorporate advanced learning methods. Ironically, social media provides a superior platform for training that transforms culture, even if the nature of the culture transformation is social media adoption. Companies are experiencing significantly greater return on investment from interactive and collaborative learning compared with traditional instructor-led classroom training.

Defining the Components of Learning 2.0

Learning 2.0, as Accenture calls it, combines innovative approaches and technologies in Web 2.0 learning, knowledge management, and real-time performance support. These capabilities and technologies help companies deliver learning at the point of need and in formats that can adapt to the requirements, working environment, and learning styles of individual learners. As a result, employees report they are more competent and confident in doing their jobs. And confidence is a proven predictor of success.

Components of a Learning 2.0 approach that drive higher performance in corporate learning include:

  • Accessible across multiple channels, allowing for learner-centric distribution modes, including instructor-led training, e-learning, podcasts, wikis, and blogs.
  • Flexible, to allow for content reuse, allowing for multipurpose learning assets available online, in the classroom and in audio/video format.
  • Modular, to enable learners to find and consume just the portion of the content that is relevant to them and to the task at hand.
  • Collaborative, so learners can easily contribute content, share lessons learned, and add to both their personal and the organizational knowledge base.
  • Engaging, such that learners want to participate in consuming and creating content because it holds their attention and interest and they are recognized for their participation.
  • Personalized, meaning learning experiences are relevant to an employees role and work context and are delivered at the point of need.
  • Measured, so the impact of learning on job performance is tracked, and learners can be more accountable for contributing and consuming knowledge related to their jobs and their organization.
  • User-generated, meaning more content will be provided by users, increasing the relevance of learning to actual performance needs and driving down overall training costs.

Social Media Adoption at HOK

Several companies are aggressively moving down the path of integrating social media into their talent management strategy. One example is HOK, a global architecture firm that has aggressively adopted social networking applications since its corporate communications team began trying them out in spring of 2008.

The corporate communications team manages various social media applications that serve the internal and external audiences and serve as in indirect marketing, recruitment, and retention tool. Internally, HOKs employees have been extremely receptive to these applications, and many have become highly engaged, especially with the Life at HOK blog.

  • Life at HOK was established to help change the external perception from HOK the big company to HOK the creative people helping with recruitment and retention, appealing to the future business partners and clients, connecting with traditional and new media members, and even strengthening the firms internal design culture. The blog received dozens of inquiries from people looking for jobs. Online friendships and conversations are better connecting HOKs people around the firm and, as people get to know each other, fostering true collaboration.

  • The HOK Network YouTube channel, houses several formal and informal videos of HOK professionals talking about projects, ideas, and events. The HOKLife YouTube channel, features videos by the Life at HOK bloggers. This applications allows an external audience to see the intimate culture of HOKs global offices and disproves the notion that HOK is a large, inaccessible company.

  • The HOK Careers page on Facebook was designed to give potential recruits an opportunity to be a part of HOKs Facebook community and to ask questions about what its like to work at the firm. Fans of the page have posted numerous comments and inquiries. HOK uses LinkedIn as a secondary tool to the HOK Careers page on Facebook. The company profile page on LinkedIn simply offers a quick snapshot of the firm and indicates HOK employees who are on the network. VisualCV is a supplementary recruiting tool to the firms traditional careers homepage at www.HOK.com/careers. Although recruits must officially apply for positions at hok.com/careers, VisualCV allows them to submit interactive, multimedia resumes and view HOKs own VisualCV, which contains videos and office information and directs them to other social media applications. This tool allows HOK to reach a new audience that otherwise might not have applied for a position at HOK and shows that HOK is on the leading edge of technology and new recruitment methods.

Bottom line

Business outcomes, business capabilities, and competencies can be used to define job profiles, develop new learning strategies, guide business performance scorecards and rewards and incentives programs, and identify skill gaps in the existing employee population. Only through a careful evaluation of role-specific business outcomes, business capabilities, and competencies can an organization anticipate the roles that social media must play in its human capital strategy as it seeks to recruit, develop, and retain a high performing workforce.

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Reprinted by permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from The Social Media Management Handbook by Wollan, Smith, and Zhou. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.