Saturday, March 29, 2008

HR Value Proposition

Where should HR focus more - on internal customers, business partners or external vendors .It’s a catch -22 situation which many HR teams are unable to crack, some just can’t figure out the areas the top areas of priority. They continue to be driven by change, rather than playing the change agent role.

Dave Ulrich has called on HR to be more in tune with business issues to deliver real value.
Speaking at a Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) annual international conference based in Rome, Ulrich told more than 400 HR practitioners to focus on outcomes - ie, what they deliver for their organisation and key customers, rather than what they do inside.

He urged HR to have an opinion on external changes in technology, economic trends and demographics, and to understand their chief executive's expectations of the business.

"The challenge in HR is not what we do, but what we deliver how we add value," he said. "For decades we have been too focused on what we do. The world of HR for the future should not start with HR it should start with outcomes of HR."Ulrich urged HR to ask how they can use the knowledge they have to help their business leaders.
Ask any business leader and chances are that they will all agree that HR teams continue to deliver day in day out on transactional activities. They meet the expectations and partner effectively on all key deliverables, but when it comes to contribute in leading from the front on strategic areas they are just unsure of the role they can play. They just don’t dare to take up challenges which are up for grab; sometimes they just feel it’s not their cup of tea.

As Ulrich rightly says that instead of starting a discussion with chief executives on training, staffing, recruitment and so on, it is better to start with the outcome - how what HR does adds value to the customers, which ultimately should shape the business agenda."It's important to get customer and investor focus - not what HR thinks should happen, but what's the external reality facing this company in the next 10 years?"

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

HR @ Web 2.0

The evolution of web based social and professional networking has been quite interesting over the years. On an average I spend almost 40% of my time on net on many of these networking sites. In the early days we all started with Ryze and then linkedin, face book and today I get almost 2-3 invites every week from different networking sites. Although as a user I clearly distinguish between a social and professional networking site but now the lines between the two is getting blurred. So be it orkut or its own desi cousin Big adda our generation is increasingly getting hooked to web based networking.


Linkedin recently launched its new version which has more upgraded features and better integration options and even access via mobile phones and PDA’s. Increasingly I see more and more recruiters using web based networking tools for hiring middle and senior level managers. Members are also directly approaching employees from different organizations to explore options in the organization of their own choice. This is an interesting tread as more and more people are using the networking tools to directly get in touch with the prospective employers. LinkedIn is supposed to have more than 20 million registered users and with the new users joining every day it has a user base which allows plethora of options. Unlike facebook which started as a tool for connecting to campus buddies, LinkedIn is seen as a professional and no-nonsense application.

Web 2.0 and hiring philosophies have been widely used by small and starts up as it gives them the depth and breadth to choose the selected few as they have some niche roles to offer. It’s interesting to note that Facebook hired many of its early employees through LinkedIn. E&Y has a page on Facebook, through which it interacts with prospective employees

Consider this survey, entitled Recruitment Advertising: Moving in New Directions, from companies ranging from $5 million to $5 billion in annual revenues (and from a variety of industry segments) -- said they would spend more on business-networking sites, social networking and employee-referral programs in 2008 than in 2007, but less on print and traditional job boards.

On the other hand some argue that your social profiles on these sites may even backfire in case your prospective employer, client or even business partner decides to search your web footprints using goggle or social networking sites. This interesting conversation on Business week has some interesting observations.

A public profile is a vehicle for casually interacting with others in an informal setting, on personal free time. When companies use these profiles to find not only a professional but also an ideological match for a job, they’re misleading themselves and building ill will with talented prospective employees, who might decline to apply for a job for fear a comment about China on their blogs makes them persona non grata.

Meanwhile organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to make out the difference between and social and a professional networking site. It often seen a waste of time when people spend hours spending time on social networking site. Some sites like Linkedin have clearly articulated that it’s not meant for social loafing. LinkedIn vice president Patrick Crane told in an interview "Because we're professional, we're not about having people waste time; we’re all about people saving time."

A recent survey of 700 HR executives found that 64 percent said their companies block access to social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, while 63 percent block access to blogs and nearly 70 percent prevent their employees from accessing video or photo-sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr. The study, conducted by Redwood City, Calif.-based security firm Clearswift, also found 54 percent of the HR professionals have had to discipline employees for "wasting time" on the Internet.

While the use of these technologies in the open talent market is wide spreading I’m not aware of many organizations which also using these features of Web 2.0 to engage employees inside the organizations.

I was just wondering how a twitter, facebook or linkedin will help organizations in creating a passionate community of niche users within the organizations. Bulletin boards and blogs have been tried but engaging them through intranet portal will be something really interesting. Given the size and spread of huge big organizations it may be a good tool for creating a more diverse and better connected workforce.

This HRE article has some interesting examples on the latest web 2.0 tools used by organizations.

Some companies that have implemented Web 2.0-type tools in the workplace have found they're a useful way to spark creativity among employees and increase engagement and interaction among -- and between -- employees and customers. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard recently launched HP Uncut, a YouTube-like
system that lets HP employees make their own videos that demonstrate best practices for using and maintaining HP products and then upload them to the corporate Web site.

Taleo has built its Taleo Business Edition application on Facebook Platform, which enables companies to integrate their recruiting applications with Facebook, giving them access to millions of users (and potential job candidates).

Penny Davis, head of HR operations at mobile phone operator T-Mobile says “ it's time for HR professionals to take a fresh look at Web 2.0, and how it can help them tap into new talent pools, encourage staff to collaborate, and build their employee brand”.

In the past year, for example, Davis and her team have used Facebook to help new graduate recruits make the transition to the world of work. "We set up a group on Facebook in May for the 2007 intake so that they could network informally with each other and the T-Mobile recruitment team before their September start date, enabling them to get to know each other and air concerns in a friendly, supportive environment. ."

Management consultancy KPMG, for example, the Royal Bank of Scotland, or data storage giant EMC. All three held careers fairs in Second Life during 2007.

Exciting times ahead for HR professionals as they will find these tools really handy to overcome the challenge of attracting and engaging people.

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