Leveraging Social Media for Employer Branding
An integrated employer brand management strategy has become a clear necessity in most organizations in order to build and maintain their competitive edge in the talent market. This strategy caters to both prospective employees (the external employer brand) as well as current employees (the internal employer brand) and ensures alignment between the two. Many world-class organizations also invest significantly in ensuring that their processes and policies at every touchpoint of the employee lifecycle from pre-recruitment to exit, are closely aligned to the stated employer value proposition.
As Baby Boomers begin to exit the workforce, organizations find that their critical talent today consists increasingly of Gen Y employees. The challenge that stares us in the face is how to engage a generation that values collaboration, speed, openness and innovation above all else. This is where the enormous opportunities that social media presents us come into the picture.
Leveraging Social Media to Reach Out to Prospective Employees
Recruiters today are finding that the traditional means of reaching out to prospective employees are yielding more unqualified applicants than ever before. Many organizations now choose to use an integrated approach to recruitment that uses both traditional methods such as job boards and recruitment agencies, along with a social media talent sourcing strategy that is based on “networking networks” such as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook etc. This approach provides organizations with an opportunity to target pools of potential employees with greater precision and lesser cost, and also offers different entry paths for talent, which culminate into the recruitment process.
Making their employer value proposition come alive on social media is a great way for organizations to get noticed, to start a rich dialogue with their targeted talent segments and to build their employer brand in the longer term as well. Through this process, there is an opportunity to build the two key levers of an employer brand – the mental imagery and the physical availability or reach of the brand. The tone, style and content of an organization’s social media presence can bring its employer brand attributes to life in a compelling and authentic manner, along with the reach provided by the medium.
Examples of the use of social media in reaching out to prospective employees include Dell, which uses platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to attract top talent and promote an ongoing conversation. It also uses region-specific career pages, job searches and career fit widgets which link up seamlessly to its recruitment process. Current employee testimonials and experiences are leveraged to make its online presence more authentic for prospective employees.
Leveraging Social Media to Engage Current Employees
Social media provides great collaboration potential at the workplace and helps employees communicate and share ideas online, all aspects that are of tremendous value to Gen Y. This helps align the employment experience with the digital experience that most employees are accustomed to while also delivering great benefits through employee engagement, learning and development and culture building standpoints.
Many organizations in India today have internal bulletin boards, discussion forums, blogs and networking forums. These remove functional, geographical and hierarchical boundaries, bringing employees closer to one another, promoting ongoing two-way dialogue and encouraging trust and transparency. Through this approach, employees can also play a greater role in ongoing innovation, and decision-making.
From a learning and development standpoint, learning is becoming increasingly decentralised, informal and individualised. Social media helps deliver customised learning experiences that do not have a formal teaching structure, are time or place independent and rely heavily on peer-to-peer interaction. Internal wikis, peer-supported communities, podcasts and online classrooms are just a few examples of the immense potential of the use of social media in this space. Many organizations also use internal social media sites that allow their employees to post content, give and receive feedback and connect with internal Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) across functions and departments. These social networks help leverage both the intellectual capital and the social capital of the organization, increase cohesion and provide an ongoing context for knowledge sharing. The gamification of the workplace is another way in which many modern organizations are furthering their employee engagement and learning efforts.
Some examples of the use of social media in employee engagement include initiatives by Cognizant, HCL Technologies, and MindTree. For instance, Cognizant has a social computing platform that helps foster collaboration and enhances employee productivity.HCL Technologies has its internal networking site “Meme” which acts as an inhouse Facebook. MyWiproWorld and InfyBubble are internal social networking forums at Wipro and Infosys respectively.MindTreeTechnologies has its own internal community portal called “Connected Minds” hosting internal employee communities, and facilitating virtual collaboration through blogs, question-and-answer sessions, document uploads, and bookmarking.
Social Media is a powerhouse of opportunities for employer branding by helping organizations reach out to a bigger target audience, engage them in a meaningful dialogue, bring employer brand attributes to life and create a longterm talent pipeline that will help build competitive advantage. No longer do organizations have the choice of whether to engage on social media or not – today, leveraging social media to reach out to, attract and engage top talent has become a business-critical part of the overall talent strategy. The focus is on involving employees and prospective employees in real conversations and ongoing dialogue rather than the “one-way” monologue of past years.
Niranjana Harikumar is an organizational development consultant who has consulted with several organizations in the areas of talent management, leadership development and employer brand management.