The Convergence of Social Media & HR

While social networking can be used by companies internally to create opportunities for collaboration, it can also be detrimental to companies’ bottom lines, as the average employee is utilizing social sites so frequently that it creates a net loss of 1.5% productivity. A balance must be struck between employees’ need for downtime, which averages five minutes per hour for maximum efficiency, and the need for attentive work. While employees may view social networking as harmless fun, potential employers can review public posting times and judge the applicant based on lost productivity and perceived bad habits.

Today, hiring managers have an abundance of information to review while considering applicants, which includes intentional job-seeker sites like LinkedIn as well as unintentional foibles shared on Instagram. On average, 92% of job recruiters and hiring managers choose to screen applicants utilizing social networks in 2015, which is up from 63% in 2011. One in three recruiters reported rejecting candidates based on information learned from social profiles. However, many HR leaders are still wary of infringing upon applicants’ protected categories (such as race, gender, age, religion, et al.), and other leaders are prohibited by state laws from making employment decisions based on lawful, off-duty conduct.

The Social Network coined the popular phrase, “The Internet isn’t written in pencil … it’s written in ink,” for good reason. Not only are intentional posts vulnerable to being screenshot and shared with anyone, but unintentional posts are becoming more common as social sites adjust algorithms on a daily basis and create unforeseen issues. Facebook and other networks have been guilty of accidentally sharing private posts publicly, so users have to be wary that their privately shared company anecdotes that may be protected by NDAs could end up as fodder for Huffington Post or Buzzfeed. Unwitting employees can quickly find themselves guilty of tortious interference if they choose to trust the unguaranteed security of social networks (as well as every peer who is trusted within that privacy).

45% of Fortune 500 companies are including links to employees’ social sites in their career pages, so it is especially important that employees’ public posts be on-brand and monitored. However, companies can only have the reasonable expectation that their employees will adhere to social policies and update their social sites for scrutiny if it is done during business hours, which opens the door for lost productivity and distractions.

Another interesting aspect of the convergence of social media and HR is the recruitment battlefield. Today, candidates have ample choices of companies, which are almost all utilizing social media, PR, and marketing for employer branding to reach the best employees. HR and recruitment must now join forces with their marketing teams to reach those desirable candidates, pulling marketers away from their focus on consumers.

For Human Resources leaders, social media is still an unresolved issue on many fronts, in spite of well-written social media policies. Sites like Glassdoor are pushing the envelope and creating new concerns for employers, as employees vent their frustrations from the security of anonymous accounts.

For employees, it is just as uncertain—the best policy is to only post things privately that you would share publicly, because you never know where content will end up. People who are dubious of that sentiment only need to search “unauthorized pictures” to accept the veracity of it: nothing shared online is completely private by virtue of the fact that you are indeed “sharing” it.

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