Getting Smarter At Workplace: The Science of “Social"

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Have you heard of the 'Six degrees of Separation' theory ? It states that because we are all linked by chains of acquaintances, everyone is just six introductions away from any other person on earth. This theory has not been proven, but with the advent of social networking sites more people are connecting across the globe than ever before. We all know that today's millennial are well-connected, well-informed, and work with speed and agility. All these characteristics can be attributed to them of being social. How often, have we reconnected with long-lost acquaintances, colleagues, classmates through social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook? It wouldn’t be totally wrong if I say more often than not. This gives rise to an interesting question: How are you as a Human Resource (HR) professional and business leader leveraging this vast capability (which technology offers) to tap into the collective intelligence of this social network?

Human Resource is not the only business functions concentrating on social networks to engage with their customers, even managers are seeking different methods to engage with their co-workers in similarly transformed ways. The traditional ‘assembly-line’ format of carrying out one’s task has been replaced by a more effective pattern for accomplishing organizational goals. Saying these functions have been enriched by recent technology developments, and are further widening the door for the influx of better technology advancements and their subsequent adoption, wouldn’t be wrong.

HR professionals are utilising social media for tech-enabled recruiting, employee education, sales training and leadership development. Increased employee engagements through social platforms are now becoming the norm. For instance, on the first day of recruiting an employee, he can be included in a common social group for 6-12 months to get him up to speed with other new hires, helping them to network and acclimatise to the workplace. This would benefit the senior resources the most as they would need to spend less time in decoding the processes to the new employee and training them. Thereby, allowing new hires to learn from other global references & experiences and thus, would substantially bring down training costs per resource.

Simultaneously, indulgence into the social way of collaborating with surroundings yields substantial employee benefits. Built around social business tools, processes and management systems, an automated server creates instant communities of global teams to work on projects and products. Project managers, team leaders, consultants and IT architects can upload projects/case studies to the central repository and people who are in-between assignments or have free time opt into these projects to add their talents and expand their skills. Today, there are several communities of professionals around the globe that are collaborating virtually for smarter approach by sharing experiences and content. This has reduced the time it would have taken to complete projects by 30%, increased re-use of ‘software assets’ by 50%, and cut component costs by 33%.

IBM's recent study of 700 Global Chief Human Resource Officers brings some other interesting facts to light:

1. Financial outperformers are 57% more likely to use collaborative and social networking tools, than underperformers, to enable global teams to work more effectively together
2. 21% of companies have recently increased the amount they invest in the collaboration tools and analytics despite the economic downturn

As industry leaders see social media morphing into a key requirement for social business, they are increasingly warming up to the concept by becoming a tool for organizational productivity and culture change for engaging with diverse constituencies of clients and experts, who have laid the foundation for spurring revenue growth and innovation for a global workforce.

With the rate of impact and engagement so high, going social will spell new opportunities for corporates in the way they approach. By leveraging collective intelligence and utilising new technologies, insights, and techniques, the world’s most dynamic businesses will attract, motivate, and empower employees to increase engagement, improve productivity, and drive value for the organization.
Social Business heralds the way for Smarter Workforce – and can accomplish incredible things!

-D P Singh, Vice-President and Head - HR, IBM India/South Asia
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