Power of social media in recruitment/retention

Singapore Business Review, Friday, 25 May 2012

Power of social media in recruitment/retention

Social media is redefining the way companies recruit, influence, engage and retain their employees.

With competition for talent intensifying, organisations are migrating further into the digital realm primarily because of changing talent demographics, where a larger percentage of today’s workforce belongs to the younger generation also known as Gen Y.

The use of social media is spreading like wildfire across the different stages of an employee’s lifecycle, from selection, recruitment, on-boarding, engagement, learning & development, and retention.

Here’s how you can harness the power of social media to stay on top of the recruitment-retention game.

Net a wider talent pool

Organisations have increasingly been utilising social media for their talent acquisition needs due to its relatively low cost and speed in finding, shortlisting and securing suitable candidates compared with traditional advertising and search methods.

More pertinently, perhaps, recruiters have also struck upon the ability to access more in-depth information on the prospective hire – even before they interact in-person. Through the candidate’s LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter accounts, recruiters may be able to learn about the candidate’s character, personality and even value system, should the individual’s account privacy settings permit, of course.

If available for public view, these platforms act as ready references about potential candidates.

According to various surveys in recent years, professional networking site LinkedIn has emerged as the most preferred vehicle for recruitment followed by Facebook and Twitter.

We are also seeing forward-thinking organisations leverage social media for reference checks, as well as strengthen and promote their employee referral programmes. Often considered to be a very cost-effective method to attract and identify top talent, the latter also helps to decrease turnover, reduce cost per hire and hasten the time-to-productivity of new hires.

Conversely, candidates no longer have to wait for a job opening at their dream company before taking action. They can start courting the company by “following” it and participating in discussions on the company’s social media pages. This helps to showcase the candidates’ expertise as well as his or her eagerness to work in the company, and subsequently enhance their appeal when a vacancy does open up.

Ultimately, these social networking sites enable recruiters to form lasting relationships with both active and passive candidates, with the latter actually making up the majority of the workforce.

Steer social conversations

By formally incorporating social networks into your talent management strategy, you can mastermind how your employer branding is portrayed in the business community, and help to attract the best candidates.

It also gives you greater control over the public’s perception of your company as you can use social media channels like Facebook and even YouTube to communicate your company’s vision, mission and values. This enables candidates to have a sense of your work environment and culture even before joining; thereby starting the on-boarding process before the candidate is officially hired.

Drive employee Engagement

Once you’ve got the right talent onboard, the next challenge is how to keep them.

And at the heart of talent retention is employee engagement.

Social media is redefining the way companies also interact, engage and influence its employees. They are great platforms for you to communicate with employees about anything and everything from new clients and contracts secured to updated company protocols.

Create such social channels for employees’ internal use to encourage the sharing of ideas in open discussions related to the business or the various disciplines and departments within your organisation. This will engender a culture of constant ideation and innovation, which adds to the effectiveness of your workforce and drives up productivity.

The collaborative approach of social media also leads to the creation of online communities of workers with similar interests within the organisation. As employees feel a greater sense of belonging and cohesiveness, you will have a more engaged workforce and therefore, achieve higher talent retention rates.

Additionally, the social recognition that individuals are able to gain on these platforms will create an environment of encouragement and reinforcement, serving to further enhance employee engagement.

Boost collective intelligence

The sharing of ideas on social media platforms will in turn add to the collective body of knowledge within your workforce as employees document, generate and exchange information across these networks. This powerfully transforms learning and development (L&D) from a monologue to a dialogue where L&D becomes an integral part of your organisation’s DNA.

Besides maintaining vibrant and dynamic social media pages, do capitalise on the use of other digital tools like Skype, podcasts, blogs and vlogs, RSS feeds and webinars to enhance the collective sharing of knowledge through such networks.

MNCs, in particular, can utilise these channels to connect their people globally and boost international collaboration and the sharing of expertise.

Companies are finding that the effective use of social media can reduce training costs while promoting a culture of continuous learning where employees don’t have to be ‘sent’ for compulsory training workshops. Instead, they happily plug into internal social channels to keep abreast of the latest developments in their field because they are simply engaged.

And let’s face it – you can’t really put a price tag on such engagement. So although social media may be a double-edged sword as it could potentially impede productivity, how about viewing it as a necessary evil instead?

Because if your social media strategies are executed and managed properly, its impact on employee engagement is really quite extraordinary.

Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd

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