People & Culture, Social & Cooperation

Why is HR late for social collaboration?

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in May 2013 ……

This is part two of a three-part series on the theme “Is HR the missing player we are waiting for in the digital workplace?”

  1. What’s different when HR co-leads the digital workplace?
  2. Why is HR late in social collaboration?
  3. What future for HR? Call to action for HR professionals

HR says “engagement and belong” are primary goals for the DW

“Engagement and belonging” was defined as: help empower people, build trust across the organization, provide a place for people to “meet”, facilitate initiatives, recognize and celebrate accomplishments of people and of the organization.

So why is HR late to internal social media?

In July 2011 I wrote a post asking “Who has responsibility for social media in the digital workplace?” The low and late involvement of HR is startling to say the least. The data (from the second part of 2010) shows that the role of HR rises slowly as the enterprise gains experience in social and collaborative tools. However, even in organizations with 4 to 5 years experience in internal social media, fewer than 30 percent had HR involvement in 2010. It’s clear that HR is not a leader, at least, not two years ago.

Behavior and trust issues?

HR professionals say their organizations have specific concerns around social collaboration and two of these concerns suggest a lack of trust in people: “wasting time” and “irresponsible behavior”. They are expressed more strongly by HR than by Communication and IT professionals.

Let me be clear. I am not saying that HR professionals themselves feel these concerns. They are reporting what they believe their organization is concerned about, as are the other survey respondents from IT and Communication. Yet, I find it striking that the feedback from HR is so different compared to the IT and Communication professionals. I’m not sure how to interpret this.

Are you or do you know a proactive HR professional?


Reminder of data context: For purposes of this series of articles about HR, I focused on the 15 organizations represented by HR professionals in the digital workplace survey of Q3 of 2012 that served as the basis for “Digital Workplace Trends 2013”. This sampling of 15 organizations is representative of the full survey population in terms of range in size of workforce, wide variety of different industries, different international footprints and a mix of “desk-office” and “floor-field” organizations. The only difference between these 15 organizations and the others is that the participating organization was represented by an HR professional rather than a Communication or IT professional (who make up the large majority of the survey respondents). All survey respondents are key digital workplace players in their own organizations and, given their participation in the survey, I have worked on the assumption that HR co-leads digital workplace initiatives in these 15 organizations.