How to Deliver the Right Employee Experience

Social media’s influence on employees’ personal lives often bleeds into their professional ones. They increasingly expect to have the same access to social networking and mobile devices at work as they do at home.

Businesses can benefit by meeting these employee expectations. Social and mobile technologies can make employees more productive and efficient. They also can drive relationship building.

By making social tools available to employees, talent leaders can drive collaboration and save time on administrative tasks by embracing a mobile strategy. Combining these tools leaves more time to focus on strategic aspects of the business, which is a contribution CEOs and CFOs desire, according to “CFO Perspectives: How HR Can Take on a Bigger Role in Driving Growth,” an October 2012 survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Businesses that harness social insights meaningfully can create a more desirable work environment for employees and prospective talent. Building a social component into everyday work activities also can help increase employee engagement. Recruiting, talent management and learning become a lot more dynamic when they’re as collaborative and social as a game of “Words With Friends.”

However, there are so many technologies on the market today that talent leaders may not know where to start. Here are 10 tech strategies that will enable HR to streamline many administrative processes and help employees to focus and collaborate on the strategic tasks that make businesses successful.

1. Social recruiting: Talent can find available positions in businesses if those companies create social destinations on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Regular updates about company culture, successes and job openings help raise visibility while driving traffic to social pages and generating conversation. The best people want to work for the most cutting-edge, successful organizations, so it’s important to create that business profile and promote it.

Organizations can leverage the power of their corporate brands while promoting open jobs with social job distribution. Technology baked into some applicant tracking systems enables talent leaders to post jobs as company status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as well as launch a searchable job page within Facebook company or career pages. Not only does this simplify job promotion, it helps recruiters capture prospects in one place. Plus, prospective employees can find jobs where they already hang out.

2. Private social networks: In addition to leveraging existing groups and conversations on social networking sites, many businesses are using private social networks for company alumni to strengthen bonds and loyalty. Creating special destinations for former employees keeps them connected to each other and to the business, and opens doors for them to return, take on new roles or refer qualified talent. By sharing open positions and company success, online social communities can reduce recruiting costs and improve the quality of hires.

Financial services company JPMorgan Chase & Co. established Continuum, a social network of sorts for its alumni, and continually fills vacancies from the more than 20,000 professionals registered. Compared to outside hires, alumni are less than half as expensive to hire, come up to speed nearly 50 percent faster, and stay for an average of twice as long, according to HR association the Human Capital Institute.

3. Social referrals: Referrals from employees’ personal and professional networks also tend to result in high-quality hires. According to consulting firm CareerXroads, referrals shorten the recruitment process and produce candidates the business is three to four times more likely to hire.

Turning every employee into a social media recruiter is a tempting proposition. But when the wrong message is broadcast, or shared with unsuitable candidates, it can lead to wasted time weeding through r?sum?s and interviewing referral candidates.

By incorporating social recruiting within greater human capital management applications, organizations can track and manage these recruitment efforts as part of a holistic HR strategy.

New social sourcing and referral methods available within HR software can match open positions with employees’ social connections and then suggest referrals. While employees initiate outreach, recruiters retain a real-time view of referral activity, total job views and applications received across social and traditional methods, streamlining the recruitment process.

4. Social sourcing: Just as it’s important to establish a social media presence so potential hires can come to businesses, it is also critical to use social media to seek out the job seekers. Some job search sites charge $250 to $400 for a post through which thousands of unsuitable or uninterested candidates may sift, but options such as Tweet My Jobs offer more affordable ways — some as low as $6.99 per post — to share openings with large but targeted networks of people. Specifications for industry, job level and location help tailor the candidate pool and make the process more efficient.

Ernst & Young uses Facebook to recruit recent graduates, maintaining a page where potential hires can receive answers to all of their questions, participate in contests and generally get to know and interact with the business.

5. LinkedIn recruiter: A social network dedicated entirely to professional interaction, LinkedIn’s premium accounts let recruiters search the entire network of online resumes for passive talent. Recruiters can filter searches to find exactly the people they seek, contact anyone they find and track their outreach, all within the system.

6. Social reputation management: Businesses can use reputation management tools that allow HR leaders to join conversations that employees, prospects and influencers are having about the company. These technologies automatically capture social media posts across networks, allowing for insight into the dialogue as it is happening. HR teams can use these posts to address employee needs and corporate reputation.

Sites such as also offer ways to monitor company perception. The site publishes anonymous employee posts about salary and work environment, as well as job seeker comments. To protect corporate reputation, companies can write about themselves on the site or suggest their valued employees join the conversation.

7. Big data benchmarking: Beyond brand reputation management, sites such as Glassdoor and PayScale provide insight into data, such as salary information, because they allow for comparisons between employees in similar positions at different companies. By understanding the market rate for an in-demand position, such as a software engineer, HR can be more competitive with recruiting and retention.

Analyzing each individual position is a time-consuming, manual task, however. To unlock the power of this big data, talent leaders can use workforce analytics, which aggregate, decipher and compare their company’s own data on talent, compensation and performance from internal human capital management systems with external sources.

8. Predictive analytics: Also under the workplace analytics umbrella, predictive analytics can be valuable in understanding employee satisfaction, performance and overall impact. Big data insights can help predict when an employee might be looking to leave, for instance. Predictive analytics take into account an employee’s history with the company, including management level, salary growth and performance contributions, to estimate the potential to retain this employee long term and to calculate the impact of losing that person. Further, with benchmarks for compensation and talent, organizations can figure out the salary and job description it may take to retain the employee, and model the impact on overall salaries and job roles.

9. Social performance management: Organizations’ internal social networks also can provide performance feedback and boost employee morale. Talent leaders can integrate interactive performance management capabilities such as kudos and comments, where employees can congratulate each other on jobs well done or publicly describe the positive impact someone had on a project. This ongoing performance feedback loop can include many different people, including co-workers, customers, peers, managers and direct reports. Talent leaders and employees will have a comprehensive sense of how collaborations are working, what practices are producing the best results and how to replicate successes.

10. Social learning: Finally, social technologies can make employee development a more positive, productive and fun experience. Companies can build ratings, gamification, reviews or discussion forums into their learning platforms to engage employees in learning and encourage collaborative development experiences. Continuing education becomes less about compliance and formality and more about acquiring new knowledge in dynamic and useful ways.

A hidden benefit in embracing these kinds of social learning tools is they give employees a place to publish the tribal knowledge employees have that often leaves when they do. In this new paradigm, information can be institutionalized and made available to the greater employee population.

These 10 technologies are just some of the ways businesses can bolster their talent management programs to create the social and collaborative workplaces their employees and prospects desire and demand. Each of the aforementioned tools is easy to implement and can act as a catalyst to a more dynamic and productive HR function. By using them, talent leaders likely will find they have more capacity to participate in and add to the strategic processes that promote business growth.

Zach Thomas is vice president, HCM product strategy at Oracle. He can be reached at

First Person: Assessment Data Improves Employee Experience

By Lisa Salamone and Faith F. Scott

Since our organization, the Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey, or VNA, pioneered the concept of home health care in our region in 1898, we have been confronted with challenges common to many health care organizations, including a shortage of nurses and other skilled health care professionals.

An internal review of our talent acquisition and management strategy found our 17 percent annual turnover rate, while below the industry average, was adversely impacting productivity, profitability and patient satisfaction.

“Our analysis confirmed our hiring practices were not giving us enough acuity and needed to be sharpened so we could raise the bar in terms of our standards, and make more prudent hiring decisions,” said Laura Witkowski, VNA human resources manager.

VNA set out to develop a clinical ladder to delineate nursing competency levels. While this established a foundation for stronger recruitment, retention and development, the turning point was the introduction of a behavioral assessment. “The predictive index provided us with the critical element — the personality measure — to fully execute and realize the benefits of our clinical ladder,” Witkowski said.

We used the predictive index, or PI survey, to gain a deeper understanding of behavioral needs and motivational drives — insight that could be used across the employee lifecycle from recruitment to development and succession planning.

Next, we evaluated behavioral requirements for specific roles to create more accurate and comprehensive job targets. Using PI’s companion job analytic instrument, the PRO, we identified several behavioral trends among top-performing nurses, including a preference for working collaboratively and a strong desire for rules and structure.

Today, VNA requires applicants for all positions to complete a PI, which we can compare with the job PRO. This has made it easier for hiring managers to make more informed decisions about hiring and development, particularly with Gen Y workers.

Since the introduction of a behavioral measure to help transform our approach to selection, development and retention, VNA’s turnover has been cut in half and reached a low of 5.3 percent in the third quarter of 2011; the national average was 19.5 percent. The organization has realized major financial savings associated with recruitment and training, including a 30 percent reduction in staff education costs.

“These creative talent management practices have created such a positive employee experience that candidates consider us an employer of choice and credit our dynamic hiring process and corporate culture,” Witkowski said.

For the first time in the company’s 115-year history, VNA’s talent pool is overflowing.

Lisa Salamone is chief operating officer, and Faith F. Scott is chief executive officer for the Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey. They can be reached at