Let the Communication Commence for HR

HR, it’s time to get social.

There’s a greater demand for strong social media skills for HR managers, who, keenly aware of the company’s image, need to facilitate two-way communications between them and potential employees – faster and more accurately than before.

A new report from College for America identifies new trends that affect several professions, from marketing managers to fundraisers. While these roles require certain communication skills, employers have more expectations of specialized expertise, such as telling compelling stories, researching and analyzing information to improve interactions with people, and being comfortable with technology such as social media analytics.

The lines between a specialized social media communicator  and an HR manager have blurred as traditional communication jobs are more decentralized

“Essentially, it’s very targeted. You would have someone that was working with the press, very distinct roles,” said Melissa Goldberg, co-author of the study and senior workforce strategist at College for America. “They would talk to one another, but there wasn’t necessarily overlap among what they did. Now those roles are less distinct. Now you take on a role as a marketing director or media relations, they are much more wrapped into one.”

An HR manager who does recruiting needs to consider the communication channel, whether it be email, the company’s website or social media outlets like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and tailor it adequately. The constant connection via social media not only creates an expectation of better-crafted messages, but also a two-way communication as well.

The implications for HR managers mean that a two-way street between the company and a potential employee forms more frequently. In sourcing candidates on platforms like LinkedIn, having the company be seen as a place where people want to work becomes one of their responsibilities. Internally, HR managers need to be more aware of how they’re communicating company policies to employees, in the language and the form, whether it’s a bulletin board, the company website, email, video, or a social media platform like Facebook.

Customers  expect companies to respond to their questions relatively fast, even after normal business hours. The study shows that 53 percent of Twitter users who tweet at a brand expect a response within an hour. If there is no response, 38 percent reported negative feelings about the brand, which causes more than half of them to express their dissatisfaction , some publicly shaming it on social media. 

“We’re seeing more and more evidence that people expect two-way communications,” Goldberg said. “If I make a comment, I expect someone to get back to me. I want to hear back, I don’t want to wait.”

These communication soft skills are becoming a valued skill in many professions. An IDC Research white paper published in October 2013 reaffirms effective, clear communication as a top skill priority. The study analyzed 14.6 million job postings that project high growth and wages between now and 2020 with effective oral and writing skills, attention to detail and problem-solving abilities in demand. 

Those so-called “soft skills” seem to be making a comeback now, partially because of the economic upturn, said Cushing Anderson, program vice president for IDC’s Project-Based Services research.

HR professionals need those skills to tailor their messages effectively.

“That’s less to do with Twitter, but I send people emails and I expect them to respond,” said Anderson.” I expect that from an HR professional. I don’t expect them to make a one-size fits all email, but I want to be able to tailor it.  It requires nimbleness in communication.”

“We had experiences of high-quality engagement, and now we expect that quality in all the engagements we have,” said Anderson.