Panelists at the 3rd Annual Cornell University Executive Summit took up the issues of “changing demographics” and “social media and HR” — the two topics selected from a list of 12 by attendees at the HR in Hospitality™ Conference for a wide-ranging discussion.
There were lots of opinions by the group of 11 HR leaders and attorneys on the panel about the use of social media for recruiting, engagement, training, screening, to reconnect with alumni, you name it.
There was little controversy about its use for recruiting; using it for screening candidates was another story.
A.J. Kamra, corporate director of HR at Dow Hotel Co., said he questioned the judgment of candidates who posted inappropriate information that was visible to him — and he wouldn’t want to hire them.
Some others, including Alan Momeyer, VP of HR at Loews Corp., said they had better things to do than “trolling the Internet” looking for such information. “What is extremely offensive about someone in their 20s having a drink?” he asked.
Even when you’re not looking for information, however, you can sometimes find it — such as discovering from a Facebook status that a supervisor is dating a subordinate — but many of the panelists said HR professionals should forget about the medium. Just treat the matter the same as if they had learned the information otherwise, they said.
“Technology is just the means that exposes and creates that conversation. … It could easily happen over email or any other form,” said Robert Mellwig, senior vice president of human resources at Destination Hotels & Resorts.
As for social media policies, two attorney panelists — Paul Wagner, a shareholder at Shea Stokes Roberts & Wagner, and Gregg Gilman, a partner at Davis & Gilbert — disagreed on whether such policies should include any reference to the right of employees to criticize the company via the Internet, per recent National Labor Relations Board rulings.
Wagner thought HR should include a provision that requires such criticism to be “done respectfully.” Gilman disagreed, saying “respectfully” was too “ambiguous” a term, and that “at the end of the day … [the issue will devolve to] ‘did the employee go over the line?’ ”
Patricia Smith, senior VP of organizational design and HR at The Leading Hotels of the World, said HR should not take an “unempowered approach,” which results in being reactive instead of proactive in regard to social media.
“It’s here. It’s going to happen. It’s happening. Why not take an empowered approach?” she said.
Greg Smith, executive vice president of HR at Denihan Hospitality Group, agreed: “If you don’t embrace it, you risk losing your competitive edge.”
When talking about the changing demographics of the workforce, the discussion focused on the diverse needs of all ages, from Gen Yers beginning their work careers and those pre-retirement workers who can’t afford to retire, to mid-career employees who don’t want to uproot their families and relocate to continue their career progressions.
Mellwig said his organization has explored a “teacher pay model,” in one area that needs seasonal managers, so they are paid for nine months of work instead of 12 months. The flexibility suits the managers as well as the organization, he said.
Debbie Brown, VP of HR for the Americas at Four Seasons, said there are 11 moves generally required before an individual is made a general manager, but her organization has been looking at a “compressed career path,” which would require only four, providing for some of the progressions to take place without a relocation.
Several of the HR leaders spoke about the need to customize jobs, as well as the need to forget generational stereotypes — and focus on the individual and his or her career aspirations and abilities.
“We sometimes typecast our team members” said Momeyer, “… and we don’t look at them as individual talents … .”