Posts belonging to Category social media

Silent Majority Speaks Out

We’ve all experienced it, many of us probably more times than we’d like. There we are, sitting in a meeting, when all of a sudden we hear an annoying ringtone. It could be Beethoven’s 5th or something far worse. A second or two passes before one of your colleagues pulls out his or her iPhone or Android to take a call, scurrying to the door with an excuse-me look on his or her face. Not a good moment for that person or for his or her colleagues.

Worse yet, that person might be us.

158344061Uncivil behavior in the workplace can take many forms, but a case could easily be made that the misuse of smartphones and other mobile devices ranks somewhere near the top of the list of most repeated workplace annoyances.

It’s therefore no surprise to find more and more researchers studying these behaviors, with the latest coming from Peter W. Cardon of the Marshall School of Business (at the University of Southern California) and colleagues at Howard University. Their research, published yesterday in the Business Communications Quarterly, is reportedly one of the first studies (if not the first) to look at how attitudes toward these behaviors break down across things such as gender, age and region.

As might be expected, the findings confirm that most people consider such behaviors unacceptable, with 76 percent saying checking texts or emails is a no-no at business meetings and 87 percent of people saying that answering a call is rarely or never acceptable in such a setting.

Even at more informal business lunches, most (66 percent) consider writing or sending text messages rude.

If you notice more women shaking their heads in disgust than men, there’s probably good reason. The researchers — who questioned 550 full-time working professionals earning $30,000 a year or more — found men were nearly twice as likely as women to consider mobile-phone use at a business lunch acceptable. (More than 59 percent of men said it was OK to check text messages at a power lunch, compared to 34 percent of women who thought checking texts was appropriate.)

Before you reach for your silence button, though, it’s also worth mentioning that the findings offer a  glimmer of hope to those who think these behaviors aren’t all that bad.

Younger professionals were nearly three times as likely as older professionals to think tapping out a message over a business lunch is appropriate—66 percent of people under 30 said texting or emailing was OK, compared to just 20 percent of those aged 51 to 65.”

Which raises the troubling (at least to me) question: How different might things look 20 years from now?

Do Wellness Programs Work?

It certainly depends on whom you ask.

Nearly half (47 percent) of Fortune 1000 chief HR officers believe their wellness programs are not effective, according to a new survey by Consero Group.

According to Paul Mandell, founder and CEO of Consero:

“Chief HR Officers seem to believe that employee health deserves a prominent place on their list of priorities. Given the time and effort put into educating staff about healthy living, it is surprising that such a significant number indicated they do not believe their wellness programs are effective.”

The results, reported as part of the 2013 Chief HR Officer Data Survey, compiled by Consero Group, also found 47 percent of Fortune 1000 Chief HR officers surprisingly reported that their organizations do not have a social-media policy.

Said Mandell:

The increasing proliferation of social media has given rise to an array of challenges for corporate HR departments, such as identifying what kinds of social media postings are punishable at work to the extent to which social media use is permitted in the office. The fact that nearly half of survey respondents said they do not have social media policies is not merely an area of concern, but a sign of significant potential liability.

For more findings, click here.

High-Flying LinkedIn Attracts Praise & Criticism

Life must be good these days for LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman and CEO Jeff Weiner, not to mention those who bought stock in the company way back when: the Mountain View, Calif.-based company just reported its biggest quarterly profit ever — $364 million — and its stock has doubled in price-per-share since LinkedIn’s 2011 IPO. Then there’s the recent poll by Right Management that found close to 100 percent of the HR professionals, hiring managers and jobseekers use LinkedIn as their No. 1 social-media site for job hunting, and that hiring managers prefer it to other sites by two to one.

LinkedIn continues to roll out new innovations, including mobile applications, “Influencer” posts from well-known business luminaries like Bill Gates and Jack Welch and opportunities for employers to post “sponsored content” in hopes of getting sought-after talent to check them out.

LinkedIn also has its critics. One of them, executive recruiter Nick Corcodilos, recently posted a diatribe against the company on the PBS NewsHour’s “Ask the Headhunter” blog recently in which he questioned LinkedIn’s Featured Applicant service, which lets users pay a premium to have their job application appear at the top of the list of applicants for a posted position — regardless of whether others on the list may actually be more qualified for the position, Corcodilos writes. He accuses the company of doing a disservice to both jobseekers and employers:

You’re a jobseeker. You pay LinkedIn $29.95 per month for a “Job Seeker Premium” membership so that, when you apply for jobs, you can artificially “move your job applications to the top of the list as a Featured Applicant.” But the employer sees a “badge” beside your name and knows you paid for the position. Do you feel a little slimy for doing it, or wonder what the employer thinks of you now? More to the point, did that 30 bucks pay off?

You’re an employer and you’re hiring. You pay LinkedIn $3,950 for 10 job postings to help you find the best, most qualified hires. When LinkedIn delivers job applicants, do you care that those at the very top of the list paid LinkedIn for their positions — while possibly better, more qualified candidates who didn’t pay are pushed to the bottom? Do you care that you can’t even turn this “feature” off?

A LinkedIn spokesman tells me that Corcodilos’ original post contained an assertion that was flat-out wrong — that premium jobseekers do not appear at the top of lists generated when a recruiter queries LinkedIn for the “most qualified candidates” for a particular position. Premium subscribers do appear at the top of lists for jobs they specifically apply for, says the spokesman, but their names are highlighted with a gold badge, which clearly lets recruiters know the person is a premium subscriber who is paying for top placement. “We’re totally transparent with recruiters — if they don’t wish to consider the premium subscriber, all they have to do is scroll down,” says the spokesman.

A Mixed Social Media Bag

online repBy now, hiring managers know the potential perils of turning to social networking sites to research job candidates.

A recent survey, however, not only finds more companies using social media to help inform hiring decisions, but suggests some job seekers have yet to figure out their social media profiles can hinder as well as help their employment chances.

In an online poll of more than 2,100 hiring managers and HR professionals, conducted by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder, 39 percent of respondents reported using social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 37 percent in 2012.

A small increase, to be sure, but consider that only 19 percent of hiring managers said their social media searches turned up information that made candidates more attractive or helped them earn job offers. Among these respondents, the most common positive nuggets they have uncovered include:

• Candidate conveyed a professional image (57 percent);

• Got a good feel for candidate’s personality (50 percent);

• Candidate was well-rounded and showed a wide range of interests (50 percent); and

• Background information supported candidate’s professional qualifications (49 percent).

Still, many employers found their share of social media content that helped take an applicant out of contention, such as:

• Provocative or inappropriate photos or information (50 percent);

• Information about a candidate drinking or using drugs (48 percent);

• Negative comments directed toward a former employer (33 percent); and

• Content that indicated poor communication skills (30 percent).

On one hand, “employers are using all the tools available to them to assure they make the correct hiring decision, and the use of social media continues to grow,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, in a statement.

“At the same time,” she cautioned, “hiring managers and human resource departments must carefully consider how to use information obtained from social media and whether it is relevant to a candidate’s qualifications.”

The Elevator Speech, Social-Media Style

online repSucceeding in the social-media space requires an ability to communicate in short, fast and succinct bursts.

If you want to be a digital media manager at Pizza Hut, you’d better be able to adopt this straight-to-the-point, social-media mindset right out of the gate.

Representatives from the Plano, Texas-based restaurant chain descended on Austin’s annual South by Southwest music festival this past weekend, to seek out and interview job candidates for the aforementioned position.

Lots of candidates, apparently: Each interviewee was to be given just 140 seconds (an homage to Twitter’s 140-character limit) to sum up their social-media bona fides, and convince the organization he or she has the goods.

One of the people they’ll need to convince is Caroline Masullo, Pizza Hut’s director of digital and social media. Masullo, who conducted interviews at the SXSW site for four hours on Sunday, explained the rationale behind the 140-second interview to Bloomberg Businessweek:

We need this person to be super-knowledgeable in the social space. They need to be able to communicate with our consumers in fun, quick, concise ways. … We need someone who knows who they are, what they are looking for, someone who’s super-passionate, quick on their feet, able to communicate clearly in a short amount of time.”

Candidates were also asked to bring only their IDs and smartphones, the latter of which would be used for a quick review of the applicant’s LinkedIn profile during the interview.

Ultimately, the 140-second interview is “like an elevator [pitch],” Masullo told Businessweek. “Tell me in 140 seconds why you think you should be the next manager of … . ”

Pizza Hut, which will conduct another lightning round of interviews via Google+ on March 14, is already being lauded for its unique strategy in finding sharp, quick-witted candidates; a tactic that Masullo hopes will net the company someone “on the cutting edge of the social space” that will “keep us at the forefront” of said space.

Time will tell if they find that someone, but you have to give Pizza Hut some credit for taking a novel approach. Just do it quickly.

The Importance of Online Reputation

online repHow much of a role does social media play in shaping perceptions of your company?

Depends on who you’re asking, according to a recent poll

The study of 225 HR managers and 2,035 employed adults, conducted by Harris Interactive for Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Spherion Staffing Services, found some significant differences in how employers and employees see the importance of a company’s online reputation.

In the study, nearly half of workers (47 percent) said they “strongly agree” or “agree” that, when considering new employment, a company’s online reputation is just as important as the offer they’re given. Just 27 percent of companies, however, said they believe social media outlets are influential in how a candidate views their organization.

Some other findings suggest a connection between companies’ online cachet and satisfaction among existing employees, but declining employer interest in using social media to recruit, retain and rally the troops.

According to the survey, employees who are highly satisfied with their employer’s online reputation are nearly four times as likely to have high job satisfaction (76 percent) than those who are not satisfied with their organization’s online reputation (20 percent).”

However, fewer employers (6 percent) reported using social media to motivate and retain existing employees in comparison to its 2010 study, in which 20 percent said they relied on social media for such purposes. Companies also appear to be turning less to social media as a recruiting tool, with 28 percent of respondents using social media to find new talent; a 16 percent drop from 2010.

Employers would be well-served to reverse this particular trend, says Sandy Mazur, division president of Spherion Staffing Services.

“Organizations must become socially engaged in order to drive key business outcomes such as talent attraction, engagement, satisfaction and positive brand awareness, and reputation,” according to Mazur.

Decisions, including whether people want to work for your organization, stay with your organization, and sing your praises socially are all highly dependent on your ability to be socially engaged and socially adept.”

‘Is There Free Speech at Work?’

Leave it to the HRExaminer site, a frequent font of succinct and straightforward takes on HR, to provide us with this gem — “Is There Free Speech at Work? – by Heather Bussing, an employment lawyer and one of the site’s regular writers.

Not only is it informative, it’s timely — as a confluence of social media and rules and guidances from the National Labor Relations Board about social media streams into the workplace. (See this earlier post that provides a rundown of the NLRB’s new rules, with links to further background on them.)

Bussing starts off with an interesting and perhaps little-known fact, especially outside HR and employment-law circles: “Employees don’t have a Constitutional right to free speech or freedom of expression at work.” It’s only in the murky sea of social media, an employer’s attempt to control it to save its reputation and image, and the government’s attempt to squelch that attempt when protected concerted activity comes into play that the murk gets murkier.

“You know you can probably get fired for telling your boss to her face ‘Go to hell,’ “ she writes. “But complaining about her on Facebook can be protected speech.”

Interestingly, she writes, “employees’ protected speech under the National Labor Relations Act [which gives employees the right to discuss wages, hours and working conditions as well as organize a union] is actually an exception to an employer’s broad rights to restrict both speech and expression at work.”

I love her directness:

Saying the supervisor is a wing-nut, even to another co-worker, is probably not protected until there is something more that shows the employee was trying to get other employees to change working conditions. While getting rid of a bad boss would certainly change the work environment, just calling her names won’t. So name-calling is usually a personal gripe, and not protected.

The whole piece is worth reading, so I’ll stop with all these teasers. Except this last one, a key point to remember as you navigate this ever-expanding social-media-policy murk. Plus, Bussing just says it so well:

If what the company is really worried about is looking bad, then it should probably look deeper to see if there are things going on that would make it look bad. If so, it’s not a social-media problem, it’s a management problem. And policies and controlling what people say are not going to help.

There is no way to stop current or former employees from trash talking on social media. Employers shouldn’t try. It just creates a culture of monitoring and suspicion. Discipline, denials and drama just make it worse.  Social media is fast moving and things pop up and die quickly if they are ignored.

The best way to encourage employees to say great things about you is to be a great employer with a great service or product.

There are some companies that are horrible places to work or their products and services suck. They won’t survive social media. And that’s a good thing.





Social-Media Do’s and Don’ts You’d Better Know

The folks at Fisher & Phillips (Atlanta-based employment law firm) sent me this link to a pretty formidable write-up by D. Albert Brannen (a partner there), spelling out just how much you need to keep in mind now under the more aggressive National Labor Relations Board.

“Under President Obama,” he writes, “the NLRB has been very aggressive in further expanding employee rights to engage in [protected concerted activity through its] rulings or official guidelines with regard to social media, employment-at-will and off-duty access policies. [Of those], no other policy area has received more attention by the NLRB than social media.”

What really impressed me were Brannen’s lists of rules or policies now deemed unlawful and lawful, based on the last of the NLRB General Counsel’s guidelines on social media, issued May 30. He lists 23 — repeat, 23 – under the unlawful category. Here’s just a sampling:

  • Employees should not release confidential guest, team member or company information.
  • Employees should not share confidential information with coworkers unless they need the information to do their job.
  • Employees should not have discussions regarding confidential information in the break room, at home, or in open public places.
  • Employees should not “reveal non-public company information on any public sites.”
  • Employees should not post photos, music, videos and personal information of others without obtaining the owner’s permission and must ensure that the content can be legally shared.
  • Employees should not use the employer’s logos and trademarks for non-commercial purposes.

There are 13 social-media policies or rules declared lawful. Again, just a sampling:

  • Employees should not post “any opinion or statement as the policy or view of the employer or any individual in that capacity as an employer otherwise on behalf of the employer.”
  • Employees should not post “inappropriate postings that may include discriminatory remarks, harassment and threats of violence or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct.”
  • Develop a healthy suspicion. Don’t let anyone trick you into disclosing confidential information. Be suspicious if asked to ignore identification procedures.
  • Employees should not discuss information related to the “safety performance of the employer’s systems or components or vehicles” and “secret, confidential or attorney-client privileged information.”

I’d memorize these if I were you.

For the record, here’s my latest blog post on the NLRB’s first social-media ruling (against Costco), which contains links to the rules and guidelines — and purposes behind them — issued thus far by NLRB’s Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon pertaining to social media in the workplace and social-media policies. For a full explanation from the NLRB as to all of its guidances and rules, start on its home page and search or drill down to what you’re after.

Also, for the record, Brannen includes helpful advice about employment-at-will and off-duty access policies as well.

As he cautions in his conclusion:

By its nature, the NLRB is prone to what experts call ‘policy oscillations’ where its interpretations of the law may change with the political party in power at any given time. To some degree, these fluctuations can be expected. However, the current NLRB seems to have taken a dramatic turn in the expansive way it views employee rights. Employers should be aware of these recent developments and should review their work rules and policies to make sure that they still comply with the law as viewed by the current NLRB. Specifically, employers should revise their social-media, employment-at-will and no-access polices as soon as possible.

The Still-Evolving Recruiting-Technology Frontier

Once again, as in previous HR Technology® Conferences, the union of recruiting and technology — and what it’s going to look like going forward — was the juggernaut for consensus and debate on the 15th annual conference’s final day.

Led by moderators Gerry Crispin, principal and co-founder of CareerXroads, and Sarah White, principal and founder of SW & Associates, this year’s panel of four staffing leaders from Lockheed Martin, Key Bank, PepsiCo and Deloitte took up the still-evolving, often-troubling topic in Wednesday’s session, “What’s Next? What Talent Acquisition Challenges are Seeking Technology Solutions?”

All agreed that, despite great strides in social recruiting, and recruiting technology in general, even their organizations — leaders in this new frontier — have a long way to go.

“I would challenge any one of us to say we are fully prepared and where we need to be,” said panelist Frank Wittenauer, associate director of global talent solutions for Deloitte. “Recruiting is still the last thing that gets defined. When the economy is good, it’s, ‘Let’s go, let’s get the butts in seats, let’s do the background checks after they’re hired.’

“When it’s slow,” he said, “it’s, ‘Let’s do six interviews, six times, and then six more, divide the results by pi … ‘ ” you get the idea. So did the standing-only roomful of chuckling attendees.

The panelists were mixed on whether leveraging new recruiting-technology tools should be a local activity for global companies or a global one. Should companies be allowing their smaller, more remote recruiting teams to innovate and move forward within their own domains and unique sets of circumstances or should they all be aligning under one global-recruitment umbrella?

“It’s OK to let your recruiters have blinders on when it comes to recruiting technology,” said Mike Grennier, senior vice president of talent acquisition for Key Bank.

Crispin cautioned, though, that “there should be some way for that global alignment to take place. They all have the tools to reach across global boundaries,” he said, “but who in your organization is showing them the reach beyond their own domain? We have all that recruiting data, but is anybody really communicating about it?”

Still emerging and highly imperfect, panelists agreed, is the effectiveness of workforce planning as a pre-emptive, proactive social-recruiting tool. At the very least, at PepsiCo, “we ask HR to identify jobs or profiles that are hard to find and then keep [candidates] in store there — in waiting — so there, we’re pre-emptive,” said Sheila Stygar, PepsiCo’s senior director of talent acquisition.

Also fledgling and inadequate, they agreed, are the processes in place for dealing with the plethora and proliferation of new, often smaller, vendors with specific solutions to particular problems, or, as Crispin described them, “small pieces to add to the entire [social-recruiting] function.”

“Where do you have in your organization someone who filters through all the solutions out there?” he asked.

Grennier suggested companies trying to find that “solution-filterer” look for someone with “a real passion” for the social-recruiting function” and technology in general.

Panelists also agreed that, as social recruiting continues to “find itself” as a defined function within companies, recruiters learn to treat it professionally and network with what Wittenauer described as “those go-to people” in the vendor community — people they can bounce all these new offerings and suggestions off of.

“If you don’t have those networks,” Crispin concurred, “you’re not going to be learning in real time.”


Vendors Analyze New Trends

Two major vendors exhibiting at the 15th annual HR Technology® Conference in Chicago have released new studies that take a close look at some important trends. SilkRoad Technology’s “Social Media and Workplace 2012 Report” pokes a hole in the widespread misimpression that employers are demanding that workers share their social-networking passwords with them: 97 percent of the 1,200 employees surveyed said they hadn’t been asked by their company for their passwords. Guess someone better tell the governors of Maryland and Illinois. The survey also found that employees are checking their mobile devices frequently throughout the workday, with more than 60 percent saying they check their personal social media more than once a day on their mobile devices. And which sites are they checking? Twitter is the most popular social media site accessed at work, at 70 percent, closely followed by Facebook at 65 percent. Only 19 percent use corporate intranets.

ADP’s Research Institute, meanwhile, has come out with a report detailing what’s on the minds of leaders at mid-sized businesses in the U.S. Although 52 percent of respondents believe the economy has improved during the last four years, only 15 percent are extremely or very confident that it will continue improving over the next 12 months. There also appears to be a bit of false confidence at play, with 81 percent of executives and business owners expressing confidence that their organizations are compliant with payroll tax laws and regulations, yet a full third (33 percent) report having incurred fines, penalties and/or lawsuits related to non-compliance.

Finally, 48 percent of respondents are concerned about the quality and skills of the available workforce, yet less than half (49 percent) say they’re confident that they have the tools to find and keep the best talent.