For social enterprise applications, the technologies are mature enough that use cases for HR have begun to emerge. While there are some great applications for HR social enterprise, there are also some very low hanging fruit that will allow HR to “get in the game” while making significant enhancements to employee experiences. Using what many organisations already have without having to implement new systems, HR and IT can partner to use social tools to create significant performance gains for employees.

Social performance

Performance management may be one of the most despised HR processes of them all. Many HR practitioners will point to the general failure of performance management programs, while many managers and employees point to their lack of clarity on how performance measures what they do on a daily basis. The latter is exactly the point. By the time employees and managers look at performance at the end of the year, real corrections to the employee are too late. And with new goals that may arise, those are forgotten within a matter of months, if not weeks.

Real time performance management using social tools to privately record positive and negative feedback as well as goals has been going on for a long time. Whenever someone gives a thumbs up or “like,” they are getting a type of positive feedback. Negative feedback on the other hand must be governed a bit more carefully, and the process of filtering or routing feedback to the manager may need some design. The point being that there is no reason we can’t manage employee performance, feedback, and goals much closer to the events when performance can actually be influenced.

Social learning

Both learning practitioners and managers have complained for decades about the “stickiness” of training after the employee leaves the training room. Most learning organisations will admit that a large percentage of learning content evaporates as soon as the learner leaves training, but as weeks progress beyond the event, only a very small percentage of learnings actually become new habits.

There are many possible aspects of social learning, but since we’re talking about “low hanging fruit”, the shortest paths to increasing learning retention and habit creating might be to just create groups in the social enterprise. There are a variety of ways to approach this, but at the basics, groups for pre and post-training are essential.

Pre-training groups provide a mechanism for the trainers to communicate expectations to the class prior to arrival, but more importantly, it also allows an often disparate group of people to meet each other virtually before the class setting. In some cases, not knowing other people in the classroom inhibits some conversation and desirable discussion, and getting past initial barriers through a virtual social group can speed up that process.

Post-training groups may be the most valuable part of the entire learning experience. Set up as either single class groups or “alumni” groups, trainers have the opportunity to continue to reinforce and remind learners of the concepts and content they had in the classroom setting. It can also become a means of keeping tabs on the conversion of learning content to habits as learners report how they have adopted certain habits in their daily routines. Course “alumni” can also be a major enhancement to adoption, especially when some of those alumni are advocates.

Whatever your approach to HR social enterprise is, there are certainly many ways to improve HR processes and employee engagement without implementing new systems. Simply using the social tools that probably already exist within your organisation and applying change management, process design and community governance can give employees and managers a whole new outlook on how they can increase their productivity.

By Wes Wu, HR Strategy Consultant, Appirio