cfactor’s Gary Givan on the Role of Social Collaboration Tools in HR Service Delivery

cfactor’s Gary Givan is passionate about social collaboration tools. He believes (and we agree with him) that social tools not only change the game when it comes to employee engagement and collaboration, they can also be a real driver of productivity. Gary discusses how to integrate social tools into employees’ and HR professionals day-to-day work to drive engagement and productivity in our recently released eBook 5 Essentials for Making HR Service Delivery Look & Feel Effortless.


While it seems like social tools are the shiny new object in HR technology, many organizations still question their value and the best ways to use them. I recently had a chance to catch up with Gary and chat with him about how HR and employees can use social tools effectively. Here’s our conversation:



Emily Lewis: What is social HR and why does it matter?


Gary Givan: I think “social HR” can simply be defined as the convergence of the traditional HR function with social technologies. You can look at it as an evolution of the HR role – starting when HR for the most part meant administration and paperwork – things had to be transacted and recorded manually. Next came the introduction of automation and self-service types of technologies which provided new capabilities to move transactions online. The social HR age we are in now encompasses the benefits that social technologies have to offer in HR. Things like collaboration forums, live chat, user-generated content and ratings, video, etc. can be embedded right into HR processes and systems at the exact time and place where they are needed. This employee-centric environment delivers greater efficiencies and improves productivity. It also provides users with the same type of engaging and interactive online experience as they would experience in their personal lives. The coming together of those elements is what can really take HR service delivery to the next level by creating a comprehensive “engagement platform”– employees don’t just have to be in the system, they want to be there.



EL: From an HR technology implementation standpoint, what does this mean?


GG: From an implementation standpoint, a social HR environment doesn’t really involve any more complexities than a traditional setting. If you are already using an HRIS or other systems of record you can simply layer in the social elements into your environment to create a richer employee experience on the front-end. The key is to ensure that the social elements are embedded / integrated strategically and not deployed in a “silo”.



EL: Something you talk about in the eBook is adding the “Human Touch” to HR service delivery. What are some ways you can achieve this?


GG: While it may seem contradictory, technology can actually be a huge enabler of this when channeled appropriately. Social tools by their nature are designed as connectors for people. Things like live chat create opportunities for real-time dialogue among employees, mentors, experts, etc. regardless of their location. Talent profiles – similar to an online profile you might be familiar with from other common social sites like LinkedIn – are an easy way to allow people to have an online presence that allows others to find people with similar interests. They can actually see their photo and connect with them. There are many other avenues to facilitate this through online forums, virtual events, etc.



EL: In addition to the “engagement factor,” how do these tools impact productivity – can you give some examples to help understand this concept in practice?


GG: There can be a misperception that social tools in the workplace create distractions and are really extraneous channels for employees to “play”. In our experience, however, this is simply not the case, rather, we have seen our clients using social HR with significant productivity realizations. For example, integrating social tools and resources on a process such as compensation management. Imagine you are a manager providing a compensation adjustment for one of your employees, but you are unsure of the rules for that pay grade. With embedded social tools, one click from the page you are on takes you to the clause that explains the policy, perhaps a forum post where the policy is explained, or a live chat that allows you to ask the domain expert. Social tools provide new opportunities for knowledge sharing and discussion, so if you think about how these things have been done in the past you can start to see a business case for huge productivity gains.



EL: What advice do you have for organizations who are unsure if they are ready to adopt social/collaborative tools?


GG: Whether or not an organization is ready to adopt social or collaboration tools is unique to every situation. To be successful, it’s critical that the initiative be championed at the highest level. Then, you need to look at the current culture and understand how it will need to change to support it – and be honest about whether your culture is ready to support it. Create a plan for incremental wins using the technology, prioritizing where to introduce it first, and really understand the business goals behind it. Simply providing the tools is not enough. There must be careful consideration given to change management with a strong internal communications/marketing plan and continual evolution or growth to keep it fresh and interesting after it is in place.


If you liked this convo and would like to hear more about social tools as they relate to HR service delivery, join us on April 24th for the HCI webinar How to Run HR Shared Services like a Thriving Business, sponsored in partnership with cfactor. Register Now.



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