Is HR interested in the Digital Workplace?
Interesting series of posts from Jane McConnell about the perspective of HR on the digital workplace (aka intranets, enterprise social software, etc).
The first two posts (with another to come) ask:
Firstly, despite the low representation in Jane's survey data I think the findings are reasonably representative of the HR view-point:
- HR says the Digital Workplace's primary purpose is to support "engagement and belonging"; and
- They concerns about social collaboration are people wasting their time, irresponsible behaviour by people, and regulatory and compliance issues.
However, I don't think they are the missing player - they are just operating in a different sphere from people managing intranets that have a Communication or IT role. The other associated group that I would highlight is also probably under represented are those responsible for facilities management. In addition to interest in engagement and belonging, questions I'm being asked are:
- How can we use technology to support more effective learning and development (in these conversations, there is also often an unstated awareness of the need for knowledge management).
- How can technology support the design of our physical workplace (incidentally, I'm talking to a firm of architects about this on Friday - we will be discussing the role of an enterprise social network in a company interested in moving towards an Activity Based Workplace design)
The big difference I have encountered with HR is that the intranet is a means to an end - they are interested in the message, not the medium. For someone in corporate communications running an intranet, it is very much about both medium and message. I would suggest that if the HR professionals aren't involved in the Digital Workplace conversation, then its because its not yet seen as relevant to their goals or they are dissatisfied with the intranet and are probably pursing their own strategy (marketing is doing the same). The "Digital Workplace" may not be the best terminology to use either, as it doesn't sound very people orientated.
I think the other issue to bear in mind is that HR professionals may fill very different roles:
- Some are focused on operational HR issues - e.g. hiring, performance management, etc
- Another group is concerned about learning and development.
- Others are tasked with bigger strategic issues, such as staff engagement or organisational architecture that may overlap with corporate communications.
But HR are facing greater pressure to collaborate both among themselves and with other corporate functions - and I believe this is primarily because of the impact of Web and social technologies on how people in larger organisations operate. Like other corporate functions, HR can no longer run in separate silos.
The bottom line for me is that regardless of how we achieve it (a "Digital Board" or some other social business structure), we definitely need to join the dots between all the different internal stakeholders.
Are you a HR professional? I would love to know what you think.