August 8, 2013

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HR Professionals Discuss Social Media’s Role in Recruiting, Maintaining Employees

By Rachel Madison

August 8, 2013

Around 20 human resources professionals gathered Wednesday morning to discuss the issues, trends and challenges facing their industry at a Utah Business roundtable. One trend, the use of social media for recruiting and maintaining employees, was discussed. Most of the group agreed that there are both positive and negative factors to using social media to recruit, hire, maintain and engage employees.

Taylor Cotterell, executive vice president at Management Recruiters of Salt Lake City, said social media use can be both a benefit and detriment to companies.

“A lot of companies can use social media to increase awareness of their business,” he said. “These are ways companies can reach their audience, but [your employees] have to effectively use it so they aren’t wasting too much of their time on personal things, but are instead using social media for business.”

Jeff Herring, chief human resource officer at University of Utah, said social media doesn’t necessarily need to be regulated; companies just need to find a way to use it to their advantage instead. Herring said for him, Twitter is a primary communication tool. He uses it to relay short messages—in 140 characters or less—of important information to the 20,000 employees at the University of Utah.

Janeen Bullock, managing partner and human resources director at Connect Marketing, said her company expects employees to be savvy in social media and use it daily at work.

“If they’re not on social media, they probably aren’t going to be working for us,” she said.

Cammie Cable, vice president of human resources at Clearlink, said social media is a great way to get current employees engaged in what’s going on at their place of employment. However, she admits there can be challenges.

“From the HR side, there are challenges because people can use it to harass each other,” she said. “That’s something we have to deal with.”

Brian Lee, owner and president of Performance Progression, said that challenge is present because people use social media like a diary. Sometimes they’ll post negative comments about work, co-workers or their boss.

“That’s where questions come up, like does a company have right to control some of that?” he said. “Employees feel like it’s their personal page, but it causes challenges. There’s no clear line yet as to what you can and can’t control.”

Herring said he’s had to do a lot of coaching with managers regarding this.

“It’s a new world out there, so I tell them to use it as a management tool,” he said. “They can get valuable information [and feedback] that they normally only get once a year. People are seeing this and reading this, and whether they take action because of it or it plants something in their mind, that’s a huge educational development for management and employees.”

Dusty Fenwick, human resources director at KLAS Enterprises, said a lot of young people entering the workforce will look at a company’s Facebook page before deciding if they want to work there. If they feel the company’s social media presence is “lame,” they may not want to work for that company.

On the flip side, Cotterell said personal social media pages can do damage for potential hires. Members of his company routinely speak with college seniors about the repercussions of things they post on Twitter, Facebook and blogs, because it can be available to potential employers through a quick search on Google.

“We haven’t hired people because of what we see on their LinkedIn page, which is connected to their Facebook page, which is connected to their blog,” he said. “You have to think, do we want that type of person in our office?”

Michael Dash, president and CEO of Parallel HR Solutions, said sites like Facebook can also be used to cross-reference what potential hires have listed on their resumes, including years spent in college and former employers.

Overall, Herring believes there’s more good to social media than bad.

“Social media has an upside and downside, but the upside is far greater than the downside,” he said.

The Human Resources roundtable will appear in the October issue of Utah Business magazine.

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