Why HR Needs to Adapt to Technological Advances—Now

By Aliah D. Wright June 23, 2014

JessicaMillerMerrell.pngORLANDO, FLA.--HR professionals have to figure out how to cut through the noise of technology bombardment to reach employees in ways “that resonate with them,” in real time, said Jessica Miller-Merrell, chief executive officer of Blogging4Jobs, in her session “How to Integrate Social Media and Technology into a Workplace Communication and Engagement Strategy” at the 2014 Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference & Exposition .

Miller-Merrell is the author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business (The P3 Press, 2010) and writes for Fortune, AOL Careers and SmartBrief.

Conducting the session wearing Google Glass and a wearable device called Shine (a fitness tracker), Miller-Merrell said, “These are technologies that can be used as a form of engagement for our employees. And they’re only going to get smaller,” noting that Google secured two patents in April for smart contact lenses, which will include cameras and sensors aimed at helping diabetics monitor their blood glucose levels.

“These things aren’t going away,” she said. “We’re at the precipice of some amazing things that are going to happen. Because we in HR are mostly risk-averse,” HR professionals must actively work to adapt to changes. The adoption rate of social media use for HR professionals is “still pretty low,” she said. “Our workers want access and flexibility—now. This is where digital technology comes into play.”

According to a social media workplace study her company conducted and released this year, the results of which can be found at http://b4j.co/socialme-work, those HR professionals who are using social media at work use it primarily for the following reasons: distributing and communicating company information; recruitment and hiring; research and personal development; employee recognition and engagement; social learning and collaboration; employment branding; and listening and monitoring.

HR needs to keep in mind that today’s talent pool is in the consumer marketplace, using technologies daily that they expect to be able to use at work.

“It’s time for the workplace to catch up and begin to leverage these technologies,” she said.

While some companies are using platforms like Yammer, Chatter and SharePoint for employee engagement, many are chiefly using Facebook, which is nonetheless an excellent starting point:

“It can be a very good way to disseminate information. People spend six to 15 hours a week on the site. They spend more time on Facebook than they do at the gym.”

She noted that many companies have found value in using text messages to communicate with employees—particularly during natural disasters.

Text messaging can also be utilized in more everyday ways. Miller-Merrell told of a Budweiser sales manager, based in Oklahoma City, who was looking for a way to engage his workers. He used text messages to ask employees their opinion about work-related issues and best practices. Not only is memory retention better when communicating this way, she said, “text messaging can be a real powerful way to engage your audience. You can use a text message platform to engage people on the fly.”

Aliah D. Wright is an editor/manager for SHRM Online.


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