The Zero Credibility Zone. Why HR is Slow to Adopt Social Media

HR's Adoption and Understanding of Social Media

This blog post is a “he said she said series” written by Jeff Waldman & Salima NathooSocialHRCamp Organizers.  Register for their San Francisco Social HR Camp on 11/19.  Register here & use discount code, JessicaSF to save $50 off registration.  

Earlier this week, we explored the topic: “Why HR Needs to Speed Up on Social Media Adoption” focusing on the compelling arguments in the business case for social media adoption.  In this post, we dig deeper behind the adoption idea and explore why HR is slow in the first place.

HR Does Not Have a Business Mindset

HE SAID: Is HR business savvy?  Can they get into a conversation with their marketing, IT, finance or sales counterparts and determine the potential business outcomes of making strategic decisions? I’m not convinced. If they knew adopting social media into HR practices would yield significant value, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.

SHE SAID: Not all businesses are created social. If an organization sees social media as a technology matter and not a branding and engagement one, then HR can’t be expected to carry the torch AND run the marathon. I’m pulling the change management card here – if there’s no leadership buy in for social at the top, it’s harder to facilitate it from the virtual sidelines.

WE SAY: HR is a key driver for social media adoption in organizations that recognize its strategic value. For others, it’s a difficult, albeit not impossible sell and the business case needs to be developed and pitched sooner rather than later.

Employees Are Blocked From Using Social Media in the Workplace

HE SAID: I have seen far too often where HR policy prevents employees from using social media platforms while at work, yet they want to use social media externally to promote products, source future talent and so forth.  This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!

SHE SAID: It’s the ole’ chicken & egg dilemma. Companies need to have a strong social employer brand to attract the right/best talent. The right/best talent is required to build a strong social employer brand. If there is distrust in the use of a tool that can create a significant competitive advantage, then check yourself before you fail to engage and wreck yourself.

WE SAY: You can’t lead social if your social is on lockdown. Period.

Social Media Is NOT About What You Had for Breakfast!

HE SAID: Many HR practitioners unfortunately struggle with understanding how social media can help them be more successful in their work.  For those that “get it” they know that social media is one of many tools in their arsenal that help them perform their jobs.

SHE SAID: Many HR professionals have built their professional brand in a brick-and-mortar fashion having found validation of their ideas within the walls of their organization. There’s a level of discomfort that stems from the uncertainty of sharing in an unfamiliar environment to build a holistic, personal brand.

WE SAY: Social media is as much about comfort as it is about content and community. If you are part of the hidden economy of adopters waiting to have permission to be imperfect and try…this is your green light.

HR is Social Media Business Illiterate

HE SAID: It’s extremely difficult to adopt and integrate anything new into your business if you lack basic knowledge.  In this case it’s a basic understanding of how social media works.  Without a doubt education and knowledge is a core catalyst for innovation in the workplace and the global HR community lacks it.

SHE SAID: Amen. In our annual employee engagement surveys we ask our people if they have access to the right tools to perform their jobs, right? Enough said.

WE SAY: Social media adoption starts with the right mindset but requires practical training and coaching.

What Do You Say about HR’s Adoption and Understanding of Social Media?

Now it’s your turn.  Why do you think HR is slow to adopt or adapt to social media and social business in the workplace?  How can we drive adoption and information to help get HR up to speed on the interworkings of social media in the workplace.

Posted in ,

Jeff Waldman

Reader Interactions


  1. Susan Avello says

    I love this post – who doesn’t want to hear the three most exciting and up-to-date industry experts talk about this. My take is that it’s totally out of “fear” that HR is slow to adopting social. Fear of security risks, loss of productivity, losing control over employees (yada yada yada)….I could go on. But it’s getting programs out there such as SocialHRCamps where HR and Executive teams can attend and REALLY learn how to incorporate these things into the actual workplace for the greater good of the company that will open their eyes and cause excitement. Knowledge is power! We’ve all heard that over and over but it’s true. And the opposite of “knowing” about something often is fear.

    • Jeff Waldman says

      Thanks for weighing in! I couldn’t agree with you more. Change is always scary regardless of what it is… in this case the benefits for HR and recruitment is HUGE! Knowledge is power, absolutely. More precisely, learning “how” social media works is what I think will swing the pendulum towards increasing adoption. It’s kind of difficult to have a conversation with someone about something when they really don’t know what you’re talking about. :):)

  2. Carmen jeffery says

    Terrific post and the perfect conversational format for this
    Social debate which prevales. The same way ERP, mobile communications and job boards hit recruiting before the boom, this is a game changer. People’s behaviors around information sharing and styles of interacting with each other are being completely disrupted . For leaders who haven’t grown professionally with technology and social media alongside of their progressions, this is seen as an intrusion and inconvenience .
    It’s a paradigm shift the they are embracing with reluctance. It’s often when they are provoked that they actually try the tools and attempt to learn them. If it weren’t for people like you, the visionaries and innovators who can evangelize this stuff , there would be a lot more resistance in the work place .



Pin It on Pinterest