Competing for Talent with the Social Intranet

Compelling data, expert opinion and anecdotal feedback suggest that when properly deployed, social media within the enterprise is becoming important for attracting and retaining employees, especially Millennials.

The median years a person stays with an organization is 4.1, according to the U.S. Department of Labour, which means the average employee will have between seven and 10 jobs over the course of their career. For employers, this means their approach to attracting and retaining talent can borrow from professional sports leagues, such as the National Hockey League, in which building teams through free agency is the norm.

How do you succeed in that market? Provide strong management, build a program for success and establish a winning culture. When asked in a poll which team they would most like to play for, the clear winner with 60% of the votes was the Detroit Red Wings because they consistently make the playoffs and have the most respected coach.

Does a social intranet help attract talent? One of our clients was told by a new hire that, “I have better technology in my living room than you’re giving me to work with here.” That’s not to say that launching a blog or offering a wiki is a silver bullet (in fact, doing so in a knee-jerk, poorly thought through fashion will be more than counter-productive), but those organizations who have deployed social media tools in a thoughtful, strategic fashion clearly demonstrate that they deserve to be an employer of choice.

Given that Millennials now make up 50% of the workforce, competing for talent using intelligently deployed intranet 2.0 technology is especially important for that generation. Andrew McAfee observed on his Harvard Business Review blog that: “I absolutely buy that Millennials have different technology habits and preferences than us older workers. In short, they consider enterprise 2.0 the no-brainer default rather than something scary and weird. But that's about the biggest difference I see.”

McAfee’s observations on demographics are significant, because for the first time in business history, four distinct generations are working side-by-side in the workplace: Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Each has their own unique set of values, beliefs and workplace attitudes. Each bring strengths and skills that contribute to the diversity of our modern day workforce. And each make the job of employee engagement and communication a challenging proposition.

Matt West, Vice President with Insidedge, shared fascinating research in our presentation together during Toronto Social Media Week, “Social Media & Internal Communications: Reap the Rewards, Reduce the Risk.” The research provides helpful insights into how the different generations view communications, and social media.

Earlier this year, Insidedge surveyed more than 1,000 working Americans from every generation to better understand the effectiveness of employee communication, the ease of finding information and how employees of every age prefer to receive information. The results revealed a number of significant differences, as well as some interesting similarities. For example:

  • A majority of Millennials feel their companies do a poor job communicating with them and their peers, while most Veterans believe their companies communicate effectively.

  • 41 percent of Millennials say social media is important in the workplace, while only 22 percent of Baby Boomers and 10 percent of Veterans feel the same.

The data demonstrates a clear opportunity to reap the rewards of the social intranet, especially with the demographic that now makes up 50% of the workforce. Without a doubt, there are also risks that must be mitigated when deploying these social tools. But the biggest risk may be not offering them at all, and having young, talented free agents lace up their skates for another team and compete against you.

Read a detailed description of the "social intranet" with accompanying case study by downloading the full white paper, The Social Intranet: Social Intranet Success Matrix .