The Social And Mobile Workplace: Climate Change Is Real

We’ve all watched (and some of us have helped) Social and Mobile (SM) rise to the forefront of the world of work. It’s applied a new source of heat; flooded the banks of formerly tame streams of data and processes and turned them into wild seas for recruiters, candidates and everyone else. It’s turned the sometimes chilly field of recruitment into a kind of digital garden, where Cloud-based tools and software bloom in increasing density and profusion, fed by huge new storms of new information and metrics we’re just learning to harness.

As with climate change, there are plenty of doubters. Refuseniks. Hem-hawers. Prove-its and even naysayers. Stalling at the threshold of this profound change may not be the wisest tactic, but it’s not entirely irrational. When we don’t know what to do or how to do it, some of us tend to freeze, others start flailing.

The what or how is because there’s no cohesive orthodoxy — there are great approaches, but no rules —as is often the case with a new frontier. But there are compelling reasons. So to get from point A to point SM, consider what the weather’s showing us, and dress accordingly.

Boomers can benefit. In terms of a job search, even if boomers avoid SM (and they do), it could work to their advantage to join the party. HR strategist Robin Schooling cites some interesting stats from the Spherion Generations in the Workplace survey. The study queried more than 2,000 workers and 225 human resource managers, and the social mobile stats are striking:

  • Just 20% of baby boomers said they would launch their search for a new employer on a social network.
  • That’s in contrast to 28% of Gen X, and more starkly, 47% of millennials.
  • And, of the boomers surveyed, 55% felt that their age and generation limited career opportunities, yet few boomers market themselves online. Possibly, having a stronger online presence might help expand those limitations.

Brands need to be tight. No matter who or what you are, your online brand can’t be slapdash: having a strong mobile and social presence cuts both ways. The Spherion report found that used badly, your brand (which includes any and all exposure, right?) can work against you. For millennials, they were most likely, of the three generations surveyed, to not be hired based on something their potential employer found online. Interesting disconnect, since they are clearly the most savvy in some ways, but clearly, still not limiting themselves to brand-enhancing online exposure — e.g., drunken karaoke.

Employers best get to it. If an employer wants to attract the best candidates, without a strong SM platform that puts forth a clear, appealing employer brand, there’s a good chance they won’t. Back in January, Glassdoor compiled some serious HR and recruiting stats:

  • 80% of job seekers turn to social media for employer brand promotion.
  • Of those,69% would not accept a job with a company with a bad online reputation —even if they were unemployed.

And while valuing employer brand does break down by generations, it’s not that marked a contrast: the Spherion study found that 42% of baby boomers believed a company’s online reputation was as important as the terms of the job offer itself, versus 55% of millennials. 

Seriously, employers — Of all the stats in that report, I found one particularly telling. Possibly some companies are eschewing a seriously strategic renovation of their online brand in favor of something a little, well, cheaper. Here goes: The Spherion survey also found that 93% companies believe their employees are important brand ambassadors for the company. Yet only 35% of workers surveyed said they would say anything very positive about their company. Do you see what I see?

You are what you are online. Not to talk in riddles, but whether we know it or not, we are already all measuring a company’s reputation via what we see online, because most of us are doing everything online. And for any prospective employee, job seekers are not only watching, they’re paying attention: a healthy majority of every generation surveyed by Spherion believed that a company’s profitability is effected by its online reputation (72% of millennials; 63% of Gen X; and 59% of baby boomers.

If you still feel you need to look up at the sky to find out if it’s getting hotter in HR, there are signs everywhere — and I heartily encourage you to look. Because we are all looking at each other, and we’re looking on mobile and social, as it turns out.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.