The current level of technological growth has seen influenced many companies across the globe to integrate the use of technological devices and knowledge in various organisational processes. Technology at work has enhanced the performance of human assets in the respective companies through the provision of working environments that are conducive. Technology has made the work easier for employees by reducing the energy required to handle manual tasks in the workflow, enabling faster delivery of the desired results in projects, and influencing innovativeness among employees.
It follows that one of the most important technological developments in the work settings is the use of the internet. Social media platforms have generated quite a big following among workers across the world for various reasons. While some people visit social media sites to enhance their social circles, others use social media as a platform to share ideas. Social Media is a product of the soft aspect of technology. This paper critically looks into the role of social media in contemporary organisations in the perspective of the Human Resource function in organisations.
The HR department in different companies is in charge of delivering messages from the management and the leadership functions to the employees. This means that the HR function must develop effective communication channels to ensure message delivery is actualized in a timely and safe manner. The use of social media in the work setting as a communication platform is gradually gaining popularity in the corporate world whereby the HR function develops user groups in social media where the members of an organisation can access new information about their company (KrishnaDe 2014).
Social media has gained positive reception in companies like Taco Bell, which allows its employees to access portals on social media where information and instructions flow from the leadership to the employees without any interruption from the management. The HR at Taco Bell has provided this portal as a mechanism to influence high employee performance through effective communication. The effectiveness of social media in providing the best communication platform for human resources is one of the many benefits that companies that have embraced it are enjoying over their competitors (Awa, Nwibere & Inyang 2010: p. 4).
According to a survey conducted by the Tower Watson Company, employers in the corporate sector have embraced the use of different social media platforms to communicate with their employees. Participants in the survey indicated that the use of instant messaging platforms on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is more common in their respective companies.
Other social media avenues used include HR blogs, where training and development programs are communicated, and video sharing platforms for personal development in human resources (Brooks 2013). Social media platforms have replaced the slow traditional internal communication platforms like memos and emails in various companies, and it is more effective in the delivery of important information, especially where the employees are equipped with internet enabled gadgets (McClure 2014).
Improved performance by the human resources
The HR function in organisations is delegated with the task of ensuring employees portray their highest competence levels at work. This is actualized by providing them with training and development programs, as well as influencing their motivation by creating platforms for sharing ideas (Doctor 2013).
Through social media portals, HR functions can effectively develop online training and development programs, which are not only cheaper than hiring experts in different fields of profession, but also more effective because the information sent out can be accessed severally by employees. Social media platforms are effective in enabling teams to enhance their performance in the delivery of goals through the constant sharing of innovative ideas by the members of the teams (Fallon 2014).
Social media is easy to adopt in HR functions
The adoption of the use of social media in organisations as a primary communication platform for team members is an easy transition because the majority of people in the world has skills in the use of different social media platforms. The introduction of new technology in a company calls for the HR to acquaint the members of the company with the use of the new technology.
With Social media, the majority of the people in the modern world have skills in using the internet; hence, all that is needed is for HR functions to ensure all human assets in their organisations have regular access to the internet. Using social media is also quite an effective way of sharing motivational information to employees on a regular basis. It is also instrumental in the delivery of new operating ideas from the management to employees through the HR department in companies (Myers 2012).
Easier management of human assets
One of the roles that social media has played in companies that have embraced it is enabling the HR function to reach out to its employees in an easier and effective manner. The concept of globalization has influenced the development of multi-national organisations that have to outsource labour from different parts of the world. When a company like Samsung send out its expert teams to tackle different projects across the world, the HR management function in the headquarters uses social media platforms to coordinate the tasks being handled simultaneously in different parts of the world.
Social media, through instant messaging, has made it easy for employees in companies to implement team work even when they are in different parts of the world. With social media, HR departments in companies also have an effective channel to provide training and development programs through HR blogs (OPM 2014).
Ulrich’s 1997 Model
According to Ulrich’s 1997 model, the HRM function plays an important role in keeping the human resources focused to strategic changes in an organisation. Social Media provides HRM functions with a platform to apply Ulrich’s Model. Through Ulrich’s 1997 model, he demonstrated that the HR can be a strategic partner to the top management in the alignment of their workflow processes with the organisational objectives.
Social Media platforms are designed to allow direct communication between the HR and management functions; hence, strategic partnerships can be easily developed between the two parties. Ulrich’s model also dictates that the HRM function should actively represent the needs of the human resources to the top management, and social media is a viable channel to actualize this. Leaders in organisations depend on the HRM function to identify with employee attitudes toward various changes (Holtz 2014).
Social media influence constant communication among members in an organisation, and this allows the leadership to remind the human assets their organisational goals constantly (Blanchard 2011). Social media has a big role in aligning short-term goals with the long-term goals in an organisation by providing insight to the human assets on how they should respond to change. Social media platforms reveal the global trends in organisational changes; thus, it prepares users mentally to acquire the same changes in their organisations (Miranda 2013).
Fast relaying of messages from the HR
Organisational performance is determined by the effectiveness of the communication channel availed to the members of the HR department. This is with reference to the speed of message delivery. Social media is a viable replacement of e-mail based communication in organisations because it is time and space boundless, and it allows users to relay messages instantly to their team members (Meister 2013).
It also allows multiple users to access the same message; thus, the management can address the entire organisation with a single message. The messages are text based; hence, they can easily be stored for future reference by the target audience. Social Media is a feasible communication channel for HR functions because it allows intra-organisational communication as well as inter-organisational communication. Social media also acts as a motivational aspect of human resources by linking their work life to their social life (Sinha, Subramanian, Bhattacharya & Chaudhary 2012: p. 65).
Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)
According to the Technology acceptance Model (TAM), employees only accept new technology when they positively perceive the usefulness of the new technology. Using social media may be translated as a useless course by some Employees. New technology at work must be introduced gradually, and the transition period may lead to its success or failure in the application within an organisation. Social media is one of the most widely used communication avenues on the internet in the modern world, and there are certain negative effects that may be witnessed in its use.
For instance, some employees may develop a negative attitude toward social media platforms and fail to use the portals availed by the HR functions in their respective companies. This is a common phenomenon in the workplace, whereby not all employees embrace change, especially when new technology is involved. This leads to lower performance in the employees involved because of a breakdown in communication (Chow & Chan 2008: p. 459).
Social media may trigger fear among employees
Just like employees fear using telephone calls to communicate about their negative sentiments about their workplace, using social media as an avenue to express grievances may not be effective for human assets. Employees may develop the fear of being tracked through social media; thus, most employees would only limit the use of social media for information collection rather than expressing their true feelings about their work. Social media also links their work life with their personal life, and some employees may feel vulnerable with relation to the invasion of their privacy by the social media platforms chosen by the HRM function (Duffy, Ganster & Pagon 2002: p. 331).
Social media has an important role in the HR perspective. The first role is to influence effective communication between the members of a given organisation. Social media provides a fast channel to share information within an organisation, and it has the potential to promote teamwork in members of an organisation working in different parts of the world. Social media also enables the HRM to detect employee attitudes; thus, helping the leadership in the formulation of effective changes in an organisation.
Some of the disadvantages of social media include being part of the technology that can receive negative reception by some employees, and it may also cause paranoia among some employees with reference to having their privacy being invaded by their employers and colleagues. Despite the limited limitations of social media, it is a viable communication avenue for companies, and it should be embraced by organisations across the world as the future of inter-organisational and intra-organisational communication.
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