With competition for talent intensifying, organisations are migrating further into the digital realm, primarily because of changing talent demographics.

A larger percentage of today’s workforce belongs to the younger generation also known as Gen Y.

The use of social media is spreading like wildfire across the different stages of an employee’s lifecycle, from selection, recruitment, onboarding, engagement, learning and development, and retention.

Here’s how you can harness the power of social media to stay on top of the recruitment-retention game.


Net a wider talent pool

Organisations have increasingly been utilising social media for their talent acquisition needs due to its relatively low cost and speed in finding, shortlisting and securing suitable candidates, compared with traditional advertising and search methods.

More pertinently, perhaps, recruiters have also struck upon the ability to access more in-depth information on the prospective hire — even before they interact in person.

Through the candidate’s LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter accounts, recruiters may be able to learn about the candidate’s character, personality and even value system, should his account privacy settings permit access, of course.

If available for public view, these platforms act as ready references about potential candidates.

According to various surveys in recent years, professional networking site LinkedIn has emerged as the most preferred vehicle for recruitment followed by Facebook and Twitter.

Forward-thinking organisations are leveraging social media for reference checks, as well as to strengthen and promote their employee referral programmes. Often considered to be a very cost-effective method to attract and identify top talent, these programmes also help to decrease turnover, reduce cost per hire and hasten the time-to-productivity of new hires.

Conversely, candidates no longer have to wait for a job opening at their dream company before taking action. They can start courting the company by “following” it on Twitter and participating in discussions on the company’s social media pages.

This helps to showcase the candidates’ expertise as well as their eagerness to work in the company, and subsequently enhances their appeal when a vacancy does open up. 

Ultimately, these social networking sites enable recruiters to form lasting relationships with both active and passive candidates, with the latter actually making up the majority of the workforce.  


Steer social conversations

By formally incorporating social networks into your talent management strategy, you can mastermind how your employer branding is portrayed in the business community, and help to attract the best candidates.

It also gives you greater control over the public’s perception of your company as you can use social media channels like Facebook and even YouTube to communicate your company’s vision, mission and values.

This enables candidates to have a sense of your work environment and culture even before joining, thereby starting the on-boarding process before the candidates are officially hired.


Drive employee engagement

Once you have got the right talent onboard, the next challenge is how to keep them. And at the heart of talent retention is employee engagement.

Social media is redefining the way companies also interact, engage and influence its employees. They are great platforms for you to communicate with employees about anything and everything — from new clients and contracts secured to updated company protocols.

Create such social channels for your employees’ internal use to encourage the sharing of ideas in open discussions related to the business or the various disciplines and departments within your organisation.

This will nurture a culture of innovation and idea creation, which adds to the effectiveness of your workforce and drives up productivity.

The collaborative approach of social media also leads to the creation of online communities of workers with similar interests within the organisation. As employees feel a greater sense of belonging and cohesiveness, you will have a more engaged workforce and, therefore, achieve higher talent retention rates.


Boost collective intelligence

The sharing of ideas on social media platforms will add to the collective body of knowledge within your workforce as employees document, generate and exchange information across these networks.

This powerfully transforms learning and development (L&D) from a monologue to a dialogue where L&D becomes an integral part of your organisation’s DNA.

Besides maintaining vibrant and dynamic social media pages, capitalise on the use of other digital tools like Skype, podcasts, blogs and vlogs, RSS feeds and webinars to enhance the collective sharing of knowledge through such networks.

Multinational corporations, in particular, can utilise these channels to connect their people globally and boost international collaboration and the sharing of expertise.

Companies are finding that the effective use of social media can reduce training costs while promoting a culture of continuous learning, where employees don’t have to be “sent” for compulsory training workshops.

Instead, they happily plug into internal social channels to keep abreast of the latest developments in their field because they are engaged.

So although social media may be a double-edged sword as it could potentially impede productivity, how about viewing it as a necessary evil instead? Because if your social media strategies are executed and managed properly, their impact on employee engagement will be quite extraordinary. 


Article by Ronald Lee, managing director of PrimeStaff Management Services, a human resource consultancy specialising in recruitment, payroll processing, outplacement and training services. For more information, call 6222-3310, e-mail enquiry@primestaff.com.sg or visit www.primestaff.com.sg. This article was first published in Singapore Business Review Online.