Monday, March 29, 2010

Wikis in HR

I recently read an interesting article in Personnel Today that outlined Enterprise 2.0 solutions for the benefit of corporate human resources.

Anyone in the Enterprise 2.0 milieu can instantly imagine the inherent value of wikis and other collaborative solutions for HR departments large and small.

This article, written by Jon Ingham, started with an intro: ´Social media often has a bad name in HR – something to be controlled or banned in the workplace.'

Fortunately, Ingham goes on to provide examples of how social media can actually improve collaboration based on his attendance at Enterprise Social Media conference in London. I’m thrilled to hear that more and more people are ‘getting it.’

I did a search for wikis + human resources and came across a blog - Steve Boese's HR Technology. Steve teaches a graduate course HR technology. Again, am glad to see that academia is joining the Web 2.0 bandwagon.

In 2008, Steve had given his students an assignment to create a wiki for the fictitious company he’d created for them. He wrote the work he received “hammered home the point for me that HR staffs, no matter how small, or seemingly technologically unprepared, can effectively utilize Wiki for numerous purposes. My students built the foundation for a decent small company intranet in about 6 weeks -- with no prior experience, all in their free time.”

I’m left thinking…hooray! When these grad students enter the workforce or expand their roles in the workforce, they will have a tremendous leg up on others.

They are a number of clear benefits of wikis to HR departments. First off, just think about what happens to individuals’ knowledge and information when they leave the company. It doesn’t matter if someone’s been fired or retires. In many companies, when someone leaves the company, valuable knowledge gets lost and isn’t often recovered.

Why? Because “email is where knowledge goes to die.” (from:

Wikis keep data out of the email hole.

Ingham reported that Virgin Media, Santander, Axa, Asda and Pfizer are all using social media to engage and connect their employees. He writes: “For Helen Farrar, head of internal communications at Virgin Media, one of the main benefits of social media is moving "water cooler conversations" into the public arena. This helps the company engage its people in "an entirely different way" as well as gaining a good understanding of what people are thinking and feeling.”

Wikis are also tremendously beneficial for HR as a central repository for policies, procedures, documentation and employee communication. Internal newsletters can be a thing of the past – companies can post all relevant news and information to the wiki and push it to everyone. Letter from the president? Post it to the wiki, or put more stylishly -- Wikify it!

Plus, wikis can help put a face to a name – particularly useful for large, global companies or those with multiple offices where staffers don’t always get a chance to meet their colleagues.

Let's hope more HR people and others embrace the idea of wikis in HR!

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