Thursday, 31 July 2008

Web 2.0: McKinsey Global Survey Results

The latest review by McKinsey, which can be downloaded from their website after registering, shows that Web 2.0 is becoming more popular with organizations in their now annual survey of nearly 2000 companies. Web services, blogs, RSS feeds and wikis are the most popular tools, with the main internal uses being to manage knowledge, foster collaboration, enhance the company culture and training. However, there is a wide variety of levels of satisfaction with Web 2.0 technologies, along with marked regional variations. Asia Pacific respondent were most satisfied with Web 2.0 with Latin American companies least satisfied. The main barriers to take up were that companies didn't understand the financial benefits, didn't have a supportive culture or sufficient incentives to experiment with Web 2.0. Its main HR impact seems to be that it has changed the way companies hire and retain people, though one has to question the way in which they addressed these issues. Interestingly, nearly half of respondents suggested that Web 2.0 had not changed the company nor the way it was organized. As one commentator suggested on our CIPD discussion space on Web 2.0 and HR, these findings are in line with our own preliminary thoughts in the field and with the CIPDs research on Web 2.0 and recruitment.

These surveys give an indication of what is happening, but respondents can only respond to the quality of questions asked. I'm not so sure these questions are as well constructed as they could be in the McKinsey survey. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Employer Branding Link with Adcorp, Australia

Employer branding has largely been an American and European phenomenon, often associated with the needs for organizations to compete in the market for talent and to engage more fully the talent they have at their disposal. However, in our opinion this topic it is not well enough researched for practitioners; most of the current writing and case work is a little light on evaluation/ analysis and heavy on simple messages, 'silver bullets' or bullet points. Professional HR bodies such as the CIPD have been active in helping investigate this phenonenon more deeply, further evidenced by a recent call for research into the impact of mergers and acquisitions on employer branding.

There is even less written about this subject in an Asian context, however; though we have contributed to an Indian book on the subject and have recently signed a memorandum of agreement to set up a joint venture in China on employer branding and reputation management with a leading university, recruitment consultancy and TV channel (more on this development in a forthcoming blog).

So, given the Asian connections, and Australia's ambitions in this region, we are pleased to announce that we are working with Adcorp, a leading Australian employment communications agency, to run a series of one-day master classes, breakfast meetings and luncheons in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney between November 17th-21st of this year. These master classes will focus on strategic HR and its links with employer branding, corporate reputation management and leadership branding, and will draw on our recent case study research and our most recent publications in these fields.

Anyone interested in attending these events should contact Tim Grogan from Adcorp, who is leading this initiative.

Leadership and HR

Leadership and HR are rapidly becoming more intertwined, as our research into leadership branding is beginning to indicate. Human resource development has a key role to play in developing leaders in organizations, so HR professionals need to understand leadership theory, its promises and problems. At the same time, leadership of the HR function has become increasingly more important, yet needs to be better explained than the current vogue for HR competence frameworks are able to do. Currently we have a project on strategic leadership in HR that has produced a new framework for HR leaders, which we've written about in a recent conference paper and will be publishing in the near future. If you want a copy of the paper, just mail me on

Two very useful insights into the fields of leadership and HR leadership, which we will incorporate into our thinking, are discussed in a new special edition of the Leadership Journal (Vol 4, no. 3), edited by a colleague of mine, Dennis Tourish, and a brief, but timely, perspective on HR leadership by Pat Wright from Cornell in the current issue of Human Resource Executive Online. Both of these sources are well worth accessing.

Friday, 25 July 2008

HR, Social Networking and Blogging

Alongside the CIPD's website, one of the most useful site for HR practitioners to visit from an evidence-based practice perspective is the new social networking site for the HRM journal run by Theresa Welbourn. This site already has some interesting discussions going on but has greater potential to link practitioners to academic work than any other medium I'm currently aware of. This potential will be realised the more it is subscribed to and used by practitioners and academics, so please join.

The site already has a number of useful interest groups, including ones on networking, e-HR, HR in healthcare, teaching HR, HR in China, all subject areas of interest to my colleagues and I. In addition, there are a number of HR forums on issues such as ethics in HR, innovations in HR. You might also want to check out her leadership pulse site for some excellent tools and papers for practitioners and academics. This is related to, which explains/ debates the regular pulse surveys

Friday, 18 July 2008

Leadership Branding

Julie Hodges from Durham University and I are exploring the use of Ulrich and Smallwood's introduction of the term, 'leadership branding' into HR. For those not familiar with the notion, it focuses on how an organization wants to position its leadership and governance idenity with customers, investors, media and, importantly, employees. Julie has been exploring the use of leadership branding in a piece of action research with a major multinational and we are in the process of writing this work up for publication (suitably anonymised).

We are interested in hearing from anyone who has experience of leadership branding, either as having been involved in the design and implementation phase or as an employee? What was your experience? Or, it this just another brand extension too far?

Employer Branding

Judy Pate, Sheena Bell and Steve Ansell (all from Glasgow University Business School) and I are conducting a major exercise for NHS Scotland on employer branding and reputation management. This involves an examination of internal and external perceptions by different groups staff and potential employees of four NHS Boards in Scotland, which cover more than half of the population. We are using a mixture of group interviews and questionnaires to establish the extent of identification of people with the current employer brand(s) with a view to recommending changes in the design of the brand(s) and the HR and people management drivers of the brand. We hope to report on this project later on this year. However, anyone interested in these issues might want to look at a new survey and research report, entitled 'What matters to staff in the NHS' by Ipsos/Mori for the Department of Health, published in June 2008.

This work builds on recent ideas that colleagues and I have published for the CIPD and a book of our own (see side-bar) and in chapters in two forthcoming books on HR by Paul Sparrow on international HR and by Cary Cooper and Ron Burke on High Performance Organizations due out later this year.

In February, we presented at a conference on 'Employer Branding and Employee Voice' run by the London School of Economics and the CIPD. At that conference, a panel made up of employers were largely sceptical of the notion of branding as it applies to HR practice. We were quite surprised but would enjoy hearing from practitioners one way or another. We are particularly interested in any work that has been done to evaluate the effectiveness of employer branding on either improved recruitment or on improvements in employee identification or engagement with organizations.

Measuring Human Capital

Stacey Bushfield and I are investigating ways of measuring the impact of human capital investment in public services as part of a project funded by the Scottish Government and ESRC. Currently we are at the stage of producing a literature review on the topic but are still searching for new material and insights into this problem. Has anyone come across or developed interesting ideas that you are willing to share with us? In return, we would be happy to send you our review.

The work done so far is a systematic review of most of what has been written on human capital and its relationships with social capital, organizational capital and innovation. This is linked to a discussion of public value and client outcomes from public services, an important topic in public sector management.

The next stage of the exercise is to investigate how public services currently measure their investments in human capital. Judging from our preliminary work, there is little evidence of predictive measures of the kind, 'to what extent does investment in, say, leadership development, pay-off in key outcomes measures' and the timing of any returns. If anyone has come across any examples of predictive measures of this kind, we would be pleased to hear about them and exchange ideas.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Web 2.0 and HR

Martin Reddington, Mary Beth Kneafsey and I have recently produced a Research Insight document for the CIPD on Web 2.0 and HR as part of their 'Shaping the Future' agenda. This can be found at the CIPD's website, which we encourage members of the CIPD to visit and participate in the online discussion . Other people who are not members of the CIPD can contribute by joining our discussion forum/ resource space, which is also listed on the side bar. We are looking for feedback on the issues we raise in the document. These focus on the potential advantages (and some of the problems) of social media in helping organizations become more effective in recruiting, engaging staff, allowing greater individualisation of psychological contracts and encouraging collaboration to increase the organization's collective IQ.

The questions we would like readers to share their thoughts with us are:
  1. Are these social media - for example, blogs, wikis, social networking sites, image sharing sites, virtual worlds, etc., - like to be 'disruptive innovations' for people management, and thus likely to help create sustainable high performance organizations? Or are they part of the technology hype?
  2. Does the HR function need to be where the net or virtual generation communicate to reach them? Or is the net generation too general a term so as to be misleading?
  3. Can these technologies be used to enhance employee voice/engagement and the extended IQ or the organizations, or are their better ways of achieving these ends?
  4. To what extent is the HR community up to speed with these innovations, and do they need to be?
  5. To what extent does Web 2.0/social networking represent a threat to HR's desire to control?

Please take some time out to record your thoughts on these questions, either on the CIPD website or this blog. On this topic, you might also want to visit James Richards blog, 'Work-related blogs and news', for an expert, evidence-based insight into one of the most important social media technologies. John Castledine's blog has an excellent introduction to Enterprise 2.0, while Jon Ingham's Human Capital Management and Ross Dawson's 'Living Networks' are also highly informative on Web and Enterprise 2.0