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Thu, Dec 1, 2011

Ideas & Trends

5 Keys for Building Successful Internal Talent Communities

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If you’re paying attention to the social recruiting conversation, you’re probably already familiar with the concept of talent communities, which have emerged as one of the industry’s hottest topics in 2011.

But beyond the buzzword, do talent communities really live up to the hype?

We so often get wrapped up in debating the definition that we often forget to explore the tangible benefits and actionable solutions talent communities represent for HR and recruiting professionals.

Creating a talent community can not only help acquire top talent, streamline hiring processes and cut recruiting costs externally, but also functions as a great employee engagement and communications tool.

Some benefits of creating an internal talent community include:

  • Boosting Employee Referrals
  • Increase Fit with Company Culture
  • Leverage the Networks of Your Top Performers
  • Foster a More Collaborative Workplace

The overall trends in the marketplace seems to show more employers creating their own proprietary talent communities (or sub communities) rather than participating or joining existing or better established ones.  The reason for this is simple.

When you come right down to it, talent communities start with the employees who work for you, and increase engagement and awareness with the talent that wants to work for you.

These existing connections and relationships represent assets that employers can easily leverage.  While some have no idea what they are or even what to expect, candidates are looking for a couple of things from talent communities.

First, they’d like to be able to communicate with someone who actually works for a prospective employer, asking questions and gleaning information on their hiring process, company culture and application status.

When considering these desired candidate outcomes, it becomes readily apparent that the subject matter experts who can best represent what it’s actually like to work at a company are the people who already do: your current employees.

It’s important for HR to work with its employee population to properly equip them with consistent and accurate messaging and best practices for discussing the hiring process and company culture.

Creating a framework and outlining some best practices as well as expectations for participation in your talent community can create an army of brand ambassadors who can refer, engage and even pre-screen candidates.

Keep these guidelines simple and straightforward and allow employees to speak about their own experiences in their own voice; authenticity and transparency are key to successful talent community outcomes.

While letting current workers loose on social networks might seem scary for some employers, allowing them the freedom to talk about your employment brand sends a powerful statement about your organization externally while providing real-time, actionable employee feedback internally.

Of course, the conversation around internal talent communities extends well past talent acquisition and candidate sourcing.  Internal talent communities can affect perceived fit, increased collaboration and a better understanding of company culture for existing employees.

Look at it as a ratio when weighing the risks and rewards of internal talent communities.

If emerging social and community building tools facilitate interaction between geographically dispersed teams, increase awareness of company culture and policy or encourage dialogue between different groups or functions, then the real recruiting ROI might also realize better retention, satisfaction and worker productivity.

Tools like internal blogs, micro-communication platforms like Yammer or streaming capabilities like Skype or video conferencing can provide a much needed boost for both interaction and innovation.

Or as I like to call it, “intercreativity” (yes, I made that word up, but I kind of like it).

5 Keys For Building Successful Internal Talent Communities

Talent Communities are kind of like the Ginsu knife of employee communications strategies; they really affect all elements of the employment life-cycle, from workforce planning to internal mobility.

Obviously, the viability of any of these options depends on the platform you’re using, and who’s using them, but like any good HR technology, metrics and analytics should play a huge role in measuring success – and determining areas of improvement.

Here are five quick tips for building great internal talent communities:

1.      Effective Community Management: Managing a community can be a full time job; really feeling an impact outside of the HR or Talent Function definitely requires dedicated headcount.

Consider looking inside your organization to find a champion who can talk the talk (as in has an established track record in being able to cordially and consistently interact with humans) and walk the walk (knowledge of company culture, processes and systems).

2.      Leadership Buy-In: Key stakeholders within your company are essential.  The old argument that legal and marketing need to get onto the bandwagon still holds true, but today it’s about proving ROI and that this newest “buzzword bingo” term can actually have a positive impact on the bottom line.

3.      The Right Tools: The market has been flooded with vendors offering solutions and services for building talent communities, most at low or no costs, which simplifies building a business case and minimizes risk.

When conducting a cost-benefit analysis, however, it’s important to look past the initial price to consider:

  • The learning curve involved in implementing the software or solution
  • Time and resources required for training and support
  • How much extra licenses cost or the pricing model for expanding or scaling back your initial investment if needed
  • The tool’s reporting capabilities and analytics offerings

4.      Building Brand Ambassadors: In order to attract top talent or high potential performers, you’ve got to know what those traits look like at your company and which of your employees possess these traits or attributes.  If you can’t identify top performers or even know what one looks like, you’re not ready to start a talent community.

Look to your existing top talent for market research; it’s important to understand what makes them tick, what kind of networks they’re already participating in and what kinds of outcomes or content they’d expect from your internal talent community.

Once you have an identified list of top performer traits, you’ll have a more informed understanding of what how employees perceive your company culture and how that might differ from your mission statement or external employer brand.

5.      Content & Conversation: Finally, keep in mind that content drives conversation, which ultimately determines the success, or failure, of any talent community.  When building a business case or creating a community building strategy, ask questions like:

  • What kind of content can you provide to add the most value and relevance?
  • What kinds of conversation do your current or potential employees expect?
  • How will your content stimulate or facilitate these conversations?
  • Will the content and conversation appeal to both internal and external community members?
  • What’s your timeline or threshold for building a community before you start producing real results (it often takes 3-6 months before conversations and threads appear organically).

Ultimately, the success of talent communities relies on one thing: being human.

If you can encourage authentic, organic interactions with the talent who’s already working for your company online, then attracting and recruiting external talent should become a natural extension of your community.

Because top talent is looking for more than a job – they’re looking for a home.  And really, that’s what community is all about.

Monster is proud to support TalentNet Live (#TNL), an event for talent managers and human capital leaders featuring some of the brightest minds and biggest innovations in the HR industry and continuing the conversation – and learning – for practitioners around topics like social media, social recruiting and HR training.

Check MonsterThinking.com all week as we preview some of the ideas and innovations from #TNL track leaders and attendees.

About the Author

Maren Hogan is a marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting space. Maren recently resumed her consultancy at Red Branch Media, handling marketing strategy and content developments for HR and Recruiting vendors. A seasoned advocate in the areas of social media, recruitment and HR marketing, Hogan has built three successful communities and built brand strategies for over 70 companies in various sectors (both B2C and B2B). You can connect with Maren on Twitter @marenhogan as well as read her latest posts on Marenated and RedBranchMedia.com.

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