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Social Media and the Employee Life Cycle

Originally posted: January 20, 2010 on TrishMcFarlane.com

The employee life cycle is something that is a hot topic for management gurus.  Google it and you’ll see.  There are articles upon articles out there that tell you the steps of the employee life cycle (the 4 steps, the 12 phases, and so on, and so on).  I don’t want to discuss or debate that.  What interests me is how social media can potentially affect an employee all the way through the employee’s life cycle.


Of all the professions using social media for work purposes,  recruiters are ten steps ahead of the rest of the world in terms of their effectiveness.  They have mastered sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, and blogs to be able to creatively source candidates.  They have found ways to search large amounts of information to identify candidates for hard-to-fill positions.  They are still posting positions on the traditional job boards and on company websites, but they are using the social media sites to get position information to go viral.  For more information on what top recruiters are doing in the social media space, check out RecruitingBlogs.com.

From a candidate perspective, they have more sites than ever in which to find jobs.  They are using key word searches, just like the recruiters, to find positions that may not be readily available anywhere else.  Candidates are getting to know recruiters directly on Twitter and LinkedIn for example, where they can actually establish a relationship before a position is necessarily even open.  The networking opportunities for both the recruiter and the potential candidates are abundant.


In many organizations, onboarding is not given much thought.  New employees are given an employee manual, their new stapler and tape dispenser, and shown where the bathroom is.  End of onboarding.  Ok, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration.  But, I don’t think I’m far off base when I say that companies could use social media as a way to bolster the onboarding process.

One way is to point out the company’s stance on social media during the onboarding process.  This could involve encouraging new employees to check out any social media site the company uses.  If the company has a FaceBook fan page, tell the new employee to consider becoming a fan.  Maybe you have a special page for training, tell them about that.  Does the company use Twitter?  Share the information with employees.  Does your company have videos on You Tube?  Point the new employees there as well.  This will position the company as forward-thinking because they are embracing a form of communication that is becoming more popular with all generations in the workforce.

Training and Development

This is an area where there is certainly opportunity.  You will need to be mindful of  how much you share about your internal training with the outside world.  However, it can really create a buzz online and be a strategic way to position your company to potential candidates and employees as a company that uses the tools creatively.  Having a training session?  Create a Twitter hashtag and have participants tweet during the session.  Use FaceBook to create a group after the training event to keep people who attended connected.

Communication and Collaboration

One great way to collaborate with colleagues is to use online tools to do so.  Again, being mindful of what information is truly going public vs. being held in a way that is only viewed by employees.  Sites like Yammer are a great way for companies to use social media type skills and tools to communicate internally.  I wrote about it here and here. Need to collaborate or communicate during the life-cycle of a project?  Why not set up a Wiki or use GoogleWave?  Tired of sending documents back and forth through e-mail with multiple edits being tracked?  Set the documents up in GoogleDocs so everyone on the team can contribute and share.  Make sure to check with your IT pros first though and make sure that using the tools is acceptable under their guidelines.

Performance Feedback

There are sites popping up every day it seems that use online sites to give feedback.  It can be daunting to know which to turn to.  One I love is MeritBuilder.  This is a site that allows you to give and receive feedback that can be posted publicly or held privately and it actually follows the individual employee through their career….even if they leave your company.  Be sure to check them out on their site, or via Lance Haun.

Exiting the Company

Even when an employee chooses to leave your company, make sure to encourage them to continue to stay connected via social media.  Consider setting up an alumni group on LinkedIn for them.  Maybe even a FaceBook page dedicated to alumni.  HP, Yahoo, and AG Edwards are all companies that are using FaceBook alumni pages to stay in contact.  Who knows, by doing this, you just may get people to return to the company.

So, what have I missed?  How are you using social media during your employee’s life cycle?  Share it with us in the comments.

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