Employers will increasingly turn to crowdsourcing over outsourcing in the next decade, according to HR experts Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd, who predict social technologies will soon become a driving force in recruitment and corporate innovation.

The shift is based on the principle that “the most efficient networks are those that link to the broadest range of knowledge”, the authors explain in their new book, The 2020 Workplace.

While many companies already use social networking in their human resources functions, Meister and Willyerd predict that HR will be “reinvented” by the collaborative and social elements of wide-scale crowdsourcing.

Managers should develop relationships that enable mass communication and “uber-connectivity”, they say, with a view to using the “wisdom of the crowd” to better train and mentor employees, inform research and development, and drive ongoing corporate learning.

“Conduct a social media bootcamp by finding out how the marketing department is using social media to reach its customers, and use some of the platforms that enable two-way dialogue with employees,” they recommend.

“Hire Millennial [or Gen-Y] interns to work within the organisation and draft a plan for using social media to connect employees.”

The ability of social technologies to enhance collaboration and connectivity will form the backbone of recruitment and retention in future workplaces, Meister and Willyerd predict.

“The next decade will usher in new companies and business models that are unimaginable today, and will dramatically change how we live, work, learn, communicate and play,” they say.

“Anticipating these changes will be critical to your ability to thrive in the 2020 workplace, where transparency, collaboration, personalisation and hyperconectivity will rule the day.”

Embrace participation in social networks

Meister and Willyerd warn managers not to underestimate the power of social networking in shaping future workplaces, saying those who fully embrace these tools will find themselves “in the forefront of change”.

They say the 2020 workplace will include several new HR functions, and predict that:

  • Organisations will hire complete teams instead of “brilliant individuals”. As teamwork becomes increasingly important in the global workplace, employers are seeing the value of hiring and training entire teams to tackle business problems. At the same time, some of these teams will form highly effective units that move from one workplace to another in specialised fields.
  • Recruitment will begin on social networking sites. Within the next 10 years, most professionals will be recruited through highly trafficked social networks, the authors say. Candidates sourced via this social recruitment process are likely to have an initial interview via their avatar, followed by a series of video chats and reference checks on social networks.
  • Hiring and promotions will be based on reputation capital. With more recruitment occurring online, the strength of a candidate’s social networks will increasingly be considered in the hiring process. Meister and Willyerd predict that reputation capital will be the top currency of the 2020 workplace, with many managers considering it as the sum of a candidate’s personal brand, their expertise, and the depth and breadth of their professional networks.
  • Blogging will be an executive job requirement. With the ability to keep in touch with customers and other stakeholders one of the most important tasks of a CEO, more executives will be required to engage with online networks and social media as part of their role. This kind of interaction will replace current forms of corporate publicity such as press releases or PR-generated content.
  • Training will be delivered via alternate reality games. In the future, corporate training will be transformed into a fun, engaging and highly social activity, with higher value on employee collaboration and peer-to-peer interactions. Personal leadership, critical thinking and teamwork skills will be driven by a raft of interactive videos, multiplayer games, alternate reality platforms and simulations within the corporate environment.
  • Internal social networks will flourish. As the use of interactive and collaborative training programs grows, internal social networks are likely to become “as critical in the 2020 workplace as managing cashflow”, Meister and Willyard say. Forward-looking companies will exploit the power inherent in social networks to develop new skills sets, enhance knowledge sharing and improve innovation among existing employees as well as potential candidates.
  • Social responsibility will drive employee retention. The triple bottom line (people, planet and profits) will become one of the main strategies future companies will use to attract new hires. Rather than guarding corporate policies as strictly controlled intellectual property, innovative companies of the future will promote their global philosophy as a reason to engage with the brand. Current ideals of corporate philanthropy will be replaced with social responsibility policies that are integrated into a company’s core business strategy.
  • Diversity will be a business strategy, not an HR mandate. The future shortage of multicultural talent in the workplace will be addressed as a strategic business priority rather than a legal human resources issue. Comprehensive inclusion strategies will be vital in the ability of future companies to deliver diverse business offerings around the world.
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