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Bad Title, Good Article

February 19, 2009

In my last post, I challenged the community to think of ways to link social networking to real business challenges.  Today, Business Week took some great strides in that direction in an article called:  “The Water Cooler is Now Online.”  I suppose someone thought this was a clever way to capture the essence of community as an HR function, but it diminishes and cheapens the depth of the article.  Water coolers are associated with gossip and sports scores.  Contrast that sort of discussion this with this article excerpt:

“Dow Chemical Co. (DOW ) faces a shrinking workforce as baby boomers start leaving the labor market en masse: About 40% of Dow’s workers will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. So the 110-year-old company is pushing hard on hiring and retention. It plans to open four internal social networks in December for women, retired workers, current employees, and alumni who have left for other jobs. In an alumni network, for instance, current and former employees can create profiles and get information about full-time job openings. Another Dow social network is aimed solely at helping the company stay in contact with female employees as they leave the workforce for maternity leave or cut back their hours. “We want to keep in touch with the brainpower of past employees, and frankly, it’s also a great group to consider for new hires,” says Julie Fasone Holder, a corporate vice-president for human resources and marketing at Dow.”

And with this one:

“KPMG credits the [alumni] network with helping it hire 137 former employees, or around 14% of the company’s total hires, since the service started, up from 72 people in the three months prior.”

This is the kind of “meat on the bones” that we need to make a case for business social networking as a core technology to drive the business.  15 years ago we were making the case for networking corporate hardware; today we’re making the case to network wetware.  More articles like this, and stories from those of us that are practitioners, will help us make a compelling case.  If you not already a member of the HR group on We Are Smarter, why don’t you join and share your ideas of how business social networking can help us rethink the HR function? 

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