Social tools and cloud computing are emerging as key strengths for talent management, while learning compliance is an Achilles heel for many organizations. Those are some of the key takeaways from a new report.

Entitled "The State of Talent Management 2013", the report by SilkRoad is based an online survey last year of more than 5700 professionals, representing a wide range of corporate positions. SilkRoad is a provider of cloud-based social talent management software.

Using Social Media

The report found that forty-three percent of respondents work in organizations with open access to social media. Another 24 percent reported their social media access was monitored and 16 percent had their social media blocked.

Regardless of whether social media is monitored or blocked, the report noted, employees have access to social communications outside of work or through their own mobile devices at work -- and most workers access it daily, regardless of restrictions -- so the report advised that talent professionals could productively channel its use.


Forty-nine percent noted they use social media to connect with co-workers, and 44 percent use it for connecting with customers. Forty-seven percent also noted that they use it as “a fun platform to connect with others,” and 60 percent check social media more than once daily on their mobile device. SilkRoad pointed out that social activity can be used to advance the goals of an organization by capitalizing on employees’ enthusiasm, such as using social media for learning activities, for orienting new employees, or for promoting the organization to prospective employees.

Manual Versus Automation

Just as IT departments are leveraging and adapting to the Bring-Your-Own-Device trend, the report recommends that talent management professionals do so as well, such as employing mobile devices, including personal ones, for anytime-use of social media. Recruiting and hiring, and learning development, were cited by more than a majority of respondents as ways to use social media for talent management.

In fact, recruiting and hiring, which was selected as the most social of talent management processes by 64 percent of respondents, is seen as having the hottest potential for social media by using employees to promote the company and to cast a wider net for the best candidates.

The report also found that learning compliance processes, which are especially important in such industries as energy, healthcare, human services and transportation, are being assigned manually by 59 percent of those surveyed, while only 42 percent were automatically making assignments.

But, the report noted, manual assignments carry the “risk of employees falling out of compliance,” as well as inefficiencies, duplication of effort and inaccuracy. Additionally, the research for the report revealed that many of the “in-house developed” learning management systems were no more than Excel spreadsheets, emails and survey forms.

Engaging Employees

Similarly, 38 percent said that their HR systems were fully automated, while 56 percent reported theirs as only partially so -- for example, payroll is automated, but employee profiles or benefits plan enrollments are managed via spreadsheets.

The use of cloud computing for HR, the report found to its surprise, is being driven more by HR departments than IT ones, allowing talent anywhere to be managed anywhere. Silkroad advised that, when managed correctly, cloud-based systems can enable self-management for many activities by employees and managers, thus lessening the administrative load.

Just as social media can employ employees’ enthusiasm for company goals, the report also looked at employee engagement programs that are specifically designed to increase workers’ loyalty, their enthusiasm for the organization, and their pride in their work. But, while about half of the organizations surveyed said they had employee engagement programs, half did not. Key mechanisms for fostering employee engagement: trust in management, opportunities for career development, and fun interaction between employees, such as using social media on their mobile devices.

The report also recommends that organizations look at their ability to employ metrics throughout their talent management decisions, and that they consider whether there is adequate integration between performance management, learning and recruiting, so that those processes can escape their silos.