Social Networking: Meet Corporate America

This week I was on a panel at the Oracle Users Group discussing the needs of the multi-generational workforce.  Most of the attendees (HR and training managers) were focused on identifying what their organizations need to do to attract, manage, and integrate younger workers into their organizations.  

Our research clearly shows that the Millenia (20s) and Generation X (30s) workforce has different values and career goals than the Baby-Boomers (50s) and Silent Generation (60s+).   Some of these changes include:

  • Much more interest in finding “fulfilling” jobs, not necessarily just the highest-paying jobs, focusing on finding meaningful and interesting work
  • Feeling free to change jobs frequently, not necessarily working up the ladder in one organization
  • Working as part of a “tribe,” finding work with people you like, not just an organization you like
  • Heavy use of technology (messaging, collaboration, online learning) as a daily part of their work lives
  • Very close relationships with family, to the point where parents even evaluate employers for the workers
  • Openness and flat organizations, where peers provide coaching as much as managers.

The key questions which organizations are struggling with are:

  • How do we attract highly skilled younger workers to our organization?   What can we do to become an attractive organization to them during the recruiting process?
  • What are the values which impact younger workers and how does this affect our management and compensation processes?
  • How do we build onboarding and career development programs for younger workers, many of which will change jobs 10-15 times in their careers?
  • How do we manage senior employees who may not be as technology-savvy as younger workers?
  • How do we build online learning and other internal systems to facilitate learning and collaboration to mirror the social networking tools which young workers use in school?

We are undertaking a significant research program in this area, which will cover the impact of the multi-generational workforce on all of the talent management and enterprise learning processes.  One of the elements of this research is the use of “internal social networking” tools like Facebook for corporate America.

Where is this going?  Facebook for Corporate America.

Let me say this.  Every HR and L&D leader I have talked with in the last several months is very aware of the need to build internal social network solutions for their organization.  We can call it “Facebook meets Talent Management for Corporate America.”

Such a system has the potential to solve many problems:

  • An internal directory of employees for collaboration
  • A talent management solution to identify people for projects and new roles
  • A career planning system to help employees find new positions and opportunities
  • A learning and development solution to allow people to collaborate to solve discipline and function-specific problems (e.g. technical support, engineering, product development, customer service)
  • A system which integrates with the company’s performance management and talent management system, providing access to information such as performance ratings, career history, languages, preferences, career interests, and more.

Where are these solutions?  Well nearly every LMS and talent management systems vendor would like to have such a solution today.  Some exciting developments are coming here – and I would like to highlight a few (you can learn more about this space by coming to our Research Conference IMPACT 2008:  The Business of Talent ( ), where we will be highlighting many of these new solutions.

New Solutions to Watch:  Mzinga, Tomoye, and Taleo

A few important companies to watch:  Today KnowledgePlanet announced their bold and exciting new rebranded company Mzinga ( – Mzinga, headed by former Lotus and Webex executives, is launching an exciting product and services-based strategy to help organizations build social networks inside of corporations. 

A second company which has been focusing in this area for some time is Tomoye (  Tomoye has been building corporate communities of practices for several years and also has a well designed product for corporate social networks.  I expect them to pick up momentum in the year to come.

Finally, we have to mention Taleo (  Taleo’s new performance management product (Taleo Performance) is one of the most interesting “facebook-like” performance products we have seen to date.  Its innovative new user interface gives the company the option to build social networking features into the daily and annual process of employee performance management.

See More at IMPACT 2008:  The Business of Talent®

We will be featuring corporate social networking and new solutions for informal learning at our 2008 research conference IMPACT 2008:  The Business of Talent (  Hold the dates on your calendar (April 22-24 in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida) – registration will be available soon.

The Business of Talent