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The rules have changed and blogging is not just for geeks with a knack for writing anymore. Employees who want to smear you, recruiters who don't want to hire you, PR Departments who want to snow you - are all blogging; is HR missing the train?

As an HR Professional and a blogger I see a myriad of missed opportunities for HR and Corporate Communications Departments when it comes to social networking. Currently, the most common response to employees that chat, surf and blog is to discipline them for not being focused and for misusing company time/resources.

According to a recent ClearSwift Survey, "64 percent of U.S. companies deny their employees access to social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo"; and, "54 percent of HR decision makers have encountered or have had to discipline employees for time-wasting on the Internet". Worst of all, almost a quarter of all HR Professionals have never even heard of YouTube, Facebook or Wikipedia.

Now that's just embarrassing.

There is a treasure trove of opportunity out there for folks responsible for Internal Public Relations and it's time to wake up and jump on the swiftly moving train that is social networking. With companies like CollabAndRate offering an online suggestion box, HR can now do what PR has been doing at places like Starbucks, Dell and Lego: capitalizing on Web 2.0 through the collection of new ideas and increased collaboration.

A properly moderated HR Department Blog can be a place where:

  1. Employees can post suggestions and questions; and where employers can respond, in a safe, properly moderated environment.
  2. Rumors can be brought to light, answered and addressed with clarity and consistency.
  3. Awards, successes, human interest (the good stuff) can be disseminated quickly.
  4. Challenges, disappointments and difficult changes (the bad stuff) can be communicated directly by company leadership to all employees without being muddled by poor communicators in middle management.
  5. An HR Blog can reinforce core values, quickly address real concerns, promote transparency and increase trust all while minimizing mis-information; in a forum that can be anonymous (for the fearful employee) and properly controlled (for the fearful employer).

Close collaboration between IS, HR and the C-Suite is key in order for responses to be credible, accurate and timely. Like any other important business endeavor, it's important that the proper resources and attention be given to blog development and upkeep, or it won't be successful. Good luck and happy blogging!