Ignorance: HR’s achilles heel…

ignoranceNow that I’m back in Blighty after attending both the HR Technology Conference in the US, and the HR Tech Europe Conference in Europe  I’m just reflecting on what I saw.

I found both buzzing experiences although here were a few stark differences between the two. Amsterdam was a sea of men in suits, a stock photographers dream for those ‘business as usual” shots, and oddly at ease against the backdrop of the city itself, a place where gravity, as Dan Pink put it, “is one of the few laws that are actually enforced here”.

Las Vegas, by contrast had given away largely to the denim/chino look. Much more relaxed on the surface, but perhaps more conservative underneath? I wasn’t sure. The expo’s for both were dominated by the big guns as you would expect, but it was also good to see a good crop of small new players too.

One thing that stood out for me though was the significant amount of air time that is still being devoted to raising awareness of social and its associated benefits for the organisation, specifically the internal benefits of ‘socialising the business’. Unfortunately, A good number of the examples used felt dated, and I’m surprised, and a little disappointed, that speakers are still getting “ooohs” and “aahhs” from trotting out the fact that Facebook users outnumber the Klingon population. Or the “this company didn’t treat me well so I’m making a Youtube video about it” examples in an effort to show just how influential we annoying little people can be when we have a voice.

Despite ‘social’ being consciously pervasive in our personal lives the benefits of adopting similar principles and strategies internally remain a mystery to many in the people domain – HR practitioners, business leaders and vendors alike.

To these people, the social web is still either a marketing platform or a place where ‘those people do twitting or whatever they call it”. In other words – “not for me.” And that’s a big problem.

Consider the changes in the technology landscape since you became active online, which for many reading this post will have been around the late 90’s/millennium. Some before. Consider then what it might look in say another 13 years, or sooner. It is 2013 for Gods sake. Facebook is nearly 10, Twitter is nearly 7. This social, transparent layer has huge implications, not least for organisations. So why are vast swathes of the HR populous still largely ignorant of the impact of this shift, let alone the value it can bring?

Someone tweeted yesterday that its not the job of HR to convince the leadership of the value of embracing social, but to demonstrate the implications of not doing so. Well from where I was sitting, particularly in the European audience, HR have two hopes of achieving this, and one of them is Bob.

Get with the program HR. Ignorance is no longer acceptable. In fact, in my view, it’s bordering on incompetence.


  1. C’mon Gareth, HR is doing a great job of demonstrating to leadership the implications and consequences of not being social. Or did you mean we should do it intentionally instead of just operating that way? 😉


    1. Man, you should sit in front of some of the audiences here in the UK – it’s pretty depressing! I think in the US things are different and i certainly picked that up when i compared both. I guess we are just a bit more reserved over here 😉 Thanks for commenting!


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