I'll admit I've pondered this question myself. Why are we so under-represented in the digital realm? Consider, as evidence, the most recent Top 25 Digital Trendspotters in HR list, the latest of many such efforts published by the HR Examiner, which taps into a "new breed of influence assessment engines" to track and measure the blogging, tweets, Facebook activity and other social media actions across the HR industry. The list attempts to identify those who top the profession in spreading ideas and influencing the direction of online conversation. Not one compensation or benefits pro in the mix. Closest thing would be Paul Hebert (#19) who, although he knows more about motivation and incentives than most of us in compensation field, probably doesn't consider himself a rewards pro per se.
What up with this? Exchanges on Twitter, with a few colleagues and a couple of my Cafe cohorts have produced a number of theories. Here are a few of them.
Reward pros are inherently less social.
The stereotypical profile of the introverted reward professional, while it has its exceptions, carries a lot of truth. There's a reason that most of us have steered clear of recruiting and employee relations, and gravitated toward the more analytical realm. Perhaps this tendency also plays out in our attitude toward social media.
The confidential nature of rewards makes us more cautious about sharing online.
Not sure I buy this one as legitimate, but am open to being convinced. Certainly any HR pro operates in a realm where confidences must be protected; the trick is expressing ideas and opinions without revealing inappropriately. It may be that we, in rewards, are simply less comfortable navigating this delicate balance.
Reward pros are more serious.
There is a school of thought, shared particularly by reward pros, that we take our work (more) seriously and therefore can't be bothered with the frivolous, time-wasting chitchat that goes on in social media.
Reward pros are primarily social consumers, making them less visible.
It is also possible that we are, in fact, active out there in the social interwebs but as lurkers -- consuming content but not creating, curating (liking, sharing, retweeting) or commenting on it. If true, then we are out there absorbing the ideas and the exchanges but not influencing or spreading them ourselves.
Reward pros don't have a social job.
Unlike recruiters and others in HR, our job responsibilities do not typically require us to engage with the outside world and proactively market or strengthen the employment brand of our organizations. Personally, I think this is the number one reason for our relative absence from social media. Our jobs have not demanded that we do so, while many of our HR compatriots have been driven to the social space out of necessity.
So what? If we are indeed behind the curve in social media, does it matter?
I worry that it may. While there is certainly an enormous amount of unserious, intellectually vacant blabber out there, part of the challenge is getting clear on what you want to accomplish and developing a smart and time-efficient strategy for tapping into the social sphere to get it done. You don't have to engage with and follow every twit out there.
My own experience -- and I try hard to be a careful, time-limited user -- suggests that there are pockets where the leading edge of HR practice is being debated. Where people are sharing fascinating forward-thinking ideas and lessons with one another. And I hate to see us missing from that conversation.
Reactions, thoughts and your experiences, dear readers?
Hat tip to Gautam Ghosh (@GautamGhosh), Ruchi (@rucsb) and Rajesh Kamath (@RajeshMTHRG), among others, for starting this conversation!
Ann Bares is the Founder and Editor of the Compensation Café, Author of Compensation Force and Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group LLC, where she provides compensation consulting to a range of client organizations. Ann serves as President of the Twin Cities Compensation Network (the most awesome local reward network on the planet) and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Compensation & Benefits Review. She earned her M.B.A. at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, is a foodie and bookhound in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter at @annbares.
Creative Commons image "Social Media apps" by Jason A. Howie