Katheryn Sillo: Can you start by providing us with some background on Peoplefluent as well as your role there?
Neal Bruce: Peoplefluent was founded in 1997. We provide an integrated suite of talent management products and serve approximately 3,500 customers worldwide, with approximately 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies using at least one of our products. I’m the VP of Product Marketing, which means that my team helps share the Peoplefluent story with the marketplace.
So as you know there is a lot of buzz among businesses right now about social. How would you say HR leaders are moving the needle and leading the new social business?
Companies are using social technologies, or what some people call collaboration technologies, to help them become more productive. HR leaders are realizing that these technologies can help employees get their jobs done faster and with higher quality. This is because social technologies help employees share information more easily and in a more compelling way than they could in the past. I think HR people are also realizing that corporate social technologies have the opportunity to transform organizational paradigms. Instead of the typical command-and-control model where executives just need to know everything, and workers are supposed to do what they’re told, social technologies are helping democratize information and decision-making.
We know that oftentimes customer-facing workers are closer to what’s happening with their customers than the executives are. So customer-facing workers can more easily collaborate with executives on strategic decisions – using this customer intimacy – to create a competitive advantage. And now HR leaders are helping executives realize this transformational power that social collaboration can offer. Executives realize that information is power, and the more information they have the better decisions they can make.
Going a bit deeper into social technology, how can that really harness employee expertise and truly encourage collaboration? Essentially, how does it lead to retention?
A central component of most social technologies includes the personal profile, and social technologies are designed to be inherently engaging and encourage employees to share their competencies through their profiles. This is a significant change. Most companies have struggled historically to get employees to care about their profiles. But now with these social contexts, employees are encouraged and more likely to fill out their profiles because they see them as a fundamental way to maximize their skills. As their competencies, skills and expertise are noticed by others within the network, they’re more likely to get roles in projects that stretch them and use all their talents. That’s really a win-win for both the employee and the employer.
On the question of retention, we’re really in the early days of research on the connection between social technologies and their correlation with retention. But what we do know is that employees that have a positive first year of employment are much more likely to stay for several years with a company. And we also know through some early studies that companies using social onboarding, for example, are helping their new employees become more productive and more connected with coworkers. So it’s highly likely as time goes on that we will see that early connections help employees make it through their first year in a positive way, and therefore stay longer in the company.
In what ways can organizations leverage social media through various HR processes?
Almost all the different components of HR can be improved through social platforms. The most utilized area today is social recruiting and social onboarding. The use of social to help identify critical skills throughout the company is another strong trend that people are using to justify their movement toward social. Social learning is also a fairly nascent area that is really going to change the way people do learning. Instead of a small amount of people within a company being content providers for learning, imagine the whole company as a content creator, where everybody helps each other learn. It’s just exponentially more valuable to open up learning to the whole company, not just for consumption but also for creation as well.
Social recognition and rewards is another aspect that is transforming the way people think about work. Companies realize that employees are more, or at least equally, motivated by social recognition as they are by annual bonuses, so they are reallocating funds and looking at social recognition as another tool to reward and motivate their people. And social recognition is real-time and immediate, so people tend to react better if you can give them a reward right after their project has just been completed, versus waiting until the end of the year. These are all just examples of how social is going to transform the different HR processes and help companies be more productive.
What are some challenges across various generations in the workplace, especially when introducing new technology, as well as the impact on activity and engagement in the workplace?
That’s an interesting question. We are seeing on the consumer side widespread adoption of social tools across generations. In fact, one study I saw said that the highest users of social platforms on the consumer side are women between approximately 35 and 40 years old. So there’s this myth that young people are the only ones who use social, but in reality people of all ages who are using consumer social tools. I’m convinced the same pattern of broad adoption will happen in the corporate world, especially as companies start to more directly tie social tools to value; i.e., by using these social platforms you will do better in your job. That will create a lot of momentum across the different age groups. So I think this concern that some people have expressed is overblown.
That’s interesting, because I feel like usually millennials entering the workplace are the ones that are demanding more of a hands-on, high-touch, personalized view.
Yes that group is definitely demanding that the workplace demonstrate the same collaboration they see in their personal lives. So companies that refuse to adopt these technologies are not only going to struggle to keep up with the productivity gains across all generations, but I think they will also have a harder time recruiting young people who are seeing this as the norm now.
Then how does Peoplefluent optimize each step of the talent lifecycle?
We have an entire talent management suite across the whole HR continuum, which includes everything from our new social platform to full-time employee and contingent labor recruiting. We have recruiting technologies, onboarding, learning, performance succession, compensation, compliance and diversity, and workforce planning and analytics. We also offer award-winning mobile versions of these apps, and I would encourage you to download a free version of the Peoplefluent iPad app to check it out for yourself.
So as you can see we do the whole continuum of HR components, and our products help break down the silos of data and allow companies to make better decisions through actionable information. We can pull data from compensation, recruiting and succession to help you decide whether to hire someone from the outside. Or do you transfer someone from the inside? The power of our suite is the ability to break down silos and help create actionable information.
You mentioned earlier that 80 percent of the Fortune 100 relies on Peoplefluent as part of their talent management delivery strategy. Can you share some success stories with us?
I’ll give you a very recent one that I was personally involved in. One of our customers is Citrix, which does an annual CEO-level executive talent review every fall. Last summer Citrix came to us and said, “We create a 100-plus-page PowerPoint presentation to show the CEO all of the executive information he needs to know to do his talent review.” And that process of using this laborious PowerPoint method takes four months of data massaging and collection. Citrix wanted to know how they could enhance their use of the iPad application called Workforce Explorer to allow the CEO to use that app for the executive talent review.
With a little bit of work we did that by launching a newer version of the iPad app that allowed the CEO to produce this review in weeks instead of months. It was much more efficient for the HR team, as well as more visually compelling for the executive team. So it was a win not only from a productivity perspective, but also from a wow factor at the executive level, because a dynamic tool like an iPad app that you can move around and dig into different components is much more compelling than a static set of PowerPoint slides.
With more than 20 years of experience in the Human Resources space, Neal Bruce is responsible for driving Peoplefluent’s product marketing initiatives. During his tenure at Peoplefluent, Mr. Bruce has been a leader in driving product strategy and the product roadmaps at Peoplefluent. His dedication to innovation that extends the life and value of existing customer environments, while increasing employee engagement, productivity and collaboration, are driven by his ongoing interaction with existing and prospective customers. He also focuses intently on market trends and direction with longstanding relationships, primary industry analysts and influencers.
Prior to Peoplefluent, Mr. Bruce was the SVP of Product at First Advantage, where he was responsible for product strategy and execution across the product portfolio, including Candidate Marketing, Candidate Relationship Management, Applicant Tracking, Assessment and Screening services. As part of the executive management team, Mr. Bruce actively participated in the successful sale of First Advantage to Symphony Technology Group in December 2010. Previously, Mr. Bruce held several senior management roles at Monster Worldwide including Director of Product Management, VP of Alliances, and VP of Monster’s Global Innovation Group. Prior to Monster, Mr. Bruce spent over 11 years in human resources roles at companies that include Ernst & Young and Parametric Technology Corporation.
Mr. Bruce served on the Board of Directors of HRsmart and EnticeLabs. He has also served as a member of Human Capital Institute’s talent acquisition board, IHR’s Online Staffing and Sourcing advisory board, and ASU’s Center for Services Leadership Board of Advisors. As a leader in the HR industry, Mr. Bruce is a regular public speaker on the topic of human capital and has been quoted in several periodicals including Forbes magazine, the Arizona Republic newspaper, and the Wall Street Journal’s CareerJournal.com.
Katheryn Sillo is a part of the Content and Programming team at Argyle Executive Forum. In this role, Katheryn works on content development and speaker recruitment for events, specializing in the Human Resources space. Additionally, Katheryn oversees the content platform, Argyle Journal. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Journalism and minor in Political Science from Fairfield University, where she was captain of the Division I Rowing Team and on the executive cabinet for the Fairfield University Student Association.