Talent Circles

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Importance of Engagement Healthcare & the Role of Social Media

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

This is Part 3 of a 3 Part series on Healthcare and social media.  Check out Part 1 to get started. 

In my mind, social media can help elevate nearly every industry including healthcare.   Healthcare has been slow to adapt these social media communication channels mostly because of privacy and HIPPA requirements like we discussed in Part 2 of this Healthcare series.  In 2011, Deloitte found that 0% of healthcare facilities and care centers have a blog, zero percent.  They also had no presence on Facebook with 50% of surveyed companies having a Twitter account. You can see in the graphic below how other industries measure up when it comes to the Fortune 100. 

Most of the social media interactions are for the purposes of marketing and customer communication.  This is a very traditional approach to social media, and one that I fully support.  However, I think there is also opportunity is leveraging these channels for employee and workplace communication to further elevate current organizational efforts especially when 4 out of 10 employees are not engaged worldwide according to a 2012 Aon Engagement Study.  Isn’t a small investment or pilot program in test driving social media for employee engagement and communication worth the risk? 

Effective Communication Channels with Social Media in Healthcare

In my experience low employee engagement survey scores do not always require the creation of new organizational program but the communication of current ones.  Employees are not often aware of career developments, new employee benefit offerings, or other development programs at your organization.  Theses benefits and programs needs to be constantly marketed, communicated, and talked about to the employee.  This is the fundamental communication disconnect between management and employee. There needs to be more communication channels as well as listening ones.  There really never is enough when comes to converstaions and engagement with your employee.  

Certainly, by putting yourself and your organization out there on social media, you run the risk of having to be engaged.  This means publicly responding to employee questions, customer concerns, and job seeker inquiries, but trust me when I say the number of those is minimal.  Social media provides an open door to help facilitate the conversation.  And that the time spent doing such tasks is outweighed by the appreciation and interest by your workforce as they move from disengaged and unaware to engaged and aware of programs and opportunities your organization currently offers to the employee population. 

Creating a Chanel for Conversation Among Employees & Candidates

The benefit of having an internal social network as well as a talent network is that these conversations and questions can be anticipated and evaluated privately and personally versus for the whole public to see.  Even still, it’s important to use the current channels available to further drive messages and information with where the people are.  And your people are on social media. 

Even attorneys including those in employment law are jumping on the social media bandwagon.  These folks are the most risk adverse industry I know.  It’s their job to advise you on how to avoid risk and litigation of the employment law variety.  And yet, a growing number of attorneys are using social media and engaging potential clients using these channels.  The 2012 In House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey tells us that in house counsel blogs are seen as credible and new media usage dipping their toes into blogs and the professional social network LinkedIn with 88% having a profile to build relationships, store connections, and grow business. 

Building relationships, creating a strategy, and focusing on engagement when it comes to social media it takes time, but in my experience the benefits come in the most unexpected places with one of them being improved information flow and engagement by your employees.  If your current communication and engagement systems aren’t working, maybe it’s time to take a look at social media.  

This is Part 3 of a 3 Part series on Healthcare and social media.  Check out Part 1 to get started. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How to Overcome Obstacles in Healthcare Implementing a Social Media Program

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this healthcare social networking series, I see a great deal of opportunity in social networks being leveraged in the Healthcare industry.  Whether it’s building a relationship with future employees or current ones, social media technologies can be used to foster an employee and employer relationship that creates channels of communication instead of traditionally shutting them down. 

As an employee, one of my biggest frustrations with an organization was the feeling that no one was listening.  With social media the conversation and engagement is always flowing and organizations can use Big Data to help uncover employee or candidate trends and employee trends that help refine and support our current workplace communication efforts. 

Healthcare like Finance are two of the highest regulating and monitoring industries making organizations slow to adopt social media.  I see obstacles as an opportunity for competitive advantage because if everyone was doing something, it wouldn’t be as effective.  And we’ve already seen that social media is still relatively new to Healthcare from the 2011 Deloitte Report with 14% of U.S. hospitals using social media and social networking as an external facing marketing and communication tool. 

Chances are you have an interest in using social media at your organization.  Maybe it’s working with Talent Circles and building a talent network to create a candidate experience and community your organization owns and can source from.  Or maybe you are looking to make a case for launch an internal communication network using platforms like Yammer, IBM Connections, Jive, or Chatter.  Whatever your reason, developing the dialogue with senior management and overcoming corporate hurdles can be over half the battle. 

HIPPA Privacy Concerns

HIPP is a common obstacle for anyone wanting to communicate in the healthcare industry.  Communications between health care providers and their patients are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which limits insurance plans, hospitals and physicians from answering questions on a specific patient’s health information across a social network.  Concerns like this don’t impact an external talent network as the large majority of community members are potential employees who do not have access to patient records.  Talent network members who are company representatives can be easily controlled and monitored. 

One of the benefits I see to establishing an internal social network is that information, messaging, and conversations unlike traditional social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are kept in house.  Organizations allow for a place of discussion like the break room water cooler making it less likely employees will share opinions, patient information, and other news outside of the internal social network. 

Establishing a Cost Baseline

One of my favorite ways to get executive buy in for a project like leveraging social media is to launch a pilot program where the risk is minimal, participants are hand selected, and we establish a 90 day window where the new program is tested before being implemented on a larger scale.  This helps us determine the real cost, change our approach based on the pilot, and determine the cost baseline for the project. 

Company executives are much more comfortable piloting a program first and dipping their toe in the water.  For many executives, social networking is still considered a fad.  By demonstrating the business case for social media beyond traditional marketing and communication, you can show them real value. 


According to a Greystone report, two-thirds of surveyed hospitals have not developed a plan on how to use their existing social networking sites and 70 percent of hospitals have less than four people devoted to social networking.  Maybe your organization has tried to launch a social media program in the past with mixed results.  Chances are your recruiting and human resources teams are already using social media in small amounts.  Whether it’s job distribution using social media or sourcing on LinkedIn, these are HR-focused social media activities, and my opinion is that your external recruiting network and your internal social network projects should be developed, executed, and maintained by HR.  Be prepared to discuss time commitments and who is responsible for the development and continued management of your social networking program. 

Overcoming obstacles when establishing your social networking program at a healthcare facility, hospital, or wherever is not easy.  With a little preparation, research, and planning you can implement a customized community that dramatically impacts your organization’s bottom line. 

Read Part 1 of our Healthcare Social Networking Series.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs

Monday, December 10, 2012

TalentCircles Attends the Human Capital Institute Conference

By Marylene Delbourg-Delphis

TalentCircles attended the Human Capital Institute Conference on December 6th in San Francisco. The main topics discussed were:
  • Tactics for growth in a competitive talent market
  • Optimizing the talent acquisition department
  • Bold, aggressive, and risky recruiting
  • The role talent acquisition should play in strategic workplace planning 
Check out the Twitter summary of the day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Social Networks Drive Innovation, Recruiting Efforts & Collaboration Especially in Healthcare

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

When it comes to social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn big brands are using them to connect, engage, and build relationships with consumers, end users, and raving fans.  Even the healthcare industry has gotten the social networking bug using Twitter to update patient’s families and even YouTube to share patient care and experience stories. 

Study Shows Doctors, Nurses, & Hospital Employees Use Social Media 

A study released by Deloitte in 2011 found that more than 700 of the U.S.’ 5,000 hospitals have a social media and social networking presence to enhance their ability to market and communicate to stakeholders.  So why wouldn’t it make sense for one of the most competitive and fastest growing industries to dive into using social media to help fuel their healthcare recruitment and employee retention efforts? 

Interestingly enough in that same Deloitte study, sixty percent of physicians surveyed and 65% of nurses are interested in using social networks for professional purposes.  Positions like doctors and nurses are very much in demand and often times the a very specialized position vacancy can impact the hospital, department, or healthcare organization negatively costing them two to three and half times the open position’s salary. 

Internal & External Social Networks for Healthcare  

Social networks are used by organizational including healthcare traditional two different ways:  1) Internal or 2) ExternalInternal social networks serve as an internal Facebook that is customized, hosted, and monitored by the hospital allowing for news, information, collaboration, and resources to be shared.  External social networks are those outside of your company portal and are outward facing.  These often overlap with many of your current marketing and patient engagement efforts except these conversations are centered around either information for current employees or career resources and job information to build relationships centered around the employer brand

Chances are many of your communication tools and resources are already available online.  Maybe it’s the hospital portal or an online-shared drive to store files, documents, and important spreadsheet information.  Internal social networks can do all those things just like your portal, but one thing is missing, the engagement factor.  Learning and relationship happens with communication, banter, and a back and forth between professional colleagues, peers, and friends.  We learn, grow, and absorb making us enjoy our work even more because we like and are learning from the people we are working with.  And because we enjoy our job and friends, we are engaged, productive, and active employee who plans on staying gainfully employed at your hospital or healthcare facility.  

Take Ownership of Your Candidate Pipeline & Talent Network 

One of the challenges of traditional external facing social networks is we don’t own or control the future of the community or the direction of the company where we have spent time, money, energy, and effort to grow that network.  Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn own the data and control the information much like traditional resume mining job board systems leaving recruiters and HR teams at the mercy of the network.  While these systems are important to share job openings and for relationship building, organizations should take heed and continue driving their candidates to resources hosted within their own website or career page. 

While HR teams and recruiters are always hiring and on the look out for good talent, these special relationships need to be further developed, evaluated, and fostered outside of a traditional hiring system or software like the ATS (applicant tracking system).  This is where I believe a talent network comes into play and offer an invaluable opportunity for nearly any industry but especially healthcare to build a candidate pipeline that fosters candidate relationships and anticipates hiring needs before they actually happen.  

Check out Part 2 of our Healthcare Social Networking Series. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs