No matter our socioeconomic status, gender, race, or geography, all of us have one emotional basic human need in common – the desire for mutual interaction and sharing of experiences social collaborationand thoughts. Abraham Maslow best sums up this basic need as “love and belonging” in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation. During this time, adults relied on local social groups – such as clubs, co-workers, religious groups, professional organizations, and sports teams – to fulfill this need. A little more than 70 years later, we all still want this connection, but technology has changed how we go about satisfying it.

Social collaboration tools and networks have opened up our circle of belonging to the entire world. Whether we’re using FaceTime or Skype to talk to someone across the globe, posting an update on Facebook, or reading or writing reviews on a Web site, the explosion of social media networks and social collaboration technology is giving all of us an opportunity to be heard, learn from each other, and rally together for a common cause on a global level.

What’s more impressive is this technology’s ability to transform how work gets done. We are now living in a digital world where we receive information instantly at our fingertips 24×7 to make decisions that can affect millions. Now that social tools and networks are prevalent in the general world population, HR is in a prime position to forge relationships with internal stakeholders and implement strategies that impact the entire business. This technology can help HR find better ways to communicate and collaborate in a seamless and streamlined manner and to develop an impactful, yet low-touch, relationship with every employee. As a result, HR can harness the collective genius of the workforce and help ensure that all employees have access to the information they need to excel.

According to the IDC white paper, Understanding the Business Value of Social Solutions in Human Resources, social collaboration tools and networks can help HR organizations add value to existing business processes. Here are a few use cases to consider:

  • Curating and managing personal and professional information. For employees, the workplace experience can mean the difference between being fully engaged or thoroughly disengaged. Individuals are typically vested whenever they provide personal and professional information to their employer. So, it makes sense for HR to link all learning, training, and development activities to that information. With social collaboration tools and networks, HR can use intelligent filtering of appropriate training and development information, as well as detailed management of personal information, to enable employees to capture all relevant information in a timely manner.
  • Using video for learning and training. By using video to connect HR leaders and trainers with specific groups in a private video-enabled workspace in an HR or productivity application, a single consolidated platform that contains all HR-related information and distributes it to other internal systems can help ensure all relevant information is accurate and process workflows are as streamlined as possible.
  • Building and maintaining relationships. When a single stream of communication and truth is established, employees can obtain, analyze, and use information quickly and effectively. This is the short-term value of social collaborations tools and networks. What’s more important is the overall long-term outcome: the ability to create a strong foundation for working relationships that are appropriate and productive.
  • Allowing small changes to add up. To deliver a holistic and consistent experience to the workforce, organizations in all areas strive for continuous innovation and learning. Changes in traditional systems and applications tend to be more structured or life-altering – there’s no in-between. However, social collaboration tools and networks allow change to happen over time and incrementally, making employees less frustrated in the process.
  • Delivering results. Focusing on the quality of business outcomes through deeper engagement and understanding of the needs of individual employees provides a way to put in effect business change. Social collaboration tools and networks can support this capability by streamlining relationship building – especially when information and data need to be shared. By providing greater context for this information, decision makers gain deeper insight and make better decisions to deliver on the future needs of employees and customers.