Crowdsourcing as a Human Resources Tool

by Michael Haberman on October 31, 2011 · 2 comments

 I must admit I was not all that familiar with the term “crowdsourcing”, but I have run across it twice in the past two days. First in the book The 2020 Workplace and secondly in a little video that Laurie Ruettimann made to help her decide on the best style of glasses for her.  I think I remember reading the article in Wired when it was first introduced in 2006 by Jeff Howe. This time it struck a chord and I began thinking and wondering how “crowdsourcing” can be used as a human resources tool.

For those of you not familiar with the term it is defined in Wikipedia as “…the act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to an undefined large group of people or community (crowd) through an open call.” It is a collaborative effort entered into by people in order to solve problems, provide advice or help make decisions. Sometimes it is for compensation or recognition, however, generally it is not. The definition reminded me of the software Linux which has been developed and improved by many, many contributors over its history.

In their book The 2020 Workplace, Meister and Willyerd defined crowdsourcing as “Harnessing the skills of individuals through an open call for participation. These individuals, due to their enthusiasm, contribute content, do research, and solve problems together.” They described the example of Best Buy advertising for a position in emerging-media marketing. Apparently the first attempt was not well received so the Chief Marketing Officer asked everyone interested in the position to help write the job description. As a result they ended up with a revamped and stronger job description.

And that is one of the uses for crowdsourcing in HR. If you are recruiting for a position that you have never had before or for one in which you suspect that technology might have changed radically, rather than struggling to create the proper job description ask your applicants to do so.

A second use of crowdsourcing is using the opinions of employees to capture how your culture needs to change to make them more engaged, a version of an engagement survey.

Of course all this assumes that the human resources person driving this effort is social media savvy.

In the spirit of CROWDSOURCING I want to solicit your input on how can HR make this a productive tool in HR? What can we do to use it to its fullest extent? Here is your chance to participate.

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chris October 31, 2011 at 10:07 am

Well most companies produce some sort of product for a consumer. So there must be an audience. Find that audience, that should be possibly with all the great social media tools; 4SQUARE, Twitter, Facebook and get busy crowdsourcing for “likes” and feedback.

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