Is Social Software the Answer to Government Onboarding & Offboarding?

It may be hard to believe, but in some Government departments, the rate of attrition will reach 50% over the next five years (direct quote from a Government HR professional). While this retiring group will do well to bring down Government deficit loads, it requires agencies to imagine how to more effectively onboard with all those people offboarding. Could social software provide the answer when it comes to handling all the information transfer and learning required with all this onboarding and offboarding?

Let’s look at just two approaches for using social software in this way:

The first is one witnessed within several Civilian Government agencies. The approach is to get knowledge transfer from those leaving to those coming into the organization. To be truthful, this strategy is challenging from a social software perspective as technology can sometimes be a barrier for older workers. Pairing people up for face to face meetings or a similar approach can be a more appropriate start for such mentorship relationships.

A second approach seen within both Civilian and Military agencies is flatter. Rather than tapping into people at the end of their career, the goal is to create peer learning networks amongst those being currently or recently onboarded. This is built on earlier applications of cohort learning. While these people may not have the depth found in the more experienced workforce, they can make a powerful peer learning group. While many are “green” from an onboarding perspective, the group benefits from the fact that some will be better at certain things and others will bring more relevant life experience. This diversity can lead to faster problem solving and learning. The approach, leveraged by social software, creates a powerful peer based social network that supports ongoing learning long after the formal onboarding sessions are completed. Here is a related post on the matter.

What do you think? Can social software help with the onboarding & offboarding requirements of government and military organizations?

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Jerrold Strong

Although technology can be a power way to deliver important information to a new employee, I suspect unless lazy supervisors step up and do the necessary one-on-one with a new employee we will continue to see how the idea of Government Service is an oxymoron because of unmotivated marginal government employees.

Ada (HangFong) O'Donnell

I believe stepping knowledge management is the key. Employer should build in time and resources to train new employees to be more successful. A training program with an assigned trainer for day to day operation, a mentor for career development, and a peer group for community building are all necessary! Online network may help but it is still not encouraged in the work place. Face to face interaction is still a vital part in training new employees.