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States take aim at HR and social media of employees

Laws are meant to shield employees' Facebook and Twitter accounts; CareerBuilder unveils new analytics for recruiters and hiring managers.

Employees' Twitter and Facebook accounts may be a rich source for HR analytics, but laws in many states could block or limit access to some of the data.

A top employment lawyer said that at least 21 states have HR and social media laws that restrict employers from accessing employees' Twitter, Facebook and other such accounts.

Most of the laws prohibit employers from requiring an employee or applicant to disclose a username and password for a social media account, said Douglas Towns, labor and employment lawyer with Sherman & Howard LLC in Atlanta.

In many cases, employers cannot even ask for the information, for people analytics or other purposes, according to a state-by-state list of the HR and social media laws published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The laws are not aimed at HR and social media analytics, but they could minimize the analytics, Towns said. If an employer wanted to analyze social media for predicting flight risk of top employees, for example, the laws could limit the reach of the data search and the validity of the predictive tool, he said.

Employers could obtain data from public social media accounts, but could be restricted if employees use the privacy options on Twitter and Facebook, for example, he said. On the other hand, most professionals on LinkedIn want to be found, so that site is less apt to be affected by the laws' restrictions.

"I don't think it would be the death knell of predictive HR analytics," he said. "It is just a restriction that employers should be aware of."

He said no states are seeking to affect the use of aggregated and anonymous social media data for analytics.

Towns said his main message is that many employers are not aware of the state laws affecting HR and social media, even as employees increasingly use or maybe abuse accounts.

"States are creating a patchwork of regulations and restrictions on an employer's ability to use or monitor social media," he said.

Trisha Zulic, HR technology panelist for SHRM, said she does not believe that social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook should be used in HR analytics. She said people should be free to voice personal opinions without them being part of an employer's analytics.

She said it's a shame that it has reached the point where states need to pass laws to protect the social media accounts and privacy of employees. "In our nation, there are so many other things we need done," she said.

CareerBuilder offers new big data analytics to improve recruiting

CareerBuilder LLC is releasing new cloud data analytics to help recruiters and hiring managers.

Big Data Analytics Suite can gather data from internal and external sources, such as applicant tracking systems, career sites, HR systems and market statistics, and turn it into a single report for companies, said Dominic Barton, COO of Broadbean Technology Inc., a subsidiary of CareerBuilder, based in Irvine, Calif.

Recruiters often spend too much time on administrative tasks instead of building relationships with candidates, a CareerBuilder press release said. To make decisions, recruiters often depend on multiple sources for candidates, as well as applicant tracking and HR systems, the release said.

Barton said it can take a team up to a week to manually pull together all the data into a report that is helpful to managers.

"We just automate that," Barton said. "There is no work involved for the individual recruiters on the analytics team. Instead of spending time organizing data and trying to do the heavy manual work, we take care of all that for them."

The suite can be purchased separately or as part of CareerBuilder1, the company's "pre-hire platform" that brings together all of its enhanced HR software as a service (SaaS).

If a company wants to fill a position where it is difficult to find someone to hire, for example, the software can produce a report on the supply and demand of candidates. This helps manage hiring expectations at the start of a search.

The report can be done for any job in any location, he said, and the suite provides a single "hiring index score" that summarizes the supply and demand for candidates in a particular role.

As another example, the analytics suite can also turn out reports on the work and accomplishments of recruiters.

The reports include nine different performance indicators for recruiters, including the number of applications they generate for a job, the average costs of a recruiter, how long it takes on average for a recruiter to recommend a winning candidate to management or how many job openings each recruiter is overseeing.

The suite can also analyze the effectiveness of advertising sources based on such factors as the cost to hire for each position, application volume and candidate quality.

The reports use colorful charts and graphs to visualize the data for companies, he said.

"It's all about layering these visuals and embedding functions in these visuals in a way that protects the complexity of the data, while allowing it to still be simple for anyone to tell the story in the data," he said.

Users no longer need to worry about how to get data from various sources and how to integrate that overall data into a single, holistic view, he said. "We will go get the data from whatever source."

The analytics suite is just coming out of beta, Barton said. PepsiCo, Inc. and Stryker Corp. are among seven companies using it.

The suite uses the technology of CareerBuilder purchases, such as EMSI, which is designed to provide speedy access to employment data for the U.S., Canada and U.K., and Textkernel, which uses machine learning to suggest the most relevant profiles in a client's database of resumes based on a job description, he said.

CareerBuilder, which has transformed itself from a job board to HR software services, in 2014 bought Broadbean, whose technology, for example, allows users to simultaneously post a job opening automatically to job sites without having to log in and out of different systems.

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