No matter what products or services they produce, businesses need two essential things to succeed: employees and customers. The business functions that take care of these keys to growth, HR and marketing, have a great deal more in common than most organisations realise.
Yet when it comes to taking a strategic role in the business, HR seems to be lagging behind. Here are 10 reasons why HR Directors need to start thinking more like the CMO – especially if they’re seeking a seat at the boardroom table.
10 reasons HR needs to think like marketing
1. HR holds the keys to employee engagement
Customer engagement and staff engagement have the same underlying principles: consistent communication, and a perception of value in the rewards for behaviour. Customer engagement can drive sales, employee engagement will fuel productivity – both support a more profitable growth strategy.
2. It’s all about loyalty
It’s much simpler to keep your existing customers than attract new ones. The same goes for staff – it’s more cost-effective to build your talent from within than continually recruit and train new people. If you want new ideas for staff retention strategies, look to customer loyalty.
3. Build internal brand ambassadors
Staff can be your biggest advocates – and with encouragement they can help you fill your talent pool. We all understand the power of a customer referral. Imagine the potential talent waiting to be tapped into in your staff’s social networks, and how much simpler that would make the recruitment and retention process.
4. Create stronger social communities
There’s no doubt that social media has made marketing’s challenge much more complex – so many more channels to connect with customers. Done well, it can create powerful and authentic engagement. So how well is HR managing its social communities? Is there potential to use them more effectively to recruit, train and communicate with staff? Can they be positive collaboration platforms?
5. Focus on measurable ROI
CMOs are held accountable to leads, NPS scores, brand awareness, costs per click and more. They live and breathe return on investment, and this makes them more proactive in spotting new opportunities.
HR tends to be more reactive – putting out fires or cutting costs. If you consistently meet measurable KPIs – for cost per hire, total cost of training and impact of training on performance for example, then you may find it easier to get budget approved for new ideas.
6. Use data to make better decisions
How do you make strategic hiring decisions – intuition, or science? Marketing campaigns are driven by data, targeting defined customer segments and capturing data to continually improve programs and products.
This is a huge opportunity for HR, given the cost of a poor decision. I know of one firm that has overlayed personality traits with safety metrics to understand the best fit for specific roles in its business, and others that use data to improve the impact of training and incentive programs.
7. Start segmenting
What makes a successful team within your business? If you can analyse staff data to understand skills, experience, preferences and motivation, you could potentially optimise performance and productivity.
8. Be the custodian of company culture
Your company culture aligns with your external brand personality. Think of brands such as Red Bull and Virgin, and how their staff profile compares with more conservative brands such as Unilever or Telstra. You define your brand personality through the people you employ.
9. Create core values
The core value proposition for customers is the foundation of any marketing activity. The organisation’s vision and values are equally important – clearly defined, they can attract and inspire the right people. This is your internal ‘reason to believe’ – your positioning and promise to employees.
10. Use technology to automate
The most successful marketers are digitally empowered – they use marketing automation tools and data analytics to manage increasingly complex channels of brand communication. For HR, software can alleviate the administrative burden of the transactional HR services (from payroll processing to incentives management).
This lets HR focus on its strategic priorities: talent acquisition and retention, and learning and development. This is where you can add real value to the business – and gain a seat at the decision-making table.