mfCEOs Blog Friday, June 23, 2017
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5 things HR can learn from marketing

Lesley Daley
Editor, mfCEOs.com. Lesley’s career has encompassed working with organisations of all shapes and sizes, from innovative start-ups through to public sector corporations, NGOs and international blue-chip companies.

This week, Brand Learning reported its findings from a global study of Growth Drivers.

The research showed that there’s a strong connection between the happiness of customers, the effectiveness of employees and the growth of a business – a clear parallel between customer and the employee agendas.  Which means we should consider close collaboration between Marketing and HR and a dual focus on customers and employees as a requirement of business success.

The research revealed that more than 50% of leaders and employees think HR is failing to keep pace with the changing needs of their business.  Yet HR has a unique opportunity to drive greater impact in organisations, building new capabilities inspired by Marketing and create exceptional people experiences that drive competitive edge.

So how can HR deliver more value in the business and what can it learn from Marketing? Does your HR strategy see people as key to the delivery of competitive edge and business performance? Is your HR team fully connected with how the business operates, what drives value and what's important to commercial leaders?

Here are Brand Learnings top five suggestions:

1. Start with insight: Understand your people

Connecting with customers, and being able to leverage insight into what they need and value, is a fundamental requirement of a Marketing team. HR leaders should also take an insight-led approach. They need, at their fingertips, a genuine picture of employee and candidate needs, attitudes, talents, frustrations, motivations, across their whole journey with the organisation - from hiring and on-boarding, through performance, development and reward, to retiring and exiting.

Data can help. Google, for example, famously uses people analytics to create a better workplace. One question they asked was – “what is the perfect formula for creating an effective team”? By combining a qualitative understanding of what makes an effective team (from different functions and levels in the organisation), with sales data, Google answered this question and built the insight into their strategy for creating a great workplace [1].

2. Keep it simple: Create a simple and distinct employer brand

Just as an engaging, distinct and meaningful brand (or value proposition) can inspire its customers, a connected employer brand inspires employees. A strong employer brand or employer value proposition (EVP) is vital in persuading the best talent to join and stay committed to an organisation. HR and business leaders can learn from Marketing’s example here and invest time in developing and communicating an EVP built from true insight gathered from current, former and prospective employees.

Former L’Oréal Employer Branding director Marie Dominique Jacquet described the three main pillars of L’Oréal’s EVP as being a thrilling experience, an inspiring company and a school of excellence – this is what they want their employer brand to stand for in the minds of candidates and employees.

3. Create engagement and involvement: harness energy for the brand

Marketers work relentlessly to connect customers with their brand – engaging people using a plethora of digital and more traditional channels to create two way conversations that create deep brand engagement. In a similar way, HR are able to energise people in the business by involving them actively in the business and its agenda. Working hard to connect people with the purpose of the business, giving them the freedom to contribute, to be heard and shape the agenda are all critical in maximising the energy and talents of people in the business.

Creating the channels and mechanics with which to do this is the first step. Affinity, the Spanish based pet food business are a great example of this. Their HR team have led the way in developing digital capabilities to enable the business to create stronger engagement with employees across the employee journey. Greater opportunities to connect with employees through digital and other media creates the chance to build deeper involvement and energy in the business. As one Chief HR Officer of a service business told us recently “We want to get people really excited about their work and having them believe it’s the best thing ever to work here”.

4. Build advocacy: empower people to be brand and business advocates

Brand advocates are powerful allies for any Marketer. Maximising customer loyalty amongst people who are so positive about your brand that they want to talk about it to others is an aim for any brand marketer. In a similar way, it’s essential that HR build advocacy amongst employees so they become champions of the brand – especially since they may also be customers of the business and may not spend their entire career there.

Returning to L’Oréal, having articulated the EVP they encouraged employees to become public advocates of the company and communicate the EVP on social media to their peers using the hashtag #LifeAtLOreal. Employees are motivated and rewarded for sharing their experiences, which in turn helps L’Oréal to reach potential candidates, amplify the voice of the employer brand (in a trusted way) and promote their culture [2]. As Rosie Brown, MD for Cook told us recently when reflecting on their workforce, “we want to create 800 brand champions”.[3]

5. Deliver a winning employee experience

Together with insight, a simple proposition, involvement and advocacy all help you to create a winning employee experience. The best customer experience (e.g. Amazon & Disney) is relevant, engaging and seamless across touchpoints. But what of the employee experience?

Employees will be disappointed if the ‘promise’ a company makes to them in their brand communications, or during the interview process, is betrayed by the way the company behaves once they join.

Forward-thinking organisations such as Airbnb prioritise the employee experience and dedicate resources to managing it. On winning the Glassdoor #1 spot in their best places to work list of 2016, Mark Levy Head of Employee Experience at Airbnb described their employee experience mission as “to create a work environment where people feel like they belong here”, mirroring their brand promise of belonging [4].

HR teams should be confident they know what employees really want across the experience and join-up with other teams to ensure the promised experience is delivered in practice.

The nature of work and the workforce is undoubtedly changing rapidly, and HR leaders will need to harness new skills to take their rightful place in the growth engine of their business going forward. Perhaps a coffee with a Marketer could be a good place to start?

Sources

[1] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/284550

[2] https://econsultancy.com/blog/67091-how-l-oreal-uses-social-media-to-increase-employee-engagement/

[3] http://linkhu

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