What HR can learn from Marketing
HR is still facing an uphill battle to have greater influence within organisations, and marketing used to have a similar hurdle. But as the years progressed, so did the industry’s ability to influence employers on matters of business strategy and financial return on investment. Gone are the days where marketing was regarded as not much more than a left-brained, colouring-in department. We explore 5 lessons that HR can learn from the success of marketing in the fight for influence.
1. Data is essential to measure overall satisfaction of people
Data has had a transformational impact on marketing, allowing organisations to understand and predict people's needs and behaviours. HR can mirror this by putting more science into its decision-making around talent, people and performance. That means seizing the opportunity presented by big data to get better evidence for HR strategy. The use of people analytics has been shown to increase employee engagement and enable personnel within HR to measure return on investment, and thus present a thorough and strong case for innovation. Contributing hard numbers to an organisation is the first step to making an organisation’s intuitive decisions more data-based and their data-based decisions more intuitive.
2. Communication across all channels
A notable trend in marketing has been the obsession with customer intimacy, and getting as close as possible to customers through feedback - in the form of focus groups, customer visits, online surveys, working on the front line and email/social media communication. There may be finite resources for HR professionals to do this, but the importance of staying as close to employees as senior managers is a critical investment. As managers of people, an HR professional's job is to monitor employee satisfaction through frequent engagement and communication.
3. You can't stand still
Marketers recognise that innovation and new product development fosters competitive advantage and strengthens brand power, thus attracting and retaining customers and clients. HR can learn from this concept by recognising that it is far more beneficial to drive innovation with new ideas and insight rather than respond to changes – such as reforms to employment legislation - that have an impact on the way they manage people and mediate between managers and members of staff.
4. Personalisation isn't the future, it's the present
HR is still very much regarded as a recipient of formal queries and complaints, but on thing to consider is how social media and online communications have changed the way we talk and interact. Marketers have recognised the place for peer reviews, informal language, fresh interactive ways of communicating and the importance of personalisation in driving results. A shift to personal communications away from the formal policy-based norm is a huge opportunity for HR to better serve employees and peers.
5. Speaking to the interests of individuals
Marketing to customer communications have progressed from mass 'one size fits all' messages, through to segmented messaging, into one-on-one communications, and is now responding the challenges posed by the demands for personalisation referenced in trend four. Customers want to be able to find communications relevant to them, through their channel of choice and at a time that best suits them. The businesses that achieve this best, often lead the way when it comes to acquiring, engaging and retaining customers. The same is true with employees.
Of course, we can't assume each of these aspects will be right for every organisation. I also recognise that there are organisations who are already well down the road in some, if not all, of these areas. That said, as long as there is a debate around influence of the HR function, the case is clear for looking outside of our silo and learning from other disciplines.
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