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Why HR needs to think like a marketing expert

Not so long ago, I was reading my weekly fix on a marketing blog. The article in question made me think about the ‘People department’ – and the challenges that encompass it. The post highlighted the importance of building relationships before you ‘sell’ a solution. It also reinforced why people have to listen to you and trust you first before they buy-in to your product (or whatever it maybe). Fundamentally, it was reinforcing why marketing is more than disseminating a message to your target audience; it’s about understanding their needs, tailoring your message and building the company’s reputation around it. This sounds all too familiar for our fellow marketing experts – but how exactly does this relate to HR?

The world of work is changing

Through no fault of its own, HR has found itself in the middle of a major transformational change. A shift in terms of communicating and engaging a diverse and multi-generational workforce in an increasingly borderless – and agile – world of work. An environment where employees could ‘up their game’ and move on to the next opportunity if ‘something’ doesn’t stick. Emotionally.

It takes more than an email to make an impact on people

For the first time, HR needs to think – and communicate – like a marketing expert to retain talent, improve productivity and cost efficiencies of their programs (be it Reward, flex or pension). The ‘people department’ must address the individual needs of their staff if they are to serve meaningful relationships with their workforce and the wider organisation.

Let’s take pensions for example. They are complex – and variable – but they’re also one of the biggest assets a company can offer. When it comes to engaging employees with your initiative, younger generations may feel more disengaged about pensions, than say, your Baby Boomers or Gen Xers. Ultimately, meaning a tailored approach to your pension communication strategy is critical to the success of your offering. Otherwise it’s a costly mistake!

Everything comes down to your purpose – your why

Above all, whatever communication strategy HR implements, it’s imperative it dovetails the company’s purpose and mission statement (again another strategic marketing technique) to support commercial objectives. It’s well-documented that having a strong brand purpose can improve employee engagement. A recent study reveals organisations with a strong sense of purpose not only innovate better but improve employee satisfaction1. People enjoy working for a company that has a powerful purpose, which is why our client Unilever has been named the most sought-after consumer goods employer in the world and the world’s third most desirable employer after Apple and Google2.

HR and marketing – the perfect union in capturing the hearts and minds of employees

Those who stand ahead of the game will inherently be the ones who understand the intrinsic link between brand and a marketing led approach to HR. As the old saying goes, “We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in”3.

If you’re interested in reading about the many insights shaping our world of brand and employee communications, go to our blog and read our monthly round-up of ‘Fast facts’ here.

By Marketing and PR Manager, Emily Brewer.

  1. Harvard Business Review – The business case for purpose
  2. What Unilever shares with Google and Apple – Fortune
  3.  Craig Davis

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