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Why Your HR Team Should Embrace a Marketing Mindset

HR discussing team objectives and strategies in meeting

Human resource (HR) teams often struggle to be heard within an organization, as they must compete with other voices to get their projects moving. If this rings true with your HR team, maybe it’s time to step back and take a few pages from marketing. Now, at first glance, marketing and HR may seem like an odd pairing, but they share several similarities.

Both teams work to ensure the company is viewed positively, strive to inform strategic decisions that benefit external and internal teams, and focus on building positive relationships among their peers. If your HR team has difficulty making progress with your goals or would like more influence with leadership, following are some ways you can use a marketing mindset to help drive results.

Determine Your Customers

In HR, we talk a lot about “internal customers,” but have you stopped to think about who these customers are? Your team probably has at least four groups with different needs: applicants, employees, managers and leadership. Depending on your business, you might have others, like union representatives or safety leaders.

When thinking of the projects or goals you’re aiming to complete, the first step you should consider is identifying who you’ll need to work with to make them happen. Confirming these customer groups can help you narrow in on your messaging and project approach so that you have a better chance of receiving your desired support and resources.

Understand Your Customers’ Needs

After you’ve identified who your customer groups are, make sure you understand their needs and priorities. How do you achieve this? One common, yet essential, way is through an employee engagement survey. An engagement survey allows you to gain real, honest feedback on a regular basis that you can use to shape your HR team’s strategy. If your HR team is looking to gauge the effectiveness of your hiring, another growing trend is conducting a brief survey with candidates or new hires about their feelings on the application process. 

It doesn’t always have to be as formal as a survey, either. Simply having a 10-minute conversation with a hiring manager or new hire to gain their thoughts on talent acquisition is an easy yet effective way to receive insightful feedback to inform future efforts. In addition to regularly receiving feedback from teams, it’s also critical to engage with senior leadership. Determine how they view HR’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can address them accordingly in projects and work tasks.

Whether these are formal conversations or impromptu meetings, the key is to get the insights and tools you need that allow you to better understand each customer group. When teams see you’ve taken the time to understand their processes and goals, they’re more open to embracing yours.

Manage the Message 

Think about your communication style and building engagement around what your team is trying to accomplish. For example, let’s look at open enrollment. Your internal customers will have differing needs from this process. Employees need to understand benefit changes and how any updates may impact their access to their doctors. Managers are going to be interested in enrollment meeting schedules if they’ll impact team productivity. Leadership is likely focused on program costs and trends. To balance these varying needs, you need to make sure you’re tailoring your communications to each group. If a group doesn’t feel heard or like you’re providing them with the information they need, they’re going to disengage from the process.

Know Your Decision-Makers

Consider how decisions get made in your workplace and who might contribute to or veto certain decisions. Again, using open enrollment as an example, your CEO is typically the ultimate decision-maker for your plan changes, but can your CFO veto what HR and the CEO decide if it doesn’t align with the current budget? Even at an employee level, consider what role the employee’s spouse or partner may play in the decision-making process. Because HR’s work is focused on an organization’s people, you have to consider a range of influences and make sure you’re incorporating them into your team’s work where needed. Otherwise, you may find all your hard work undone at the end.

Ask for Commitment

There are many ways to view closing a sale, but I personally prefer the view from The Sales Board, which is simply that a marketer’s or salesperson’s goal is to get a commitment. It might be to get a prospect to commit to reviewing a proposal, attending a meeting or making a purchase. You can use this thought process in HR too. Think about what you need people to commit to doing, and always work with that end goal in mind. Do you need employees to commit to attending a benefit plan meeting, managers to commit to overseeing a project or leadership to commit to spending budget dollars? No one will give you things you don’t ask for, so be specific about what you need from your internal customers and align your needs with theirs as best as possible.

Marketing and sales teams spend a lot of time thinking about how to build strong relationships and make their product or service stand out. HR has many of the same needs in their workday and can use marketing techniques to better connect with their internal customers and achieve their goals.

Whatever your HR team is aiming to achieve will differ, but making strides toward your goals will require having efficient processes in place. At Creative Planning Business Services, our human capital management (HCM) services help clients manage nearly every aspect of their workforce. From payroll and onboarding to benefits administration, we have the technology and expertise to take your business’s HCM to the next level. Contact us today to explore our services.

This commentary is provided for general information purposes only, should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice, and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship. Past performance of any market results is no assurance of future performance. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.

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