HR and Marketing: The perfect partnership to drive engagement

"HR is at the very core of changes – be it in leadership, working processes, collaboration or people analytics." Prashant John, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Kwench Global Technologies.


With fundamental transformations underway driven by digitization and increased adoption of technology at the workplace, companies have to rethink the way they work. In most organizations, digital transformation is customer-centric. Process changes are largely driven by the need to enhance customer experiences at all touchpoints with the organization.

In the past HR has been slow in adapting technology changes. That, however, is changing fast in the race to avoid being left behind as competition establishes strategic advantages through the adoption of new technologies. Like it or not, HR is at the very core of changes – be it in leadership, working processes, collaboration or people analytics.

Sadly, barring a few companies, most organizations take their biggest asset – their employees for granted while going out of the way to design processes and products around customers. Marketing teams have been at the forefront of adopting technology to understand better and serve customers. Each touch-point the customer has with the company is monitored, analyzed and optimized by marketing to maximize customer acquisition and retention.

However, when it comes to employees, the same obsession and attention are rarely seen. It is time to change that. In the constant battle for top talent, HR now has to think like marketers and treat employees like marketing would treat customers.
Specifically, HR teams can benefit from adopting these three marketing practices.

Compete (for and Retain talent): Marketing teams go all out when it comes to customer acquisition. From identifying potential customers using social media and intelligent technology ‘listening posts,' to ensuring each possible touch point is designed to attract customers, considerable attention is paid to each stage of customer acquisition. In top companies, marketing doesn't disappear once the customer has been acquired. The entire lifecycle is carefully managed to minimize friction and convert them into future brand ambassadors. In a well-designed customer acquisition funnel, the target moves from being a potential customer to a brand ambassador seamlessly. Acquiring the right customer is as important as managing experiences, and the same applies to employees as well.

HR at top companies take a very similar approach to managing talent from tracking down and acquiring top talent to ensuring that each stage of their interaction with the organization is carefully tracked. Technology now empowers HR team to follow employee attributes and sentiment the same way marketers do for customers across the entire lifecycle – ensuring that they have the same weapons to fight the war for talent.
What is missing is a shift in mindset to being a passive recruiter to tracking potential talent even before there is an opening in the organization. Customer acquisition is a permanent project; talent acquisition should have the same priority for HR.

Humanize (the company story and culture): Ironically as companies increasingly move towards adopting technology at work, it is the more ‘human' organization that will win the war for talent. We like stories. Our brains are wired to weave stories around everything we see and hear. Marketers’ have leveraged this fact for ages. The best campaigns are those that humanize technology and weave a story around it. The product webpages of most companies will have screenshots and imagery designed to tell a story and provoke emotions.
Contrast that with the pages talking about the company culture and people. There is very little attention paid to tell the story there. In the very extreme cases, you might have stock imagery of people in suits and broad grins mid jump plastered on the page. Some of them have long testimonies to the remarkable history and culture of the company as described by the founder Chairman. HR must connect with those outside (and inside) the organization through transparent, genuine storytelling about what the organization is about. Like fake product pitches, false culture stories don't last connect.

Amplify (the employer brand): A single customer testimonial or referral is worth much more than tens of thousands spent on advertising. HR now has to adopt the same mindset towards employees and enable them to amplify the company brand. Employee collaboration and social platforms now would allow employees to tell people outside their immediate teams, their divisions, their geographies and even outside the companies about the good things that are being done. Amplifying the messages of appreciation and pride that employees have about the culture, and the work the company does should be a top priority for HR teams.
As HR teams come to terms with the rapidly changing technological landscape at work with increased automation, it is time for them to switch gears. Approaching talent management the way marketers approach customers is an excellent first step to competing in and eventually thriving in the brave new world of work.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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