HR must embrace marketing. Are you ready?

October 22, 2015 Geoffroy De Lestrange

I recently attended a number of conferences focusing on talent acquisition and development. During those roundtables and presentations, it happened more than once that I was surprised that HR were being surprised by things that were obvious to me as a marketing professional.

One example was an HR Director for a big telecom corporate talking about a very interesting internal survey tool. She mentioned with pride that most respondents had answered within 2 days which, for a marketing professional, is simply normal: emailing activity usually get 80% of their answers within 24 hours.

Another was a discussion around the branding of career sites, the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and the role of personalisation to attract the best talents in each targeted category. All this would seem evident to any digital marketer, but appeared to be quite a struggle for the recruiters around the table.

A last but significant concern are Enterprise Social Networks. Collaborative learning (whether we talk about MOOCs or micro-learning videos for example) includes at its core social capabilities. If a Learning department wants to implement social learning with expert and delegate groups per topics and learning content, it means that L&D professionals must become community managers, as they will need to build and animate communities, find and share content, and gain followers.

We could multiply the situations in which HR needs to use marketing tools & techniques to ensure they get their job done. In some cases, it is of course possible to outsource the work to the marketing/communication department (for example web design, SEO or advertising) but most of the time, HR professionals should & must learn those techniques themselves as these competencies are at the centre of their task.

I know an HR director who is at the same time the Communication director. This makes perfect sense to me, given the close (and even closer) relationships between those two roles. Yet more often than not, HR is confined to administrative tasks and loses the vision of an extended management of people (see Josh Bersin’s famous post).

The fact is that HR is currently undergoing the same sort of transformation that Marketing went through over the last 10 years, when modern CRM tools such as Salesforce became predominant, smartphones made mobile the main access to the web, social networks changed the way we establish and maintain relationships, and a new generation of marketing automation systems enabled targeted messaging.

Today, HR professionals need to ensure they serve employees the same way marketing is coveting and nurturing leads and contacts: with intelligent content to develop them, a quick and efficient service to please them, and a collaborative approach to engage and retain them. The good news is that all those skills aren’t new, as they can be found within the marketing department!

A last analogy, I have to mention, concerns data analysis. Using modern CRM and marketing automation, the marketing department has access to a wide range of data about prospects and clients alike, thus enabling a more precise, personalised approach. This has been considerably transformed with the arrival of big data. The same now applies to the Human Resources department. Predictive HR is much more than a buzzword, as it can have a real business impact on all HR processes, starting with more accurate recruitment, a lower risk of compliance and a more efficient succession planning. Predictive analytics enables HR to answer burning questions about how to use data to better hire, manage, retain and reward employees. HR can take immediate action on recommendations to achieve measurable improvements in business results.

So, are you ready to become marketeers?

About the Author

Geoffroy De Lestrange

Product Marketing & Communication Director EMEA at Cornerstone OnDemand

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