HR pros play a lot of roles -- employee liaison, culture keeper, people leader, coach. But here’s a new idea -- the best ones are also marketers. They boost employer brand and improve the overall experience for employees. And when HR adopts marketing techniques, they can better manage talent.
Here are the marketing principles every HR leader should incorporate:
1. Have a target audience.
Marketers have a deep understanding of their audiences. They study demographics, attitudes and behaviors to create detailed customer personas and target messages to specific groups of people.
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HR can use the same strategy to better reach employees. After all, employees receive hundreds of emails every week -- yet 50 percent of those surveyed in theEMPLOYEEapp’s Mobile Trends in the Workplace survey said they still feel out of the loop. Why? Because the messages aren’t tapping into their interests.
Start by learning everything about the employees targeted in the message. What motivates them? What are their goals? What do they value most? What are their concerns? What financial and non-financial “offers” will they respond to? How do these answers vary from department to department? Between managers and employees?
Then, use this knowledge to target messages and HR programs to specific groups of employees, instead of sending generic information to everyone.
For example, company announcements should look, feel and sound different depending on who the audience is -- different employees want different information in different ways. They want to know how it will affect them. How will it change their everyday work life? What’s in it for them?
Let’s say the company is adding a new wellness program. The message to employees should outline the program and how it can benefit them. What are the rewards for participation? The message to team leaders, on the other hand, should outline ways to encourage their team to get involved.
Think like a marketer to deliver the most relevant and important information to each employee.
2. Every channel. One brand voice.
Marketers know that if they want to get the attention of their audience, they need to use more than one method. A campaign cannot be successful through emails and newsletters alone. Marketers use a mix of media to convey their messages. They use video, images, interactive websites, social media and more. In fact, the best marketing is viral -- it’s what other employees say about the programs.
And emails aren’t enough to reach employees. In theEMPLOYEEapp survey, 80 percent of employers said they use email to communicate, but 30 percent of employees said they ignore emails from their employer.
According to Wrike’s 2016 Mobile Productivity Report, 90 percent of surveyed professionals believe a mobile device is critical to getting their jobs done.
So use text messages, mobile apps, internal social networks and other mobile-optimized resources to communicate. Upload videos and pictures to engage employees in newsletters and announcements. Start a company blog and double down on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms employees use. The more ways employees can access and digest information, the better.
But reaching everyone with a wide array of uncoordinated themes, benefits, colors, and tone seems scattered. Would P&G, Unilever, Disney or the best brand-builders in the world take a shotgun approach to building the value of their most important assets? Have a strategy and a voice, and have them show up in everything the company does.
3. Bring it all together.
Marketers want to make the buying process easy for customers. And like marketers, HR wants employees to “buy” into programs, initiatives and benefits enrollment. It connects them to their work in broader ways.
When HR focuses on a branded employee experience, encouraging program participation becomes easier. Bring all programs, initiatives and information together in one easy-to-use platform. Think of it as a hub that integrates the most important HR benefits, programs and initiatives in one convenient place.
Employees don’t have to switch back and forth between multiple websites and keep track of information separately. When they can access everything in as few places as possible, participation becomes so much easier. And, in many cases, it’s much easier for employers to manage, too.
4. Measure effectiveness.
Marketers track and measure everything to find the best strategies, adjust what isn’t working and get the most bang for their buck. Data is everything in modern marketing.
HR teams can also track and measure data to continually improve processes. Decide what metrics are most important to the company culture and overall business goals and track them to drive employee engagement. Are employees responding to messages? Are they getting the right messages at the right time? Are they participating in programs? Are they happy? What can be done better? Some new HR systems learn about people and take action so employers don’t even have to.
HR isn’t an easy job. But when leaders look at it from a marketing perspective, HR strategies can improve the employee experience and build a consistent and strong employer brand.