It’s nothing new to claim that the HR space has been rocked in recent years. The power of the candidate and the rise in importance of the employer brand has created fresh demands.
This drive has been exciting, daunting and created an extremely steep learning curve.
Who has embraced the transition?
Those who saw the opportunity to look inward and grasp the very essence and DNA of their organisation. Those who understood the need to amplify through content and most importantly, those who grasped the need for a close relationship with marketing.
I’ve broken this down into:
- The need for Brand Guardians
- Treating your candidates like customers
- Living your User Experience
- Getting smarter with targeting
- The metrics for success
HR departments now need to sell the sizzle. The sausage left the building along with prompting users to register an account before uploading a CV (are people still doing that?!).
But what about the many organisations who can’t lay claim to any of the above? Well, it’s time to step up to the plate and quickly understand how intrinsically linked HR and Marketing really are!
More often than not, I’m left surprised that internal marketing departments do not understand employer brand, how it differs and why it’s so important.
It’s not enough to expect your marketing team to do this stuff. Generally speaking (and there are always exceptions to the norm), their primary focus will be on new business acquisition and growth.
Before I outline why this is needed and where you should focus, let me make a statement:
It’s vitally important that the HR departments of tomorrow are able to acquire strategic and practical marketing skills.
So what does this look like and why are these departments closer in focus than you first thought?
Despite what some may claim, I believe your B2B/B2C brand is different to your employer brand.
The caveat to that is that they can’t be so far removed that they don’t clearly feed into each other.
Regardless, ownership of that brand is vitally important. A typical Marketing Manager or Brand Owner will regularly align content and creative with your values, ensure tone of voice was correct and visual identity remained on point. The same needs to be done for your employer brand.
Take tone of voice for example. How you write copy for an enterprise customer is very different for someone following your candidate journey. One radiates a more serious, direct nature, the other should be friendlier and more welcoming. The approach for each is the same.
The activation? Very different.
If you’re asking what the difference between the two is it’s a great question. I’ll give you the answer: there isn’t one! The bottom line is that both candidates and customers are humans who have a desire and are looking to make a first impression on your business.
If you want to see someone leading the way on this look up Adobe’s CIO, Cynthia Stoddard, who has been working hard to ensure employee experiences are as personalised and strong as customer experience. Her quote for popular website CMO:
“With all the work being done with external-facing customer experience, linking up channels and personalisation, I believe you need to bring that inside the company and use those same techniques with employees.”
User Experience. Live it. Breathe it. Improve it.
When asked to look at someone’s employer brand, regardless of how big or small they are, the first thing I do is travel the candidate journey. Advert to website to live roles to application and beyond. It seems like a strange place to start. But, it’s by far the most important because I’m walking in the very shoes of the candidate.
I then often ask the question: ‘Have you done this?’ and a surprisingly large proportion of replies start with N and finish with O!
Think about how much time, money and thought is put into customer experience and conversion and often how little is spent on the candidate experience. The HR department of the future must be geared towards innovation and simplification.
Different Strokes for Different Folks!
In the very foundations of your marketing department you will find user personas. These personas will represent the variety of different customers your organisation has, their motivators, challenges, even their names! Each persona will have its own content and outreach strategy. For example: you wouldn’t speak to a CIO in the same way you’d speak to a CEO.
With candidate attraction front and centre, the same needs to be done for your employer brand. Who are your challenging hires? Who don’t you have enough of? What do they want to see within your organisation? Where do they reside on/offline? Candidate personas are a must for you to truly understand how to cut through and grab their attention.
The influence can be found within
The concept of ‘influencer marketing’ is a relatively new one but marketing departments have been utilising it for years. Think, tech company pays tech blogger to tweet on their behalf, or supplement company gives free products to fitness YouTuber for reviews to his audience. It happens, can be very powerful and helps bridge the gap from no relationship with your audience to ‘we trust them so will trust you’.
The good news is that your influencers won’t cost you any money and are easy to find. They work for you! The candidate of today can see through much of your marketing efforts, they’re more savvy to it. Building trust quickly is easier when you show candidates real people with real stories. The key here is to build up the brands of your employees, use them as advocates and then amplify them. Sounds like marketing to me?
Numbers Don’t Lie, Check The Scoreboards
A huge aspect of any marketing function is the visibility of analytics and key reporting metrics followed by the ability to interpret, adapt and improve.
For the HR world, the classic metrics such as time to hire, attrition rate, cost per hire will always be king. It’s what feeds into them that can - and should - now be scrutinised. Which piece of content saw more candidate sign-ups? What’s our drop off rate from live role page to CV upload?
Knowing what metrics to look for and developing an ability to interpret them are both key to influencing the wider strategy.
The rise of the Employee Experience role
So, with all of this in mind, what next? My thoughts here are that the responsibility lies with the whole HR department. Alongside a thirst for improvement, my advice is to navigate a marketing-focused learning journey encompassing the above areas.
My prediction is that we’ll begin to see the rise of the ‘Employee Experience’ role, a conduit between HR & Marketing.
They will be responsible not just for ensuring there are great perks and a fun work environment, but that people feel empowered, appreciated and are doing meaningful work.
They will focus on the entire candidate journey through to exit, personalising wherever possible and constantly striving for excellence.
The question is, do you need one? Or can your HR team establish the knowledge needed and work closer with marketing to bring this to life?
If this is an area you’re exploring it’d be great to connect and hear how your HR and Marketing teams are aligned.
You can reach me via:
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