Dear HR Honcho, what can you learn from your marketing colleague?

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Very Few organizations use in house talent to solve cross functional challenges-So, when you hear of Mckinsey hiring its own services to consult on a part of its business, it appears slightly whimsical at first, but then you realize that it is a good story to stakeholders .When it comes to our consulting requirements, we consult the best –We consult “us”.

Most learning emerges as a separate stream or comes into its own through a process of Interdisciplinary learning .Take Coaching itself for instance.-it is a beautiful confluence of different schools of learning –Consulting,Psychology,Philosophy , Management etc.

So, what can HR learn from Marketing?

When it comes to attracting, retaining and engaging with employees, though I agree it’s hard to think of employees as customers simply because you pay your employees, while your customers pay you. Sev Keil and Tim Glowa of Aon, a global risk management and human resources consulting firm, suggest HR Managers should think of their employees as customers. In fact, the HR department may have more to learn from the marketing department than they think.

Through their interactions with current and potential employees, HR Managers have to market and sell the intangible qualities of the organization, including:

  • Corporate culture
  • Reward systems
  • Work environment

They can use similar techniques to sell these intangibles as those used to sell products. Employees are more likely to “buy-in” to your organization if they understand and appreciate what your business has to offer, in the same way that a customer will buy a product if they see how it will benefit his or her life.

Increased employee buy-in can lead to:

  • Improved employee engagement
  • Reduced turnover
  • Higher productivity
  • Lower recruitment expenses

The following are just two of the marketing techniques Keil and Glowa suggest for HR management:

Market Research: Your employees can tell you a lot about what is and is not working in your organization. You wouldn’t sell a broken product to a customer, so why try to sell a poor work environment or inadequate reward system to your employees?

Employee feedback can help you identify employee values, which in turn helps you prioritize organizational change. While your reward system could use tweaking, it may not be as important as improving your corporate culture. An employee survey, for example, could show you that 84% of your employees are satisfied with their pay, but only 51% feel their managers are supportive. In this case, you would certainly want to focus on improving the latter.

Segmentation: Consumer segmentation refers to grouping customers by similar needs and values. You can try this segmentation technique with employees to develop specific human resources products that meet their needs, or to cater each message to the audience it will reach.

For example, employees with children living at home will likely want different benefits than older workers nearing retirement. You could develop a unique benefits package for each group, but that may not always be feasible. If you offer the same or similar benefits package to all employees, you can instead customize the message to help every employee understand how the plan benefits them.

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