Why HR and Marketing need to get into bed together… fast.

Traditionally HR has had more in common with Finance than Marketing – systems, payroll, forms and data.  But rarely any analysis from it; rules, regulations; what you can and can’t do. All a bit dull…

Marketeers tended to sit with Sales and care most about budgets, products, and consumers (in that order). HR practitioners were interested in future and current employees rarely thinking of them as customers in the way that the Marketing department did.

Despite apparent differences between the functions of HR and marketing, the digital world has brought them closer than ever by eliminating differences between employees and consumers who may actually be one person at the end of the day.

So much so, that most businesses should seriously consider bringing their HR and Marketing departments much closer together as it could be a healthy collaboration.

Firstly, Marketing truly understands the brand in the way that HR should.  Brands reflect a company’s reputation, embodying its values and DNA. When consumers are attracted to a company’s brand, they will probably identify with its culture too. And cultural fit drives employee engagement, and productivity. When employees share the values of the organisation, work fulfills important psychological needs and motives; and consumers achieve the same when they buy products that align with their idealised self and identity.

Furthermore, since employees are also brand ambassadors – they share both good and bad experiences of the job and the organisations via Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Facebook – engaged employees are an important asset, not only to marketing but the whole organisation. Conversely, if you hire people who have trouble fitting in they will sooner or later be tempted to harm your brand or work for your competitors. And in an age in which brand loyalty is easier to pursue than employee loyalty, marketing is well placed to teach HR about loyalty.

Secondly, the two keys to successful recruitment are (a) attracting good candidates and (b) assessing their future potential. Thanks to technology and digital advertising, marketing departments are now better placed to accomplish these two goals than traditional technology and analytics free HR departments.

Indeed, most businesses have a strong online presence with consumers, and with it comes the capacity to mine behavioural data that can be translated into valid profiles. Importantly, these profiles can be used not only to predict consumer behaviours, but also employee performance.

For example, knowing that a person has unconventional preferences and is an early adopter can predict not only their likelihood of buying innovative products, but also their ability to innovate, which would make them suitable for a creative role.

Likewise, if companies want to hire emotionally intelligent employees, they could mine consumer transactions that reflect cool-headed and smart purchasing decisions, and refrain from hiring customers who spend a lot of time complaining.

However, there is an important caveat: although the same data point may represent an employee and a consumer, the segments and typologies traditionally used in marketing are not always relevant to HR. Marketing can learn from HR to assess more relevant aspects of human behaviour (eg, the bright and dark side of personality, competencies, personal values and motivations) together with their experience of living with decisions.  If a company loses a customer, it is very different from a big Employee Relations issue that can impact badly on moral and profitability.

Thirdly, it is clear now that employees increasingly want consumer-like experiences. They don’t want a job; they want a meaningful career.  Money matters less than fun, purpose and work-life balance. Regular staff surveys are conducted to monitor employees’ involvement and engagement levels at work – just like sentiment analyses, but of employees rather than brands. And the very futures of employees depend not on their qualifications and skills, but their capacity to self-brand and sell their brand to future employers.

It seems, then, that marketing departments can play a key role in engaging, managing and developing employees.  The businesses revered by consumers will be the best places to work, and being employed by those businesses will strengthen employees’ personal brand, which in turn will strengthen the business. Traditional HR products like clunky appraisal systems; exit interviews and the formal one-way interview need refreshing and replacing. 

Ultimately, marketing is about storytelling, influence and differentiation. But the story of brands is the psychological journey of organisations, and each organisation is its people: their values, ideas, and reputation. Marketing and HR could be a powerful force in any organisation. Bringing the brand in-house to shape and create a culture that individuals wish to join. Marketing it externally. 
Looking at employee data to identify new ways to engage with employees. Creating a place to work driven by individuals not corporate needs.

It’s a very exciting thought.

Why the Bankers bonus 10yr claw back won’t change a thing.

Having been an HR Director in the City I was mildly amused by the headlines today that Bankers who are guilty of misconduct would have to pay back bonuses from the last 10 years under a Labour government.

Under previous rules, bankers’ bonuses were often deferred for a period of three to five years, during which time the bonus could be clawed back if necessary. But I bet the reality was that few were penalized like this unless it got in the headlines. More likely they were bollocked behind a closed door, no record being made of it and their bonus was paid out in the normal way.

Insider dealing is not acceptable

Of course I absolutely think that those who deliberately do something forbidden like rigging the interest rates or insider dealing or trading over ones limit should face severe consequences. As should the person managing them. And a financial penalty is appropriate but more so the fear that they will be dismissed for gross misconduct which would result in the Financial Conduct Authority deeming them not fit and proper to work in a regulated activity and career over.

But the reality is that such events are rare. And the people that work in the City do so because they wish to take informed considered calculated risks and that sort of behavior is positively encouraged.  The ones that make big profits for their firms, can pretty much call the shots.  Which is just commerciality. Imagine if entrepreneurs were regulated. A crazy thought but there are some synergies.

HR are the ones that truly know what is going on

Thing is that the politicians just don’t understand the City. No-one truly does until you have worked in-house for a number of years. If you were in a senior HR role. You really really will. Often even more so than the CEO.

Lack of consequences means the behavior won’t change

For all the City has an image of being cut throat it is actually much less likely to actively define and manage poor behavior for its high flying front office staff. Mainly because reputation is everything and even acknowledging it almost feels a bit grubby to some firms.

Even when an individual (most likely Back Office)  has committed a criminal offence such as fraud, whilst they would be likely to be dismissed their file would not be handed over to the police.  I actually think all companies (across the country) should have a legal duty to do that.  Otherwise that person will pop up somewhere else. And do it again.

Different People Practices can have a big impact

If you have ever looked at appraisal forms, where they exist and compared it to all the other intelligence in the business – what the senior folk are saying – what the clients are demanding – what the PA’s think the priorities are – together with all the metrics – you will see that they really are apples and pears.  Which does beg the question  – Why do appraisals at all accepting they are currently a measure of a ‘well managed’ firm.

The thing is that everyone I have ever worked with past or present in the City absolutely wants to do the right thing.  Professionalism is hugely valued. Especially as they know that being on top of the people agenda will help them grow and win further business.

But often they doesn’t get much of a fresh steer on the changing possibilities, 

What are needed are systems and different practices to facilitate the growth of a culture that clearly has consequences for people that are doing what is expected of them, or not.

Doing that will have much more impact on behavior that the 10 year bonus claw back.  It would also be a rather useful approach in the Civil Service but that is another blog post.