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The role of HR is changing from a predominantly administrative role, getting employees onto the payroll and managing vacation, benefits and contracts, to a role where it must also develop the ‘employer brand’.
In a market where companies must compete fiercely for the best recruits, it is vital they have a brand that is recognised as a great employer and I would go so far as to say the HR department has as important a role in building a brand as the marketing department .
the HR department has as important a role in building a brand as the marketing department .
HR needs to start acting in this way to prove their importance to the growth and development, not just the maintenance, of the business.
Many of the disciplines of marketing carry over perfectly to the task of creating an employer brand – such as knowing what your audience likes. In the same way businesses market products to directly address a customer need or want, so businesses must use the information they have on their target audience to connect with that audience. So if they know their ideal recruits put a high value on flexible working, holiday allowance and benefits, HR teams must make sure those are in place and competitive and are very easy to find out about.
HR also needs to get employees out speaking at events and speaking to the media
Marketing departments would typically research and meet with focus groups of target customers and there is huge value in HR departments finding their own way to glean information from target recruits, so they can shout about the things people most want to hear and represent themselves in places they are most likely to be found.
Publicity is also crucial in that regard. Entering the company for the many awards that seek to highlight progressive employers and reward excellent workplaces is a start. It can provide some welcome exposure for companies seeking to bring in new hires and gives businesses something to shout about. But more needs to be done, not least because many people remain cynical about such awards.
HR also needs to get employees out speaking at events and speaking to the media , training them and prepping them to do so. A good employer should always be prepared to let its people do the talking.
With that in mind, the HR department’s search for greater publicity must also stretch to doing all it can to create word-of-mouth recommendations. At its heart that means making a great first impression at every opportunity and doing all they can to re-enforce that first impression on an on-going basis. Marketing departments look at ‘net promoter scores’ and obsess over whether people would recommend them to a friend. Employers would do well to ask employees, business partners and suppliers the same. If people wouldn’t recommend a friend applies for a job, find out why and if it’s a credible issue, address it. There are no short cuts where word-of-mouth is concerned - you have to be a company people want to talk about.
there is a clear role for social media in reaching younger employees
Finally, HR must also take a look at how marketers communicate. For example, there is a clear role for social media in reaching younger employees and HR can learn from social media marketing campaigns regarding the kinds of content and tone that make the right impression.
HR must embrace its role driving both company culture and the way it is communicated inside and outside the workplace. They must learn to sell their employer with the same passion and drive marketers have been showing for product sales. However, there is one major difference. Whereas some product marketers may apply a little creative licence to their claims, HR need to ensure there is a watertight credibility under-pinning any claims they make. Consumers may allow a marketer a little creative licence when promoting a soft drink, but nobody would tolerate being mis-sold a job.