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Why (and How) HR Needs to Act More Like Marketing

Source | Harvard Business Review : By Mark W. Schaefer

At this point, we all know that company culture plays a pivotal role in companies hurtling into out digital transformations. This is particularly true for the marketing department, which is changing at such a break-neck pace that marketing success now depends heavily on support from HR to identify and train new skillsets.

On the flip side, success in HR could use a major assist from marketing, or at least HR professionals who think like marketers. The competition for the best talent is fast and furious and, in many cases, that battleground is the social web.

This year, I have been working on an in-depth evaluation of recruiting practices for a Fortune 500 company. It’s clear that an injection of marketing thinking could help lead to the HR transformation the company needs; and I doubt this company is an outlier. Specifically, HR could benefit from adopting seven marketing practices:

1. Compete for talent the way companies compete for customers. Today there is intense competition for the very best talent. When a high-potential employee checks out a company, the first place they go is increasingly social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, or perhaps review sites like Glassdoor.

The company presence on these sites is usually owned by marketing or PR. Through my research for this project, I found that most companies take an extremely sales-oriented approach to their web presence.

But in many industries, finding the best employees might be as important as finding the best customers. Why wouldn’t we take a more balanced, recruiting-centric approach to our web presence?

2. Pay more attention to user interfaces. As part of this project, I also kicked the tires on the process for people seeking to apply for jobs at the largest tech companies. What I found across the board was a cumbersome, clunky process designed to feed information into an algorithm. The process is not human-oriented, it’s computer-oriented.

As a job applicant, I would like to fill in a few fields and then have access to a live person through chat or maybe even a live person via web video. This is a common practice in customer service. Why wouldn’t we provide the same kind of attention to people who want to work for us and lead us into the future?

3. Be. More. Human. At the end of many of my talks and articles I emphasize that in the digital age, the most human companies will win. We have fantastic opportunities to use technology to tear down barriers between people instead of erecting them.

And yet, after evaluating dozens of industry websites, on nearly every HR-oriented web page I viewed in my study, these opportunities were lost. If you have applied for a job lately, perhaps you’ve seen …

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