Today’s business leaders understand the ongoing challenge of aligning historically siloed departments within their organization. Transparency between departments has evolved from an innovative concept to a corporate imperative. Human Resources and Marketing are two such departments that have traditionally run on parallel tracks, but can be stronger and more successful with frequent points of intersection. Typically, Marketing manages an organization’s external brand—its reputation with external stakeholders—while HR manages the internal brand—its reputation with internal stakeholders, especially employees. By creating better synergies between the two departments, companies can create a more consistent and holistic brand experience for all constituents.
The relationship that companies foster with customers by defining and promoting the brand or organizational mission should be consistent with the relationship that HR builds with potential, current and former employees. While HR supports Marketing by identifying the best talent to represent the brand, the Marketing team reinforces the HR mission by clearly articulating the brand purpose to employees. In fact, Aberdeen research shows that 67% of Best-in-Class companies have a clear employment branding initiative that involves Marketing and other departments. But how can these two teams work more seamlessly to further the brand experience?
To answer this question, we’ve compiled four critical steps to better align HR and Marketing:
1. Create awareness externally and internally
Through greater collaboration, the HR and Marketing teams can more effectively maximize the impact of a company’s marketing efforts. One way that this can be accomplished is by creating a strong social media presence, not only as a company branded channel, but also through the individual members of the HR and Marketing teams. Through these channels, team members can promote outstanding work, and also create a more personal voice to connect with prospective clients and hires.
Companies should highlight great work internally as well. This can be done through HR and Marketing teamwork. HR can pinpoint outstanding employee performance and Marketing can spread these positive actions through internal communication channels like weekly newsletters or social posts. For example, when we identified a need for better internal communication, we developed an intranet called PLUS as a place to share content, recognize exceptional employee performance and communicate with one another. Broader employee recognition helps reinforce positive behavior and keeps employees motivated.
2. Transition from onboarding trainings to ongoing workshops
HR teams shouldn’t just meet with new employees during onboarding programs, but should have a consistent presence throughout their employment. This is not a mechanism to monitor employees, but to have a hand in their continued professional development through regular training sessions and workshops. An effective internal training program—for employees at every level—is incredibly valuable. Junior staff require introductory workshops, while senior managers benefit from leadership training that is essential as they take on larger roles.
Proper training should provide employees with a clear understanding of the company’s business plan, annual goals, and mission, and most importantly, a clear definition of the brand purpose. Through a clear understanding of purpose, employees will represent the organization in a way that reflects the brand.
Marketing can play a pivotal role in training as well by promoting internal training sessions and employee workshops ‒ making the company appear as a desirable destination for potential employees. And Marketing doesn’t have to stop there. It can take a direct hand in the creation of employee programs, such as seminars that teach employees how to use social media tools, blogging, content marketing and much more. These kinds of programs can help turn employees into brand ambassadors while stimulating professional growth across the organization.
3. Promote transparency at company-wide events
Companies can host occasional hospitality events to foster a more direct and transparent relationship between employees and leadership. On International Women’s Day earlier this year, our HR and Marketing teams partnered to host a breakfast event featuring guest speakers and an engaging Q&A session with top female executives. The HR team planned and executed the event, while Marketing promoted the session externally by publishing an article focused on insights from top female marketers.
Fireside chat-style meetings with C-suite executives, facilitated by Marketing, are a great opportunity to offer employees direct access to the company’s leadership and a forum in which they can ask questions. Creating an ongoing dialog and transparent avenues of communication with management is appreciated among employees.
4. Transform former employees into brand advocates
There’s a natural attrition rate within any company. However, employees who leave feeling appreciated and respected for their contributions can serve as perennial brand ambassadors. The positive experiences of former employees at the company serve as the ultimate endorsement and a recruiting chip for both prospective clients and new hires alike.
It’s in an organization’s best interest to stay in touch with employees after they’ve left, as these former colleagues can become future clients, refer other candidates, or even boomerang back to the original company.
It’s also imperative to take exit interviews seriously. Employee feedback can be the best lens in which to view an organization, and much of the data they provide is directly actionable. HR must take that information, analyze it and share findings with the Marketing team. In parallel, Marketing should communicate any data gained through customer satisfaction surveys from clients. If a customer identifies an area where improvement is necessary, it’s essential that Marketing shares it with HR for staffing and training purposes.
HR departments must believe in the power of marketing and the Marketing department has to understand that a brand needs satisfied employees in order to thrive. No matter how well executed a marketing plan may be, it won’t ever compensate for employees failing to deliver a seamless customer experience. Likewise, HR isn’t able to attract the top talent if Marketing fails to develop great content and promote the brand purpose. Creating better synergy between the two teams will ultimately produce greater results in strengthening the company brand.
Lori Almeida is the Chief Talent Officer at Siegel+Gale, based in New York. Over the past 16 years Lori has developed and implemented effective HR strategies that support overall business objectives through employee relations, organizational design, change management and leadership development. Her expertise in helping managers achieve their goals without sacrificing employee morale has led to the publication of several eBooks, including CEO Best Practices for Establishing Goals for Your Management Team, Human Resources Tips, Tricks and Best Practices for CTOs and Best Practices for Establishing Goals for your Business Development Team. You can follow her on Twitter @lorialmeida.
Margaret Molloy is the global CMO and head of business development at Siegel+Gale, based in New York. Over the past 15 years, Margaret has developed a deep understanding of how to build great brands. She employs this expertise as the global head of marketing and business development at Siegel+Gale. By thinking strategically and delivering operationally, she executes innovative, breakthrough marketing campaigns that grow customer satisfaction, firm revenues and team pride. She has a particular passion for B2B marketing. Margaret is one of the top 10 CMOs on Twitter. You can follow her on Twitter @MargaretMolloy.