Head of Brand Strategy and Insight Katie Sandell and HR Manager Rachel Berry explore the inextricable link between strategy, marketing and HR, why they need each other, and how this can be implemented within a business.
When supporting our clients on business and brand transformation, we start to get under the skin of the business and their most important asset: their people. Traditional marketing agencies may think that HR isn’t our remit, but the reality is that it absolutely is. Brand strategy and HR are not mutually exclusive, but rather have a critical shared purpose. When working in synergy they can enhance each other’s impact significantly.
In a fast-paced, ever-evolving, competitive environment where product differentiation* can be key to success, it’s crucial for a business to have engaged employees who are committed to the business and equipped to cope with change in what may seem like turbulent times. It’s been argued that there’s a direct link between organisational performance and employee engagement: engaged employees behave as organisational citizens†. Those who aren’t are likely to leave, taking important organisational knowledge with them – recruitment costs increase and culture suffers. And that means remaining employees suffer.
If HR’s mission is to achieve organisational success through engaged, happy, high-performing employees, and brand strategy’s is to achieve organisational success through business strategy, then the purpose of each is intertwined and shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.
How can they work together?
Build an employee value proposition (EVP)value proposition is your offer to customers and why they choose you. Your employer (external) brand is focused on how the brand is perceived by current employees and the market. For similar reasons, HR and strategy teams should work together to continually develop and enhance their employee value proposition (EVP), not just internally to enhance the retention of your talented and valued people but also as a means of promoting the business externally so that the EVP is always competitive and engaging.
Listen to your different audiences
As a marketeer, just as you would interview, question and research your external audience, the same should be done with the internal audience. Don’t take for granted that you know how your people are feeling: there are often some great suggestions about how things can be done from those who really know how the business works from day-to-day, hands-on experience.
Develop internal and external messaging
Don't just rip off your external marketing strategy and use it for your internal audience. A strategy that enables you to engage with your internal audience is crucial to developing an engaged workforce: it should explain the business strategy and each person’s role in the success of it giving each person a feeling of purpose and belonging. Linking business strategy and HR strategy together is key to success here.
How HR and strategy can work together to add the most value to each other and the business has many variables as business size, budget, context and industries differ. However, there’s no doubt that working in synergy and with shared purpose can deliver significant business results.
“When people work towards a common goal, they are driven, passionate and purposeful. Success soon follows.”
Richard Branson, Virgin.
* Gennard, J et al (2016). Managing Employee Relations
† Truss, C et al (2014). Employee Engagement in Theory and Practice