Friday, October 07, 2005

Use Marketing to Hire and Retain Talent

Traditionally, the marketing department bears the responsibility for directing and increasing sales. This is done mainly through cultivating an organization’s brand image - the image that attracts the target customers to its products and services.

Nowadays, however, the importance of attracting and retaining talented employees has turned attention to the equally valuable internal image that the organization projects as an employer. In my own organization, employee turnover has had a substantial impact. In addition, hiring to a startup has always been a challenge. In this context, I would like to share a few points on how to use marketing to attract and retain talent.

Importance of Internal Branding

Organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of internal branding — presenting a compelling story about the organization — which has become a crucial tool for attracting and keeping the best people. The growing focus on internal branding stems from the realization that retaining the organization's best talent has a direct and significant impact on the bottom line of its business.

The stakes are high: demographic trends indicate that talent is becoming increasingly scarce. This is prompting organizations to look at all aspects of the employment relationship — from benefits to culture — to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Another reason why organizations need to market themselves effectively to employees is that aside from the talent deficit, today’s employees are seeking greater purpose and meaning in their working lives. Competitive pay and fringe benefits — such as cars and laptop computers — are still highly attractive benefits, but a shift is occurring in professionally-skilled workplaces towards making work more meaningful. This is reshaping the entire social contract between employers and employees. The employer presenting a value proposition that captures the spirit and culture of this movement will win.

Further proof to the growing popularity and need for internal branding was revealed by Mckinsey survey "Branding to attract Talent - 2004" study. Some 50 percent of companies surveyed said they allocated resources for internal branding. Furthermore, the survey found that employees rated factors such as "Fun place to work", "For people Like me", "Training opportunities", and "innovative company" to be more important than "High Salary" when it comes to converting potential recruit into an applicant/employee.

As a consequence of the keener emphasis on internal branding, there have been growing calls for the human resources (HR) department to become an extension of the marketing department, combining people skills and marketing savvy to help the organization compete for the talent it needs. Additionally, recruitment and retention practices are moving onto the radar screen of the executive team — and even the Board.

Savvy marketers are well aware of the grapevine effect of talented people talking to each other, whether it’s at a business school, an existing company, or among the ubiquitous e-mail community. People talk and employers need to influence these discussions. Creating a memorable brand image and a compelling value proposition is central to that strategy.
Realistically, the battle for talent could become such a critical business issue that significant advertising budgets could soon be set aside for internal branding campaigns — employee focused advertising campaigns that extol the virtues of organization (employers).

Over time, an organization's ability to deliver on its promises to employees will form a solid foundation for its internal brand image. The organization must therefore unfailingly deliver on its promises. An employment brand that fails to provide employees with the value it has promised them will fail in its efforts to build a positive and productive internal brand. It is also important for the organization to align its content, communication and service delivery. An employee's experience in each of these areas should reflect the brand promise, which could be compromised if there is misalignment in even one of these areas.

Although internal branding can be a significant performance improvement strategy, it is only as effective as its ability to deliver differently — not just to make new promises.

Of course, the internal brand does not exist solely to attract new recruits. When existing employees are satisfied with their employment package, their loyalty to the company and the internal brand increases, which in turn helps to attract quality talent from outside and minimize turnover through increasing employee satisfaction.

Internal branding should not be selectively applied to particular departments, staff levels or practices within the organization. So in assessing the strength of an internal brand in the eyes of potential recruits, the organization's culture, values, policies and people practices should all be evaluated. The assessment should not be restricted to policies and practices relating to recruitment, pay, training and development, compensation, benefits, performance management and communication.

The organization should ask if it has satisfactory procedures for employee orientation, for example. Does it have a program to provide new employees with complete and useful information about the firm, its structure, its mission, functions and policies, compensation, benefits, services, work requirements, standards, rules, safe work habits and desirable employee-management relations?

Does the organization provide satisfactory financial security — plans to support the long-range financial goals and objectives of the employee to ensure financial independence in retirement?
Increasingly important in the 21st century, does the organization have policies that promote a balanced work/life experience for its people? This should include accommodations and benefits programs designed to help equalize benefits, serve as recruiting and retention incentives, and build goodwill among employees. Examples include an adoption assistance program, dependent care assistance plan, employee home ownership plan, family care program, flexible leave, home leave, home marketing assistance, home sales protection, job sharing/splitting, maternity and child care, and parental leave.

Encourage Feedback

Are there channels for employees to provide feedback and express concerns to the organization's leadership? Employees should be encouraged to communicate their views and provide feedback to their leaders. Organizations that fail to listen to their people may not win their loyalty. Furthermore, by not listening to employees, organizations are effectively blinded from the pitfalls that may lie ahead.

Closing Thoughts

Internal marketing and building a strong Brand image has a direct impact on employees. It will: Lower the cost of hiring, Lower employee turnover, and Increase employee productivity. All this has direct impact on operational costs and overheads.

1 comment:

Vrushali Deshpande said...

Amazing Article
- Keep it up..