Not Afraid: Marketing for HR.

“I attempt these lyrical acrobat stunts while I’m practicing that I’ll still be able to break a motherf-ing table over the back of a couple old ladies and crack it in half, only realized it was ironic … after the fact.” – Eminem, Rap God

One of the most overused and hackneyed clichés in the people business is also a testament to HR’s historic failing to be taken seriously.

The reason that the whole “seat at the table” conversation has become so banal is that the goal of actually becoming a business partner for our businesses has largely been limited to a somewhat oxymoronic job title.

That the objective of so many in the HR profession is simply to get taken seriously belies the fact that HR remains the “other” and, as such, often assumes an adversarial role, at least in the minds of their employee populations.

There’s no such thing as an HR business partner when most in the business see you as an enemy. That is, if they see HR at all.


Without Me.

HR has never gotten a seat at the table because it intentionally refuses to actually open up to the employees it’s purportedly partnering with. No one really knows what HR does, other than subjecting them to painful performance reviews or making sure the paychecks clear on time.

This is largely by design—HR doesn’t sit at a table. It sits in a silo. That’s why the increasing intersection of human capital management and marketing represents a once-in-a-career kind of opportunity for those in HR to change the perception of their work by changing the way their work gets done.

By adopting marketing and branding best practices to the HR and recruiting function, practitioners can forget about a seat at the table.

They’ll be building the table for everyone else to sit at, bringing in new hires through employer branding and engaging existing employees through inbound communications and segmented campaigns or by amplifying company culture as a competitive differentiation for customers and clients.


Guts Over Fear.

In short, with marketing, HR can not only be a part of any business’s long-term strategy and success but its pulse, tasked with not only protecting its greatest asset but maximizing that investment for today—and tomorrow.

If HR can adopt a marketing mindset, effectively moving from reactionary cost center into a proactive and strategic function that’s driven by data instead of gut feelings, by increasing innovation instead of minimizing risk, and by possibilities instead of compliance, then it’s not only going to survive in the future world of work. HR is going to thrive.

That’s why it’s time to come out of the back office and finally realize that HR has a big branding problem, which means fixing what’s broken. And that means approaching your processes, policies, and platforms with a marketing mentality.

With an estimated 3.4% of all corporate revenue currently going to recruitment advertising and marketing, the opportunity to bolster the bottom line and the HR brand has never been better.

Read more on the Oracle HCM Blog. 

7 Comments on “Not Afraid: Marketing for HR.”

  1. However, if the approach to managing the environment where employees work is toxic than marketing is the wrong first step and re-Engineering is a more viable analogy. As data driven if not more so, it is characteristic of aligning the organization, management methods, learning and rewards to the vision, goals and imagined products and innovation necessary to succeed as a company. Marketing needs to take a back seat in that context otherwise it’s simply selling a lie. The point is that HR is bigger than marketing when it is integral to the company. As noted HR should be building the table and helping every function sitting there.

  2. Word, Matt. The delicious irony is that entities expect HR to drive talent acq… Which is marketing and sales in my book.

  3. Somebody had to bell the cat. As usual, it’s you.

    There has been an intense debate about business’ reluctance in HR sitting in their meetings but never have I ever seen the HR trying to break the wall down. The simmering tension ensures that there is never camaraderie b/w line and HR (their role as “employee advocate” jeopardizes this somewhat), and is exaggerated by the cold war between the top executives.

    But this is where the opportunity lies. To brand the HR function as employee custodians and employer branding. Increasingly, marketing professionals are being hired and placed in HR teams to create their positioning. This is the only way forward for the seat.

  4. Rather than sales and marketing, which implies business development – think communication. There’s no rule that says we can’t apply marketing tactics to our strategies, but for reasons unknown, the typical HR department is loathe to step into the fray. HR reduces uncertainty among employees in the employee experience, with activities that range from benefits administration to cultural management. The more effectively we communicate, the faster we achieve our primary objectives.

    I don’t agree this is the way to the table, however. We create value, through sound hiring, risk prevention, employee engagement, etc. Demonstrating value continues to be the holy grail. This is the reason we see an upturn in business analysts hired directly into HR roles. Analytics + communication = head of the table!

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