4 Ways to Shake Up HR and Remain Relevant With Employees and Consumers

Growing engagement and developing workplace culture

Human resources is undergoing a transformation as talent acquisition takes on marketing characteristics.
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In today’s cluttered and always-on world, greater relevance with customers is what wins the battle for brand supremacy. That relevance is built by becoming a brand that people want in their lives, one that keeps pace while everything around us accelerates. We call these relentlessly relevant brands. Names like Apple, Google and Netflix are such an integral part of our daily vocabulary and routine that they seem almost like family.

Many factors energize them, including product quality, user experience and technical capability. But the backbone of these great global brands is the power we often hear the least about: the people involved.

A dynamic workforce breathes life into them. Employees are behind every show, new release and successful search. They are the heads, hearts and hands responsible for shaping and delivering brands, turning business objectives into reality. And for many companies, these employees are the primary reason customers stay loyal.

To create a brand that is relentlessly relevant, companies have to shake up the way they’ve typically recruited, trained and promoted people. Employees have to be engaged as never before, chosen and deployed in ways that are directly linked to a brand’s purpose and goals. In too many companies, even those far along in their digital transformation, HR is still a holdover from another era, focusing on requirements, benefits, compliance and certifications. When pushed on a talent strategy, HR is often a numbers game: How many of what type of person does the business need to deliver against its plan?

That doesn’t work anymore. The employee experience—just like the customer experience—needs to move faster, capturing new trends and changing preferences as quickly as the brand itself.

Here are four ways to get started.

Give the cultural machinery a wake-up call 

While company culture doesn’t live in a single department, it probably gets talked about most in HR, where new employees learn about the company’s shared purpose and values. Too often, though, this means culture gets a little sleepy. It is unattended and becomes less relevant to the brand, and most importantly, to the delivery of the experiences that drives business results.

While bedrock tenants of integrity, innovation, responsibility and diversity can remain, there are new ways of thinking about them and faster-moving techniques to keep them alive. Modernizing a culture enables it to flex and evolve as needs change while still staying true to itself.

Find ways to link marketing and HR

Talent strategies shouldn’t just be about checking the box on requirements. They need to be directly tied to brand purpose and business goals. The only way for this to happen is for HR and marketing to become more closely aligned. At many companies, they are siloed. They may connect periodically around challenges, like who owns the Facebook or LinkedIn pages and how things show up on the careers page on the corporate website, but the truth is, they talk too infrequently about customer needs, the path to company growth and the customer experience.

Employees have to be engaged as never before, chosen and deployed in ways that are directly linked to a brand’s purpose and goals.

Talent strategies need to move beyond job descriptions and more toward defining characteristics of the type of experience that is most relevant. The strategy will illuminate whether the right talent is available within the organization and can be developed, and if not, it should be refocused on how to attract the new stars that will fuel the company and brand’s future.

Consider deputizing a chief employee experience officer

In some companies, this might be a new role for the human resources leader. In others, there’s a strong conviction that every leader is responsible for delivering the right employee experience. Either way, the point is the same: Employee experience parallels the efforts of the customer experience and is just as important.

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