Monday, November 22, 2010

Can HR Learn Some Tricks From Marketing?

I asked my Twitter followers last week for questions on the topic of HR Metrics and Analytics. I received a great question from Traci Cuthbertson, (@tracicuth):

Marketing uses metrics/analytics to measure/segment/target customers. Why is HR so reluctant to do similar w/ Employees?

What a fantastic question! And one that I would love to know the answer to. I can discuss what I think are the barriers to segmentation, and what I have seen in my experience. I hope that we get many comments on this topic so we can really discuss this. (hint: please comment)

Here are some reasons I have found why HR does not segment its employee base:

1) I believe there is that lingering concern about "we have to treat employees fairly." And I agree wholeheartedly. But, with many deliverables that HR executes, a one size approach is not going to work. Case in point, rewards and recognition. What motivates me is not necessarily going to motivate my co-worker.

2) I believe that many HR professionals do not have that skill set and/or do not approach their employee base as a diverse group with varying and different needs in an employment experience.

3) I have seen larger organizations taking a "marketing" and "branding" approach to recruiting, targeting different types of recruits using different messages. Why would we not use this approach to our current employees targeting, let's say, generations in the workplace and use different retention campaigns? (probably is related to number 1 above)

4) HR does not see the benefit of such an approach. As in the consumer world, we have all seen the switch from marketing to the masses to marketing to one. I know when I get a personalized ad, using my preferences and past buying behavior.....I am interested. Why would that be different in the employment experience? Using career development as an example, can the organization take the approach that your career preferences are important to us, and we want to align those with the organization's goals?

As many of you know, I spent the last few months going to many conferences on the subject of metrics and analytics. I saw many examples of employee segmentation. It is here, smart companies use this technique. I don't want marketing to do this for us....what are your thoughts? Can HR use a little lesson from marketing?

Think about an example I have used in the past regarding turnover. I really don't care about an overall turnover %. What I want to know is who is leaving and why. Think about segmenting your employees this way:

1) Segment by performance scores
2) Segment by engagement scores

Then look at turnover scores for your highly engaged and high performers and for your low performers and non-engaged, you will be shocked when you look at turnover this way....

How beneficial would this exercise be to your company?


Traci Cuthbertson said...

Employee segmentation requires a certain level of transparency that many HR professionals would rather not deal with. Why? Because it’s much easier to make “one size fits all” decisions, rather than make tough decisions and be held accountable for them.

Implementing a segment strategy means answering lots of questions about how HR decisions are made. This makes many uncomfortable; as they would much rather keep their decisions shrouded in the veil of HR secrecy.

Unknown said...

Hi Traci:

I agree the one size fits all approach has been around way, way too long. I would just like to ask, "how is that working for you?" I think when the economy recovers, we will see employees making decisions based on how companies meet THEIR needs and not how the company offers generic programs and experiences.

Thanks for your question, it was excellent. I wish we had more discussion!!


Mariska de Vogel said...

Hi Cathy,
I found your link in a news article (The Netherlands) and I must say that the topic you raise is very interesting. And your comment about staff turnover for top performers and under performers is spot on. I believe HR is overly focussed on trying to be taken serious by the board /executive team and therefore miss the actual innovative market trends. I must say if I would be asked to implement segmentation, I would not know where to start, but maybe a good cooperation with marketing would be a good start!
What we have had in The Netherlands is a "cafeteria model" which means the employee can choose their personal secondary benefit package and another trend which was seen 3 years ago was “Age aware” policies. For eg. less pay increase for older staff in return for more holiday. This is due to the trend that Europe is faced with a lot of employees (too many) going with retirement. Now that the recession is hitting a lot of business, both trends have disappeared in the media and I guess are no longer on the agenda of many companies.
Kind regards,
Mariska de Vogel

John Papers said...

This is amazing list like the previous one..
Can you write more about "Can HR Learn Some Tricks From Marketing?"..
I am making a list of the "Can HR Learn Some Tricks From Marketing?"..

Unknown said...

Hi Mariska:

Thanks you so much for reading and commenting all the way from the Netherlands. Similar to Europe the US is also faced with retirements, although delayed by the recession in many industries especially in our government. What we see as far as generations in the workforce is 4 distinct groups (verterans, boomers, Xers, Yers) with varying needs for rewards, recognition, benefits and employment experiences. That is one way to segment and one that we have been using for awhile. I will send you a linkedin invitation so we can stay in touch.


I will write another article soon on learning tricks from marketing. I continue to research this and discuss, so hopefully I will have some more ideas really soon! Thanks for reading!!