Talent Circles

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Touch Cycle: Human Resources as Marketers

Several years ago I had a conversation with an emerging marketer who I thought was doing amazing things.  While our worlds (human resources and marketing) seemed very separate we quickly realized over cocktails that things were very much the same.  In the consumer-facing business world, marketing professionals design and develop content and conversations taking into account what they call the “touch cycle.”  It’s those interactions with a brand a consumer has that influence their overall perception of their brand and lead them to buy. 

HR as Employer & Employee Brand Management

In HR and recruiting, we are always selling, negotiating, and marketing to our target audiences depending on our company role or focus.  Immediately, I saw the similarities in internal human resource engagement and recruiting where we develop points of conversation, reassurance, and information to engage the employee.  We, as HR keep our employee population informed, engaged, and most important we listen.  We are the employer and employee brand management managers marketing to our current, former, and future employees. 
This also holds true for external recruitment and employment branding where the moves are strategized and choreographed.  We, as employers plan our fall internship or recruiting campaigns devising a series of touch points where the job seeker will learn about the job.  We give job seeker candidates opportunities to listen and watch and learn about the organization either online or in person using video, Twitter updates, or a college job fair. 

All Employee Survey and the HR Touch Cycle

In fact, we often work with an HR touch cycle completely unaware.  In most every company I have worked for, the human resources team has oversaw the execution of the company’s all employee survey.  I learned very quickly upon administering my first survey that engagements and improvements should happen all year round.  Employees as well as managers need to be reminded the plans, actions, and changes made as a result of surveys from year past. 

I saw a pattern emerging as I sat in my first survey results session where employees admitted that they had completely forgotten about a program implemented or changes made as a result of that survey. Employees need to be re-educated, reminded, and marketed in order for the survey results to be accurate.  And that’s where my first touch cycle sprang into action even if I wasn’t fully aware.  It just made sense. 
  • ·      Choreograph Touches.  My team planned our strategy of educating my staff on our survey objectives, wins, and positive as well as negative changes made as a result of the survey.  We set out with a plan of focusing our efforts 4-6 months before the survey to reinforce our efforts through repetition and using different touch point mediums like break room signage, manager scripts for team communication, and written messages in emails, memos, and newsletters. 
  • ·      Listen and Watch.  An employee survey action team was created at each location.  Employees created brainstormed solutions, researched their ideas, and presented them to the location’s management team.  One team won over their managers and added a popcorn cart to the break room.  Another used the company’s focus on physical fitness and healthy living to add a Frisbee golf course to the back of the property.  My involvement in the group was minimal outside of scheduling meetings and facilitating.  I listened, watched, and observed. 
  • ·      Reinforce Behaviors.  Our employee survey action team helped to accomplish this task as word virally spread among team members and good behaviors were reinforced.  Employees made new suggested and new award and recognition programs were developed.  Turnover decreased, as did my number of employee complaints and investigations. 
  • ·      Evaluate and Expand. Facility managers and my HR team met quarterly to discuss the results of the survey discussing what was working and what did not.  We developed an employee survey action team communication board from these meetings publishing meeting notes and programs in progress.  This also aided in our marketing and re-education efforts as we neared the next annual survey. 

The Future of  Human Resources is with Marketing

How do you see the HR touch points and marketing playing into your role as a human resource manager and recruiting professional?  How is this idea of marketing playing a more important role in your job?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

h/t to that emerging marketer, Chris Wilson who is known as the Fresh Peel.  Check out his 2009 post on the Touch Cycle.  

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs

Photo Credit 1 & 2


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