Is HR just another marketing department?


If I were to pose the above, rather odd question to the HR professionals I have worked with over the last decade, the typical response would be one of puzzlement followed by disbelief.

However, if we look at a one of my HR Director client’s balanced scorecard objectives (minus the metrics for confidentiality reasons), we could be reading the modus operandi of a marketing team (with a quick “find and replace” to change the HR buzz words):

  • Recruit new employees to a target of XX, while decreasing cost per hire by XX% and time to hire by XX%
  • Increase employee referrals from XX% to XX%
  • Drive employee engagement scores to greater than XX%
  • Retain XX% current employees
  • Achieve employee satisfaction rates of XX%
  • Develop and manage a workforce plan to highlight supply and demand of employees
  • Ensure an employee-centred design to the new offices
  • Deliver a compelling and consistent employee experience reflecting the employer brand
  • Provide monthly metrics on the workforce to the Board
So what does this all mean?

My view is that HR needs to be repositioned as a standalone, strategic marketing function with a refreshed set of people, skills and an adapted language.

Yes, current HR professionals can — and should — be part of this by building on their core skill portfolio through relevant marketing qualifications and rotations into marketing. This will not only change the way HR works but also how it partners with marketing to achieve its objective – often one of the historic issues HR experiences when trying to achieve objectives such as those set out above.

Additionally, we need more marketing professionals to work closer with their HR colleagues; coaching, training, and providing expertise for the HR teams.

Or, marketeers could go even further and cross the “divide” into HR, taking an alternative career route at the heart of the business. Let’s not forget that CEOs recently stated talent management as their number 1 priority in 2012.

Over the past three years we’ve seen a small, but not insignificant, volume of ex-ad agency and ex-corporate/consumer marketeers move into HR teams at various levels. Part of this movement is related to the ever increasing focus from HR on strategic marketing-related initiatives like employer branding, but it is also linked to bringing a different, consumer centric mindset into HR and the ability to build relationships with marketing teams.

As a self confessed HR marketeer, I can attest the opportunity that working with HR presents, especially in APAC when the demand for new thinking and ideas is immense. Further cross fertilising the two disciplines can only bring further success.


If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to receive new Firebrand posts as soon as they are published. Subscribe here.


Subscribe To Firebrand Ideas Ignition Blog

Sign up to receive our new blog posts via email. You'll get all the latest articles on digital, marketing, social media, communications, personal branding — and lots of career advice

Search Website