More strings to the bow: The expanding nature of HR - Part 1

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While an understanding of both technology and employer branding are not new to HR, advancements in big data, social media, and a general shift in society itself mean HR needs to adapt. “HR will be called upon to be more strategic and influential on the business at the top level. Not just tactical and functional, but partnering with the business,” Yasu Sato, director of HR for Asia-Pacific at LinkedIn, told HRM sister publicaton HC. "I also think HR can borrow some tools from marketing to help with this.”

Sato’s comments ring true, with HR practitioners now looking at adopting elements of marketing into their sector. In the case of REA Group, this has manifested itself as an entirely new sector of the business known as people & brand.

“It has to do with employer branding but it is really more than that,” Simone Carroll, general manager of people & brand at REA, explained.

Carroll stated that blending brand strategy in with HR functions is important to survive in what she refers to as the “relationship era”.

“It is a societal shift that is happening … with the rise of social continuity and increased transparency there has now been a collapse of mass marketing and this has collapsed the campaign era,” she explained. “We used to tell people how you should think about our business - you can’t get away with that now. People are watching what you do and employees are talking about what we do from the inside.”

Carroll stated that organisations now must have a consistency both inside and outside of the workplace to influence consumer opinion. In this way, the strength of the employees and their passion for the organisation becomes a marketing tool in itself, transforming every employee into a brand ambassador of sorts.

“Relationships with consumers are no longer marketing led, they must be consumer led,” Carroll said. “Relationships with employees can no longer be employer led they must be employee led.”

She explained that the modern consumer is filtering out irrelevancy while gravitating towards what resonates with them, and the same applies for employers. ”Human beings are working for companies that are right for them and they tend to be companies that know why they are there and what they stand for and are trying to do good in the world. Employees are also engaged in that.”

Carroll admits there is a commercial incentive behind people & branding, but that comes about due to the primary objective of generating an authentic employee base that consumers can trust. In essence, the people & branding initiative incorporates elements of HR and marketing to benefit both.

Marketing isn’t the only area that HR should be advancing towards.

“We’re now surrounded by so much data,” Sato said. “How is that relevant to HR? How can HR use the data at their fingertips to make more informed decisions, to highlight possible implications, and build the road ahead?”

Keep an eye out on Wednesday when we explore another business function that the HR specialists of the future will master.

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