I talk with a lot of different people about HR, what it is, what HR should be doing and not being and so on.  One of the more enlighten persons that I talk shop with is my Project Social Partner Laura Schroeder.  We talk about things that are “in the news” or that are getting a lot of attention within the HR space.  I particularly enjoy these conversations with Laura, because she works for a large global public concern, while I work at a mid-size privately held company. I think we enlighten and compliment each other.

Our most recent discussion touched on some opportunities for the field of HR to improve collectively.   Laura summed up HR’s ills by suggesting  an introduction was in order;  that being HR meet Marketing.  Why this?  Well if HR would learn to embrace some concepts that Marketing has long held near and dear, some huge collective improvements could be had.

One concept is HR needs to be better at is tracking indicators with bottom line impact (Metrics and ROI).  This still seems taboo to some folks and organization. We want to hide behind the fact that what we do is a soft skill, it’s squishy and is difficult to measure.  Well it is indeed all of that, but bright clever people need to adapt measurement methods that fit their organizations and operations so that HR can prove that we are adding value to the bottom line.  If you don’t,you are just going through the motions.   It is like this, we have then go through this training program because OSHA requires it.  Well even though it is required, what are you going to do to gain value for your organization, and then measure it. It can’t simply be a check box that needs to be checked off.  Where is the ROI?

Many years ago I was at a wedding. A friend of mine who worked for a state agency was there, as well at the mother of one of our collective friends. My friend’s job was developing and writing test for state government.  Recently my buddy had sent a form with a number of questions, to our friend’s mother. She told my buddy, ” You know those question you sent me about my job, they don’t have anything to do with my job.” His response was,  “Well that’s my job to send you those questions.”  There was seemingly no relationship between one and the other. There should be. And in HR everything needs to relate to ROI.

Another concept Laura and I discussed was how well does HR socialize the things it’s doing. Marketing does! They let the whole world know what they are doing; internally, externally, via new releases, web sites, social media and the list goes on.  By and large HR efforts pale in comparison to those of the Marketing inside many organizations.   It is easy to say we need to to better, but hard to do.  Communicate, communicate, communicate – you can not over do it.

A third concept we discussed was this; is HR truly arming our staffs with the proper tools that our people need to be successful?  This too is difficult to measure, however it is paramount that it is measured to define and understand the success of our employees, managers and leaders.  For this to take place the organization has to have clearly defined goals, with the expectations of each employee known and communicated, so that they may know they are or aren’t doing their part to move the organization forward.

These three ideas are just a few takeaways that HR should get from Marketing. There probably are many more, but this would be a great trio to begin the process.   So if you are in HR around at some other organizations and see what their marketing departments are doing. You might get  some new ideas!