In most business, HR and marketing are siloed. No surprise there. Yet by breaking down those silos, marketing can get their hands on something that can help a business’s health in many aspects: employee insights.
Take airlines like JetBlue and Delta. They both recently unveiled that customers can now check into flights using selfies via biometric technology, a drastic change from how the frontline staff is used to interacting with customers during the check-in process. During this transition, it’s important to have an ear to the ground, as employees will have first-hand insight as to whether or not the process change is working both for them personally and for customers. This information is valuable to both HR and the marketing department.
Bridging the gap between the two departments isn’t easy, but those that do will reap the rewards. Here’s what to expect and how you can get started.
Increased customer satisfaction
Many businesses focus their efforts on customer engagement, leaving employee engagement in the dust. The truth, however, is that turning to employees for their insights can reveal a surprising amount about the customer’s experience as well. For example, if a retail giant unveils a new return policy, those employees can provide insight into how that change is affecting the customer experience, whether positive or negative. Customer data can reveal the symptoms of an issue, but employee feedback can reveal the root organizational cause.
Improved internal communications
The potential for information sharing across the HR and marketing departments is also a plus for businesses internally. Employee engagement, typically owned by HR, can surface very actionable insights about not only customers and processes but how other departments such as marketing and customer service do their jobs. Bridging the gap between departments can open up a line of communication, one which has benefits that extend beyond the two departments in question.
Retained employee talent
When employees know that their input is truly valued, they’re much more likely to find purpose in their jobs and stay put. According to a Towers Watson study, only 18 percent of highly engaged employees planned to leave their employer in the next two years, compared to 40 percent of those who consider themselves disengaged.
How to start
According to Gallup, 87 percent of employees consider themselves not engaged at work. I firmly believe that employers can do more than throw up their hands in despair at this number. The C-suite needs to hold itself accountable to doing more.
Changing behavior and processes so drastically in a large company is like trying to completely switch the direction of a cruise ship. It simply can’t happen with the snap of your fingers, but rather takes planning and time. And, in the case of a business, buy-in from the c-suite. But here’s where to begin incorporating in-sync marketing and HR initiatives into your own company culture and operations.
- Create a dialogue, not a monologue – A quarterly employee survey won’t cut it. True employee listening must be ongoing and continuous. It needs to happen in a setting where back-and-forth is enabled. Prove to your employees in an open setting that they are being heard and give them a chance to engage in real time. This is where the most valuable communication is born.
- Break down the silos – Once a company takes the first steps toward committing to soliciting employee feedback, the walls between departments need to come down. As I’ve mentioned, the HR department holds a plethora of employee data and insight that would prove valuable to the marketing and customer service departments. Once these departments include each other in their processes and share results, that valuable data can be shared to benefit the health of the business.
- Make your presence felt – Facilitating a company culture of non-siloed departments doesn’t start and end with a proven process for collecting insights from your employees. Stress to your constituents that you value their opinions and stay active in the workplace community. This will hammer home the intentions behind your insistence on gathering employee feedback and making strong use of it.
An increasingly necessary element of in-sync marketing and HR departments and ongoing employee feedback and engagement can pay off in dividends both to your company’s retention of talent and identification of issues with customers. Is your company on board yet?
About the Author
Carol Lee Andersen | President at Questback
An exceptional executive woman in technology, Carol Lee was voted as one of the Top 150 Most Powerful Women in New Zealand. Carol Lee joined Questback on the foundation of an esteemed career including 23 years of leadership at IBM, SAP, SAS, and Oracle. She has assisted numerous Forbes 1000 enterprises to solve their toughest challenges in innovation, business intelligence, human capital management, and advanced analytics.
- By Carol Lee Andersen