Many years ago, when this correspondent was a student of Business Studies, great fun was had by shouting “Personnel” every time a lecturer mentioned the words Human Resource Management.
Perhaps, as a bunch of youthful students, we objected to the term and what it represented but it was the early nineties and the popular theory at the time was to treat a company’s employees as a resource which could be managed in a similar manner to raw materials or finance.
Perhaps we objected to the source of the term which originated from sociology studies of factories during the early part of the 20th century where the attitude was that workers were cogs in the machine carrying out simple repetitive tasks. However, watching the lecturer splutter with irritation was a cause of much hilarity.
Of course our view was simplistic and the study of Human Resource Management had developed greatly from the time of those early studies. Today, it appears that my student intuition about the subject of the management of employees had some justification and that the view of employees simply as a resource does not match modern marketing theory.
In recent years the relationship between employees and their employers has changed dramatically. No longer is there a job for life. Instead more and more workers are employed on a temporary basis through short-term contracts or through agencies. Many more external consultants are employed by firms and we have seen the rise of the zero hours contract. This has blurred the lines between those who are members of an organisation and those who are external to that organisation. Employees have become a distinct customer group for an organisation where their labour is exchanged for a range of defined benefits.
Employees, however are also crucial to the delivery of an organisation’s products and services. After all, one of the seven P’s of the extended marketing mix is people. Employees are also responsible for ensuring that the gap between a potential customers image of an organisation and its intended identity are closed. Employees are a major factor in ensuring that cognitive dissonance does not develop in the minds of consumers who are given an organisation’s identity via external marketing communications but perceive a different image of the organisation through their experience of using the company’s goods and services.
This is where the concept of employee branding comes in. Employee branding is the use of strategic marketing communications internally within and organisation to ensure that employees and other internal stakeholders promote the intended brand values and identity of the organisation thereby closing opportunities for cognitive dissonance to develop. This is particularly important in the service industry sectors where staff are the primary interface with consumers.
Is it time for your organisation to stop viewing your staff as a resource and to start viewing them as an opportunity for internal marketing i.e. as internal consumers of your identity and values?
Philmus Consulting Ltd can help your business to plan internal communications so that your brand values are properly communicated.