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Organizations that band together, brand together

As the financial services industry shifts from crisis to recovery and talent emerges as the key issue in future profitability and success, there has never been a better opportunity for HR & Marketing to become the best of friends.

How so, you ask? Aren’t culture, values, and behavior the responsibility of human resources? And isn’t marketing focused on the brand, digital marketing, and customer loyalty? Why yes! And that is precisely why we believe this could be the perfect relationship—a friendship of true collaboration—built on the inherent, complementary strengths of each function.

After 41 years of experience, one of the truths those of us at Interbrand know is that brands are built from the inside. It is only when the people in an organization understand their brand—who they are and what they stand for—that they can create truly memorable experiences that drive loyalty and enhance business performance.

Interbrand’s global marketplace study, which surveyed over 1,500 CMOs worldwide, shows that one of the top challenges faced by CMOs today is employee engagement. While this finding is not surprising itself, the fact that employee engagement is becoming a CMO priority is—and, frankly, it is about time. In a service-based economy, where businesses will compete on talent first, it is imperative that financial services organizations focus on building a culture that attracts and retains talented people who support business growth.

By working together, HR & Marketing can break down the silos and take a holistic approach across departmental boundaries to improve reputation, growth, and market value. Here are three ways to start this beautiful friendship:

1. Create an inspiring employer value proposition: Research shows us that just 13 percent of employees are “highly engaged” globally. This means that only one in eight workers is psychologically committed to his/her job. This is an enormous problem for organizations that rely heavily on employee engagement to enhance customer service, innovation, and creativity—all intangible measures that affect business performance. HR’s understanding of employee needs and behaviors, coupled with marketing’s understanding of the brand, present the perfect opportunity to cut through the clutter and create an EVP who is embedded in the everyday, or connected to the customer experience.

2.  Find a purpose that empowers innovation: An organization’s purpose is essential to retaining the new generation of talent. Today, more employees are motivated by work passion than career ambition. This indicates a need for leadership to focus on making the work environment compelling and enjoyable for everyone. Inspiration requires breakthrough communications and who better to engage Millennials than Marketing? By connecting purpose to brand, HR & Marketing can embrace a new model to help current employees find purpose in what they do and, more importantly, show why it matters to their colleagues, customers, the business, and the world.

3. Dial up the employee experience: Far too often, orientation, reward & recognition programs, corporate values, and training are siloed within the HR department. By working together, HR & Marketing can create highly innovative programs that connect the employee to the customer, whether that employee is customer-facing or not. With great knowledge of segmentation, Millennials, and social media, marketing can revitalize the employee experience in new and exciting ways.

4. Create a unique customer experience: In any customer experience, employee behavior is the gating factor. In fact, research tells us that only 14 percent of customers defect because of product quality. The majority of customer defections—68 percent—occur because of staff indifference. We need only look at YouTube to see examples captured for all time. By identifying appropriate brand-driven behaviors, HR can collaborate with Marketing to provide the right training, coaching, and mentoring to create a memorable and positive customer experience. But it’s more than just training—the right reward & recognition, metrics, and communications need to be in place too.

All high-performing organizations have the potential for prosperity based on past successes. However, the rules are changing. And change always brings new possibilities and opportunities. This is the time to explore a new model of brand-driven collaboration, starting with the people inside an organization. It is clear that traditional methods won’t take us where we need to go.

Poor employee engagement poses a serious threat to financial services companies, holding back or even derailing growth plans. Those firms that break down internal silos to develop a well-informed and brand-led approach to finding and retaining talent will gain a much-needed competitive edge.


Managing Director, Interbrand Canada
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