A few years ago a good friend asked me how to manage interns without showing her frustration. When interns would repeat the same mistakes, ask the same questions, or not use common sense her frustration would show. I asked her if customers ever frustrated her. Did they ask dumb questions and not use common sense? She told me they did. I followed up by asking if she let her frustrations show to clients? She answered absolutely not. And there’s the answer. Treat your employees like customers.

Your Employees are Customers  

Your organization is the product, and your employees are the clients. It begins with the recruiting process. Qualified candidates must buy-in to your company. That’s becoming more and more important because the job market is a buyers’ market. Recruits have options, and that doesn’t look to change in the near future. The marketing process continues with retention. Losing employees is expensive. Retaining talent is critical. People stay at organizations when they believe in the mission, fit the culture, and it fulfills their needs. They “buy-in.”

How to Market to Your Team

The first step is to listen. Survey your teammates. Ask them all and ask them often. Learn what they like about the company. Ask how they would improve the company, their department, or their position. Solicit recommendations for training and equipment that could positively affect performance. Find out what benefits they appreciate and what they’d like the organization to offer. Do you know what’s important to your employee’s?

Recognize disconnects. What does management believe that the workforce doesn’t? At one of my previous positions, the management added an in-house gym including a basketball court. Sounds great doesn’t it? However, after a short time only a few employees used the basketball court and today it’s used for storage. Where do systems breakdown? What department doesn’t communicate with others? Where do production, performance, or personnel problems trend?

Broadcast your message. Share company benefit packages, employment opportunities, and the company culture. Use collateral materials, email, meetings, blogs, and video to promote company programs. Be clear about all the benefits available to your employees, who qualifies, how they work, and what it means for them. Share job advancement opportunities on an employee accessible website and publish them in your company newsletter.

Segment your efforts. We’ve all seen segmented marketing. Your grocer mails you coupons based on your buying habits. Re-marketing banner ads pop up on Facebook after you’ve visited a website. The soft drink machine allows you to design an individual concoction from hundreds of choices. Your teammates aren’t one size fits all. A boomer may be concerned about 401 K while a millennial may be most interested in flex time. Fit the benefits to the market.

Marketing is Key to a Successful HR Department

Recruiting, retaining, and building an enthusiastic workforce is critical to building a successful business. Marketing aimed at employees may be as important to the success of an operation as marketing geared toward prospects and customers. A company can only grow as far as loyal, hard-working, and invested employees will take it. Organizations that aren’t competent at recruiting and retention will be outpaced by those who are. With that in mind, why wouldn’t you treat your employees like customers?