Many companies like to boast that employees are their greatest source of competitive advantage, yet the reality is somewhat different. it has become imperative for us to focus not only on how we attract and retain talented people, but also on how we engage them to deliver to our bottom line, to the best of their abilities.
Gone are the days of company loyalty. Talented employees see themselves as mobile and in control of the future of their careers. As the workforce becomes more mobile, gains control of negotiations with employers, the costs of managing and retaining talent intensify because we need to take a strategic approach to attracting talent and managing our competitive advantage.
So where do marketing and innovation fit into the picture?
In their book Marketing Management, Kotler and Keller (2006) say that “Marketing deals with identifying and meeting human and social needs”. The American Marketing Association (2004) defines marketing as “an organisational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organisation and its stakeholders”. The social definition of the role of marketing in society is “a societal process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and freely exchanging (products and) services of value with others.”
Substitute the word “customer” with “employee” and we see a remarkable similarity in the processes for attracting and retaining talent.
To escape the economically challenged business models that have their roots in a time when talent was plentiful, companies will need to adopt a strategic approach to the HR processes for attracting, retaining and engaging talent through innovation (Hamel 2007). Elements of this approach can be adopted from marketing best practice.
So how could we use innovation and marketing to mitigate the skills shortages?
There are several steps in creating, communicating and delivering value to employees and for managing relationships in ways that benefit the organisation and its stakeholders.
Creating value through innovating employee processes
Many organisations have removed themselves from their employees and adopted processes to automate their management and standardise their delivery. This was entirely relevant in a manufacturing world such as we saw in the last century, where the unit we applied to make money was labour. Today, it is intellectual capital that provides competitive advantage. The rules have changed, we are no longer standardising delivery, but amplifying it.
Take a good look at your business. Are you creating sustainable competitive advantage through your most important assets? Have you evaluated and innovated the principles, processes and practices that are based on outdated economic and business environments? Wealth creation will come from ensuring that you get a superior return on your employee investment. This is the product of attracting, retaining and engaging superior skills that are committed to acting in the best interests of your organisation.
Delivering value to your employees
We find ourselves in a very interesting time; just as we see the rise of the power of the knowledge worker as a revenue generating resource, along comes a new technology in the form of web 2.0 which enables us to change the way we manage to get the best return from employees.
The Gartner Group describes web 2.0 as “a transformative force that’s propelling companies across all industries towards a new way of doing business characterised by harnessing collective intelligence, openness and network effects.” We derive value from our employees by engaging with them, delivering the value to them as knowledge workers and motivating them to act in the best interests of the organisation.
The future of how an organisation will derive value from its employees is gathering pace on the web. The Internet is the most adaptable, innovative and engaging thing that human beings have ever created (Hamel, 2007).
The modern role of employee management is to magnify human effort, this is now possible using web 2.0 to get more out of individuals by harnessing their initiative, creativity and passion and then equip them with the tools, incentives and working conditions to compound those efforts in ways that allow human beings to achieve together what they could not do individually.
Grow your employer brand
Critically evaluate your brand from the point of view of potential and existing employees. You may know that you work for a first-rate organisation, but does prospective talent know this and how much credibility does your employer brand have in the market? How can they recognise you as a superior employer above other companies?
In marketing there are three primary ways to communicate your value; advertise it, use compelling public relations and rely on word of mouth. When communicating to your employees and future employees, the best way, is to let them experience it and tell others about it. What better way than to harness the power of 2.0 as a strategic business tool in your organisation?
About Digital Bridges
Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.
Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.
Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.
Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.
To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on email@example.com.