Marketing + HR: How to Create Synergy and Keep it Going
In the world of healthcare, marketing teams and human resources (HR) departments pursue a similar goal – to convince people to choose their organization over another. Separately, these groups use data, best practices, stories, and imagery to make their case, i.e., bring in new employees or patients. But imagine the impact if they strategically and consistently worked together.
Remember “synergize” - habit #6 from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? That’s what we’re talking about here - cooperation that creates a whole greater than the sum of its parts, like 2+2 = 5.
In this synergy analogy, the health system's marketing team and HR staff work together to reach a stretch goal that would be unattainable without a partner. At the simplest level, the two groups share information and distribution channel access to enhance communication with internal audiences. At the most complex level, Marketing and HR departments combine skills and resources to bring the brand promise to life.
If you're not sure how to create synergy with the health system's HR department and keep it going, here are three tried-and-true examples to help you get started.
- Engage in the onboarding process.
- Know your workforce.
- Review job descriptions.
HR and Healthcare Marketers - 3 Ways to Collaborate
Engage in the onboarding process
Employee engagement really begins on day one. New staff members are wide-eyed and eager to learn all the cool stuff that comes with being part of the organization. So, in addition to the branded pen and notepad, secure a spot on the new employee orientation agenda and show the newbies how to find and use the preferred channels of communication. What could that look like?
- Pull up your hospital’s website and give a quick guided tour on how to access online scheduling, search for a new doctor, locate a clinic, or learn more about a disease or condition. Sharing this knowledge makes the new hires more informed employees and consumers – and more likely to tell their friends about your hospital’s helpful tools!
- Encourage new employees to follow the hospital or health system’s social media pages and highlight any company rules about engaging on those platforms. This raises awareness about the public ways you distribute information and opens the door for HR to discuss any related policies and procedures.
- Create some shock and awe by sharing recent advertising campaigns. Play the latest TV spot or video and watch the employees feel pride in their new organizational home. (Not to mention, your team and agency partner worked hard to get these assets live! Why not show them off and bask in some additional video ROI?)
- Recruit more brand ambassadors by highlighting promotional material, health education, and any other deliverable that promotes your hospital’s unique services to the community and explains the mission and “why” behind your tagline. Bonus points if you explain how the health system uses brand identity to address sensitive or controversial topics!
Know your workforce
Moving the needle on diversity and inclusion can’t happen until you figure out where the needle currently resides. HR knows the demographic breakdown of your employee population and details on the makeup of your community are accessible through a variety of government and research websites. Start important internal conversations with these action items:
- Set a meeting between marketing/HR with the sole purpose of discussing diversity and inclusion. As this topic continues to move to the forefront of conversation, you can make an impact by intentionally seeking ways to partner with key stakeholders in your organization. (Be sure to check out our recommendations for three additional tools you can use to improve your focus on D+I.)
- Use data to guide racial, ethnic, religious, age, and gender representation in your internal campaigns. This process allows your staff to feel seen and valued. It also gives them ownership in the brand and its promises because the people featured look like them.
- Include the demographic data in any external campaign planning. Compare your storyboards and ideas to the people and cultures present in your service area. This process ensures that all under-represented communities see a place for themselves in your health system.
With some time and focus, that needle will find its spot and you will understand how to keep it there.
Review job descriptions
The hiring cycle for entry-level positions never stops. One possible reason for such high turnover in these areas is the job applicant didn’t fully understand the requirements of the position. That’s why reviewing job descriptions and assigned tasks for clarity as well as reading comprehension is another great opportunity for a Marketing/HR collab.
Have a marketing team member sit down with the HR staff person who creates job descriptions or has the most knowledge about entry-level positions. Ask them to explain the requirements then review the actual job descriptions one at a time. What do you notice?
- Vague descriptions?
- Excessive medical terminology?
- Unclear requirements for education or certification?
- Ambiguous job tasks?
Discuss your observations with the HR staff person, and together, think of more concise or simple language. Incorporate feedback from people who accepted then quickly departed these entry-level jobs. Consider revising the way in which this information is presented to applicants. (Bullet points for the win!) Your concerted effort will create an accurate and specific depiction of the job while explaining it in simple, understandable terms.
Bottom line - in a world of tight budgets, knowing where you can make the biggest impact with the fewest resources is critical. When marketing and HR combine their experience, knowledge, and tools, the result is definitely a whole greater than the sum of its parts. This kind of collaboration brings out the best in both teams and enables your messages to go further and have a greater impact. As Jon Headlee, president of Ten Adams said in a recent blog about how healthcare marketers can impact recruitment efforts, "Don’t underestimate the power of collaborating with the recruitment team to devise a strategy and set shared goals."
Want to take your Marketing + HR relationship to the next level? Let’s talk. We’d love to explain how we’ve helped other health systems create and maintain synergy with their human resources department.