Understanding Your People

Our latest HSM Advisory pandemic webinar focused on the topic of understanding your people in order to effectively redesign work in the new hybrid world – and we decided to take an interdisciplinary approach.

Prof. Lynda Gratton spoke with Leanne Cutts, Group Chief Marketing Officer at HSBC, about what HR can learn from Marketing when it comes to understanding people better.

According to Leanne, consumer insights revolve around a ‘holy trinity’ of principles: 1. to identify compelling customer insights, 2. to identify ways to leverage your distinctive brand assets, and 3. to drive business growth. These principles are equally important when looking at an employer brand. HR teams need to dig deep into their insights, identify what their “assets” are as an employer brand, and then pivot towards them to drive growth.

Ultimately, Leanne says, it’s about advocacy: “Marketing plays a unique role in organisations in being that kind of customer whisperer. We are often the representative of what the customer is telling us about our brand, and what their experience of us is like.”

There are a number of different factors organisations need to bear in mind in order to really understand their employee community at a collective and individual level. Here are our four key takeaways for taking a more marketing-flavoured approach to employee insight.

Recognise they are consumers as well as employees. Organisations cannot underestimate the extent to which customer experiences influence what employees expect from work. Workers want their employer to understand their needs at the same sophisticated, personalised and intuitive level that Amazon or Netflix does in their personal lives.

The individual matters more than their demographic. Really getting to know people means looking beyond their differences and demographic characteristics to identify unexpected trends and individual expectations. Achieving this requires a good volume of high-quality quantitative and qualitative data – data science experts and popular experience research and customer experience tools like NPS can help.

Trust is important. We need data to understand people – but people need to know what we’re doing with their data, too. Transparency about how the data will be used – and above all how it will influence and benefit their day-to-day experience is an important part of getting people to share honestly and openly.

Data needs purpose. It’s easy to drown in data, and collecting, storing and analysing it can be prohibitively expensive. Thinking carefully about the purpose of the data you’re collecting is one way to avoid this and ensure you have optimal insights to learn from.

Of course, one advantage HR teams have when it comes to understanding employees is that it is much easier to ask them what they think. At HSM Advisory, we’ve been using Collaboration Jams – online, crowdsourced conversations – for over 10 years to produce the same effect as customer experience and marketing focus groups, and work towards solving key organisational problems in a matter of days. If done in a structured and purposeful way, the benefits can be transformative.

Want to know more about how to create a meaningful and actionable understanding of your employees? Contact Anna to find out how we could help.