Market HR or perish

There is no denying that the field of human resources has undergone significant change in recent years.

Has human resources driven these changes or have these changes occurred as a result of external factors that are shaping the professions behavior?

Over the past two years I have collected a significant amount of data relating to the ‘strategic position’ of the HR function within organisational environments.

The consistent theme is that without exception the HR function is yet to embrace or incorporate service marketing frameworks or systems into their operational environment a factor that is essential to their long term survival.

Outputs of an HR department are by definition a service. Kotler and Armstrong (1991) define a service as ‘an activity or benefit that one party can offer that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything.

Marketing and its role in HRM activities has traditionally been overlooked. This is because, marketing as a concept has traditionally focused on external customers.

However, it is increasingly being recognized – especially within the service sector – that many of the marketing processes applied to external relationships are of equal value to internal relationships.

It is vital that marketing processes are incorporated into the operational and strategic environments of HR function if it is to reposition itself as a strategic business unit within an organisational context.

Essentially the HR function needs to identify its strengths and weaknesses against the eight P’s of service marketing in order to develop a strategic HRM marketing plan. This marketing mix should include product, pricing, promotion, place, people, physical evidence, processes and partnerships.

In my recent consulting experience, it has been evident that supporting documentation such as branch or divisional plans, job descriptions, and customer communications fail to reflect marketing principles. In real terms, this lack of focus will severely undermine HRM’s ability to prove its value within an organisational context.

HRM’s success requires it to demonstrate its central significance to overall corporate goals and, therefore, it has to integrate itself with other functions to serve the needs of the marketplace.

In service marketing, such integration has to revolve around three elements:

* Identifying client needs – enables HRM to tailor services to meet those needs

* Follow up and evaluation - HRM policies and functions must be congruent with corporate goals

* HR & organisational gain – recognise that all functional areas should contribute to overall organisational gain.

In a recent edition (November 24, 2000) of BRW, jobs of the future were outlined, with knowledge and HR managers touted as being the new organisational heroes.

The article articulated clearly the changing dimension of work practices and the impact the mobile workforce is having on organisational behavior, design and productivity.

The article failed however, to outline the transformation that HR must undergo if it is to be viewed as the custodians of strategic organisational development – that is the transformation to a professional services enterprise.

HRM must rethink its role and evaluate the contribution it makes to overall organisational performance in line with service marketing principles.

Service marketing concepts need to be embedded into strategic and operational activities of the function and incorporated into a formalized marketing information system.

If HR fails to make this transformation, future responsibilities for people management and development within an organisational environment may be reassigned to the organisations internal marketing department.

Ultimately, the marketing department is responsible for promoting the organisation to its external customers and ensuring that the image it promotes is reflected in the actions and behaviours of the staff providing that service.

If the marketing department becomes champion of people management initiatives, what happens to HR?

Chances are HR will perish.

* Chris Taylor lectures in the UWA MBA program and is the Managing Director of CT&A Consulting a national Strategic HRM consulting group.

He can be contacted on 0413 150 000 or via e-mail

Add your comment

BNIQ sponsored byECU School of Business and Law


6th-Australian Institute of Management WA20,000
7th-Murdoch University16,584
8th-South Regional TAFE10,549
9th-Central Regional TAFE10,000
49 tertiary education & training providers ranked by total number of students in WA

Number of Employees

BNiQ Disclaimer