I recently had the opportunity to collaborate on an article about “The Indispensable HR-Marketing Collaboration.” My co-author was Angela Wolfgang, Manager of HR & Finance for Nutec Group, and the publication was A/E Marketing Journal.
Through the process, I got to thinking about all the different ways that marketing and human resources professionals collaborate – or should collaborate – within A/E/C firms. The positions have very similar traits: both are typically non-billable (a.k.a., “overhead”), they are non-core functions in most firms, and they both represent the business and administrative aspects for architecture, engineering, and construction firms, along with finance and information technology.
Some of the areas of collaboration that Angie and I identified include:
- Employee Retention
- Continuing Education
In the near future, I believe that this collaboration will be even more critical. The talent shortage is already here in some geographic markets, construction trades, and professional disciplines. And where it hasn’t arrived, it will be coming soon to a firm near you! And while companies are scrambling to find and hire new talent, they can’t risk losing their existing talent, so retention is becoming more important than ever.
Marketing these days is often about the personal brands of key staff members, and gaining or losing just one employee with a great reputation can alter a firm’s trajectory and make marketing dreams come true or result in recurring marketing nightmares!
A/E/C professionals have so many certifications these days that it has become difficult to figure out what every abbreviation and acronym stands for. But one thing these certifications have in common is the need for continuing education – just like professional licensure in most states. This is another area where marketing and HR can and should collaborate, because we’ve all heard horror stories about professionals not obtaining their requisite CEUs and losing licenses or certifications. This can have a major negative impact on a firm’s ability to generate work, but the marketing-HR team can be proactive here, and develop a plan of action to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
I’ve heard it said that branding is 50% created by marketing, and 50% by customer service. Think about that – marketing can build a brand, but every interaction that a company’s staff have with clients or prospects has the power to reinforce or destroy a brand. Company brand is critical in recruitment, but also in culture. It is critical to align company culture with corporate brand, and the marketing-human resources team is in the best position to make this a reality.
With these collaborative ideas in the back of my mind, I reached out to my network within the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) to learn how marketing and human resources departments across the country are working together for the greater good. Here’s a few examples.
Lindsay Diven, CPSM
Florida-based architecture and engineering firm BRPH is a Best Place to Work and Hot Firm, recognized by Zweig Group. Obtaining this prestigious recognition was a goal developed during the strategic planning process, and obtaining this goal in large part rested upon the shoulders of employees, who completed surveys during the application process. So once they succeeded, it was time to celebrate! “Our marketing department developed a comprehensive campaign to recognize team members and thank them for their efforts,” says Lindsay Diven, CPSM, Director of Business Development and Principal.
“We held surprise Hot Firm, Cool Treat parties simultaneously across the country in BRPH’s six regional office locations. We developed a series of emails, the first one announcing the accomplishments and then a second announcing it was party time. In the messages, we included a pre-recorded video of our CEO thanking employees and kicking off the start of fro-yo parties! This was a combined effort between HR and Marketing to help engage and retain team members.”
Jennifer Wells, CPSM
Covello Group, a California-based infrastructure construction management firm, hosts an employee weekend retreat annually. According to Jennifer Wells, CPSM, Marketing & Event Coordinator, the firm has “had it at the same venue for over ten years, and it is something that is voluntary and everyone looks forward to attending on their personal weekend time.” The event begins on Friday evening at an atypical location, according to Jen: “The venue is used for a children’s educational camp during the week and winter months.” At the Friday dinner they focus on their staff: “We introduce new employees – usually answering silly questions, recognize and celebrate employees with 5-year and 10-year anniversaries with mini roasts.”
Saturday typically entails a “state of the union” from the president and CEO, team building activities, recreation during free time, and then an evening dinner, which may or may not include live music by employees. The retreat closes on Sunday morning with breakfast, and then a smaller group of employees usually head out to mountain bike. The most recent retreat also included a 1970s-themed costume party. Yeah, baby!
At O’Neal, an integrated design and construction firm recognized as a Zweig Hot Firm and Best Place to Work, based in Greensville, SC, marketing and human resources partner to recruit and retain employees. “We realize that job seekers have become increasingly savvy and the Internet has given them an opportunity to learn a great deal about a company before ever having an interview,” says Brian Gallagher, CPSM, Director of Marketing. “O’Neal recognizes that branding can play a big role in both attracting and retaining employees. Our recruiting branding efforts help set the expectation for their experience with the company. Our efforts focus on the company, the culture, and the experiences of our employee-owners. One of the key principles of our approach is positioning O’Neal as the ‘employer of choice’.”
Brian Gallagher, CPSM
Brian also believes that recruitment is a role that goes far beyond just human resources and marketing professionals: “Similar to the philosophy that everyone in your firm is a marketer, everyone is also a recruiter. This is why we have developed an elevator speech so employees can quickly and clearly articulate information about O’Neal. Each interaction our employees have with people – trade shows, industry events, projects – provides opportunities to network and get the word out about our company and employment opportunities. To encourage employees to seek out referrals, we regularly post our positions internally via SharePoint, utilize the company’s social networks, and offer referral incentives. When someone earns a recruiting referral, we present the check at a monthly meeting all employees attend.”
The marketing and human resources departments at BRPH also collaborated for their recent 50th anniversary celebration. According to Lindsay Diven, “In addition to marketing the firm and sharing our history, a major part of the effort surrounded employee engagement events. The year-long celebration culminated in a series of 50th Finale events from coast-to-coast. We treated employees and their families to daylong celebrations that took into account each regional location as well as tied in BRPH history. In Seattle, we got great photo-ops of team members tossing fish during a private tour of Pikes Place Fish Market. Our Charleston team set out for a low country fish boil and guided river cruise. In Florida, our three locations met in the middle in Orlando for a mega celebration at Universal Studies. The cool tie? BRPH had just come off of the design of Transformers 3D: The Ride at Universal as well as a handful of additional rides at the theme park. To ensure team members, and especially the children of team members, were wowed, we arranged for animated Transformers’ characters to greet guests upon arrival to the park.”
These are just a few examples of how successful and progressive architecture, engineering, and construction firms are finding ways for their marketing and human resources professionals to collaborate. And they are doing some pretty awesome things!
Do you have a marketing-HR story to share? If so, post in the comments section below.