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Branding for the HR Department

September 20, 2015

Last week, I attended the 5th Annual Next Practices in Healthcare Forum, held at the Children’s Orthopaedic Institute in Los Angeles. Much of the audience was comprised of VPs of Human Resources who, these days, are facing an ever-growing avalanche of new products and services from which they must fashion benefits packages that will attract and retain the very best employees – without breaking the bank in the process. The message they heard? Good luck …

As healthcare evolves in response to the changes triggered by the Affordable Care Act, the HR professional’s work is getting more and more complicated. One of the event’s speakers was Mark Wilbur, CEO of Employers Group, a membership organization that deals with HR issues. He described visiting the office of one of his members, a casino, and seeing a box on the floor, crammed with folders, pamphlets, brochures, etc. “Is that all stuff your vendors are sending you?” he asked. “No,” was the reply, “That’s what they sent me – this week.”

Mr. Wilbur’s point was HR departments are already overloaded with propositions, proposals and come-ons, more than they could possibly ever read. In the future, as healthcare solutions splinter and diversify, there will be even more thrust at them. The winners of the future, he stressed, will be those that find a way to communicate their benefit in clear and simple terms – and so rise above the cacophony. The losers will get filed into boxes and forgotten.

It was interesting because, in recent talks, I’ve referred to a survey conducted by the National Center for the Middle Market that revealed most businesses list staffing as their number one concern. See here. The report went on to show that attracting and retaining top talent is actually a branding issue. Fully 50% of candidates who turn down a job offer, do so because they don’t like the employer’s brand. Now we learn that even those who aim to help the HR departments create an attractive package are, themselves, so poorly branded they almost become commodities.

So, if you offer a product or service that would be an amazing compliment to a suite ofemployee benefits, remember: that alone is not enough. You need to package it in a way that meets the expectations of your market. Be the signal, not the noise. Your message has to stick in the mind of the HR professional. Moreover, it has to be so simple the HR officer can effectively relay it to the CEO. Ultimately, your brand has to be attractive to the prospective employee.

It’s a tall order. It will take some work. But fail to do it and you’ll find your glossy new brochure filed away in a dusty old box.

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