CMOs are fully aware of the importance of customer data. The employee data tsunami is less obvious, though.

Expect the lines between employee and customer experiences to blur.

CMOs often own external communication, while chief human resources officers (CHROs) own internal communication. However, they share some of the same goals: to acquire, engage, develop, and retain customers and employees. And both are embarking on a journey to move from standard communications to insights-driven personalized experiences. Most employee experience (EX) leaders report to HR today but relatively few to marketing. EX conversations between HR and IT naturally discuss workplace capabilities and tools. The case of the CMO is less clear: Although he plays a role in employee communication and engagement, most organizations have at best only loose, informal lines between EX and marketing.

Today’s crises will accelerate the need to transform brand values into authentic customer and employee experiences. CHROs who are front and center in dealing with the current COVID-19 crisis should increasingly count on their CMO partner and leverage marketing skills (journey mapping, data insights, lead generation, social media, and content marketing) to acquire and retain talent and turn them into brand ambassadors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed upended work, abruptly shifting hundreds of millions of workers to new ways of working, creating significant fears for their jobs, and disrupting purchasing power. And a recession and ongoing societal and cultural disruption are now forcing brands to take a stand. This has created a strategic imperative for CMOs to find new ways to serve and engage customers, but the success of that mandate depends on the very employees who have also suffered deep disruption. While CHROs are in front of managing the employee crisis, CMOs are under pressure to stave off both the current and future downturn by completely revisiting their approach to marketing plans, budgets, priorities, and public support. As such, the coordinated response of the CMO and CHRO will shape organizational success.

Energizing work by articulating a clear brand purpose is increasingly key. The quest for purpose is a sign that brands need to educate employees on why they work. As Bob Moritz, chairman of the PwC International Network, mentioned, “To rebuild trust, companies must do what they say and demonstrate how they contribute to society. Those that don’t will see their brand destroyed.”

Among the many interviews we conducted with CMOs and CHROs for this new research, I really liked this other quote from Jason Bradshaw, chief customer and marketing officer at Volkswagen Australia: “How do we move from product-centric to customer-centric? By putting employees first.” It does a great job at summing up the challenge.

If you want to know more about best practices to implement a more coordinated HR and marketing approach, feel free to schedule a conversation with us through our inquiry system or read the full report associated to this blog post and video: “It’s Time For CMOs To Pay More Attention To Employees.”