How to win the talent war with employee engagement

Leaders are turning to new ways of engagement to attract new talent and cultivate existing ones for great workplace culture.
By: | January 31, 2024

As the war on talent intensifies across different industries and sectors, more organisations must revise the way they strategise to retain headcount and entice more skilled talent. 

Recent research has indicated that employees in Singapore, for example, will be willing to change employers to find work in organisations that prioritise wellbeing and work-life balance, as well as good management and leadership. As such, organisations are now seeking to revamp and rework their workplace culture to make it a great place not just to hire new talent but also encourage employees to take on opportunities to develop their skills.

This, of course, starts with centring people in the hiring process, especially in organisations that have a strong frontline employee base. Mastercard, the organisation that brings payment technology to nearly every country in the world, sees a huge employee base that focuses on customers and their enquiries.

“At Mastercard, talent acquisition is a two-way street, and the importance of employee engagement in this dynamic landscape cannot be overstated. People are the heartbeat of Mastercard, driving our strategic advancements and every success we achieve,” said Amanda Gervay, Senior Vice-President, People & Capability, Asia Pacific, of Mastercard. “For Mastercard, investing in employee engagement is not just a priority but a strategic imperative. Our culture is meticulously crafted to ensure the holistic growth and fulfilment of every team member.”

Gervay shared with HRM Asia that when it comes to the competitive talent acquisition landscape, attracting and retaining top-tier professionals does not just start and stop with offering a potential employee a job – it involves valuing everyone’s unique contributions.

Another organisation that prizes frontline employees is foodpanda, a food and grocery delivery platform, and Asia’s pioneer in q-commerce (quick commerce). The organisation sees employee engagement as an important factor in the talent acquisition process, especially as employers are not the only ones making choices. Employees are also picking jobs and workplaces that will be able to provide them with the work and lifestyle they want.

“Today’s talents see a fulfilling job as one that not only provides them with meaningful work, but they also want to get insights into the industry and the workplace culture,” explained Ingo Laubender, Chief People Officer of foodpanda.

He attributes the importance of the employee value proposition (EVP) as a part of purposeful engagement, and the importance of organisations better articulating their EVP so that candidates and hiring managers can holistically assess a potential fit. It starts with accessible platforms that both parties can find to research and engage with each other, which, Laubender underscored, includes social media. “This allows applicants to conduct their research more efficiently and spend time with talent acquisition partners and hiring managers more effectively,” he proposed.

“Today’s talents see a fulfilling job as one that not only provides them with meaningful work, but they also want to get insights into the industry and the workplace culture.”- Ingo Laubender, Chief People Officer, foodpanda.

So how do both organisations work on enticing and enriching their engagement with their employees to create experiences that will attract and retain talent? For Mastercard, it starts with three principles that Gervay describes as the Mastercard way: Create Value, Grow Together, and Move Fast. These are ways that address what Mastercard does as an organisation, how they work together, and the ways they deliver for their customers and to themselves.

Mastercard provides opportunities to their employees to drive engagement such as offering programmes for leadership and for nurturing emerging and existing talents. These include the initiatives created by the organisation, such as the Mastercard Leadership Academy and Unlocked Programme, which offers on-demand virtual courses, project exploration, and mentorship opportunities for aspiring leaders; and the recent introduction of the Mastercard Internship Programme, Launch Programme, and the Young Professionals Business Resource Group, nurturing emerging talents and giving them resources and opportunities to learn more. 

“For Mastercard, investing in employee engagement is not just a priority but a strategic imperative. Our culture is meticulously crafted to ensure the holistic growth and fulfilment of every team member.” Amanda Gervay, Senior Vice-President, People & Capability, Asia Pacific, Mastercard.

Employees at Mastercard appreciate these opportunities, and their experiences are shared through multiple diverse points which can then be used to engage with potential new talent. “At Mastercard, our passionate employees serve as authentic brand advocates,” shared Gervay. “Their genuine experiences are shared across diverse touchpoints, including testimonials on our career site, stories featured on our social media platforms, and personal interactions with our recruiters and interviewers at every stage.”

For foodpanda, Laubender attributed this to the importance of their EVP and how it guides their organisation in attracting the right kind of talent in a fast-moving organisation that sees competition with other food delivery options within the region. “We need talent who possess not just the right skillset but also the right attitude to navigate quick changing market shifts,” he said. “Today, our EVP consists of four supporting pillars that are intended to cultivate an inclusive and caring culture where employees empower one another to drive growth and innovation. We see culture as an enabler to stay ahead of the curve and drive progress, and this means that it needs to be visible and ingrained in everything we do.” 

This starts with clear communication towards talent every step of the way, Laubender added, from interactions during the recruitment process, to content that they see on various channels that they will come across as they research more about the company and the role. foodpanda also attributed their success with employee benefits that attracts employees across all levels, from delivery partners to those within corporate, such as comprehensive and inclusive leave types that they believe are rarely offered, including fertility leave and fostering leave.  

READ MORE: Human Development: The focal point of building a talent pipeline

For both foodpanda and Mastercard, which continues to place a heavy emphasis on being brand ambassadors thanks to their large customer-facing employee base, these continuing ways of pushing forth engagement help them to continue cultivating talent and a workplace culture that allows employees to pursue what they want to do. These different strategies, such as employee perks and mentorship programmes, are all effective in attracting new talent and retaining headcount for both organisations, rendering them as big players in two big, burgeoning sectors.