Navigating the future of employer branding

A recent webinar organised by Indeed and HRM Asia examined trends in recruitment, and how organisations can reshape their employer brand.
By: | May 25, 2021

In the age of digital recruitment, standing out means a complete digital transformation of an organisation’s employer brand. More importantly, a strong employer brand gives organisations a competitive edge when it comes to recruitment and retaining employees, said Sabrina Zolkifi, Employer Brand Programme Manager, APAC, Indeed.

Speaking and moderating at a webinar organised by Indeed and HRM Asia earlier this month titled Navigating the future of employer branding, Sabrina asked organisations to ask themselves: What makes an attractive employer, and how do you become an employer of choice?

Drawing on an Indeed survey, she highlighted how employment in Singapore is now rebounding as organisations are beginning to hire again. And because many of today’s skilled job seekers have choices, employers face an increasingly difficult challenge of differentiating themselves to attract and retain the right candidates.

A digital shift in recruitment and onboarding

Firstly, organisations need to recognise that the entire recruitment process has gone virtual, suggested Susan Cheong, Managing Director and Head of Talent Acquisition Group, DBS Bank. Citing how she has not met some of the colleagues DBS has onboarded over the past year in person, Cheong believes that even when it is safe for people to come together face-to-face, a large part of the recruitment process will probably stay virtual.

At HSBC, where new hires traditionally had to come into the office on their first day, the management readily supported the move to virtual onboarding, investing in processes and technology to create a better candidate experience.

The big challenge for virtual onboarding, shared Brandon Coate, Head of HR, HSBC Singapore, is getting a new hire to understand the organisation’s values or culture.

“Having interactions with people and seeing how they behave, and understanding the values the organisation stands for, that can really only be achieved in person,” he added. “We have placed greater emphasis on the onboarding approach around the induction and the first 30 days, and identified the touch points that manager now need to have on a regular basis with new joiners, which includes the proactivity to ensure newcomers are imbedded within team discussions.”

People processes have and will continue to evolve to be more user-centric and in line with today’s experience economy, said Shirlyn Ng, Deputy Director, People and Organisation Division, Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech), the lead public agency driving Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative and public sector digital transformation.

It is also no longer just an employer’s market, as Ng highlighted, “Today’s talent does not just look at job advertisements. They also look at companies’ online presence and they reach out to contacts to find out more about the organisation before even applying for the job. They choose the type of organisation and manager they want to work with, meaning the candidate experience journey begins even before a direct touchpoint is made with the recruiter.”

And when a hire has been made, it is critical to place an emphasis on the onboarding process right from the start, advised DBS’ Cheong. She cautioned that, while working virtually is easy for colleagues who have worked together for a long time, this may not hold true for new hires.

She elaborated, “How do you bring people in a team together in the current context, and how do you work together? We need to put in a lot of effort to ensure people are coming in and transitioning in a very comfortable manner when everyone is working remotely.”

Onboarding can be fully digital because technology is available to support that – the question is, should it be, asked HSBC’s Coate.

He explained, “You are joining an organisation for a reason and no matter what technology brings us, there is still a critical need to meet in-person, and this should not be removed from the onboarding process.”

At HSBC, a buddy is assigned to a new hire for the first two to three months, and when conditions permit, an induction with other people face-to-face to help the new hire build an internal network is “really important”, Coate described. He also believes that in the future, a balance between digital and in-person will be needed as organisations provide employees with a choice of where and how they work.

While there are various tools, systems and platforms that organisations can use in the onboarding process, everything begins with the simple aspect of intentionality, proposed GovTech’s Ng. “Are we responding to candidates in a timely manner? Are we keeping them updated on the progress of their applications? With virtual hiring, it is important that all the touchpoints with the candidate – from communication to the actual interviews – provide a positive experience, The key to me, is to be authentic.”

Improving D&I as part of employer branding

As organisations continue on their journey to improve employer branding, diversity and inclusion (D&I) is also a key component to consider.

At GovTech, a focus of D&I is to strengthen the inclusion of diverse perspectives and experiences, because “every idea counts”, as Ng explained. “We ensure there is inclusivity among our different talent pools and we also remind our hiring managers to be mindful of unconscious bias when conducting interviews and selecting candidates.”

D&I fails when it is deemed as a HR problem because it is people related, cautioned HSBC’s Coate. At HSBC, there are two key areas of focus – female leadership in senior management and a Singapore core in senior management.

“It isn’t about HR deciding this is the number or this is the key area of focus,” Coate explained. “It was the management collectively having the buy-in to a specific issue we collectively felt needed to be addressed. When you hold managers accountable, make them report back on their progress and be transparent with staff, they are going to care and change their behaviours. At HSBC, we get collective buy-in through a people committee so that there is manager accountability throughout the organisation.”

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