, Singapore

How to boost employer branding to lure Singapore talent

By Abhishek Mittal

In the current volatile economic environment, several Singapore organisations are struggling to establish and maintain an effective and affordable strategy for attracting, engaging and retaining employees. The changes in the talent markets, demographic shifts in the labour pool and the changing nature of work preferences all add further to the situation.

In a recent survey conducted by Towers Watson, about 77% of the companies in Singapore reported challenges in attracting top-performing employees. 60% of these companies also cite difficulties in retaining such employees.

To address the situation, several HR professionals are actively looking at Employer Branding as a strategy to attract and retain great talent. As we focus on the branding aspect, we could probably borrow a page from the marketing professionals.

Before branding any product, a marketing professional focuses on establishing a clear and differentiated value proposition for the product i.e. what does the product promise to do for the customer, what is the value, utility or experience it offers. The brand messaging is derived based on this value proposition that the marketeer helps define.

Similarly, HR professionals need to define a clear and differentiated Employee Value Proposition (EVP), before they think about employer branding. An EVP goes beyond just the rewards that a company offers in lieu for the employees' time and efforts.

It encompasses total rewards, purpose & values of the organisation, nature of job, culture and colleagues. In essence, it is the "deal" or "experience" that you offer to the employees. So, how could HR leaders approach this effectively?

The starting point would be in-depth research. HR leaders need to find out the key ingredients of their workplaces through quantitative research (employee surveys) or qualitative research (focus group discussions, interviews etc.).

The research would point us to the key factors which employees (and prospective employees) truly value about the organisation. Based on the research, we would need to identify the key themes or tenets that would make up the EVP.

These would be the key propositions why people should work for your organisation. And these would also inform your other HR programs and initiatives, so that they are aligned to the EVP promise.

Once the EVP has been established and validated with stakeholders, then we could move to the branding side of the equation. By defining the EVP and ensuring alignment of HR programs, the employer branding would be an authentic articulation of the "deal" that the employees get, backed by the organisation's proven ability to deliver on the promise.

For those organisations, who still want to take it a notch further, they could think about how they can apply another Marketing technique to HR practices - Segmentation. The most forward-looking companies segment their EVP by the key workforce segments.

For instance, they provide a further differentiated deal to their top talent, high potentials or employees in pivotal roles. Or some offer a differentiated value proposition based on job families or demographics such as age.

Research evidence clearly shows that companies who are progressive towards full realisation of a formal EVP are likely to achieve superior financial performance and an engaged workforce.

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