Picking the best in 2013

Shalini Shukla 16 Jan 2013

Over the last few years, the economies of Europe and US have fared poorly – relative to many Asian economies – and as such, the world has seen quite a number of European and American-based firms downsizing their global operations.

“Historically, much of the top talent pool used to work for these international companies, but there has been a growing trend that many of these professionals have shifted their interest to working for Asian firms,” says Gary Lai, Managing Director – Southeast Asia, Charterhouse Partnership.

As the economies in Europe and US have yet to recover fully, Asian firms have benefited from the continued booming wealth creation in the region, and this has resulted in the massive appetite for greater goods and services from this part of the world.

The prospect of many Asian firms continuing to grow year-on-year is positive, and many of them have deep pockets to hire, says Lai. “We are certainly seeing many top talents switching over from European and American firms to Asian companies.”

Singapore, in particular, is very lucky to have had steady economic growth, which is predicted to continue into 2013. “The labour market is buoyant and there is strong competition for highly skilled and educated employees in certain professions,” says Mark Robinson, Executive General Manager, Power2Motivate Asia-Pacific.

While hiring companies will be even more aggressive in how they compete to attract top talent, Adecco SEA’s regional director, Lynne Ng, says retention will also be a key focus area in 2013.

“At the same time, I expect to see these same companies improving upon their candidate retention strategies – as there is little point in attracting talent to come in through the ‘front-door’, if soon after they are leaving through the ‘back-door’,” she explains.

Also, as more and more Generation Y employees take on managerial positions, businesses can expect a change in leadership style, strategy and approach. “This group of leaders are more tech-savvy and innovative, and may engage in creative resourcing strategies globally,” says Gwen Lim, Manager, Robert Walters Singapore.

“Attraction and retention of strong HR talent for businesses will become increasingly crucial, and will continue to remain a hot topic in 2013,” she adds.

Challenges ahead

For many companies, the biggest recruitment challenge in 2013 will be sourcing top talent whilst controlling costs, says Lai. He also points towards a continued appetite for the hiring of middle management, but goes on to say that many firms are outsourcing the hiring and operations of shared services functions.

Still, it is increasingly difficult to find HR talent who possess a healthy blend of both operational and strategic capabilities, and this will remain a top challenge as HR evolves into a strategic partner role, says Lim.

Another key component in the talent acquisition cycle is retention and many organisations are expected to focus closely on this area. “The secret to retention is actually surprisingly simple: people want to work for businesses that provide them with a positive workplace environment, recognise their contributions, support their career development and provide them with interesting and challenging work to do,” says Robinson.

The difficulty that many companies face is how to create a culture that fosters retention. Each company is different – they have different organisational DNA – so it is critical that business owners and leaders engage their employees throughout their changing needs, and inspire them to achieve greatness in their work, whether that is to be the greatest retail sales assistant or a potential Chief Financial Officer.

“Creating a recognition culture, based upon rewarding good performance, behaviours and embodiment of your corporate values is the first step towards creating this culture, and it starts with making the decision that your people are critical to your organisational success, as they are what separates your business from the competition,” Robinson explains.

He adds that in order to succeed, retention strategies must encompass the creation of incentives which actually inspire as well as create opportunities for development. “Employees absolutely must be rewarded for their contributions to a business; this is the key to retention,” says Robinson.

Fresh recruitment methods

Social media is becoming an increasingly popular recruitment channel, with innovative employers finding new social avenues to source and attract talent beyond the established social media sites, says Robinson.

“LinkedIn is playing a heavier role when companies recruit for talent,” says Lim. “As people become more tech-savvy and are constantly on-the-move, advertising for positions through mobile websites, mobile apps or radio will also be a growing trend.”

Lai says LinkedIn and Facebook are popular avenues for recruiting amongst technology and media firms.

“Firms are also using staff referrals as a method to hire for more junior and non-core positions,” he adds. “However, the usage of third party job portals, external recruiters and traditional newspaper advertising remains the main source of recruitment in Asia.”

SME focus

Large multinational companies can invest in technology such as social media and heavy advertising as methods for better employer branding, thereby increasing their attraction to potential hires. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), however, have limited resources with regards to recruitment spend, and use more traditional recruitment methods such as third-party job portals and newspaper advertisements.

Looking at it from a different perspective, SMEs are in a unique market position, says Robinson. “Being smaller businesses, their capability to engage individually with each employee is significantly better than many large organisations where employees may not even meet the CEO in person – let alone on a daily basis,” he explains.

According to Robinson, the key for retention in all businesses, large and small, is engagement. “SMEs can capitalise on their relatively smaller workforces to really individualise engagement strategies with their employees and, in so doing, reap the rewards of higher trust, productivity and loyalty,” he explains.


Cloud-based recruitment

With recruitment software that’s cloud-based, HR doesn’t have to worry about setting it up, or about the hardware, software, or upgrade costs.

According to CIOL.com, an Indian technology and business resource website, with cloud-based recruitment software, typically offered in a software-as-a-service model, benefits include:

•        Getting the latest features all the time

•        Access from anywhere and on any internet-compatible device, including mobile

•        Customisable with individual company logos and names

•        Allowing job postings to the corporate website as well as on different social media sites to promote job vacancies

•        Opportunity to import candidate profiles, add notes to them, and even send replies from the recruitment software itself

Still, the concept is not one that has been adopted by the majority of corporations in Asia. “Cloud-based recruitment is still very much in its infancy phase amongst a few (mainly technology-related) multinational companies in the US,” says Gary Lai, Managing Director – Southeast Asia, Charterhouse Partnership.


Recruiting and retaining mobile talent

The need to work more flexibly and often across multiple time-zones has had a considerable impact upon how work is structured for many employees. Increasing numbers of employees are working in a sub-contracted environment, telecommuting, or working remotely.

The challenge for HR is to continuously reinforce these employees’ participation and identification with their company, as well as maintain their engagement and motivation in a remote working environment, says Mark Robinson, Executive General Manager, Power2Motivate APAC.

“It is critical that employers do not take an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach; they must find new ways to engage those employees and continue to encourage a strong corporate identity through online and social engagement approaches,” he says.

“Anti-social or extended working hours are now a reality for many employees. Retention strategies will therefore need to have a strong work-life balance component in order to address these issues,” he adds.




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