Whenever we ask our clients and our workshop learners which company locally or globally that they think is a great company to work for, Google always pops up. This is certainly not surprising given that Google receives over 3 million job applications a year. Quite simply, everyone seems to perceive working in Google as a “badge of honour”. Some of you may think that comparing with Google as an employer of choice is unrealistic but definitely studying what they’ve done right is worth the effort. So what is their secret?
Well, we have two words for you: Employer Branding! It’s the way of positioning a brand itself, rather than its products and showing job seekers all of the perks and benefits of becoming an employee. Employer Branding is not just for giant multi-national corporations like Google. Any startup or medium size business can utilize its benefits to find and retain the best employees in order to gain success. All brands have to work on is answering one simple question:
“Why should someone work for them instead of any other company?”
This leaves many of us wondering how can a company actually differentiate itself from the competition and attract new employees. But let us tell you that the task isn’t that difficult. Instead of selling your product or service, you must pitch to the consumer (or in this case potential employees) the experience that can be found by working at your company. In essence, to build a successful employer brand, business leaders must be able to offer 3 types of benefits:
- Functional Benefits
- What is the job nature? (Google has a plethora of interesting job roles in the company, they even have an employee called Chief Happiness Officer)
- Is there any opportunity to develop professionally and personally? (Google says they invest heavily in employee’s professional and personal development from coding classes to cooking classes)
- Economic Benefits
- How will employees be rewarded for their efforts? (Beyond the pay cheque, you probably read all about the perks from free gourmet food to massages, as well as death benefits)
- Psychological Benefits
- Will employees enjoy the experience? (Google’s working environment is highly creative and employees are free to bring their pets to work)
- What are the image associations with this brand? (Google is ranked #2 as the world’s most valuable brand and #2 as America’s best employer)
- How will employee’s effort help to drive the business forward? (Google has a clear vision and mission that acts as a clear compass, they say ““Together, they create access to information and build products that improve people’s lives”)
That’s just a quick snapshot of Google. Let’s take a close look at 2 successful employer brands in Asia that offers a combination of the above mentioned 3 key benefits.
Originating from JUMBO Seafood (created by a group of friends who loved eating seafood), the JUMBO Group of Restaurants is a great example of a powerful employer brand that focuses on creating the best working experience for employees and offering them value. So, how did Jumbo manage to do so? Well, it wasn’t easy and in its early stages the company faced huge challenges, including the closure of its second outlet in 1995.
Add that to the rising costs and increasing prices and the company was swimming in loss. This is when Mr. Ang Kiam Meng (company owner) felt it would be a better option to focus on productivity. He believed strictly that the key to productivity lies in the “efficient” use of employees. As a result, Mr. Ang started focusing on growing his staff and ensuring that each employee is trained well and equipped with the right tools and expertise.
Subsequently, he made it compulsory for his entire kitchen staff to complete six hours of a skills program (accredited by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency). Under this program, new employees were taught to host a dinner, interact with guests, and carry out important food preparing tasks with the ultimate safety and hygiene. Apart from this, the firm also established in-house training centers to develop curricula customized to meet the firm’s operation requirements.
Under these programs, each of the company’s employees must complete 120 hours of training (three times the national average!). This not only encouraged employees to work harder, but also showed that working at JUMBO plays a huge role in the learning curve of their life. But that’s not all! JUMBO also offers a fast-track program that enables promising and hard-working staff members to be promoted to higher supervisory positions within 12 months. This shows employees that they have a chance to grow within the company, hence enabling them to work harder, which in turn increases overall productivity! Jumbo certainly offers a strong suite of functional benefits for the employees.
On the economic benefits side, both restaurant staff and foreign workers are well taken care off. Beyond their salary, restaurant staff are given free meals and gets free day tour around Singapore on their off-days, and its foreign workers stay in comfortable, low-cost fully- furnished accommodation.
Jumbo takes great care in increasing its psychological benefits over the years; from brewing herbal tea for all staff twice weekly, encouraging healthy eating habits amongst employees through a “Fruits day” initiative to emphasis on modelling core values on a daily basis. All these efforts to ensure employees feel a strong sense of belonging.
This attention to human capital is one of the main reasons why JUMBO has won numerous awards. At the 12th HRM awards, the company won the SME Employer of the Year 2015 title. Apart from this, the focus on employees has also resulted in the brand achieving an increase in market share and strong financial growth.
Short for Petroliam Nasional Berhad, PETRONAS is one of Malaysia’s multinational Oil and Gas Company and is ranked among the largest companies on FORTUNE Global 500®. It is also recognized for its investments and efforts for boosting human capital development, along with its human resource strategies, practices and policies. In fact, the company has won the Asia’s Best Employer Brand Awards for 5 straight years now and is positioned as one of the most reputable employer brands in Asia.
The company offers appealing value proposition to existing and potential employees and has always believed in creating a sustainable pool of talent for future growth and expansion. This is one of the main reasons why the brand works on numerous initiatives to encourage capability development and educational foundations of their talent. Following this aim, the company has developed a pool of learning institutions to separately build the skills of employees.
For instance, the Akademi Laut Malaysia (ALAM) was built purely to be a Center of Excellence for training and maritime education of its employees, the Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) to give potential employees the knowledge needed to produce oil and gas and use different technologies, Instit Teknologi Petroleum PETRONAS (INSTEO) to build technical skills in employees, and PETRONAS Leadership Center (PLC) to give business-oriented candidates the chance to become industry leaders!
It is because of this robust business expansion, nurturing environment, and significant focus on employee satisfaction, training, and education that the company has gained success all these years, while developing plenty of exciting opportunities to allow prospective talents to join the company. All these factors provide a strong value proposition for employees and motivate future talents to be associated with the organization to get a chance to grow.
This can further be proved by a survey conducted in 2014, which revealed that over 11,000 university students in Malaysia spoke highly of PETRONAS, hence making the brand the MOST DESIRABLE EMPLOYER for students in engineering, business, natural science. Subsequently, there is no doubt that PETRONAS is an integrated powerhouse of employment.
For years, companies have been focusing on building sophisticated CRM programs to meet the needs of customers. However, in the modern day business environment, it is now equally imperative to apply the same thinking to employees for improving the likelihood that they stay engaged and that the companies are able to retain them. This means, if you want to expand your brand locally and globally, you need to start focusing on developing a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP).