The conversation is shifting from talent acquisition to retention and rebuilding.
By Larry Basinait
This HRO Today flash report, sponsored by PeopleScout, examines candidate experience measurement, employer brand practices, and the impact of COVID-19 on employer branding in the APAC region.
In August 2020, a series of email invitations were sent to HRO Today subscribers in APAC to take part in an online study. Study respondents were at the manager level or above within their HR departments. Where appropriate, comparisons have been made to findings from the EMEA and North American version of this study, conducted earlier in the year.
Eye on Experience
Candidate experience describes the process job seekers go through during the hiring process. Some elements include consistent communication from pre-application to onboarding, setting expectations, asking for feedback, and providing feedback regularly.
Survey results indicate that senior HR representatives in the APAC region rate their candidate experience the highest of any region. The majority (84%) rate their candidate experience as “excellent” or “good,” higher than the ratings from EMEA (59%) or North America (65%). However, despite its importance, recruiters admit their candidate experience can still be improved. Whilst 64% felt they had a good candidate experience, only 20% felt it was excellent.
The top three challenges faced with candidate experience are:
- the timeliness of the hiring process;
- lack of notification providing candidate application status; and
- inaccurate or incomplete job descriptions.
The timeliness of the hiring process is a key element in providing a good candidate experience. A lengthy and drawn-out affair not only conveys a poor image of the company but increases the likelihood a candidate accepts another offer.
Lack of notification providing candidate application status also remains an ongoing frustration. Whilst most applicant tracking systems indicate that a candidate’s application has been received for a job, many go on to only show that the job was filled, and even then, not in a timely manner. Top candidates expect more detail about their status.
Two other challenges, onboarding practices and a lengthy application process, are considered nearly as daunting as the top three. Suboptimal onboarding processes are among the greatest challenges in EMEA and North America as well.
Whilst capturing candidate feedback about the interview process is more consistent in APAC than in other regions, it is still not regularly done more than half of the time. Overall, nearly one-half (46%) of organisations always ask for candidate feedback, whilst 10% almost never do. Without capturing data, an informed roadmap designed to deliver a superior candidate experience cannot be constructed.
Further, feedback to candidates after face-to-face interviews is not consistently offered. Just over one-third (38%) of organisations consistently give feedback to candidates who were not extended an offer after face-to-face interviews -far less than in the EMEA region (56%). If handled properly, this group can remain a key member of the talent pool, capitalising on the investment the organisation has already made on them.
Enhancing the Brand
To improve employer brand in 2021, companies are most likely to increase social networking and focus on employee retention. Social networking remains a comparatively inexpensive tool with increasing use as a way for organisations to communicate their employer brand.
Three of the next four most often identified strategies to improve employer brand emphasise current employees:
- greater use of employees as brand advocates;
- employee recognition programmes; and
- expansion into employee retention.
The pandemic has changed the way many companies are focusing their employer brands, shifting the focus to employees by addressing their needs and concerns. This shift has been a consistent theme across regions.
Impact of COVID-19
Despite the challenges faced in the South Asian economy during the pandemic, recruiters remain adamant about the importance of their employer brand. Nearly 90% felt their employer brand will be more important because of the pandemic, with one-half of that group feeling the employer brand will be much more important, far more than other regions. Planned investment reflects that belief, as 69% of APAC-based organisations are planning an even greater investment in their employer brand over the next 24 months.
Nearly all (93%) companies in Asia have adjusted their employer brand in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers have shifted focus from recruiting to meeting the needs of their current employees. Foremost among the adjustment is actively promoting ways the company is protecting employees. Examples include emphasising employee work-from-home arrangements, social distancing whilst in the office, and disinfecting practices. Beyond the specifics of employee safety, most have focused on targeting the current workforce with messaging and practices related to their employer brand.