Google, Apple, and Facebook top the tables in the latest jobsDB Top Ten Companies report. But big local players like MTR, Cathay Pacific, and HSBC are also proving popular for other reasons.
They say that money talks. But it looks like creativity, innovation, and a fun working environment might shout a bit louder when it comes to building an employer brand and convincing Hong Kong people which companies are the best places to work.
Those attributes pushed some of the biggest names in the global tech industry to the top of the most recent jobsDB Top Ten Companies report. Although Google, Apple, and Facebook took the No.1, No.3, and No.5 places respectively, a host of local household names – like the MTR (No.2), Cathay Pacific (No.4), and HSBC (No.7) – made their presence felt.
But they did so for slightly different reasons. For example, in the case of the MTR, bonuses, medical cover, and high-job security were the most important criteria, followed by a competitive basic salary.
The companies were ranked on a weighted scale based on the opinion of 43,000 respondents across the Asia Pacific region. Interestingly, the regional picture differed somewhat. In most geographies, a local firm was the top employer. However, Google made it into the top 10 table in every geography except Vietnam, and was No.1 in Singapore.
Word of mouth (24%) was the biggest source of information cited by Hong Kong respondents in forming a positive or negative impression about a company's image. This was followed by news media (21%) and family & friends (14%).
When it came to rating an organisation, the two most important factors for the majority of Hongkongers were salary (13%) and benefits (13%), followed extremely closely by the company's reputation (12%).
A good employer brand can make or break a business
In the end the actual differences may be less important than the strength of a business' employer brand.
Successful companies everywhere are in a battle to recruit and retain the best and brightest people available. Which makes a good reputation and high top-of-mind awareness unbeatable assets when it comes to attracting superior performers.
Interest in brand-building is growing globally. According to a study by Employer Brand International, which covered more than 1,100 organisations from 19 countries and regions, last year 65% of companies were planning to increase or maintain their investment in employer branding initiatives.
The study also found that companies who invest in developing their employer brand could expect an increase in employee engagement and their ability to attract candidates.
That aligns very closely with our findings and demonstrates the powerful link between a strong employer brand and business success. It's not a coincidence that organisations that have invested in building theirs are both popular with prospective employees and commercially successful.
The question is what should companies – whether major multinationals, established local players, or emerging SMEs – do to build their brand image to retain talent and capture the attention of bright potential employees?
Building the perfect brand
The answer is to look at some of the best practices that placed the companies in the Top 10 table and implement the ideas that fit the corporate culture the most closely.
For example, Google has an image of being a very open and transparent company. That comes through clearly in fundamentals like office designs and initiatives such as “Take Your Parents to Work Day” which certainly enhance the company's employer brand.
What we now call employer branding is actually a combination of marketing strategies and human resources practices. The goal is to communicate the core values and achievements of an enterprise in order to attract, motivate, develop, and retain talent.
Nowadays, more and more organisations are using a variety of channels – that increasingly include social media – to build up their own employer brand.
Technology can really improve the transparency of enterprises, breaking down the wall between the business and the public. It also allows enterprises to strategically display their brand image and improve the efficiency of recruitment.
Startups or SMEs which lack the resources or time to build up their employer brand can also leverage talent sourcing solutions offered by recruitment portals, such as the use of visual elements in job ads to reinforce the brand's image and attract attention of candidates.
The bottom line
A reputable employer brand can be a massive advantage to any organisation, not least because the recruitment process is more effective. When companies approach talent, they can convey a more targeted employer brand image, such as "young, dynamic work environment" or "stable job security", according to the characteristics of different profiles.
Of course, the lessons of employer branding also apply to prospective employees. Job seekers can also use technology – updating their profiles on recruitment portals – to proactively attract the attention of their own favourite employer. Whether they are in the top 10 or not!
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Justin Yiu joined jobsDB in 2000 and was promoted to General Manager in 2011. Under his leadership, jobsDB experienced fast growth and became one of the largest recruitment portals in Asia Pacific with network coverage spanning Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. Mr Yiu obtained his bachelor degree in Government and Public Administration from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.