Racheal Lee
Jan 20, 2014

Under Singapore's 'fair consideration' rule, employer branding gains importance

In 2014, Singapore’s employers must adapt to a new advertising rule, the “Fair consideration framework,” which starts in August. Savvy firms will use employer branding to help ease into the new legal landscape and grab the best talent.

Under Singapore's 'fair consideration' rule, employer branding gains importance

Once implemented Singapore’s new recruitment framework has potential to lengthen the hiring process, sticking employers with a new obstacle to overcome in 2014. The law only allows companies to advertise vacancies to a limited talent pool for 14 days before opening positions to a wider international audience. Branding and communications become more important as employers need to attract top local talent to avoid drawn out recruitment and lost productivity.

While employer branding activities mainly target young talent for entry-level positions, the idea is still relevant to employers who seek experienced professionals, as young local talent naturally grows to become better leaders and workers, according to Joakim Strom, managing director, APAC at Universum.

Universum provides a full range of services to employers in attracting, recruiting and retaining talent.

“Employers looking for experienced workers should also start their branding early as entry-level talent sooner or later become your target,” he said. “It can be too late by the time you want to engage them. Plan in advance and build a sustainable talent pipeline.”

Employer branding emphasises the need to promote a company and its culture as great place to work. Strom added that it is important for employers to proactively reach out to talent and understand the needs of the target audience.

“Organisations need to determine the value they stand for, and then engage the people with relevant message.”

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced the new rules last September, which it created with a goal of eliminating discriminatory hiring practices among employers, after getting feedback from the public, employer groups and key stakeholders.

In August, employers will need to first advertise job openings for 14 days on a Singapore Workforce Development Agency portal, and “consider Singaporeans fairly” before hiring Employment Pass (EP) holders, according to the MOM website.

The framework requires employers to first advertise job openings for 14 days on a portal run by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency that open to Singaporeans, before they can turn to foreigners.

Some employers have already reacted to the framework. Angeli Beltran, managing director of jobsDB Singapore, noticed a 16 per cent increase in job advertising posting at the portal since the announcement.

“It shows that employers are increasing their efforts and casting the net wider in finding local candidates,” she said.

She added that she expects the most affected industries under the framework would be insurance, telecommunications, medical services, as they do not see as many candidates applying locally, compared to other industries.

Some companies in Asia have long implemented employer branding to combat the talent war. According to Asia Risk Report published by Strategic Risk last month, the retention and acquisition of talent is a key area of concern for Asian risk managers. Campaign Asia Pacific’s own Marketers’ Survey, publishing in the February issue, also found talent retention as a forefront issue for brands.

Unilever, for example, does research to understand its perception in the market and identify the right candidates for different parts of its business. It also uses internal teams for on-campus campaigns at colleges and universities, as well as providing graduate programmes and internships.

Advertising agency Dentsu is driving its employer branding on LinkedIn. Last year, it hired regional head of talent Ujjwal Sarao, who later bought a license on LinkedIn for recruitment and job posting purposes. It posts information and updates about the organisation as well as the available positions.

Sarao added that the agency will build on its internship programmes and campus recruitments further to attract young local talent and to raise awareness of the agency. This year, it will also launch an onboarding module for new employees to have more understanding about the agency including its history, mission and vision.

It is also important for employers to groom their entry-level staff, she said, as part of the effort to retain them.

“We put them at different markets on a project-basis or under a secondment. We want to give them different experience and make them understand that Dentsu wants its employees to grow together with the organisation,” she added.

Universum’s Strom noted that it is important to implement industry branding to keep the talent within the same industry. The creative industry, for example, has seen experienced talent move to in-house roles due to industry-wide issues such as long working hours. Industry branding may help to prevent people from moving to different industries, by addressing the issues and promoting the benefits, he said.

He also pointed out that employers can instead benefit from the framework, using it as a channel to hire local talent.

“The format is unclear now but with the applicants’ profile available on the job bank, employers can reach out to them easily,” he said. “Generally, local talent are not very good in promoting themselves and it is a way employers can look for them.”

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