Vasumathi Balan serves as COE, Talent Development and Acceleration, APAC, Motorola Solutions. With over eight years of experience as a learning and development lead, Vasumathi Balan is well-versed in developing and establishing enterprise-wide development programmes, executing talent management process and tools, and leading cross-functional teams. According to Balan, her foundation studies in architecture helps her to conceptualise people development needs accurately. She utilises her design thinking skills to design programmes to develop employee skills and instil organisation culture and values into every employees’ heart.
Q: In your opinion, how has the Employer Branding landscape evolved over the years? What are the myriad advantages of technological evolution for businesses today?
Long time ago, I applied for a job which advertised in a newspaper. I learned more about their vision and values progressively when I was on-board. Today, that experience has evolved.
People, especially the generation Z, are more purpose driven and they desire to trust a company based on what its employees have to say than on its recruitment advertising. It seems like Confucius’ quote: “I hear I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” The employer brand promise is gauged right from the employee’s hiring experience, outcome of employee’s engagements, development and retention program, leadership commitments, work place design and settings, and even most of them consider checking social media on the company’s reputation as a place to work even before applying for job. It’s a journey, a process that integrates many intangible elements like culture, visions, and organization memories.
To deliver the brand promise effectively, senior lead team need varieties of insights from customers, exit employees feedback, employee engagement survey report, feedback by stakeholders, external benchmarking and responds from new hires on what attracted them to join the company. It’s inevitable that to be a strategic business partner, the HR team must be “data revolutionaries.” They must be able to extract an accurate and real time data from HRIT platform e.g., Workday and translate in visual chart using Tableau to present the key highlights and concerns for the management to make predictive analysis.
To create the stickiness, ideally the HR team and the people managers constantly need to do pulse check on what people feed through Glassdoor, Facebook, and proactively update corporate social media and career website. The team needs to have design thinking skills to constantly innovate by empathizing and delivering a pragmatic approach in developing the avenues to motivate and engage their employees.
Q: How technologies enable the talent acquisition experience?
The presence of technology changed the hiring experience not only for recruiters but for talents as well. It’s a win-win situation. The rise of social media, especially LinkedIn, has made companies to shift the way to attract talents. Some companies use recruitment platform like HireVue to speed up the screening process and to give candidate a personalized and comfortable interview experience. We can also see an increasing demand for talent acquisition team partnering with brand team to produce more videos about employee engagement and advocacy being published in social media and their corporate websites. These intuitive experiences allow the talents not only to discover what the company could offer but also to develop emotional connection even before they are officially onboard. Nevertheless, by deploying technologies in different phases, it allows the HR team to constantly revise the process of talent attraction dealing with complexity, business change and people.
Today is an employee but tomorrow is a Talent and building talent should be part of the promise.
A talent framework that developed in a discreet fashion should be able to deliver total brand promise. The key elements like people managers expected behaviours and success qualities of potential talents should be included in the framework and be transparent to all employees. Leaders across the organization must be able to communicate the framework courageously and show interest in developing the employees regardless of their gender, culture, and background. On the other hand, the front line managers must empower employees to innovate, give feedback on their co-worker’s performance, and without any biasness, provide the employees a safe environment to speak-up.
If innovation or agility identified as success factor to developing talents, the HR or the OD expert must influence business leaders for building a learning culture that sparks innovation, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing. Google suite is a smart tool to encourage collaboration. I must admit that technology enables the speed of learning but it should be integrated with learning experience. Through experiences, employers are able to deliver the brand promise to resonate in the heart of the employees. Take for example, employees can learn anywhere at any time with LinkedIn Learning (LiL). However, for continuous learning through LiL, the HR team should think smart ways to excite employees. Nevertheless, these initiatives should bundle with recognition and tangible reward to cultivate innovation and motivate employees intrinsically. You might be surprise that the unsung heroes who never had the opportunities to be part of any high-potential program will take part in these initiatives. These efforts must not stop at the ground level but need to be highlighted in a corporate level and social media. To summarize, the learning experiences can be evolved through a domino effect but the talent leads must be mindful that the foundation of learning must be strong before any advance attempt. To recognize and understand the learning pulse, I personally like to refer Peter Senge’s theory on stages of learning. It’s very practical and smart way to follow.
This effort only can be successful if it’s driven from the top management. In the meeting, the leaders and managers can set the rule to emphasis people as their key agenda and followed by the other business elements.
Q: What according to you are some of the challenges plaguing employer branding today and how can they be effectively mitigated?
Leading Employer Branding
From my experience and observation throughout my career, I recognize that HR always be in the forefront initiating the employer brand activities and sometimes partnering with marketing team to deliver. However, we have learned that it will be even successful if the senior lead team buy-in into the ideas and being advocacy to spread the good words. The narrative of the employer brand does not belong to either TA team or the marketing team. It’s process owned and accountable by all in the company and should be led by the CEO and the executive team. The storytelling of the employer brand should not disconnect from the corporate brand and the business focus. The message should be consistently communicated across the organization.
"If innovation or agility identified as success factor to developing talents, the HR or the OD expert must influence business leaders for building a learning culture that sparks innovation, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing"
HR must be tech savvy
Handling day-to-day transactional tasks could prevent HR from partnering with the business strategically. HR must have visions to digitize work stream features to replace their transactional tasks. For example, HR can explore cloud-based HR software; Workday can be optimized as tool for performance management purposes, talent management suite, skill inventory repository, a platform for mobility and also bespoke as an ultimate workforce model. Leveraging Workday, not only to extract employee’s data but it also allows employer to provide digital experience to the employees. However, one must have passion to go extra miles.
HR needs to be innovative
The employee experience can be status-quo if HR provides the same program even though the business focuses or leadership changes. To keep-up with the phase, HR team need to understand the science of organizational behaviours and need imagination to design a purposeful and resonated employer branding. The HR team that involves in recruitment and development need to be sensitive of the external trending and benchmark. They should explore the latest tools and technology available in the market. To move them forward, they should be resilience and flexible in their options to achieve the desired business outcome.