More companies in Asia are paying attention to employer branding as a way to stand out in the increasingly competitive field of talent acquisition and retention. Already, 56% per cent of employers surveyed said that their organisations practise employer branding actively.

Traditional incentives such as salary increases remain one of the top considerations for candidates, especially in mainland China and emerging markets like Thailand and Indonesia. But other factors, such as career progression, training, work-life balance, and corporate values, are also rapidly becoming more of a “pull” factor for an increasing number of employees, particularly the millennials. This is especially true in Taiwan where salaries tend to stay relatively flat.

Companies that succeed in employer branding are those that can communicate clearly to employees what they stand for, and the culture and values the organisation promotes. Often, such companies have multi-channel digital strategies to promote their brand internally and externally. Almost two-thirds (55%) of the companies that practise employer branding engage with potential and current employees using internal and external social media platforms.

In Indonesia, for example — a relatively young market that is among the world’s most active users of Facebook and Twitter — 50% of employers use social media to reach talent under the age of 30. Start-ups that do not have enough resources to build their employer branding also often turn to social media to communicate their corporate journey and mission as part of their attraction and retention strategy.

Diversity and inclusion

Increasingly, more companies are ramping up their efforts in diversity and inclusion (D&I) to build their employer brand. International firms are typically at the head of the curve with D&I, often because they have policies mandated by regional or head offices, and many of them are seeking to localise their workforces to become more representative in the markets they operate in.

While D&I efforts can be better encouraged on the domestic front, local companies that are taking the biggest strides in this area are typically those looking to expand abroad: for example, several Chinese banks opening in Hong Kong and technology businesses expanding across the globe have made determined efforts to look more attractive to international talent, and this has included having clear policies on D&I.

The good news is that majority of employers across Asia (93%), comprising local firms and foreign multinationals, have said that they are committed, in varying levels, to supporting their D&I efforts. Among all, Singapore stood out, with 91% of employers affirming their commitment to D&I, as the local government continues to champion such efforts.

Throughout Asia, gender appears to be the top focus of most companies’ D&I programmes, with slightly over half (53%) of companies making a clear push for recruiting and promoting women in organisations. Beyond gender, companies are also focusing programmes on age (42%) and minority ethnic groups (34%).

5 ways to push D&I in your organisation

1. Have relevant programmes. To support a diversified workforce, companies should ideally have programmes that retain talent from different backgrounds. Some initiatives that have worked among our clients included leadership development schemes for women and fair performance reviews, with processes that neutralise bias.

2. Make it a genuine priority. For diversity and inclusion (D&I) programmes to truly make a difference, senior leaders will need to support the cause whole-heartedly and make it a point to personally practice D&I.

3. Create an environment that shows support. For example, if your company has a work-from-home policy, ensure that leaders are supporting this initiative 100% and that the employees have the tools, like laptops and remote access permissions, to telecommute productively. Otherwise, employees that the policies are just for show.

4. Avoid unconscious bias. Train managers to be more aware of their hidden biases. People tend to recruit talent who are most similar to their backgrounds and personality. However, such an approach reduces diversity and in the long run, new ideas and perspectives.

5. Do not forget inclusion. Once a diverse workplace is set in place, companies should follow up by introducing programmes that foster collaboration among the different groups. This can be done through organisation-wide projects, like corporate social responsibility initiatives, which allow employees of all levels to work with different groups.