Teo Lay Kuan, HR director for GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer healthcare unit, tells Sabrina Zolkifi in the business of healthcare, recruiting without keeping culture in mind could spell the end.

Having the right talent on board from the get-go allows a company to remain on track regardless of the economic climate they are operating in. However, the war for talent has waged on for years now, and some industries are still feeling the pinch.

For Teo Lay Kuan, HR director for GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer healthcare unit in Asia, recruitment remains a challenging space for the company. Because they are unwilling to compromise on hiring talent who are passionate about the company’s mission of enabling people to “do more, feel better and live longer”, finding that right fit can sometimes be a challenge.

In order to ensure they are hiring talent whose personal values are aligned with the company’s, Teo says all new recruits are asked to share their thoughts in four categories.

“They are namely sense of purpose, best working environment, development, and performance. This gives us an idea about the person and also if there is a right fit with the company’s vision and goal,” she says.

As GSK is in the business of innovative medicines, vaccines and consumer products, Teo says it is important the company is able to weed out talent who will not fit into the organisation early on – as a mismatch will hinder the organisation’s progress.

“We discover, make and market life-enhancing products. We can’t make this happen without a large team of strong talent, from research and development through to ensuring products are available to those who need them,” Teo says. “When we recruit, we are focused on having the right people for the right job, which enables the company to grow in all directions.”

Teo says GSK also improves its recruitment practices by ensuring HR gets buy in from senior management – and this is something that has to happen regardless of how challenging it may get.

“By gaining buy-in from senior leaders, HR can ensure their activities are aligned to the business. Sometimes this is not an easy conversation and influence is required, but in order for any people related initiative to truly succeed, the leaders must be advocates for it,” Teo says.

New recruits are also given equal opportunities to develop their skills within the company, and Teo says it is important they are aware of these opportunities at the start of their tenure with the organisation.

At GSK, we believe that every new employee has the potential to grow with the business, and it is important that we too recognise their skills from the beginning. We need to find the right people to lead and grow the company in line with our business strategies.
She adds the company also realises the value of hiring candidates who show potential for leadership roles.

“We invest in our employees’ future by providing them the right tools to increase their skills such as on the job training, formal development courses and management guidance and coaching,” Teo says.

Because GSK has the luxury of being a global company, one of the developmental programme employees are offered is international postings. “We believe that some experiences contribute more to learning and growth than others. By focusing on these in a planned way, we can help drive their development,” she says.

Teo shares the company’s employee learning programme is broken down as follows:

On-the-job experiences (70%): Stretch assignments, increasing the scope of their roles, new projects within their roles or going on secondment. On-the-job learning and rewarding individual contributions are extremely important to us.

Developmental relationships (20%): Opportunities to get support and feedback from managers, peers, mentors or coaches.

Formal development (10%): A small amount of what we learn is gained through formal development – for example, e-learning, coursework, programmes, classroom-style training, articles or books. We provide online performance support, self-assessment tools and resources to enable talent development.

From the C-suite

Lee Hon Tong, general manager of GlaxoSmithKline’s Consumer Healthcare Unit, weighs in on why it is critical for businesses have to keep succession planning in mind during recruitment.

It is important for corporations to hire potential candidates to steer the company in the long-term. By recruiting new employees who have the potential to deliver on the current challenges and also develop themselves we are able to prepare GSK for the longer term.

At GSK, we invest in our employees’ future by providing them development through a mix of on-the-job learning, coaching and training courses.

We need to find the right people to lead and grow the company as we look to grow. This of course will benefit the company in the long-term, as good leaders are those that understand the business and are able to take the company from where we are now to where we want to be.

By recruiting employees with leadership potential, we are investing in our future and providing the organisation the best possible chance of achieving our goals.

For these recruitment processes, I am there to lend knowledge and share feedback at every level. Non-leadership positions would require my input at the final interview; whereas I will ensure that the face-to-face interview recruitment process is conducted with the line managers.

I believe leaders are definitely thinking more about succession when they are hiring. As mentioned, if we are recruiting for the long term then this will most likely mean we are looking at the potential of candidates to take on our own roles or other more senior positions in the organisation. To hire someone who has the ability to grow in the company is therefore really important.

At GSK, we believe that every one of our new team members has the potential to grow with the business, and it is important that we too recognise their skills from the beginning. Some of the ways we cultivate this is to act as role models to them so that they are aware of what needs to be done.

We also reinforce the values of the company so that they can see that their actions are not only helping them, but also the business. They need to understand that what they do is important.

Line managers at GSK are also supportive, and guide and coach their teams to achieve and also to ensure they have all the tools available to them to do their roles. By providing this environment we believe our employees will remain engaged with their current roles and through talent management and development they will be inspired to reach the next goal in their careers.