Beike van den Broek, head of human resources at Liberty Insurance, reveals in this conversation with Jerene Ang, the secrets to recruiting and retaining the new generation of workers.

Liberty Insurance has moved away from engaging recruitment firms altogether, and has hired all its talent direct since June 2014 through leveraging on digital job portals and social media sites.

One reason for doing so was the cost factor for engaging recruiters, who they used to fill up to 50% of their vacancies in the past, says Beike van den Broek, HR head at Liberty Insurance.

More importantly, recruiters could not always provide them the kind of people they wanted or those that could be retained.

Realising its recruitment strategy lacked social media, she re-looked at how her team could get better talent, incur less cost and do the recruitment job better.

One of the tweaks was the increased usage of LinkedIn.

“We have a LinkedIn recruiter licence so we’re using LinkedIn more, and we find at least 65% of our candidates through that, 25% through employee referrals and 10% through other job portals,” she says.

Once the company’s EVP is fully established, it will start using other forms of social media.

For those who don’t know us

Another small change it made brought about a huge difference – personalising the job advertisements.

“In past years we would have job ads saying ‘Liberty Insurance is looking for …’ followed by this whole list of requirements. We wanted to change this and advertise the company as being a great place to work and making it more personal.”

She noted that since many people in Singapore did not realise Liberty Insurance was a Fortune 100 company, it was losing the perks that come with recruitment as a global company.

“For this more personalised message, we thought about how we could make easy changes to say who we are, what we stand for, who we are looking for and what we have to offer.”

Adding five to 10 lines about that in its new messaging, van den Broek noticed a huge difference in the number of candidates applying to each position as well as the time taken to fill a position.

We find at least 65% of our candidates through LinkedIn, 25% through employee referrals and 10% through other job portals.
“Our average days to fill went down from 120 to 40 days, and we now attract a wider pool of candidates with more varied industry backgrounds from an average of 12 to 60 applicants per vacancy.”

She believes the key to attracting candidates is making sure the company does what it promises.

“In tandem with our recruitment initiatives, we heavily invested in getting our employee engagement up by providing people better flexi-benefits, flexible work hours as well as learning and development opportunities.

“We did both – that is, market our brand and deliver on the promise – and are continuing to do so. If you don’t do that, then you can have the best message and people, but once they are here, they want to leave.”

This is also the reason its employee referral scheme now provides it with 25% of new hires, also resulting in improved retention rates.

“Last year our attrition was 4% in the first quarter, while the total attrition for the year was 16%. This year, up until now, it has been 0%.

“It says something about creating an alignment with the promise and what we actually do. I think Liberty Insurance has been great at that. We talk and we do!”

Creative benefits for creative minds

Another aspect she is proud of is the onboarding programme, saying that new hires who join make up their mind on whether they will stay or not within the first couple of weeks.

Besides training for its new hires, the team identifies opportunities for them to sit with someone from another department for two to three hours to learn and see how they impact each other in their work – with the aim of giving them a broader perspective, instead of just sticking to their own role.

Going forward, it is looking to formalise an internship programme so as to enlarge its talent pool and promote the insurance industry as well as the company as a great place to work in.

Adding five to 10 lines about the company in its new messaging saw a huge difference in the number of candidates applying to each position as well as the time taken to fill a position.
One of the angles to this endeavour is the benefit of a flexible working schedule.

“We tried this in the last four months and it has had a huge impact on people. They have more time for their families, and don’t feel bad for leaving at 4.30 if they started the day early.”

She says that in a competitive market such as Singapore, it is critical to constantly evolve because “you’re not only competing with other insurance companies, you are also competing with the tech companies, banks and anyone else that is coming in”.

“People, and especially the Millennials, look for the whole experience. They don’t go for just job security anymore or just for the cash.

“You need to provide them with L&D opportunities and career development. As long as you keep that in mind as an employer and keep evolving, you are on the right track.”

Image: Provided