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Why P&G believes in giving young talent autonomy from day one

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An insider’s point of view on how one of the leading FMCG corporations has been recalibrating its recruiting efforts to attract and retain 22-37 year-olds. P&G HR Asia practice leader Shirley Zhai spills the beans to Aditi Sharma Kalra

Q. What is P&G’s strategy to attracting Millennials to join its ranks?

With P&G’s focus on digital in recent years, we have created some of the most talked-about campaigns on social media, such as SK-II’s Change Destiny and Gillette’s Ah Boys To Men. Such campaigns have bolstered the brand affinity and relatability of our brands, winning widespread support from Millennials who are then inspired to bring such campaigns to life within P&G.

P&G also leverages our insight in brand management in building our employer brand to attract Millennials. For example, we have significantly increased our presence in digital channels; we put a lot of emphasis in creating superior candidate experience, from search to application.

In P&G, we give young talent ownership and huge responsibilities from day one. The moment a fresh grad joins us, they are entrusted to lead multi-million projects internally and agencies externally, with the say to shape and create disruptive ideas that drive brand value across the board.

This is part of our “build from within” strategy. The majority of our people start at an entry level and then progress throughout the company – each in their own unique way. This especially resonates with the Millennials of today. They strive to create something meaningful at work – and they highly value having their own freedom and ownership.

Our world-class training and development has played a key role in grooming young talent. With open access to company leadership, young talent has huge opportunities to learn from top leaders in the company.

Further, we are committed to personalised individual development. P&G takes a 70/20/10 approach to learning, where 70% is experience-based, 20% is derived from colleagues, mentors and peers, and 10% through structured courses and materials.

The P&G CEO Challenge is a newly created platform that allows us to attract the best young talent who has displayed intellectual prowess, entrepreneurial spirit and innovative mindset. It gives students a brand case with a business challenge that they have to crack. It’s a way to challenge them to bring to life business strategy, real-life critical thinking and problem solving beyond the campus.

Q. What skillsets do you look for in this generation? Do you find them easily in Asia, or if not, how do you groom them for these skills?

We look for talent who has the potential to learn, lead and create. In Asia we have a great pool of young and energetic talent driven to make a difference.

At the same time, we recognise the important role the employers need to play in grooming employees and future leaders with skills such as business acumen, communications and leadership. A growth mindset is needed, more than ever because nobody can be equipped with all skills to perform current and future roles when they were hired.

Q. What challenges do you face in this recruitment process?

Breaking from the noise! The market is increasingly saturated and the best candidates often get attention from all places – including our competitors.

No doubt HR work will be even more exciting in 2025, if we continue to call it “HR”!

We have recalibrated our approach because there’s a need to break from the clutter with a disruptive talent strategy in order to attract the best. As our P&G CMO Marc Pritchard says, P&G needs brilliant creatives – and to that end, we will invest in attracting creative talent.

With attracting top talent also comes the challenge of retention. With today’s generation of young talent comfortable with having a fluid career, it is important to make the workplace Millennial-friendly. As an employer, it is our role to have the employee at the core of our engagement strategy – to have the elements that Millennials deem important.

Our employees feel valued with the amount of trust they are given, and the many opportunities they have for self-development and individual growth through top-class training. We also offer comprehensive benefits and place importance on having a work-life balance through flexible working times and location, as well as generous paid vacation increasing with service.

Q. On the flipside, is it easier to attract talent given the brand name?

Of course, to a job seeker, a leading brand name has its own advantages – especially for talent seeking opportunities which come from the exposure in being with a top global MNC.

At the same time, it is important to go beyond the brand name, to imprint upon talent the association between P&G and what the brand name stands for. To aspiring young talent, P&G is synonymous with a career playground in which you can be seen, heard and inspired from day one as we groom you to become future innovators, trailblazers and leaders in the industry.

Q. What new initiative do you wish to pilot in 2019?

We are in the middle of piloting several initiatives to significantly improve candidate experience as well as the awareness of the P&G brand name as an employer of choice. This will include a brand new way to test candidate’s cognitive ability, among others.

Q. Your prediction of HR in 2025? 

One thing that we are certain is that change will be even faster and more intense with the digital disruptions and new business models becoming a way of life. HR will need to continue to evolve around the future jobs and capabilities, as well as how to embrace a dynamic talent strategy to build, buy and borrow needed human capitals for the business.

No doubt HR work will be even more exciting in 2025, if we continue to call it “HR”!

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HR Masterclass from Human Resources magazine: High-level HR strategy training workshops
led by the world's most respected HR thought leaders & strategists.
Review the 2018 programme here »

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