Human Resources



Why start-ups are a worry for the big boys

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Those responsible for talent acquisition should brace for deeply challenging hiring conditions. However, many organisations are slow to embrace technologies that can help them innovate, communicate at scale and become more desirable brands for talent.

These are some of the key takeaways in Universum’s comprehensive annual employer brand study – which surveyed more than 1600 human resources and talent leaders on their branding practices and future concerns.

“We’ve been hearing about recruiting challenges for some time, but what has changed this year is that the world’s most iconic brands are voicing concern over the issue,” observed Jonas Barck, Universum CMO.

“The world’s most attractive employers are 33% more likely than other large employers to say the hiring environment is getting harder, which may be an important barometer for the talent marketplace at large.”

Large organisations consider start-ups as a serious recruiting threat. With 38% of the world’s most attractive employers “very concerned” about competing against start-ups for talent, 55% are “somewhat concerned” by the development.

“If you were a young, tech-savvy, entrepreneurially minded student right now, would you prefer to join the bottom-rung of the corporate ladder or prefer the adventurous, hyper-growth promise of the start-up sector?” said Richard Mosley, global head of strategy at Universum.

“I think the answer is fairly obvious, and that’s the primary challenge for the previously go-to, prestigious global companies right now, since this is precisely the kind of talent they’re looking for.”

This may not be quite the case in Hong Kong, however. A straw poll by Human Resources of Hong Kong graduates returning to the city from Britain’s finest universities revealed that many of them preferred the guaranteed earning potential from working for one of the big banks or a secure position in the Hong Kong government, rather than risking it with a start-up.

The significance of AI in the workplace and its role in employer branding also continues to grow in importance.

While this trend is seen across the board there are two particular areas that showed a spike in 2019. The uptake of gamification/simulation by employers jumped from 22% to 39% from 2018 to 2019 – while the use of chatbots almost tripled – from 15% to 44% year-on-year.

Organisations are also recognising the significance of social media as part of a good employer branding with all channels recording healthy increases in use from 2017 to 2019.

Instagram saw the biggest increase, up from 43% to 76% – driven in part by its employer brand-friendly content formats.

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