It took a holistic approach — one that included interviewing hiring managers and recruiters on the biggest factors attributed to candidates accepting or rejecting offers, Yong Siew Mee, MD & CPO, shares.
Founded in 2017, by three former B2B CMOs, 2X is a B2B-focused Marketing as a Service firm that enables marketing to operate with greater impact and at significantly lower cost.
At the HR Excellence Awards 2023, Malaysia, 2X was proud to take home the silver award for 'Excellence in Employer Branding', following which HRO catches up with Yong Siew Mee, Managing Director & Chief People Officer, 2X, who tells us about the efforts that drove this win.
Q. Congratulations on your top performance at the HR Excellence Awards! How has your HR and people strategy contributed to your success this year?
Our HR strategy has been to support the hypergrowth of the business by attracting and retaining talent. Being a relatively young company operating in the B2B industry and needing to grow 80-100% y-o-y is not an easy feat. While we have made good inroads to getting noticed by job seekers, we needed to improve the prestige of our employer brand to continue to attract top talents. We want to be top-of-mind when people are thinking about a career in digital marketing.
And that is what we set out to do, we want to create a heightened awareness of B2B digital marketing as a viable career path, and the good part is that we have many amazing stories of success and growth that we can share to a wider audience. The win for 'Excellence in Employer Branding' this year is a great recognition of our work on this front, and we also won the 'Best First Time Manager Programme' at the Employee Experience Awards 2023, which shows our commitment to continuing the development of our people which is key to talent retention.
Q. Looking back at your achievements, what aspect of your HR initiatives are you most proud of and why?
Our strategy for talent acquisition and people development strategy has served us well, enabling us to grow our workforce from 30 to 600 over the past six years. We are particularly proud of our track record of successfully converting talents from various backgrounds in engineering and finance into our data analyst, marketing tech and marketing operations specialists. And giving opportunity for regional marketing professionals who were seeking bigger challenges to gain exposure and operate in a more matured market such as the US.
Our desire to hire from diverse backgrounds and cater to different needs of our workforce is the reason behind our flexible and friendly policy when it comes to hybrid work setup.
Q. During your HR journey, what were some significant obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them to achieve excellence?
The big part of the effort was building a strong case with data and proof points, and we wanted to avoid knee-jerk reactions or half-baked solutions, so we conducted some fact-finding initiatives to understand the push and pull factors to our brand.
The approach we took was holistic:
- We interviewed hiring managers and recruiters (internal and agencies) to get a sense of the biggest factors attributed to candidates accepting or rejecting offers.
- We interviewed new joiners and exiting employees.
- We asked employees at their probationary confirmation meeting, as well as, at their employment anniversary meetings what they value and liked about their work/career at 2X.
- We conducted an employee benefits survey to gather inputs from existing employees.
- We conducted a salary and benefits benchmark using Hay-Korn Ferry database to see how we measure up against the competition.
Next was making recommendations and getting all the relevant stakeholders involved, the effort took a long time as we were interested in running this as a year-long effort. Because we involved different stakeholders right from the start, we were able to structure the effort and involve different stakeholders at different parts of the programme that meet the different pain points that they have. So, the result was everyone could participate in the programme and the best part was that everyone felt good being able to contribute.
Q. How does your organisation measure the success and impact of your HR initiatives?
We're proud to have exceeded our goals in:
Elevating 2X as an 'Employer of choice':
- Generated estimated PR value of RM2,068,000. We secured 22 features in prominent dailies such as The Edge, Astro Awani, BFM Radio, The Rakyat Post, and Free Malaysia Today.
- Achieved a 34% increase in LinkedIn followers with a significant surge in LinkedIn activities, peaking at 19,000 searches from the previous 3,000.
- Won numerous awards in the USA and Malaysia, including the Efficiency Expert award at the 6sense conference in Texas, Merit Awards for Business 2023, and multiple accolades from the Human Resources Excellence and the Employee Experience awards over the past two years.
- Recognised again in the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Companies in the USA and Financial Times’ ranking of the 500 Fastest Growing Companies in the USA.
Acquiring and developing talent:
- Increased total number of applicants for open roles by 40% compared to the previous year.
- Achieved notable growth in hiring, with a 6.2% rise in offer acceptance rates.
- Our new managers' training is helping 140 first-time managers acquire new soft skills in coaching and managing performance.
- 118 employees gained new certifications on various marketing technology and platforms.
Q. In what direction do you see the HR/people function evolving in the future, considering the emerging trends?
We will see an increase in AI adoption in various parts of business and this includes HR and instead of being afraid of it, we are embracing AI technology and inserting its use across internal teams in HR, as well as, in our services to our clients.
In terms of recruitment and hiring, we have started using AI to speed up our hiring by summarising resumes and highlighting interesting points for the hiring manager’s attention. AI tools are used more and more in marketing and creative work that we deliver to our clients, we view AI-assisted work as a value add to the human. We developed an approach to evaluate good use of AI to enhance the quality of work versus the blatant use of copy and paste from ChatGPT and other generative AI tools.
We aligned our hiring policies and updated our standards of evaluation where we recognised the skills in using AI tools as a real skill.
Lead image / Provided