ChapmanCG had the pleasure of bringing together around twenty senior Talent Acquisition leaders in Shanghai to discuss effective employer branding in China. The insightful and interactive session was co-hosted by Nick Lesser, Greater China Head of TA at Nielsen, with presentations from Annaliza Woo, APAC Head of TA at COACH and Anne-Marie McCaughan, APAC Head of TA at Henkel. There were many companies in attendance including Avanade, Coach, Diageo, GE, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, Red Hat and Sanofi to name a few. Employer branding has come a long way from its early days as a marketing offshoot and this is no different in China where organisations are using sophisticated methods to ensure their brands can compete in the tightened labour market for skilled talent.

The Digital Era in China

Over recent years, WeChat has taken China by storm and the emergence of this mobile technology is helping organisations propel their talent acquisition capability through effective employer branding. WeChat has evolved from an instant messaging app to a social media ecosystem that combines the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn, PayPal, Skype and a host of other services. Companies are using the app to invest in brand messaging campaigns to sell themselves as compelling places to work. From an employer branding perspective, the key to WeChat’s success is that it’s also a platform that is driven by both employer and customer experiences. Unsurprisingly, organisations that fail to harness the power of WeChat are getting left behind.

Harnessing the Power of WeChat

In order to remain competitive, organisations need to produce compelling communications that promote their employer branding initiatives. Articulating the employer value proposition is not easy, but by tracking key metrics and statistics, businesses are able to develop content and craft stories specific to the demographic data. Utilising WeChat for storytelling was common amongst a number of organisations represented at the session. It was used to communicate organisational culture, work styles, and values to fans and followers alike. Customised messaging is effective in drawing traffic and engagement.

WeChat makes applying for a job look simpler and easier. Ultimately, organisations want to convert followers to applicants. Apart from tracking engagement rates and traffic, CVs received is one of the key metrics that organisations measure in terms of return on investment and WeChat is a powerful enabler to this end.

To stay ahead of the curve, one representative shared how their organisation has also added an artificial intelligence minibot, an add-on feature to help serve the applicants. This minibot answers most of the questions and queries on behalf of the recruitment team. Although this minibot is monitored by a team behind the scenes, it self-learns new sets of questions and gradually becomes smarter.

From Generic to Personal Linkages

With such rapid advances in technology making processes simpler, it’s important that organisations don’t lose the human touch when connecting with target audiences. One HR leader from General Electric shared that it took the business three years to transform its employer branding in China. The business emphasised personal connections and adopted the slogan “GE and me” in an attempt to authentically connect with their target audiences. GE is known for its innovation and data-driven approaches, and so it combined employee data and experience with digital data to understand what matters to employees when they decide to join, leave or stay.

Our session in China emphasised that employer branding efforts aren’t one-size-fits-all, as even companies with uniform global corporate cultures have to take into account local customs, cultural nuances and differing technological trends. From customised storytelling to making job applications simpler and faster, WeChat continues to gain momentum in China as more companies employ the app to support their employer branding initiatives.