In a lively and engaging session, co-hosted by ChapmanCG and Mondelez, Talent Acquisition leaders converged from a range of organisations including Alcatel Lucent, Deloitte, GE, Pfizer, Reckit Benckiser, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, IBM, Philips, Merck, Deutsche Bank, Tektronix, WPP, Coach and DraftFCB. As always with this group it was an energetic and interactive session fuelled by delicious Mondelez products!
In general, talent acquisition functions in China are still striving for a more business aligned model. The need to influence and sync with business objectives is increasingly important to ensure the right talent is attracted in the optimal timeframe. However for many organisations in China, HR Business Partners (HRBPs) are still ‘owning’ the strategic relationships with the business and leading critical discussions around the talent acquisition agenda. This can sometimes be to the exclusion of those responsible for talent acquisition, which can have a negative impact on their ability to deliver successfully and to time. Consequently, one of the key ongoing challenges is how talent acquisition can not only work in tandem with these HRBPs but also have robust and fruitful relationships directly with the business as talent acquisition ‘business partners’.
Where’s the talent?
So, you’ve convinced your organisation that talent acquisition should have early and strategic input, working cooperatively with the HRBP. Moving on to the next challenge: finding capable talent acquisition talent in China with the ability to handle these complex stakeholder relationships within the business.
There is an existing trend in Asia, which is magnified in China, for up and coming talent acquisition professionals to migrate into more generalist HR roles. Many recruiters feel that their optimal career path once they make the move in-house is to then make a transition into an HR business partner role. This is a well-trodden path in China, which may be down to the fact that talent acquisition functions are not generally viewed as strategic; therefore careers in this field are limited to delivery. As a result, it is becoming increasingly tough to keep the more strategically minded talent focused on talent acquisition.
One solution explored is to rotate business leaders into these staffing leadership roles. One talent acquisition Head present was a live example of this and he has had a significant impact in raising the talent acquisition profile within his organisation. Citing instant credibility with the business stakeholders as one of the key advantages, he was also a big advocate of hiring talent acquisition specialists from executive search firms. In his opinion, they have the capability to swiftly learn a market in-depth, whist also having the ability to hold credible conversations with senior business leaders.
This particular organisation had been through significant change at a global and regional level with regard to the talent acquisition function, and it has now built a successfully aligned function. The journey was summed up by Alfredo Linares, Senior Director, Talent Acquisition, Asia Pacific, Pfizer “We have taken a global strategy but tailored it to the local markets. We have built the right team with the right capability and invested a lot in employer branding to differentiate ourselves.”
This last point around innovation in employer branding was also a major thread in the session, particularly around the need to utilise the employer brand to differentiate, notably at the graduate level. Deutshce Bank, for example, has started using a 3D graduate presentation to liven up their proposition and has been receiving positive feedback to date. Increasingly talent acquisition functions are driving employer branding strategies linked to social media, working in conjunction with marketing teams, as opposed to being led by them.
It was clear in the session that the organisations present are taking decisive action to meet the talent acquisition challenges in China. Perhaps in the future we will see talent acquisition roles merged with talent management to drive a holistic view of talent linking internal and external strategies. This type of strategic collaboration can only help to generate a more efficient and forward thinking talent acquisition model in which future talent needs can be identified early and effective pipelines generated.
Overall it was a productive session with insightful sharing. Special thanks goes to Gary Qin and his Mondelez team for hosting.
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