How leading brands attract the best talent

The balance of power between employers and candidates is not as it used to be. While candidates were once expected to do most of the selling, strong competition for top talent means employers are now required to find new ways to impress. 

From ‘waltzing’ through interviews to harnessing social media and building brand advocates among staff, three companies share their sales strategies for attracting the best talent.

Dialing up the fun

MECCA Brands

Mecca Brands helped changed the face of Australia’s $4 billion cosmetics and beauty industry when it launched its first concept store in 1997. Today, its beauty empire has grown to 82 retail outlets and a team of almost 2,300 people who work across its store network, distribution hubs and support centres in Australia and New Zealand.

MECCA Brands was recently named among the top five Best Places To Work for the fourth consecutive year. Helena Karlinder-Östlundh, Head of HR for MECCA Brands, says the company’s strong reputation as an employer helps it attract great talent, but creativity is also required to attract the cream of the crop.

 “The fight for talent is very much alive out there, so we can’t take anything for granted,” she says.

MECCA uses the interview process to promote its value proposition. Karlinder-Östlundh describes the process as a ‘waltz’.

“It’s quite lengthy and involves meeting lots of existing team members from various parts of the business,” she explains. “We want to make sure that we get to know the candidate but, equally as important, that the candidate understands what she or he would be signing up for by joining our MECCA family. We of course talk about the culture and the benefits during this process but it’s more about making sure that candidates get a feel for what it would really be like to work here, so that they can decide if it’s right for them or not. We take great care to ensure we get to know each other properly while waltzing, rather than thinking of it as a sales pitch.”

SEEK’s Laws of Attraction study reveals a working environment is significantly more important to those in the retail and consumer products industry than for candidates in the total sample group. It shows retail candidates are more likely to be looking for an organisation that is ‘fun’ and Karlinder-Östlundh says MECCA promotes this as a strong selling point.

“When we talk to longstanding team members, the value proposition for them tends to be more about working with people that they would choose as friends outside of work, being surrounded by creativity and fun pretty much every day, and really believing in our purpose of enabling our customers to look and feel their best,” she says.

Employees as advocates

IAG Group

The insurance industry is all about assessing and covering risks. When it comes to attracting top talent, IAG Group leaves nothing to chance. 

The insurer employs 10,000 people in Australia and each one is viewed as a brand advocate.

“Our purpose of making the world a safer place is embedded in our business strategy and is a core part of our decision-making process, from the frontline to the boardroom,” says Gillian Folkes, IAG Group General Manager People and Culture. “This means our values are much more than just talk. Our people are empowered to be advocates for our purpose at every touch point.”

Folkes explains that social media is a vital tool for building engagement with its audience and driving brand advocacy. IAG is currently working on a pilot program aimed at encouraging greater sharing of content across social platforms. “Our pilot has made it easy for employees to share our content with their social networks.” says Folkes. “By extending our reach through the social influence of our employees, we have seen an increase in brand awareness and employee engagement across the business.”

Insurance is a sub-sector of the financial services industry and SEEK data shows candidates in the sector are attracted to employers who offer opportunities for work-life balance.

Folkes says this extends beyond flexible working conditions. “We offer a range of different initiatives for our people who want to pursue their personal purpose or passion in the workplace,” she explains. “These include paid volunteering days, secondments in Indigenous communities like the Jawun program, fundraising through the IAG Foundation, and creating change through one of our employee networks for diversity, inclusion and belonging. Taking this approach means we’ve been acknowledged as both an industry and business leader in social good.”

Everyone is welcome

ANZ

A diverse workforce presents a range of business benefits and employee attraction is among them. At ANZ, a bank that employs more than 50,000 people around the world, a commitment to diversity and inclusion extends to the language of its job advertisements.

“We pride ourselves on our inclusive culture at ANZ and one of the ways we achieve this is by addressing bias in our policies and practices,” says Helena Bugeja, Head of Resourcing at ANZ. “Using inclusive language in job ads is just one element of this. We’ve done A/B testing to understand if by using more neutral or less ‘masculine’ language we can attract different profiles of people. We found by creating a balanced job ad we can attract more women and just as many men.”

SEEK’s Laws of Attraction research shows that training and development opportunities are highly sought after by candidates in banking and financial services and Bugeja says this presents opportunities for ANZ to attract the best talent.  “ANZ’s reputation for developing and growing our people is very strong and being great place to grow serves us well in attracting and retaining top talent.”

Like IAG, the bank also harnesses the power of social media to drive candidate engagement. “The value of social media is the increase in feedback from employees and candidates through sites such as SEEK,” says Bugeja. “It’s real-time feedback that candidates hear from our people about what’s great about working for ANZ.”

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Susan Muldowney

Susan Muldowney has worked in publishing for more than two decades and found her perfect job when she began freelancing two years ago. She is based in Melbourne and specialises in writing about business, architecture and design.

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