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Forces of attraction

The city’s top employer brands are honoured at the annual Randstad Award


In the continuing battle to attract and retain staff in what has undoubtedly become a jobseekers’ market in Hong Kong, companies are constantly coming up with new and innovative strategies to create employer brands that draw in and win over high-level professionals.
The companies that do it best not only get the pick of the talent, but recognition at the annual Randstad Award, which honours the most attractive employers in 23 countries every year.
This year in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific clinched the distinction after topping an extensive employee survey, earning it the prize for Most Attractive Employer in a list of 20 of the city’s most popular companies. The world’s third largest airline in terms of market capitalisation, Cathay Pacific stood out in the eyes of surveyed workers for providing excellent career-progression opportunities and top-rate training.
Peter Yu, director of Randstad Hong Kong, said 62 per cent of surveyed employees who recognised the Cathay Pacific brand expressed a desire to work for the company. Respondents admired the company for its pleasant working atmosphere, interesting job content, provision of a good work-life balance and strong management. 
“Cathay Pacific as an employer is highly appealing to both men and women from all generations, and those with entry-level to post-university qualifications across Hong Kong,” Yu said.
Yu handed the trophy to Nick Rhodes, director of personnel at Cathay Pacific, at the 2014 Randstad Award gala dinner held at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.
Considered one of the world’s largest independent employer-branding studies, the Randstad Award started in Belgium in 2000. Conducted with the aid of an independent research firm, ICMA International, Randstad’s employer-branding survey covers 4,900 organisations globally.
Yu explained that employer branding is the process of promoting an organisation as an employer of choice to attract, recruit, engage and retain top talent. “In today’s highly competitive job market, having a strong employer brand is the key to setting one organisation apart from its competition, strengthening its employee value proposition, and ultimately building high-calibre talent to drive progress within the organisation,” he said.
“This is particularly important in Hong Kong, as many companies here face an acute challenge of talent shortage. The ability to attract and retain the right talent has become one of the deciding factors for an organisation to stay on top of the game.”
Randstad’s survey offers a valuable insight into employer branding and why people select certain jobs and employers. These insights can help companies “build their employer brands to attract and retain the top talent and increase productivity – a vital factor for business success”, Yu said.
Companies are evaluated on 10 factors that determine perception of the employer brand, such as financial health, training opportunities, long-term job security, opportunities for career advancement, management strength and job content. A pleasant and stimulating work environment, competitive pay and benefits, a good work-life balance, and progressive policies on the environment and society are also considered.
Yu said the independence, objectivity and sample size of the Randstad Award differentiates it from similar studies in the market. Companies are not allowed to apply or pay to take part in the study, and to level the playing field, relative attractiveness is used as the decisive metric to eliminate the advantage of well-known organisations over lesser-known ones.
The MTR Corporation emerged as the second most attractive employer brand, with 60 per cent of respondents who recognised it expressing a desire to work for the company. MTR took the top spot in the inaugural Randstad Award Hong Kong in 2013.
“Potential employees consider MTRC to be financially healthy, offering long-term job security and a good work-life balance, as well as competitive salary and benefits, good training, and opportunities for career progression,” Yu said. “MTR’s role as a champion for community causes is another draw card, attracting both young and old.”
Dragonair grabbed third spot, confirming the current strong appeal and varied opportunities in the aviation industry. “The Randstad Award shows the transport and travel sector has leapfrogged in terms of attractiveness in just one year and taken the top three positions – a strong testament to the advancements in service and product excellence [in the industry],” Yu said.
CLP, HSBC, Hong Kong Jockey Club, IBM, UBS, HK Electric and Swire Properties rounded out the top 10. HSBC was also cited as the Most Attractive Employer in the Banking and Financial Services Sector, while Hong Kong Disneyland won the award for Special Category: Best Workplace Culture.
Shortly after the Hong Kong awards, BMW was named the most attractive employer worldwide in the first ever Global Randstad Award. Coca-Cola, General Electric, Samsung and Sony also made it into the top five.

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