What Founders Need To Know About Recruiting to Scale

Updated: May 30


From left Sean Wong (Entrepreneur Selection & Growth, Endeavor Malaysia), Naaman Lee (COO, Juris Technologies), Bernard Chang (Chief Partnerships Distribution Officer) Andrew Ooi (Co-founder & Managing Director, Inspidea).


Employer Branding

Companies often make the mistake of diving right into recruitment, neglecting the value of employer branding. Employer branding represents the image, position & reputation of the organisation in the eyes of employees, affecting the ability to hire great employees. 


Have you built a brand around your company? Whether you are actively working on it or not, your company is building an employer brand everyday. What should companies prioritise when building an employer brand? 


According to our speakers, the 3 main elements are: 

  • Direction

  • Leadership

  • Core Values


On the direction & leadership of a company, CNBC reported that most of the top companies attracting talent are still founder-led. According to LinkedIn, the company’s mission and individual leadership has played a large part in recruiting talent as mission driven goals play a role in differentiating themselves amongst other organisations. In an excerpt of the article, 


“Aaref Hilaly, a partner at Sequoia Capital, says that the more a founder feels like she is answering a calling, the more likely she will be able to recruit top talent as the company grows.”

Our speakers also shared about how their organisation’s values/ mission played a role in attracting talent. In Prudential’s case, an insurance company with more than 1,700 employees, some of its core values mentioned by Bernard were trust, customer first and respect.  Being in a people business, Prudential believes that to solve the needs of every customer, Prudential needs to meet the fundamental needs of their employees first.


Andrew of Inspidea, with over 150 employees,  shared how they found Zappos’ core values extremely relatable, ultimately borrowing some of their core values for their everyday practice. However, being an animation company that focuses on children's shows, Inspidea’s tagline is ‘Let The Kid Out’, signifying their intent to recruit creative talents to best serve the needs of children globally. 


Naaman of Juris Technologies, a financial technology company with more than 150 employees,   shared about how Juris turned their 4 core values (Growing Heroes, Making Excellence Happen, Customer First, Opening Up) into a reward system throughout the organisation. Today, employees are rewarded by practising any of the core values into daily activities, receiving points from team members, which are then used to redeem snacks or drinks within the company. 


Once employees are aligned to the mission, vision and core values of the company, it’s been proven that this leads to: 

  • Better employee engagement

  • Increased leadership credibility and respect

  • Increased speed in decision making

  • Optimize talents and skills

  • A dynamic culture


Sourcing

Creating a strong employer brand is vital as it forms the first impression of a company, but it isn’t the magic formula to attract great talent. Companies should still place proactive steps in sourcing the right talent. Basics have to be covered and organisations should ask themselves these questions when building the right recruitment strategy:

  • What are my growth needs for the foreseeable future?

  • What talent profile should the organisation address to cater to its growth needs? 

  • Have I created a well-articulated job description to filter the right talent? 

  • Have I identified key competencies needed for the various positions across the organisation? 


At the ScaleUp Endeavor workshop, our speakers shared sourcing strategies that have worked in their favour. There is no fixed method when recruiting talent, companies should diversify their recruitment strategies across all channels to maximise their reach into the pool of talent. Bernard of Prudential mentioned how their best hires came from referrals as candidate qualities are pre-screened by their peers, referral candidates have an existing community to join which improves retention rate, it is time and cost effective, and it improves employer branding for existing and potential employees. 


Naaman of Juris shared how challenges can differ for mid-to-senior level talent, with consideration factors including a low adaptability rate, higher hiring cost, and a limited talent pool. 


"An analogy to hiring senior level talent should highly resemble a dating process. Do not hesitate to assign multiple case studies, assignments, a 100 day plan as it is better to identify their strengths and weaknesses before handing over a huge responsibility to them."

The speakers also shared how promoting internally often yields a better result as there is increasing importance in maintaining the working culture within the company. In most cases, hiring complete strangers may disrupt the workflow, either negatively or positively affecting the company's culture. On increasing the overall quality of internal employees, Naaman pointed out how Juris saw the need to upskill & empower talent at scale, creating training programs in place for future growth. 


Andrew of Inspidea holds a strong belief in grooming talent at different levels of the organisation. He shared an example on giving existing workforce employees a second chance in their careers - Inspidea has a specialised 6 months training, attracting 'students' of different practices such as law, engineering or architecture, ultimately taking them on as full time hires with existing work experience. 


Having a clear sourcing process in place helps - utilising best practices, constantly searching for ways to diversify sourcing channels, and grooming internal talent are few of the ways companies can maximize the reach, utility and benefit of a robust recruitment strategy.


Benefits

Do employees only get attracted by the remuneration offered by companies? Bernard of Prudential does not think so. He shared how the basics must be covered - salary, health insurance & annual/ sick leaves, with other benefits being strong differentiation tools for each company. 


In the cases of Endeavor Entrepreneurs Naaman and Andrew, they understood the need to customise benefits as the organisation had employees of different ages with varying needs. Andrew from Inspidea shared: 


“We noticed that there were not any healthy food around the office, therefore making the decision to open an in-house cafe that serves a balanced and healthy diet. This ultimately resulted in happier employees who felt that their needs were met.”


Naaman from Juris Tech shared how their benefits were diversified based on what employees prioritised: 


“On top of subsidised snacks through our reward system, some prefer additional days off to spend time with their children, some prefer a company car and some invest a lot of their time into the company’s growth, qualifying them for our profit sharing scheme as ‘co-owners’ of the business.”


Research has shown that top talent are attracted and retained based on personalised benefits, albeit the hassle. It may not be the easiest in implementation but it can go a long way in forming a strong recruitment and retention strategy. 

Onboarding

Onboarding - the final element to a strong recruitment strategy that companies often overlook. According to SHRM, the onboarding process is a magic moment when new employees decide to stay engaged or become disengaged. The onboarding process is the process of integrating new employees into the organisation, helping companies to 'seal the deal'. 


Statistics compiled by Click Boarding, an onboarding software company in Eden Prairie, Minn., show the value of a structured onboarding process or program: 


  • 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.

  • New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years.

  • Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new-hire productivity.


According to our speakers, companies who don't practise a good onboarding process end up spending more money on managing employee turnover and productivity. 


Endeavor Entrepreneur, Naaman Lee of Juris pointed out how Juris’ onboarding lasts a week, covering elements such as core values of the company, culture, technical skills and administrative processes. 


“We want to start their day right - a simple gesture like giving breakfast and displaying their name on the welcome sign of our office, giving a sense of belonging on Day 1.” As ‘Growing Heroes,’ is one of the core values which stands for unlocking an individual’s hidden potential, Juris also equip their employees with basic skills during their initial 7-day training phase. 


Andrew shared the sentiment and discussed how a simple gesture such as a team lunch helps new team members break the ice & build new relationships, allowing them to catch up to speed and increasing productivity. 


After a fruitful panel discussion, ScaleUp Endeavor companies received a private training session by business professionals, Nic Chambers (Regional Director, Michael Page) and Chan May Wah (Director, Michael Page Malaysia) on best interviewing techniques to identify the right talent. 


Depending on the type of roles within the organisations, there are different qualities and profiles that are required. These questions should be planned before the interview to uncover the right information needed for the role. 


Here are some key focus areas as the session with Michael Page unfolded - on identifying the qualities below: 


Leadership & Supervision

  • Ask the candidate to provide examples on how they would motivate their team to achieve targets

  • Ask how they can ensure that the team is on track to achieve results

  • How would they overcome team specific challenges


These questions help uncover the type of leader they are, along with identifying the candidate's leadership skills.


Formulating strategies and concept

  • Ask the candidate how they would build team spirit

  • Ask about a time they had to coach a staff or train a new team member during their past experiences. 


These type of questions will give the candidate a chance to provide some details on how they can help the company accomplish certain goals.


Working with people

  • Questions should surround their adaptation methods in a new environment so that employers can figure out if the candidate may be suitable to the working culture. 

  • A potential question could be how they would fit into the company’s working culture and what type of team player they are. While there are some free tests that can help determine their working traits, many would argue that these tests should not determine whether a candidate should or should not get the job


New employees often spend a few weeks to a few months adapting to a new working environment, and asking them to open up about their working traits could be a good start.


Coping with pressure and setbacks

  • Past challenges in the candidate’s career can help assess how they dealt with pressure in a workplace. 

  • Get them to share on how they have resolved conflict and handled mistakes in their work.

  • Another good question would be to ask them how they would organize their time and priorities if given a heavier workload 


This is a great way to determine how the candidate handles themselves at work while maintaining a good balance. 


Planning and organising

  • A good method to figuring out how well your candidate deals with planning and organising - try prompting questions where they can share about a time when they had to plan an important project.

  • What were some key takeaways of planning that said project? 

  • What methods did they use to plan the project?


A good tip in finding out more about the candidate would be to ask them about past experiences rather than made-up scenarios. 

The content of the article is summarised from the ScaleUp Endeavor ‘People’ workshop in collaboration with Michael Page. ScaleUp Endeavor is a local support for high-growth startups through a structured 12-month program. A special shoutout to our main partner TIME dotCom and our supporting partners: CIMB Bank, Prudential Assurance Malaysia and Bain & Company for supporting ScaleUp Endeavor. To find out more about the program, click here

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