Max: Hello and welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast and the host, your host, Max Ambruster. And today, I'm pleased to welcome on the show the winners of the 2021 Global BPO Awards for The Best Advertising Campaign in Recruitment. Reed Elsevier. I have two ladies joining us from the Philippines. AJ Silva, who is Head of Branding and Corporate Communication, and Kath Lisay who is an HR Supervisor for the branding and communications team as well. AJ, Kath, welcome to the show.
AJ: Hi, Max.
Kath: Hello. Thanks for having us.
AJ: Very excited to converse with you.
Max: Thank you. Thank you, it's good to have you. And we were chatting a little bit beforehand that the corporate communication and branding team sits under HR. So, for your team, HR and recruitment, it's not a second thought. It's very front and centre, it’s what you do every day. So perhaps that doesn't surprise me so much considering that Reed Elsevier’s business is so dependent on attracting talent. But for those who don't know what Reed Elsevier does, perhaps we could start with an introduction on what the business does.
AJ: Alright, okay for Reed Elsevier Philippines we are the shared services arm of RELX. So, RELX is an information solutions provider for different sophisticated businesses, we have for Legal, Science and Medical, Exhibitions and Risk solutions as well. So, Reed Elsevier Philippines, what we do is that we support our RELX business, we have four main market segments that's for LexisNexis, Elsevier, Reed exhibitions, and Risk Solutions group. So, as you can see, we have a very diverse and sophisticated market. And given that for Reed Elsevier Philippines, the talent that we are looking for, are people who are dynamic, who are really focused on or are experts in these different fields, but at the same time, we also invest in their career development.
Max: There’s a lot to cover, it's impossible to squeeze it all that in a 10-seconds sound bite, but where there's sort of a broad spectrum of products that are information-related, research-related and events. And so, it's probably hard for job seekers and candidates to understand all of that, right, just from an ad. So how do you, from the conceptual standpoint, when you're putting together this campaign, when you have a very complex business such as yours, how do you simplify it and connect with an audience, a wide audience, so that, you know, you can grab their attention even in a place like social media, where attention spans are fleeting?
Kath: Right, so, with regard to crafting the advertisement campaign in our social media channels, we have to make sure that it is automatically understood by our target audience. So, as AJ mentioned earlier, that Reed Elsevier Philippines offers a lot of career opportunities to different professionals such as Marketing, Accountancy, Finance, technology, so to speak. So, these a wide array of opportunities, we have to make sure that Reed Elsevier Philippines steps up so that we can be known as the organizations that have these opportunities and we are one of the organizations that they have to look forward to in terms of getting hired. So, when it comes to promoting or crafting the recruitment advertisement, we want to make it as simple as possible. And then we also want it to remain detailed as well in terms of providing information in about our job, about the job description itself and as well as what are the opportunities and the business that they will be supporting to in the event that they get hired.
Max: And to put the job listings, of course, you have to put the job listing at some point. But tell me or tell us about the concept of this campaign. First of all, was it on social media mainly or did you use other media?
Kath: Yeah, yeah. So, regarding the different marketing channels that we use to broaden and amplify our recruitment, ads, we have utilized various channels like social media, we have also used on job portals, such as Job Street, Philippines, and then we have also advertised it in our website. And then we have also targeted different organizations that we think are our target markets here in the Philippines.
Max: So, targeted my profession? … IT, finance. Okay. And you can do that on social media?
AJ: Yes. What we actually notice is that there are different personas for demographics. It's like let's say for legal, or lawyers, we do hire legal editors, legal professionals for most of our businesses, and what we know what this is, that's what really works for them aside from social media, they call it referral. So, what we did also, is that we amplified our brand through the employee referral program, there are a lot of lawyers, legal professionals who would refer their friends, etc. And how can we actually back on that strength, we've used, you know, the digital platforms to further our brand. And then our employees, since we have a very big one, employee referrals, our legal professionals, our employees, they are the ones sharing our content as well. So, that helps in spreading the word and therefore inviting their network, their colleagues to join the organization. And although some of that may translate during the interview as an employer referral, but behind the scenes, actually, they knew about the company because their network share this through, let's say, Facebook or through LinkedIn. So that's another, you know, Domino effect of the social media campaigns that we're doing. Aside from legal also, we do hire, let's say, marketing, sales professionals, even for customer support, we have seen great success for customer support roles, and even for finance roles, for some of the entry level roles that we have in you know, different social media. On the other hand, though, for LinkedIn, we still target as you know, a very strong digital platform. And we have a lot of niche hires, from that platform, specifically for sales, marketing, technology, and even for a lot of leadership positions. So how can we actually make use of these platforms. It's a good thing that we are part of HR, we have that visibility in terms of, you know, the different profiles of the people that our colleagues within HR looking for. So that's how we curate the messaging, but we always go back to the core. We always go back to our value proposition that what we provide to our employees. At the end of the day, we want to let them know you know, what's in it for me by joining the organization, what are the different opportunities that I can explore?
Max: I want to ask you more about the employer value proposition. But first, you said something that I thought was very insightful was the fact that the employer referral program, it needs to be supported with a certain amount of branding to make sure that the people who get contacted already have an idea of who you are, and what Reed Elsevier does. And you said that you do that by encouraging the employees to share content. Could you expand on that? How does that work?
Kath: Well, we have two different strategies in our employee referral program. So definitely, we send our employee referral program ads through corporate communications. And then as well as we post it on our social media channels. So, what our employees do is that we thrive on organic engagement. So, they tend to share our employment ads, the tag their friends, and the invite everyone almost every one of their connections to apply here in Reed Elsevier, Philippines. And then, as well as we have to make sure that we post our culture and what's in it for them in our social media channels so that when they get to invite their friends, they would prove it, they would prove that Reed Elsevier Philippines can be their Employer of Choice due to these various reasons, such as the benefits that they offer, and the culture as well the Reed Elsevier Philippines has.
AJ: And to add to that Max, maybe I'll share something a bit more personal for both of us. We're actually, the company or Reed Elsevier Philippines has been the country for 10 years. So, I just celebrated my 10th year with a company…
Max: Happy anniversary.
AJ: Yeah…soon to be 11 years, actually. So, I'm looking, you know, reflecting on that aspect on how far we have gone with, you know, we've stayed with the organization, it's because we believe in the company, we've been given opportunities at the same time, it has extended to our families. So then what employee value proposition that we're talking about, it's not just a mere messaging, this is something that we want our employees to feel.
So, for our internal audience, for our team members, as part of HR, we make sure that, you know, there's a positive experience in exactly of their employee lifecycle on their journey with a company. So that can state to them being an ambassador without us actually forcing them to share you know, the content, or I'll be honest, I think the employee referral program, there's an incentive, but it might not be as big financially, as compared to the other organization. But it's still something very, you know, very important to us, because our employees are referring their friends, their network, because they want to, you know, be a link to the world make their friends and family also experienced the good things that they're experiencing with the company because…
Max: And it's free advertisement.
Max: Oh, yeah, I saw that slogan “Valuing what matters”, which does not actually tell me what you value, because I don't know what matters for you. But maybe this is a good transition to for me to ask about this employer value proposition, that was the foundation for your campaign. So, what is it for keeping in mind that if you're advertising on social media, you probably have like two and a half seconds to grab someone's attention, how do you do that with an EVP? Because you can't put your mission and value statements up there. That's going to be hard for them to absorb.
AJ: Yeah. So, I think going back to our employee value proposition, I know “Valuing what matters” can…it may mean different things to different individuals. But the bottom line there, the root word is actually value. So, we value what matters to our stakeholders, our customers and to our employees. So how do we actually brand that through our different external branding campaigns we highlight on the audience like you empathize and put yourself in their shoes. What's in it for me? If I see this organization, if I see this ad, so what would make me actually click on the link and explore these things that they're saying about, what we're doing, we always go back to the authentic messaging, we make use of employee testimonials.
At the same time, we also, you know, go straight to the point, we're not very flowery on words, we don't do much in terms of, what else you know, different marketing strategies that we know would be too complicated. We just want to make it very straightforward. I recall also, when you mentioned or introduced us from the last event, this company, they have a very straightforward hiring ad; We are hiring. So that's a very straightforward, clean slate, monthly hiring add that we post, which I think was very much appreciated by our audience, because during the pandemic, as we all know, it hasn't been easy for everyone. But for our organization, we continued on giving opportunities to our fellow Filipinos, and one of our highest-engagement actually was an ad back in 2020.
I think during that enhanced community quarantine, we are all navigating through the challenges. And then we you know, it's a regular ad that we're doing. When you posted that ‘we are hiring’ ad, we were surprised at how many inquiries we had. It only reflects that, of course, there are a lot of Filipinos, a lot of people who would like to get employment, because of the hard unprecedented times, it also reflects that we are valuing what matters to our business because we continue the business. We also value what matters to our employees, because we have the job security. And we are very lucky to be part of that organization that, yeah, we continue to be strong, growing and expanding despite the pandemic. So, I think that's, you know, we're very in terms of our approach on how we articulate our EVP, we are very straightforward. We always go back to what really matters to our audience, what would make them appreciate that it's not just a very stoic and cold ad, we always go back to the heart, we touch the heart of our audience.
Kath: Exactly. Yeah. And just to add with what AJ mentioned earlier that valuing what matters to our business, and stakeholders, of course, we want to make sure that we make our business successful, because in the end, it will actually give us more opportunities to provide better opportunities to our employees. And of course, we always go back to our roots, and the heart of the company, which is valuing our employees. And I believe that within the 4500-employee population itself, everyone knows what ‘valuing what matters’ meant, because not only that, they know it through what they see in our communications, but they feel it as well, in terms of how we provide their employee experience and in return, be provide this authentic messaging and testimonial with Reed Elsevier Philippines, hence, the employee referral program numbers are steadily going up through the years.
AJ: And also to add to that, again, Max, I'm sorry. For the employee value proposition, what's in it for me, so for our employees, you know, we have different career development opportunities. Right now, we're also offering continuous improvement programs, six sigma, automation and analytics and all that. Aside from that, as mentioned earlier, on how you can actually extend the good things that you're experiencing with a company with your family, we have a very comprehensive HMO, that extends up to let's say, four of your dependents or beneficiaries as far as on day one, don't have to. They’re 100% subsidized by the company. So that's a big thing, especially now that you know, we all experience the pandemic. Apart from that we also highlight the culture, the very positive work culture that we have. And I think what you've been mentioning before is that people out there, they won't know what's inside.
Kath: Yeah, unless we show it to them. So, we always want to make sure that we get as much coverage as we do in social media organically, because our employees has a lot to say with their positive employee experience back that up with the posts that we have in social media in our website, and then in return, they will be able to prove that Reed Elsevier Philippines definitely serves as their employer of choice.
Max: I think I'm starting to get it. I'm going to try to summarize what I learned today from talking about, and tell me if I'm on the right track. The advertisement itself has to be direct. It talks about jobs, it talks about benefits, it talks about what matters to putting food on the table and knowing exactly what you're applying for. It's direct, and it's honest. And when it comes to things that are more subjective, like, how do you embody those values, and what life is like inside the company, you fully rely on turning your employees into ambassadors, rather than try to control the message with as you said AJ, flowery language, you let the honest people who are working at your company do the talking for you.
Kath: Yeah, yeah. And, and it actually works. Like, most of the time, whenever we post an ad in social media, our employees are the first ones to share it. Like most of the time, instead of our recruiters sharing it to various social media groups in Facebook, our employees get to share that; hey, we are hiring, we have all these benefits, come and join us, I have been with a company for 10 years, seven years. So, those are the actual messaging that an applicant is looking for. So instead of them researching the company, on its own website, or on Facebook, sometimes they have this notion that maybe all that I see is not real. So, when in fact that they talk to an employee, and they know for a fact that this employee, you have been with a company for four or five years, or eight years, ten years or so. So, they will get this feeling that this employee won't last for eight years or ten years, if the employer itself has not treated employee with, you know, a write positive or a positive employee experience. And that in turn is a great, you know, piece of marketing, instead of us putting ourselves out there, which we also do but if that has been backed up by the authentic messaging of our employees, then that in return makes a good use of or a perfect random ambassador, technically speaking, yeah.
Max: Of course. But I'll let you speak AJ, but I got a question on this. Like, it sounds too good to be true. If I'm an employer, of course, I want all my employees to go out and sing my praises and give me candidates but they have their have their daytime job, you know, they're busy, right? What can I do to make it easier for them to grab the mic and, you know, sing and talk it up? Is there anything any sort of tricks or incentives or programs you put in place to encourage this kind of behavior, or it's just purely organic, just because you've got a good vibe going on?
Kath: Well, in terms of the organizational culture that we have here in the Philippines, or in Reed Elsevier Philippines, it's very tight knit. So, we operate as a family, technically speaking. We’re proud to be here in Reed Elsevier Philippines that's why we always advertise it to our friends, to our family, and we want to make sure that they get hired as well so that they can also enjoy the benefits that I am currently enjoying. So, like what AJ mentioned earlier that our HMO or the health insurance that we provide, we provide up to four dependents starting day one of their employment. And that's actually rare, like most of the companies, they offer it sometimes after regularization, but for us, we offer it for free, not only to you, but to your family as well. And that's starting day one of your employment, and that in return, goes to show that not only we value you, but not only you, but your family as well.
Max: That's interesting, because you could have put that money into an advertising campaign or billboard, but, you know, I mean, maybe I don't know how much more it costs to actually have the four dependents covered by the insurance, but, you know, there's probably a good cost benefit analysis where you would see, okay, I spent X amount of money, but now I've turned half of my employees into ambassadors, and that lowers my cost per hire by X amount. So, you know, it'd be a difficult calculation to make, but it sounds like it's working for you guys.
AJ: Yeah. And also Max. I think, you know, all of these, it's not an overnight success. Well, for us, we are pretty much, you know, not really a newly built team. But before, you know, we are more into the traditional type of hiring or advertising. I think, in the past 10 years, the organization has really evolved. But on that past 10 years that we are operating in the Philippines, as mentioned, it's not an overnight success, we have focused on building a positive work culture, we have an open-door policy, there are regular surveys, employee opinion surveys, where we get the feedback of our people, and then we respond to that. Also, we develop our leaders to be servant leaders. And we really invest in them, because they're the front liners that would build the team and continue to sustain a fun and engaging and professional work culture.
So, it's not overnight, something has been worked on for the past decade.
And then I think what really sets us apart, or the differentiator that we want to highlight is aside from the culture that we have built over the years, we also want to highlight how, you know, if you're part of this organization, it's not just because you're getting something out of it, right, like you're giving an opportunity to give back to the organization, and you also have a very strong corporate social responsibility program.
So, that's something that you can also, if you want to give back to the community, so there are a lot of other a lot of other items that that really, you know, long term programs, not short-term programs that would build the ambassadors from within. So yeah, it's really about, it's a joint effort from everyone, and investing in our people and even on our leaders.`
Kath: And just to add with how AJ mentioned about investing in our people and you mentioning about, you know, cost benefit analysis, instead of, you know, putting out a billboard out there and, you know, focusing on the employees instead is that we back on our people, that's because he marketing itself or the fruit of the marketing from our people has not been with, I mean, has been with us since day one, but the reach is not as overwhelming as what we have right now. But we continue to build and back in our people in terms of their career development, their learning, we also bank on their health and safety and that's because we know that they will become more productive, they will feel more valued. And at the same time, you know, we will get this offensive messaging if they're positive employee experience. So, yeah, I mean, the purpose is not turning them into the brand ambassadors, but just to definitely, you know, making sure that they are being treated right, that we make them feel valued. And then the byproduct of it is that they turn to our brand ambassadors.
AJ: #companygoals. That’s one of our campaigns also.
Max: All right, wonderful. Well, I think I could see how you do turn them into ambassadors with that mindset, and thank you for coming to share some of the secrets behind this campaign that was celebrated by your peers in the BPO Industry. Congratulations for winning the award once again. And well, if people want to sort of get familiar with Reed Elsevier, Philippines and the company you've been in for over 10 years, AJ, where would you send them to, you send them to, you know, where can they go and see some of this employee culture on display?
Kath: Yeah, we do. They can find us on Facebook. So, it's Reed Elsevier Philippines. They can also find us in LinkedIn. We also have an Instagram and a Twitter page and YouTube. So, our YouTube is filled with our fun employee engagement activities that actually promotes employee resource groups, passion, and of course, work-life balance. And yeah, for our recruitment advertisement, yes, we also post it in Facebook, LinkedIn, and JobStreet.
AJ: And we also have our official website, of course. That's www.ReedElsevier.com.ph. And if anyone is interested for like career opportunities, we have the ManilaCareers@ReedElsevier.com. And another site, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Max: Real multi-channel strategy. I think I'll start with the YouTube channel.
Max: Thank you. Thank you, ladies. Pleasure to have you and congrats again.