Improving the HR service offering and value to the bank has always been a top priority for the Credit Suisse’s HR recruitment team.

This was reflected in their multiple wins at the recent Asia Recruitment Awards Singapore 2020 virtual awards ceremony held in July, where the team took home three awards: silver for Most Innovative Recruitment Strategy (In-House), bronze for Best Campus Recruitment Strategy, and gold for Best HR Communication Strategy.

In this interview, Michael Cole, Credit Suisse’s Director and Head of Experienced Recruitment Asia Pacific, reveals to Priya Veeriah the three key business drivers behind their winning strategy, and the impactful outcomes as a result of the commitment.

Q What is Credit Suisse's recruitment strategy, and how has it evolved in recent times? How does this agenda fit into the bigger HR priorities?

At Credit Suisse, we have quite literally transformed our recruitment model over the past three years.

Up until just one year ago, the global recruitment function delivered its services to the bank using a model that relied heavily on outsourcing. Our global recruitment leadership team recognised that it was the right time to establish our own in-house team of ‘brand ambassadors’ - employees who could authentically represent Credit Suisse to the best talent in the market.

However, we also recognised that, in addition to insourcing, we had a genuine opportunity to completely re-think our service offering and deliver more value to the bank. So over the course of two years, from late 2017 to mid-2019, we designed and implemented a completely new recruitment operating model, which included integrating our experienced and campus recruitment functions, building new sourcing and branding teams, leveraging new technologies and centralising a number of global services.

Our strategy in APAC was fully aligned with a broader global HR transformation programme aimed at increasing the value and relevance of our HR function to the bank.

Our recruitment team represents Credit Suisse to the market. Therefore, it is imperative that our recruiters have a deep understanding of specific business priorities and the bank’s broader strategic talent agenda, including our global and regional D&I aspirations. In Asia, for example, we have a specific focus on attracting more local Asian talent - as these individuals’ understanding of local culture and business practices enables us to better serve our clients in the region. I am proud to say that this focus is very much supported by our senior leadership team who view this approach as being critical to the bank’s success in Asia Pacific.

Q Share with us your winning recruitment strategy.

There are a few key factors behind the success of our recruitment strategy.

First, it is our strong commitment to ensuring we are able to attract the best talent in the market. Every element of the design and implementation of our recruitment model supports this objective.

Second, we have built the right teams – from the global team who delivered the new recruitment operating model, to the hundreds of outstanding new employees that we have hired into our Experienced and Campus Recruitment (ECR) function around the globe. I also feel proud that we designed and implemented the new operating model without any consulting investment whatsoever; this was truly a home-grown solution!

Third, an effective communication strategy was another critical element. Focusing on communication ensured that all the teams involved were aware of the timelines and deliverables and remained on track. We also made sure that we kept our business stakeholders aware of the progress throughout the journey and that we responded to any business changes as they happened, in real time, so there were no surprises.

I am immensely proud to be part of a leadership team that was so invested in and committed to delivering an impactful outcome for the bank.

Q No execution is free from unexpected hurdles. In what shape or form did you experience challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Implementing change within a global organisation can be a considerable undertaking and we did have some challenges along the way. One key challenge was to ensure that our designs and solutions for the recruitment model remained relevant and appropriate for the bank throughout the two-year journey given the evolving dynamics of the market environment during that time. Proactive communication and consultation with the many senior business stakeholders who would ultimately use the service and assess its success was key to ensuring a successful outcome.

A second key challenge was to maintain the engagement and motivation of our recruitment staff through a long and intense period of change. Here again, proactive and transparent communication was the key to success. I am proud to say that we had 100% acceptance of the offers we extended to those who converted to in-house staff from our outsourced team.

Q On to the most important part – results! How did you measure the ROI or milestones of this initiative, and what are you most proud of?

One year on, the new recruitment model has exceeded my own expectations. I have observed a huge increase in the engagement of the team and their pride at representing the Credit Suisse story since we brought the operation in-house. They are more connected with their hiring managers, their candidates and each other – and that is delivering results.

Virtually, all our recruiting success metrics have been met or exceeded. Our direct sourcing results have been very strong, which has translated to reduced agency costs. We have reduced our time-to-offer, improved our sourcing ratios and increased the percentage of female and local talent hired into the bank as compared to previous years. Our customer satisfaction scores have never been as high as they are today. And most important of all, the team just seems happier, even in the difficult COVID- 19 environment we have at the moment.

I am so pleased that the team’s efforts are being recognised through industry awards such as the Asia Recruitment Awards in Hong Kong and Singapore where we won six accolades: a gold award in Best HR Communication Strategy, silver awards for Best In House Recruitment team and Most Innovative Recruitment Strategy, and bronze awards for Best Campus Recruitment Strategy, Best Digital Strategy and Best Employer Branding. Even as a relatively young team, it validates the decisions we have taken and it reaffirms that we are on the right track.

The ECR management team and team leads have made a conscious effort to build and foster a culture of collaboration and camaraderie, and this entailed the new team getting to know each other through various internal events.

Through regular meetings, the teams set common goals and created a culture of awareness so that all were fully committed to achieving our vision for the new recruitment model. The team also created awareness, both internally and externally, of the new recruitment model as well as the new recruitment teams within Credit Suisse offices around the world. This generated positive traction especially at a time when hiring volumes had slowed across the financial services industry.

Social media posts that highlighted our team and our new model, and which positioned Credit Suisse as an employer of choice, generated engagement and excitement amongst our target audiences.

Q Going forward, what are some key considerations to note when it comes to recruiting talent?

Whilst I recognise that digitalisation must be fully embraced to remain efficient and competitive, I believe that recruitment is fundamentally about people and human connections. Forging genuine connections is as important today as it ever was, and in the current environment of isolation, lock-down and social distancing, perhaps even more so.

Having the right people, who can represent your brand with genuine passion and authenticity, is still the number one requirement for success. I am even more convinced of this having watched our fantastic team and culture develop over the past year. We have achieved so much for a new team and I am confident that this is only the beginning of a successful journey ahead.

Photo / Provided

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