winning secrets, 2x marketing, rapid growth, talent acquisition, covid-19 response

A company in hypergrowth mode is essentially running at high speed and intensity, and requires high levels of adaptability and scale mindset, affirms Yong Siew Mee, MD and CPO, 2X Marketing. 

Founded in 2017, by three former B2B CMOs, 2X Marketing is a B2B-focused marketing-as-a-service (MaaS) firm that enables the marketing function to operate with greater impact and at significantly lower cost. 2X’s global headquarters are outside Philadelphia, and delivery operations reside in Kuala Lumpur.

At the 10th annual edition of HR Excellence Awards, Malaysia in 2022, 2X Marketing won gold for 'Excellence in COVID-19 Response’ and silver for ‘Excellence in Talent Acquisition’.

In view of this achievement, we catch up with Yong Siew Mee, Managing Director & Chief People Officer, 2X Marketing (pictured above) on how to scale a company in hypergrowth mode while maintaining a people-centric culture and connecting bond.

Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs-and-lows of your people strategy?

Thank you, it was indeed a pleasant surprise to be recognised for our work. As a company in hypergrowth mode, we had to do a lot of things quickly and our teams have to be adaptive and think about scaling up constantly.

Highs: Our people centric culture remains the connecting bond we have between employees and management. Due to our data-driven approach, we were able to look at problems objectively and understand if things were indeed improving or not. 

Lows: “Sometimes you feel the wheels are about to come off.” That’s how it feels like at times because we work very intensely to close the gaps that we must reach a level of quality and expertise that we desire. Hiring from five people per month to 30 people per month means we put a lot of strain on our recruitment and training infrastructure. Building from scratch and improving the processes as we go along can feel tiring and at times, we can start to feel impatient.

Q How did the HR team identify and align the business & employee needs, and craft out this perfect solution?

By looking at different data points, gathered from talking to various stakeholders, employee surveys and reports that we compiled from workflow and time entry systems. This allows us to evaluate our current state of versus a future state that is needed. 

Management is interested in a sustainable approach to solving problems, so together we took the necessary time to understand the root cause of the problems and making changes at the right places. The continuous improvement approach meant that we make incremental changes and take measurements along the way. This allowed us to verify we are on track or we need to change and pivot again. 

The approach also allows us to be objective in our conversations, avoid the blame-game, and foster a transparent working relationship across the various teams in the company.  

Q Could you share the results that your strategy has delivered – be it on the business, HR, or people side?

Here is how we fared against targets:

For 2021

Target 

Actual 

Hiring headcount

200

Achieved

Time to fill

3 weeks from CV acceptance

Achieved

For 2022 

Target 

Actual 

Hiring headcount

200 H1, 200 H2

250 H1 (ahead of target)

Maintain time to fill

3 weeks from CV acceptance

Achieved

Improve candidate brand familiarity with 2X

Candidates follow our social media channels as they go through the interview process.

Anecdotally:

  • Have visited our website and read our blogs.
  • Have seen our posts on social media channels more than once.
  • Familiar with our benefits and have a basic understanding of our culture.

More than 90% of candidates are familiar with our brand.

Additional results: 

  • Hiring managers and recruitment teams have a clearer understanding of supply vs demand, and work cohesively to achieve the shared objectives.
  • More transparency in the processes that each team undertakes, therefore creating more understanding across teams.
  • Employee turnover is around 1%, while the industry average for agency services is 30%-35%.
  • Mental health coverage has helped employees who need it to seek help and we have seen employees who previously exhibited stress and anxiety eventually overcome it using the benefit and starting to perform at higher levels.

Our new initiatives helped our employees remain productive, stay healthy, and connected to others in the company. We had 0 job cuts and 0 salary cuts, inversely, we continue to reward and promote employees who achieved their career milestones every month. 

We also started to take in workers from outside the typical industry that we hire from, these were retrenched workers from industries that were badly affected by the pandemic such as tourism and hospitality, publishing, and events management.

Q What is your message to all the stakeholders who have supported you in this journey?

I am grateful for your unyielding support. To my peers in the leadership team, my CEO, and board of directors, I am glad we are so focused and united in solving the right problems. The culture we have created together with our employees is the fuel that powers our company and the glue that binds us together.

And we can move mountains together, especially when we continue to creatively solve problems and share a sincere desire to make every success a shared success.  

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Q What are you most excited about when you think about the future of HR?

I think what happened to marketing is now happening to HR where digitalisation and being data driven is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have. It will give rise to a different breed of HR professionals who will be more closer aligned to the business and people needs.


Images / 2X Marketing 

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