In-house talent driven employer branding
Ever since Sapient began operations in India in 2000, the country has primarily been a talent market for the company
A global services company that provides business, marketing and technology services to clients, Sapient is based in Boston, Massachusetts in the US. It rakes in at least $1 billion in revenues and has more than 11,000 employees across the world. Globally, they are known for their game-changing and award-winning work for clients across North America, Europe and Asia- Pacific and have been recognized as a great place to work in multiple geographies.
In the third quarter results published in November 2013, the third quarter service revenues were up 12 per cent and non-GAAP operating income up 17 per cent compared to third quarter 2012. The company operates three divisions – SapientNitro, Sapient Global Markets and Sapient Government Services – that fuse insight, creativity and technology to drive innovation and to help clients navigate complex business problems.
Ever since Sapient began operations in India in 2000, the country has primarily been a talent market for the company. India houses over 60 per cent of the global workforce. After the economic slowdown in 2009 and until 2011, the company’s brand perception and reputation was impacted in the talent market. Not only did it impact the company’s ability to hire qualified talent and raise talent costs, but also impacted profit and led to attrition.
So, in a bid to shore up employer branding, Sapient launched an industry forum for knowledge exchange – a property that was innovative, less capital intensive, sustainable, inclusive and highlighted the company’s expertise. The company conceptualized and created separate thought leadership events: Redefining Perspectives for Sapient Global Markets (a division of Sapient) and Idea Engineer Exchange for The SapientNitro. (the other division of Sapient).
The idea behind the events was not only building a thought leadership platform leading to higher awareness and stronger preference and reputation in the talent market but also to give the audience a platform to experience the company’s value proposition first hand. The typical event would last anywhere between four and six hours, where an audience of 50-60 would be invited to engage with Sapient leaders. The audience would get a chance to see some of Sapient’s latest work, exchange ideas, gain knowledge and network with peers from their domains.
What stood out in terms of Best Practice was how the TA leaders managed to get the buy-in from the business leaders. Since the forum gave each of the business units an opportunity to present their uniqueness to an audience of their choice, the collaboration between the marketing and the business teams was great. The event was driven by in-house talent and financing for this project was used from other discontinued projects. It gave the leaders in the company a chance to showcase their abilities as well as use the forum to learn.
All these efforts have resulted in the company being chased by talent. The number of applicants has since doubled from 2011 and the company has launched more such thought leadership forums to keep the link with talent alive. Over 100 ex-employees of Sapient have rejoined since 2011 citing work and culture as reasons and in 2013 employee referral applications increased by at least 30 per cent compared to 2012. So -what can TA leaders from other companies learn from this initiative? It is best to start small and then scale up. The second learning is that use internal talent and ensure people are tapped to the full extent of their capabilities.