Three simple steps to secure your employer of choice status

Posted by in Asia, Commercial, Digital, Helen Soulsby

Sports and entertainment companies in Asia face stiff competition from other industries when it comes to attracting talent. Helen Soulsby, SRi’s managing partner for Asia, reveals the steps that can be taken to make sure that your business is the place that people want to choose.

One of the idiosyncrasies of sports and entertainment in Asia is that, despite all the glamour that comes with working for a big sporting brand or entertainment property, more kudos still tends to lie with employment in other sectors – particularly technology and anything digital!

Huge multinational companies such as Google, Apple or Facebook remain an aspiration for many, while other, more traditional fields such as central government or professional services still satisfy family expectations more than a sports business role.

There are changes happening, as governments look to sport for ‘nation building’ and sports businesses realise the potential for growth in Asia. Now, the growing commercial sports sector means that more potential employees at all levels are considering sport business as a vocation. However, more can be done by those large sporting brands to attract the best talent from across Asia that will help them grow even larger in the region.

Education is the key

Sport in Asia is unlike its corresponding industries around the globe and those brands, clubs or governing bodies based in the United States, Europe or Australasia, must be open to being educated about new and emerging markets.

Regional bosses must be prepared to give evidence that supports a particular approach to attracting talent, or indeed the perceived higher salaries often needed to secure the ideal candidate, as no assumptions can be made on the degree of understanding that their leadership have of Asian sport and recruitment in the continent.

Doing the research, understanding the working environment and employment market conditions of a region, will go a long way to forming a solid and attractive basis. It’s also imperative to establish a base in the region – which could be a physical office, or a digital offering in the native language, which caters to the audience you’re aiming at. European reputation rarely counts for much. Authenticity is vital.

Learn from the best

Taking a look at how and why other employers are engaging with the most talented candidates can be a great help to establishing guiding principles and strategy for a given sports organisation. If employers can develop a competitive package and environment for potential employees, with a clear company direction which allays those fears of instability and frivolity, then they will be on the right track. Your organisation must understand what potential employees in Asia are looking for, then tailor their approach to those needs, while getting them to buy into the vision, mission and objectives for the region.

Almost as important, a strong retention programme should also be in place to counteract the pull from other businesses, once that talent has been secured. Candidates who get a strong grounding in a respected international business are rich pickings just one year down the line. A strategy has to be in place to keep employee churn to an absolute minimum. Finding the best people isn’t simple and, once you have them, make sure you keep them.

A positive process

While it could be applied to the recruitment process in almost any region, it’s notable that relationships in Asia tend to acutely rely on a positive process. From first contact, to job description, to interview process, feedback and on-boarding, sporting brands face a balancing act to ensure their potential hire remains interested and excited in the role they’re recruiting for.

While other, more established firms may have the luxury of an element of bullishness, with the attraction of their brand and reputation going a long way to securing their new hire, sporting bodies growing their reputation cannot rely on the same leeway.

Speed and responsiveness is key here. From the initial attraction, to the hiring and then into employment, sports businesses must keep the momentum of the hiring process moving forward, and provide successful candidates with clear career progression opportunities.

Meanwhile, sports-based business, marketing and management degrees aren’t yet prevalent in Asian higher education, the market hasn’t yet matured to a state where it can ‘guarantee’ a long and stable career for tentative candidates, and cultural pressures drive ambitious, educated candidates to more established industries.

You certainly do not need a sports related degree to succeed in sports business, but the reality is that many candidates simply aren’t yet aware of the breadth and wealth of opportunities currently available in the region. Units or degrees with a focus on sports business may start to change the mindset, so there is more awareness of a legitimate career ahead. It’s time for sports businesses to establish themselves as an attractive option and shake up the employment frontier in Asia.

The SRi team in Asia has built a reputation as the leading search business in the region, consulting major multinational sports and entertainment brands and organisations looking to launch a presence, successfully advising on setup, structure and staffing policy.

To learn more about the opportunities within Asia and discuss any of the points mentioned above, please contact