Leveraging LinkedIn to Attract Top Talent: A Case of Takeda Europe & Canada

Background

 

Takeda Pharmaceuticals International AG, headquartered in Zurich, is an owned subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. It is the largest pharmaceutical company in Japan and a leader in the global pharmaceutical industry.  The company’s mission is to strive towards better health for patients worldwide through leading innovation in medicine. Takeda has a commercial presence covering more than 70 countries, with particular strength in Asia, North America, Europe as well as fast-growing emerging markets. Europe and Canada (EUCAN) Business Unit operates across 37 countries with its hub in Zurich, Switzerland. The Zurich site accommodates the EUCAN commercial organisation, including the Vaccines Business Unit as well as key global functions including Market Access, Global Commercial, Medical Affairs, and Manufacturing and Supply. In the EUCAN region, Takeda focuses on five therapeutic areas: gastroenterology, rare diseases, oncology, plasma-derived therapies and neuroscience.[i]

To remain and further strengthen its position as the industry leader, Takeda EUCAN aims to attract and keep the best employees, especially in the relevant therapeutic areas. Whereas an internal communication strategy is already in place to help keep employees well informed, appreciated and motivated, there are still no coordinated efforts to attract the best candidates. Specifically, the company is not sufficiently present on online platforms that are used by prospective employees when looking for new job opportunities. The first, and the most important step for the regional EUCAN Business Unit, considering a large number of countries it operates in, is to tackle regional social networking and job search platforms by increasing its presence and building brand awareness in a coordinated way according to its strategic areas and markets.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals has three corporate channels: LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. While the global communications team deploys all three channels, the regional EUCAN Business Unit uses LinkedIn only. As for YouTube and Twitter, there are clear reasons there is no intention to focus on these channels at the moment. First, it requires more investment into the video content, and currently there is no budget for this purpose. Second, the global communications team is not using these channels for their digital communications purposes. Third, there is no clear guidance on how regional Business Unit should and can use them. Facebook is also a not favourable channel for the company, as the global leadership has a conservative attitude towards this social media network. In addition, it would make no sense to use all available platforms from the very beginning, as the aim is to establish a clear strategy in a very large organisation. Using many platforms at once would require too many changes in a large and rather traditional company. Such a strategy would thus have a low probability of being accepted and implemented.  Instead, a focused, concrete, practical and realistic approach would have a better chance of being accepted at different organizational levels. Thus, the current research focuses on LinkedIn as the main social media channel for attracting and communicating with top talent in the EUCAN region.

LinkedIn is a social networking site that operates based on Frigyes Karinthy’s idea of six degrees of separation.[ii] Karinthy states that every person is approximately six people away from any other person via mutual contacts. However, LinkedIn uses three as the special number of degrees, instead of six. The primary goal of LinkedIn is to help business professionals meet and search for jobs - all through connections that members already know. Besides, the site allows companies have personalised pages used to seek prospective candidates and provide information about their organisations.

The current report presents an analysis of how LinkedIn can be leveraged to help Takeda EUCAN find, connect with, and manage candidates by building brand awareness.

 

Why is This Topic Important to the Company?

Since 2019 the number of social media users has increased by 9.2% worldwide and continues to grow.[i] LinkedIn was created as a career network but has quickly evolved into a publishing platform. This has had a significant effect on social media responsibilities within pharmaceutical companies. As a result, LinkedIn has become a fully-fledged communications vehicle that acts as a means to disseminate a unified corporate message projected across all published content.[ii] However, Takeda EUCAN as most other pharma companies lag behind other industries when it comes to exploiting online platforms, including LinkedIn. “Healthcare, overall, and pharma is definitely on the developmental side of the LinkedIn spectrum, if you will, from an advertising perspective,” said Stephanie Katzman, LinkedIn’s healthcare lead in its Marketing Solutions group. “But over the past three years, we have seen a huge growth in having these companies consider LinkedIn as a channel.”[iii] This social networking site is very important for pharmaceutical companies from the recruitment perspective. It is thus critical that Takeda EUCAN positions itself on LinkedIn before the competition and communicate their benefits to the prospective employees.

Takeda in the Europe and Canada region launched a refreshed people strategy focusing on attracting and retaining new employees as well as creating more favourable conditions for the existing ones. The human resources department strives to create an “exceptional people experience” by fostering an environment where each individual is encouraged to bring his or her unique skills and experiences to Takeda. One of the goals is to attract top talent to deliver Takeda’s vision – discover and deliver life-transforming treatments, guided by the company’s commitment to patients, employees, and the planet. This can be achieved by deploying recruitment tools available on LinkedIn and building brand awareness.

Goals and Objectives

One of the organisational goals of Takeda EUCAN is to attract top talent. Supporting objectives include:

  • Demonstrate the value Takeda can offer potential employees in the EUCAN region and motivate current employees by instilling the feeling of pride of working at Takeda in the EUCAN region.
  • Drive brand awareness by reaching professionals interested in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically for Takeda EUCAN.
  • Position Takeda EUCAN as thought leader in the pharmaceutical industry.

The current report looks into how this goal and supporting objectives can be achieved by using LinkedIn and its tools.

Research Focus and Methodology

The findings of the current report are derived from secondary sources and the supporting evidence is based on internal and industry reports, Internet searches, and data from Khoros, a social media management platform that Takeda is currently using to schedule and post content relating to the company’s news. Khoros provides the following data: location and number of followers, industry and job function, engagement rate, as well as engagement and awareness KPIs for each post. The tool is limited in terms of analytics, thus the current analysis of Takeda EUCAN’s LinkedIn channel comprises basic data only. The purpose of the conducted research was to determine how well Takeda EUCAN positions itself as employer of choice for attracting top talent in the pharma industry, and to suggest how its positioning can be improved.

The research is based on the two-way symmetrical public relations model, as well as two-step flow theory. The two-way symmetrical public relations model supports the idea of a dialogue and focuses on the balance of power relationships. The model was selected because communication in the digital space, especially across social media platforms, has already become two-way – not only companies communicate with prospective candidates but also candidates can start a dialogue with companies. Besides, the model offers an ideal way of enhancing a company’s reputation among the target audience.[i] Information flows freely between the company and its stakeholders, in this case potential candidates, and vice-a-versa.

The two-step flow theory was selected because of the premise that the flow of influence and information is amplified by opinion leaders - key individuals who can change the beliefs and actions of others in their community.[ii] In the current case, these individuals are employees who act as brand ambassadors and who, therefore, can influence the opinion of potential candidates.

Profiling Digital Communications Users

The purpose of profiling digital communications users is to gain insight into characteristics and traits of individuals or groups who use digital communications, and understand their behaviour. These insights then help in decision-making planning, managing priorities and defining a concrete and most suitable approach to digital communication practice. The focus is on the age group, country, industry (including pharma) and job function area. The initial idea was to focus on professionals from the pharma areas mentioned in the introduction; however, such insights are not available because of technical restrictions.

Analysis of the current situation – LinkedIn of Takeda EUCAN

Age[i]

*LinkedIn users, not Takeda EUCAN specific. There are no data available on the age of the Takeda EUCAN followers.

-       21% of people aged 18-24 use LinkedIn

-       60% of people aged 25-34 use LinkedIn

-       17% of people aged 35-54 use LinkedIn

-       3% of people that are 55+ years old use LinkedIn

 

Location and number of followers (top ten countries that belong to the EUCAN region)

 

*Data retrieved from Khoros for the period January 1, 2020 – July 21, 2020

1.     Italy – 25,002

2.     UK - 24, 839

3.     Spain – 18,105

4.     France – 14,435

5.     Switzerland – 13,643

6.     Ireland – 11,401

7.     Canada – 10,836

8.     Germany – 10,680

9.     Belgium – 6, 827

10. Portugal – 6, 789

 

Industry

 

*Data retrieved from Khoros for the period January 1, 2020 – July 21, 2020

1.     Pharmaceuticals

2.     Medical device

3.     Research

4.     IT

5.     Higher education

6.     Health, wellness and fitness

7.     Chemicals

8.     Retail

9.     Marketing and advertising

10. Management Consulting

 

Job function area

 

*Data retrieved from Khoros for the period January 1, 2020 – July 21, 2020

1.     Sales

2.     Research

3.     Business development

4.     Operations

5.     Healthcare services

6.     Marketing

7.     Quality assurance

8.     IT

9.     Education

10. Engineering

 

The majority of LinkedIn users, namely 60%, are aged between 25 and 34 years. This means that most users belong to the so-called millennials generation, people born between 1980 and the mid-2000s. Millennials would like to work with inspirational colleagues and culture, for a company with a purposeful mission, and to have employee training opportunities.[ii] Takeda EUCAN could use these insights when creating content for LinkedIn. Clearly, if this approach is adopted, the company must keep the promise in practice, so that new employees do not feel cheated but satisfied and content that they chose the right employer. Otherwise, the company may ruin their reputation and lose the opportunity to attract the best employees. Traditional companies, including Takeda, sometimes do not understand that modern channels, such as social media, provide many benefits, but also that transparency is significantly increased because of the two-way symmetrical communication.

Besides, Takeda EUCAN could take a more proactive approach to recruitment and look outside the pharma or healthcare industry to find candidates with variegated adoptable skills who could be trained and developed in the pharma industry. The importance is usually given to specialisation and continuous career path in one industry, but generalists, namely people with multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge and wide set of interests and skills in different areas and industries, are the crucial factor in driving innovation.[iii] The company could use LinkedIn Recruiter, a global talent pool that helps identify, recruit and build relationships with candidates from other industries in the region. Also, by using talent pipelining and publishing targeted job posting through LinkedIn Jobs, the company could build a pool of relevant applicants.

PESO Model for LinkedIn

The PESO model is used to ensure that communication activities within a company are implemented across all forms of media available at the company. While the model talks about media in terms of marketing media, its principles also apply to recruitment communications.

The below PESO model (Table 1), presents how Takeda in Europe and Canada uses LinkedIn for its recruitment purposes.

Table 1: PESO model for the Takeda EUCAN LinkedIn account.

Media Type

Description

Analysis of Takeda EUCAN LinkedIn Account

Paid media

Advertising

The company post sponsored job ads (marked “promoted”).

Earned media

Third party endorsements

A Great Place to Work®, Fair Company (in Germany) mention Takeda in their posts.

Shared media [1]

Social media

Talent acquisition team share job openings on their LinkedIn personal profiles.

Owned media

Company's own content

Takeda EUCAN has career portal, applicant tracking system, and a website featuring employee stories. LinkedIn posts about employee experience are published only at the global level.

 

While most posts about employee experience are published at the global level, HR and communications specialists at the regional level could adapt the global approach of posting content relating to attracting top talent, and fine-tune it according to regional needs and priorities. There is thus insufficient coordination in the efforts of different teams and areas. A solution to that could be the development of a strategic editorial calendar for LinkedIn that would help coordinate scheduling of the posts, as well as track their efficiency. Also, key leaders in the EUCAN region could use their personal LinkedIn profiles for sharing the company’s business updates and job opportunities by adding their personal perspective on why they enjoy working at Takeda, and why they would recommend the company as a good and fair employer. They could act as brand ambassadors.



[1] Shared media is discussed in the next section

Takeda EUCAN LinkedIn SWOT Analysis

To analyse EUCAN LinkedIn’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, a SWOT analysis has been conducted and is presented Table 2. It is based on the LinkedIn SWOT analysis conducted by the Fern Fort University[i]. The analysis will help Takeda EUCAN understand what it does well, what it is lacking, what risks there are and how to minimise them, and what opportunities it can leverage to use LinkedIn more efficiently.

Table 2: SWOT analysis for LinkedIn.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Popular professional channel among companies and job candidates
  • Efficient search filtering
  • Possibility to create a detailed profile
  • Powerful tool to promote the company
  • Limited options for communicating directly
  • Current employees are not sharing or commenting company’s posts
  • Lower engagement on the platform
  • Paid subscription is necessary for the most useful LinkedIn features

Opportunities

Threats

  • Nominating current employees as Brand Ambassadors
  • Simplifying the training process and motivating employees to share content online
  • The network is expanding globally
  • Integration with Instant Messaging/Skype for better communication
  • Regulations for maintaining privacy
  • Rise of new professional networking sites
  • Hacking instances
  • Fake accounts
  • Sharing non-authorized content
  • Possible negative feedback from ex-employees

 

To use opportunities and attract top talent, Takeda EUCAN has to overcome weaknesses in its operations when it comes to employee experience. According to research, there is a high employee turnover rate compared to the company’s competitors.[ii] Also, as the workload is high per employee, this puts each individual under psychological stress. In recent years the employee morale has become low because of company culture and politics. On top of that, employees are often not appraised for their performance, which leads to lower work morale and lack of promotion opportunities for current employees.[iii] If the company intends to attract top talent in the region, they first of all have to improve work environment and conditions. Based on the real employee stories, the company could draft relevant, useful and authentic content for LinkedIn, be more active on the channel, and nominate Brand Ambassadors who could help attract top talent in the region.


[i] Global Digital Report. 2019. We Are Social – Global Digital Report. [online] Available at: https://wearesocial.com/global-digital-report-2019 [Accessed 20 June, 2020].

[ii] MM&M. 2016. Pharma Companies turn to LinkedIn to Engage [online] Available at: https://www.mmm-online.com/home/channel/campaigns/pharma-companies-turn-to-linkedin-to-engage/ [Accessed 20 June, 2020].

[iii] XTalks. 2016. LinkedIn May See Increased Use Among Pharma Marketers Thanks to InMail Function. [online] Available at: https://xtalks.com/linkedin-pharma-marketers-228/ [Accessed 20 June, 2020].

 


[i] Management Study Guide. 2020. Models of Public Relations. [online] Available at: https://www.managementstudyguide.com/public-relations-models.htm [Accessed 13 December, 2020].

 

[ii] Ognyanova, K. 2017. Multistep flow of communications: Network effects. In P. Roessler, C. Hoffner, & L. van Zoonen (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of Media Effects (pp. 1 - 10). New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell.


[i] Khoros. 2020. The 2020 social media demographics guide. [online] Available at: https://khoros.com/resources/social-media-demographics-guide# [Accessed 20 June, 2020].

[ii] Anderson, B. 2020. A Guide for the Ages: What You Need to Know to Attract a Multigenerational Workforce. [online] Available at: https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/diversity/2020/how-to-attract-multigenerational-workforce [Accessed 20 December, 2020].

 

[iii] Gates, B. 2020. We need more Rogers. [online] Available at: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Range [Accessed 20 December, 2020].


[i] Fern Fort University. 2020. LinkedIn SWOT Analysis/Matrix. [online] Available at: http://fernfortuniversity.com/term-papers/swot/1433/733-linkedin.php#:~:text=SWOT%20analysis%20is%20a%20strategic,in%20its%20current%20business%20environment [Accessed 10 December, 2020].

[ii] Essay 48. 2020. Takeda Pharmaceutical Limited SWOT Analysis. [online] Available at: https://www.essay48.com/term-paper/15490-Takeda-Pharmaceutical-Company-Limited-Swot-Analysis [Accessed 22 June, 2020].

 

[iii] Essay 48. 2020. Takeda Pharmaceutical Limited SWOT Analysis. [online] Available at: https://www.essay48.com/term-paper/15490-Takeda-Pharmaceutical-Company-Limited-Swot-Analysis [Accessed 22 June, 2020].

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