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Agility is the key in appealing to young professionals during pandemic, says DNV

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, it forced DNV's professionals to ask one very important question – despite their size and long, rich history, could they be agile enough to change quickly and remain attractive to young professionals?

Key Points:

  • Agility vital when deciding how to continue with recruitment in a changing landscape
  • Creative use of technology kept employees on board
  • No shortcuts when building a solid, attractive employer brand

Founded over 150 years ago, the modern version of DNV came into being in 2013 when DNV (Det Norske Veritas) and GL Germanischer Lloyd of Germany merged to form a world leader in risk management and quality assurance.

DNV’s business operations cover a broad range of sectors, from oil and gas and the maritime industry to electric grids and renewable energy. Their purpose today is the same as it was in 1864 – to safeguard life, property, and the environment.

Though that purpose has remained constant, the world has changed a lot over the years and DNV understands the importance of building a brand that is sustainable over time when it comes to attracting the young professionals that are so sought-after on the market.

Never was this more important than during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, when organizations were forced to adapt quickly – and that included their continued efforts to attract new talent. Companies with a history and tradition as long as DNV’s can often find change to be difficult and slow, but as prospective employers, they moved quickly to stay ahead of the curve. This hands-on approach to continuous improvement paid off handsomely.

What is YPAI?

The annual Young Professional Attraction Index (YPAI) for 2020 found that building a rock-solid brand as an employer keeps companies relevant when tomorrow’s workforce is eyeing up potential places to start their careers.

Young Professional Attraction Index (YPAI) is a yearly study published by Academic Work. YPAI is designed to help employers understand what young professionals value most when choosing a new employer. The results of the YPAI research aim to provide companies with a deeper understanding of how to attract, recruit and engage young professionals.

“There are no shortcuts to earning a reputation as a good employer among young professionals. We build it brick by brick and a good starting point is to offer interesting job opportunities and hire good people over time,” says Håkon Svebak, manager for sponsorships and employer branding at DNV.

Almost 80 percent of the Norwegian respondents in YPAI 2020 said that having nice colleagues and a good work environment was important to them when it came to choosing an employer, and that was one of the big challenges faced by every company in the past year.

“When the pandemic hit Norway in March, we were well-placed to be able to reach our target groups digitally, and that has proved to be very valuable in a year which has been very different from what many of us had envisioned,” says Kristina Dahlberg, who also works with employer branding at DNV.

“This has been an exciting and educational challenge where we have seen the benefit of the creative use of video, competitions, puzzles, and open communication in social media. It is entirely possible to engage with the target group digitally, even if it Is different from doing so physically,” she adds.

Digitalization may have made it easier to keep in touch with prospective and new recruits, but again there are no shortcuts when it comes to onboarding new staff and ensuring that they were both happy and productive as they worked from home.

“As an example, 17 recent graduates started with us in August 2020, and naturally they got a somewhat different onboarding,” Håkon explains.

“Luckily, we have a lot of very good managers who have ensured that they make sure the little things have worked – informal meetings during the working day, morning coffees, a low bar when it comes to calling each other. We might not be able to meet physically, so we have to do the best we can to recreate the great social atmosphere that DNV is well known for,” he adds.

Providing the "why" to potential applicants

Another clear trend among young professionals is their strong desire to work for an employer who makes a difference in areas like climate change and sustainability.

All this painstaking work adds value to the DNV employer brand and gives them the flexibility to act quickly and flexibly when they need to acquire new talent.

“We supplement our reputation with campaigns in relevant media and social media, and we try to explain why it makes sense to work with us. We try to convey information about what we do and what competencies we need,” says Kristina.

Over 150 years of experience has taught them a lot about the kind of people they are looking for.

“An important point is that we let the target group come to the conclusion themselves – that we are an employer that they want to have on their radar,” says Kristina.

DNV – Fact Box

  • DNV was established in Norway in 1864, GL in Germany in 1867 – they merged in 2013.
  • Over 12 000 employees from 116 different nationalities are working in 100 countries around the globe
  • 87 % of employees are educated to Ph.D., Master or Bachelor degree levels
  • DNV is 100 % owned by Stiftelsen Det Norske Veritas and DNV invests 5 % of the annual revenue in research and innovation every year
  • Recorded revenues of 21,551 M NOK in 2019

The view from Academic Work

A challenge that many employers have faced for the first time in the past year is introducing new employees without physically meeting them. There is a lot to be gained from establishing a comprehensive digital onboarding process, company culture, and working environment. It’s not just about getting through a pandemic – it's about making the most of the new experiences we have in the past year to develop our organizations and improve our employer offer in the long term. Those who manage to develop their digital offering and remote leadership create the conditions for recruiting competence from all over the world, without being dependent on a person moving to a certain place. In turn, this reduces the need for long and often unnecessary journeys for employees. Young professionals see this as a positive development – in YPAI 2020 they have told us that they value flexibility and engagement in the climate issue more than ever before.