Opinion

The Employee Value Proposition: strategic talent attraction and retention

We are operating in a candidate-driven market. The rise of purpose as a means to attract customers is now being matched on the candidate side. This shift represents an opportunity for brands to align their customer & employer brand and ensure that they become talent attractors and retainers.

The Employee Value Proposition: strategic talent attraction and retention

So how do you attract the brightest talent, and how do you convince them to stay? Invest in your Employer Brand and articulate a clear, compelling and authentic employee value proposition.

There are many definitions of brand: the gut feeling your customers have about you; what your customers say about you when you’re not in the room; the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s choice to choose one product or service over another.

All of these have a specific focus. The customer.

Shift the emphasis of “customer” with “employee” or “potential employee” and you’ll understand what “employer brand” means.

So, to paraphrase Godin,

“the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for an employee’s choice to choose to work for, and stay working for, one employer over another.”

A crucial part of the Employer Brand is the Employee Value Proposition, or “EVP”: a well-articulated proposition that represents everything of value that an employer has to offer to its employees.

It answers the age-old question: “What’s in it for me?”

There are signals that your EVP isn’t fit for purpose, too. Employee engagement is down, the attraction of the right talent is becoming more difficult, and employee’s intent to stay is waning.

What are the constituent parts of the EVP?

Money

Still the main driver for attracting talent. It can force people to move jobs, or stay in jobs. It’s not the be all and end all, but getting the financial rewards wrong is the best way to encourage a feeling of being undervalued as an employee.

Benefits

Pension contributions, flexible working hours, paid leave, subsidised travel, free coffee, free lunches. The list of benefits is almost unending, but what’s important is that benefits are tied to culture and are really worth something.

Development

What does an employee’s future at this business look like? Employees want to understand their potential for growth within a business, and know that their employer isn’t just developing the skills they need to grow the business, by the skills each party needs for career development and business growth.

Environment

How many days a week will you ask your team travel into work. Everyday? Not at all? And what kind of office will they work in, how and with what tools will they communicate with their colleagues? Your EVP should recognise the importance of the work environment to encourage your employees to thrive, not just exist.

Culture

What does your company culture say about you when you’re not in the room? How trusting are you as a business, how collaborative? How do you encourage positive relationships across the business, and how do you communicate both the values you champion and the goals you’re all working together to achieve?

Emotion

Recent developments in HR encourage leaders to see the whole human being behind the employee. So they feel understood, autonomous, invested in, cared for and valued. Responding to the emotional side of the work/life balance is a crucial step to delivering an exceptional life experience, not just an exceptional employee experience, and often contributes to higher employee satisfaction.

And how do you approach the development of the EVP?

Just like a customer value proposition starts with the customer, you need to ensure the employee value proposition starts with the employee.

What is your existing offer?

Take an objective view of your existing EVP, and understand where you sit on the scale of financial reward, benefits, development, environment and culture. What needs to improve?

What do your employees, and your ex-employees think?

Talk to your people: new hires and long-standing employees, junior, middleweight and senior. Conduct surveys to capture employee sentiment, and understand that you might hear things you don’t want to hear. Use exit interviews to understand what areas of the culture and the wider EVP need to be adjusted and what needs to be kept in place.

Who’s your ideal candidate?

Who are you really looking for? How does your team identify? What are the characteristics that will allow new employees to thrive? How would your ideal candidates identify themselves? What do they want to accomplish?

What challenges do they face?

Can you identify the challenges of your ideal candidate’s journey? How will they find you, and identify as a potential candidate? How will you bring your EVP to life so that they can imagine themselves thriving in your business?

How will you describe your culture and approach to career development?

How does your culture encourage personal and professional development? What are the values that you live by? What are the expectations of the role you’re hiring for, how will you measure performance?

How will you address the whole human?

Clearly explain how you help foster deeper connections both across teams and in their personal lives. How you encourage flexibility and respond to employees’ needs outside of work. How you’ll address both personal and professional growth, ensure they use any holistic well-being offering and make them feel invested in the business through shared purpose on societal and cultural issues.

What are your competitors doing?

Who’s your competition? What are the parallel roles they might be applying for? How does your employee value proposition compare? The same, better?

A strong EVP isn't an option, it's a necessity

Taking a broad approach, and challenging your business to articulate a clear, compelling and authentic EVP can make the difference between hiring and keeping the talent that will help drive your business forward, or leaving it trailing behind your competition.

On an emotional level, do your employees benefit from deeper connections, flexibility, personal growth, holistic well-being and shared purpose? The modern business, purpose-led and people-focused, needs to deliver both real value and the features that employees need whilst extending their EVP to see the whole human being.

When leaders can create functional and emotional responses in employees, both the organisation and the human being benefit and win, together.

And when their brand responds to both the customer and the employer, the opportunity for consistency and clarity increases exponentially.

When continually nurtured the EVP communicates the business’ care for its people, explains how it attracts and retains talent and how it creates an environment where employees can do their best work – both personally and professionally.

If you’re looking to strengthen your brand, employer brand or employee value proposition, we can help. Get in touch with the team to learn more about our employee branding services, we’d love to hear from you.

Harry Pocknell
Strategy & Creative Director
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