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An employer value proposition (EVP) is a set of unique benefits and offerings that an employer promises to deliver to its employees in exchange for their skills, expertise, and commitment. It's essentially the value that an organization provides to its employees in return for their contributions.

The EVP helps attract, retain, and engage talent by effectively communicating and driving what makes the organization a desirable place to work. It encompasses various components such as:

  • Purpose, vision, and mission
  • Organizational values
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Culture
  • Career development opportunities
  • Flexibility
  • Work-life balance
  • The overall employee experience

Why You Need An EVP

Having a strong EVP is beneficial for several reasons:

  • Attracting and retaining talent: A compelling EVP helps attract and retain talent. In today's competitive job market, workers often look beyond salary and benefits, seeking companies that offer opportunities for growth, work-life balance, and alignment with personal values.
  • Enhanced employee engagement: An EVP that resonates with employees leads to higher levels of employee engagement. Engaged workers are more productive, committed, and motivated to contribute to the company's success. They also tend to be brand ambassadors, speaking positively about their experiences at the company, which can further enhance the employer brand.
  • Alignment with organizational goals: An EVP helps align employee expectations with the company's goals and values. When people understand how they contribute to the broader organizational objectives, they’re more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work.
  • Greater profitability: By reducing turnover and attracting the right talent, a strong EVP can lead to cost savings associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training. Moreover, engaged employees tend to be more productive, which can positively impact the company's bottom line.

Employer Value Proposition vs Employer Branding

When people talk about EVP they often talk about employer branding and vice versa. This is because the two are closely related, with the EVP forming the core of your employer brand.

However, your employer brand is how you’re perceived as an employer by candidates, current employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

Employer branding stems from your EVP but also encompasses the visual identity (such as logos, colors, and design elements), and messaging (including slogans, taglines, and communication style).

It’s also the experience and feelings potential candidates have when they interact with an organization as they progress through the recruitment process.

This comprises things that they interact with along their journey as a potential candidate, such as:

  • The clarity of the content that helps the candidate understand both the company and the job description
  • The accessibility of the application process
  • The interview experience.
EVP helps create your employer branding.
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Ownership Of Employer Value Proposition And Employer Branding

Employer branding (EB) was initially coined as a term by two branding executives—Barrow and Ambler. 

Even though they were marketing gurus, they admitted that employer brand strategy belongs with HR as the ultimate owner. And, since employer branding stems from the EVP, it all goes under HR.

There have been some whispers recently about where EVP belongs—is it with the marketing team? With the CEO? Since it's the distillation of the employee experience HR (or HR plus the CEO) should own this.

However, ownership does not mean that HR gets to define it solo.

The EVP embodies your company culture, guides it, and permeates through your whole company like DNA.

Therefore, it’s definitely not just for human resources to figure out. They can perhaps lead the discovery and the formation of it, but it's not a PowerPoint HR presents to the company out of nowhere.

Ideally, the EVP process should be led by the whole of the senior leadership determining what kind of company they want to create (top-down) and also what kind of company the current employees want to work for (bottom-up). 

This is how you discover your DNA and if there are any gaps in the ideals of both groups.

How To Create An EVP

As mentioned above, running an MVP project should be led by HR but with input from leaders and the employee population. Here's my step-by-step.

Step one: Surveys

First up, it’s important to get clear about who you are as an organization and employer.

Create a questionnaire for leadership asking them to hold a mirror up to themselves and ask questions such as:

  • What makes us unique?
  • Why should potential employees come to work here and why do existing employees stay?
  • What are the challenges unique to our company?
  • What are the unique opportunities/benefits?
  • What is our ideal employee persona/ideal candidate?
  • Are we attracting those job candidates? If yes, what are we doing right? If not, why not?
  • Are we at the place we want to be as a company? What is missing? What will take us there?
  • What would you like the experience of every employee to be working here? (Give prompts to be more specific so they don’t respond with “Good” e.g. “Challenging, but rewarding” or “A great opportunity to develop and learn”).
  • How can we appeal to people we want? How would you rate what we are currently doing?
  • What would be the work tagline of our work environment? (e.g. Google is “Build for everyone”, Lego is “Succeed Together”)
  • From 1 to 10, what makes the organization an attractive employer?
    • Great team
    • Motivating supervisors
    • Modern workplace
    • Flexibility
    • Educational/development programs
    • Ability to grow within the company
    • Salary
    • Benefits
    • The company culture.

Then create another questionnaire for team leads (if you have that layer) asking similar questions. Often they are the link between leadership and individual contributors so they have a unique perspective.

Lastly, create a third questionnaire for individual contributors as well. You will likely need to rework some of the questions and you can make it a bit shorter and focus on what you want to hear from the colleagues in the team and who they want to work with the most.

Here’s a short list of some useful employee survey tools to help.

Step two: Focus groups

Create and run a focus group for each of the above groups to discuss their answers (starting with leadership).

If you have a lot of new hires, perhaps split the individual contributor's group into tenure to see if there’s a difference in how they experience things like the work culture, perks, onboarding, and any other elements you want to explore more about (could be a great source of employee testimonials too!).

Make sure to communicate widely that you’re also open to 1:1 chats with anyone who wants to have one (not everyone can participate equally in groups).

Top tip: Have a summary of each group’s results ready and a set of open questions to encourage a discussion and for people to speak up further.

Step three: Analysis

Using the feedback from the surveys and focus groups, examine:

  • What are the recurring themes? 
  • What are the areas of concern?
  • What are we doing well as an employer?
  • Is there a gap between the ideal employee experience and the current experience?
  • Quick fixes anyone’s suggested.

Top tip: after analysis, present your findings to the leadership team to help them understand the differences between what they thought the employee experience was and what it is in reality.

Step four: EVP creation

Use the information that you’ve gathered to create the persona of the potential candidates you want to target, and the discovery around what makes your company unique and how you want to be perceived as an employer, to create your EVP.

From here you can create your EVP doc which should contain:

  • The organization’s mission, vision, purpose
  • Organizational values
  • Your employer tagline
  • Your philosophy around compensation, learning and development, flexibility, and culture
  • Marketing details like target persona and tone of voice so that any content created has a format to follow.

Running an EVP project can sometimes be a tough process as you're candidly holding up a mirror to your own organization and what looks back isn't always pretty.

It's important to communicate widely and openly to everyone that this exercise is happening.

Great suggestions and opinions can come from anywhere and, if someone is struggling, it lets them know you're making an effort and they're encouraged to speak up. 

Open yourself up to 1:1 conversations and encourage everyone else to speak openly about wins and issues as well.

This is an opportunity to make people feel heard and gather valuable feedback to improve the employee experience.

Employer Value Proposition Best Practices

My number one piece of advice to get started in creating an EVP: read as much as you can on HOW to create one, but do not read other people's. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of endlessly reading lists of "the best" or "the top" EVPs, but, in reality, two things will happen if you go with that approach:

  1. You will be seeing the employer brand only, nothing about how the company is living and breathing the EVP day-to-day or how they created it.
  2. You may subconsciously end up copying them. This is how we end up with every company around the world including "customer obsession", "speed/moving fast/being quick" and "learn every day💪" as part of their EVP and branding.

Beyond that Here are some further best practices to help you develop your EVP.

  • Research and understand your audience: Conduct thorough research to understand the needs, preferences, and motivations of your target talent pool (current employees are a good place to start). This insight will help you tailor your EVP to resonate with the right candidates.
  • Tell your story: Each organization has a unique story and your EVP should start there e.g. why do you exist? What problem do you solve? How did you start solving this problem?
  • Be real: Be honest and transparent about what your company offers and what employees can expect. Authenticity builds trust and credibility with potential candidates. If you go too idealistic you can end up falling short of promises and leaving people disillusioned.
  • Be aspiration: On the other hand, if you set your company goals that are not at least a bit of a stretch and aspirational then you’re selling yourself short!
  • Be explicit: If you use terms like collaboration, learning, growth, etc. be sure to clearly define what they mean to you and your company. I’m always a fan of creating a tagline for each of the values/rules of engagement and then a short blurb to explain what it means and why it's important.
  • Focus on more than compensation: While salary and benefits are important, emphasize other aspects of your EVP such as career development opportunities, work-life balance, company culture, and employee recognition programs.
  • Include employee testimonials and success stories: Incorporate real-life stories and testimonials from current employees to provide credibility to your EVP. Hearing about positive experiences firsthand can be compelling for potential candidates.
  • Tailor your EVP messaging to different talent segments: Recognize that different segments of talent may be interested in different aspects of your EVP and tailor your messaging to appeal to specific demographics, skills, or career levels.
  • Measure and evaluate EVP effectiveness: Establish some metrics to measure the effectiveness of your EVP in attracting and retaining talent and gather feedback from candidates and current employees to continuously refine and improve your EVP strategy.

How To Live And Breathe Your EVP

Here are a few ideas on how to make sure that the ideals of your EVP become reality.

I'd first start by ensuring that the leadership and all team leaders are fully briefed and truly understand the ideals and values of the company. 

I like leading by example, so usually I collect a few leaders to walk them through and talk about how we want to encourage X behavior and how that relates to the X value, always making sure to connect it to the EVP.

I also like to talk to both team leaders and individual employees about any human resource/talent initiatives and explain how they are always led by specific areas of the EVP. 

This way, the whole company can see that HR, as the owner, lives and breathes the EVP in everything from how we communicate to candidates to what our benefits are.

Then I like to create small shout-outs and reward spaces for people who embody specific values.

This can be done over your HRIS or Slack (or, if you have the budget, make them tangible rewards!). 

I also like weaving them into the company presentations like all-hands or town halls. These really drive the point home and highlight examples in front of everyone on what has really helped propel us forward towards the EVP and the vision of the kind of company we want to be.

Lastly, I also create a values angle in the performance reviews to reward or call out behaviors we want to see.

Your EVP Is Your Competitive Advantage

To borrow a Japanese Proverb (according to the internet at least) The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.

Being on top of your identity as an employer and updating it appropriately with changing times can be your key to not just putting up a front of being a great employer, but actually being one.

In most companies I have been in there has been a lot of talk about talent acquisition, but let's not forget that the current employees are one of our greatest assets. Creating a great employee experience is one of the greatest hiring tools you have at your disposal. 

Making sure they understand, engage, and identify with the values will help the employee turnover and you will turn employees into evangelists.

Pay attention to any shifts in the zeitgeist and decide if you need to react, make the employee experience matter!

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By Mariya Hristova

Mariya is a talent acquisition professional turned HR leader with experience in large corporates and start-ups. She has 10+ years of experience recruiting all over the world across many different industries, specialising in market entries, expansion, or scaling projects. She is of the firm belief that great candidate and empoyee experiences are not just a luxury, but a must. Currently she is the People Lead at Focaldata.