Why your company needs an Employee Value Proposition

Geir Darge · 09 Aug

Being an ‘employer of choice’ in Britain has never been more important. Brexit, slow growth and inflation have meant attracting new talent is becoming increasingly difficult.

Moreover, the expectations people have of employers is radically different from that of 20 years ago. The generation of today cares deeply about ‘company culture’, corporate responsibility and quick career progression.

The pressure applied, both from economic forces and prospective employees has meant that having a well-crafted Employee Value Proposition, or EVP, is now not only desirable now but essential.

What actually is an EVP?

The composition of an EVP is not set in stone. Every company will have their own version of the proposition, so a dictionary definition is hard to formulate. However, in layman's terms, it’s an enticing summary of what a company offers its employees. 

The reasons for having one are fairly self-explanatory; it’s how you compete for an applicant's affection in a busy job market. Imagine you’re in the process of hiring, say, a designer or encryptor. If you offer said person a job, the question they will invariably consider is, 'what makes this job better than any of the rest?'. To be a successful employer you need to able to answer this silent question and often an EVP is how you communicate your answer.  

How do you know if your company has it?

What actually constitutes an EVP? It's a question that's often thought but never said in HR circles. Would simply a job description be counted as one, or does it have to be more bespoke? Is it the same for everyone, or does it vary? To date, there isn’t much conclusively answering this.

A good way to find all this out is to compare an EVP to your companies brand positioning and statement. In any marketing or sales department, there will sit a defining piece of writing that succinctly and stylishly sums up what the company is selling. This is both used in public facing and internal literature to clearly define the remit and focus of the brand. It can be worded in different ways for different people, but on a meta-level, it never changes.

A similar approach is needed when designing an EVP, so if you can’t think of what your workplace culture stands for, chances are you don’t have one.

Whose responsibility is it write it?

An EVP is not just a HR gimmick, it’s something that's intrinsic to your company's culture and ethos. It’s about what the company stands for and that impacts the employees. Consequently, it should have input from everyone; the intern to the execs. In a way, it’s the incarnation of how your company defines itself, so it’s vital that it’s given an appropriate level of attention from management, as well as HR.

Okay, it’s important but what will it actually help?

An EVP really tackles three big, meaty issues that any company, little or large, will struggle with: 

1. Company culture

An EVP isn’t just a selling point but a statement about your company’s culture. If you are going through a rebranding effort and trying to alter your reputation even in a commercial capacity, nailing down an EVP will act as a blueprint of change to come.

In many ways, it’s step 1 in building a progressive and modern workplace as it puts an emphasis on employee engagement. It’s a signal to both candidates and current employees that their happiness is the main consideration for management.

2. Attracting new talent

According to a recent study carried out by Glassdoor, 4 out of 5 workers would prefer access to more benefits and perks than a small salary hike. This is a radical change in the job market and shows that you can’t always buy your way to the top, there are things that people care more about than money.  Moreover, hiking up salaries isn’t feasible for most companies anyway.

If you are struggling with attracting the right candidates for roles, chances are there’s something up with your EVP, or you don’t have one. For a candidate to really want to work at a company, they have to be enticed by a vision of what their life will be like there. If they can’t see themselves enjoying life in your office, it doesn’t matter how much money you offer, they are likely to decline.

3. Turn-over

We all know there is a big problem with loyalty among younger workers in the UK. The average citizen is now likely to go through six different jobs in their life, spelling the end of ‘company loyalty’. It seems that the British force feel, at best, ambivalence for their place of work and certainly feel no attachment.

Employers who have grown complacent and fallen behind the times when it comes to company culture are bearing the brunt of this exodus. More traditional working environments such as banks, insurance firms etc. are experiencing unprecedented staff turnover. 

One of the most obvious reasons for such high levels of turnover is the bleak outlook for career progression that employees are faced with. This lack of vertical visibility often results in a despondent and temperamental workforce. This is something an EVP naturally corrects, as one of its main functions is to detail the 'next steps' of any given role. 

What should your EVP include?

If you’re starting from scratch, or even if you’re just looking to improve your current EVP here are five aspects that should always be included:

A flavour of who you are

Who you are as a company is one of the biggest considerations that will sway a candidate towards working for you. It’s why the masses flocked to Google and then Airbnb. There's a knowledge that these companies are ‘good’ or ‘fun’ places to work. Often success as a company is preceded by this sort of expectation. Having an attractive image… attracts. You’ll get to cherrypick from a pile of qualified applicants.

So include information like, what a work social usually entails, what the vibe in the office is like. Policies like pets in the office or a relaxed dress code are things that people really care about. So if you have fun policies make sure you highlight them.

...and your people

Who makes up your workforce? They're an extension of your company culture, so an EVP should always allude to the office social makeup. You want to demonstrate what type of person is a culture fit. Are they loud, vivacious, personable, or focused and analytical? It might be more holistic than this. Perhaps you're looking for someone who is passionate about your industry, or lives and breathes office culture. 

Whatever you're looking for, it’s important to define it, not only for the candidate’s sake but for your own. The worst thing you can do is hire a really qualified applicant, who rubs everyone the wrong way, or who doesn't 'get' the company mission. Even worse is a new hire that feels isolated and alone, who eventually leaves having hated every second of their time with you. 

The progression route

'Where will the job take me'? This is something that every candidate wants to know in advance. If you’re able to show the scope for growth and development in a role, it’s instantly more appealing.

Career progression has stagnated over the past decade and has become the bugbear of a generation, who are stuck in mediocre positions, with a bleak outlook. So having clear progression paths mapped out in an EVP will create a lot of noise in a stale job market.

The daily grind

This aspect is always forgotten about but when courting the interest of a candidate but a short explanation of what an average day will look like should always be included. From an employee perspective, it’s quite a hard thing to visualise without information and yet their whole application revolves around it. If they have an idea of what’s expected of them, the process of applying will be a lot more streamlined and focus on why they will excel in that particular role.

From an employer's point of view, it will also give you the opportunity to paint a picture of what a good day looks like. It’s a chance to set the bar and lead candidates in with accurate expectations.

Perks

Last and certainly not least: the perks of the job. It’s no exaggeration to say that this can make or break an offer, given that access to company benefits is now a top priority for people entering the job market. Moreover, further down the line company loyalty hinges on having a matured benefits or rewards system in place. Even Sir Terry Leahy, the CEO of Tesco, understood this fundamental link, stating that the “true source of loyalty is to create benefits for people”.  

Given that it holds such esteem in the eyes of your employees, your EVP should be a showcase of all the different and desirable company benefits that you have to offer. As general, or as tailored as you like. This includes packages that you might have bought, such as Perkbox, a gym membership or life insurance but also includes the smaller things, like free coffee in the office, or a monthly lunch-out treat. ‘Added value’ is the most enticing part of an EVP and is also the area you can really differentiate yourself from competitors. Having a cycle to work scheme, or discounts in certain shops is a clear-fire way to demonstrate that you’re putting employee happiness first.

 

The bigger picture

Ultimately an EVP is a statement of intent. If you’re looking to creating one, don’t start panic buying ping-pong tables. It’s a process that starts with deciding what should be in your EVP. Make it your starting point and then start following through on the ideas you’ve included. 

To find out more about nailing your EVP, why not download our guide on How to Build and Nurture a Winning Company Culture:

 

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