Google the term ‘Employer Value Proposition’ and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of definitions, articles, expert views, university papers, professional training courses – and a surprisingly high number of genuinely learned books. If 15 years ago ‘EVP’ was an emerging field and a new discipline, then today it’s well on the way to becoming an industry.
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Yet at heart your EVP is very simple. It’s the reason why people join you, stay with you and enjoy working with you. It may define your services, your customer delivery, your market performance and your organisational development – but essentially it’s all about what makes you ‘different’ as a place to work and what makes you tick as an employer.
It’s your Unique Selling Proposition to all the talent communities you need to attract.
If the essence of an EVP is so ‘simple’, how does that translate into a practical brand promise? Such firmly-grounded EVP’s do exist and are serving their hosts extremely well. Those employers have kept it ‘real’ and are reaping the benefits through a much better attraction strategy, employee fit and correspondingly better-performing organisation. So what’s the ‘secret’?
Listen to EVERYONE
You need to listen to every segment of your current employee-base. All levels, ages, genders, communities and beliefs. You need to ask the right questions to find out what makes ‘everyone’ want to come to work, what they expect from their employer, what they look to deliver – and why they chose to work with you. As an example, we’ve worked with a European service firm that is incredibly ‘commercial’ and target-oriented, yet surprisingly diverse as an employee-base. The company listened to everyone and the resulting EVP centering around Development, Growth and Success continues to drive the direction of the company (which has recently moved into new offices in Canary Wharf as well as growing its network of offices across continental Europe).
Be HONEST with the findings
‘Good’ research is a Moment of Truth. It usually validates some of what you already know, gives greater insights into areas that may not have been on the radar – and (if the questions are right) throws up some surprises. Your Research needs to be taken as a whole. Sweeping any ‘inconvenient truths’ under your office carpet or factory floor makes a mockery of the whole process, wastes your time and money – and will probably do you long-term harm. In fact, one of the key outputs of an EVP project is a ‘free health-check’ of you as an employer and a key diagnostic of you as a business. I’ve worked on an EVP project for a global electronics company who simply refused to accept what their Engineers were saying about them as an employer. Their market performance was eroding and within five years they had been aggressively acquired. They ceased to exist as a company and today, even their brand is no more. I do wonder if their ‘denial’ of where they were as an employer was an early warning sign of what they could become as a business.
Going Global means Leveraging the Local
Many employers have long been an international workforce and understand that local cultural nuances and geographical dynamics are key factors in framing an EVP. I will always remember how the EVP research for a global pharmaceutical company revealed some startling differences amongst the needs and perceptions of talent communities across 5 continents. Referring back to Point 2, those differences had sharp edges that could not be shaved or softened. The resulting Proposition Development was not without its challenges – but the eventual outcome was incredibly refined and robust.
Top Down to achieve Bottom Up
An EVP has to be owned by the Executive. The C-Suite needs to live the vision, values and behaviours. But the reality is that a top-down drive is focused on achieving the bottom-up reality: it’s building, shaping and continually developing the company culture. Our EVP project for the Rank Group plc was sponsored by the whole Board and the resulting proposition – ‘Where Everyone Counts’ – is now a Corporate Value as well as the Employment Value.
That’s a KPI for any EVP.
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