Developing a winning Employer Value Proposition
Friday, 18 May 2018
By Elmen Lamprecht
One of the most important aspects of your Employer Brand is your Employer Value Proposition (EVP). Similar to you sales staff understanding your product/service features and benefits in order to attract and retain clients, your Recruiters should understand the features and benefits of working at your organization in order to attract new talent. The problem with many EVP’s are that they sound generic because they are fabricated. Companies do not spend nearly as much time on understanding and selling what makes them different as an employer as they do understanding and selling what makes their products/services better than their competitors*. (see important not at bottom)
Where to start?
Your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) should encapsulate what makes your company different and better to work for than any other company. It should be unique and individualized to really represent your company culture and work environment.
The worst way to do this is to get the executive team and the marketing team in a room to come up with some nice sounding content. Naturally, the execs would be tempted to present the best possible image, and probably will create a false impression. The marketing team would be eager to take that false message and jazz it up to represent something they feel will look good in the market and will most probably try to clone a Google/Facebook kind of message.
The best way to get the real essence of the company culture is to start with an employee engagement survey and ask every employee to identify how they experience working for the company. There is a good chance that the ‘company’ the execs work for is not the same ‘company’ everyone else works for. A thorough Employee Engagement survey purely aimed at developing your EVP will have two advantages: Firstly, it will give the executive team honest feedback of what it really feels like to work for the company. Secondly, it will give the marketing department amazing content (case studies) to use for future campaigns.
If you are a small company, (with no marketing department) still start with asking everyone to contribute to the EVP. This will help you develop something authentic that will resonate with current employees as well as future candidates. Remember: If your EVP does not reflect the real company culture, your current employees will know it is fake and soon word of mouth will counter your employer branding strategy.
What must a winning Employer Value Proposition contain?
According to a Glassdoor survey, 76% of job seekers want details on what makes a company an attractive place to work for. Therefore, good sounding emotional content might spark candidates’ job applications to your company, but it will not be enough to turn those applications in accepted offers. Your EVP must complement the emotional attraction with some good cold, hard facts about your company.
Below, we will be looking at some of the most popular elements that candidates look for when applying for vacancies and accepting offers. No company will be able to compete on each and every element below and therefore you should identify which of these elements make you unique. Stay true to your company strengths and do not make promises you cannot keep.
Your EVP should address the following elements:
- Compensation Packages: Candidates want to know how compensation is structured, including any perks such as medical aid, provident fund, parking, meal allowance, etc.
- Emphasis on work-life balance: Candidates want to know how much fun they would have working at the company and how flexible the company is around personal commitments such as family or personal interests.
- Advancement opportunities: Do you have proper performance management and career planning structure in place? Or will the candidate be left to their own devices and/or slog away in their current position for a very long time.
- Collaborative environment: Candidates want to know how decisions are made in the company and whether they will have a say in what happens (at least in their department).
- Training/continued education: Let’s face it, training and development cost money and companies have to prioritize their spend. Most companies cannot spend money on high salaries, amazing perks and training for every employee – they often decide which is most important to them. If your company values further training and have structures in place to ensure every employee that wants to learn a new skill can do so, use this in your EVP.
- Organizational ethics: With all the bad publicity regarding KPMG, McKinsley and Steinhoff, candidates want to know how you ensure ethical behaviour. Be specific. Just saying that you are an ethical company is not enough (I’m sure that is what Steinhoff told all their employees). Mention specific actions you take that ensure ethics (e.g. ethics hotline, compulsory ethics training, independent investigation findings, etc.)
- Corporate culture: Once again, be specific. Give examples of everyday working life that shows what your company culture is all about. Perhaps use testimonials and case studies generated though the Employee Engagement Survey that illustrates your unique company culture.
- Diversified Workforce: Millennials value diversity in the workplace. They want to know what you are doing to employ and support the different genders and ethnicities. This is a good time to mention any programmes you have that promote diversity.
As mentioned before, no company will be able to compete on element and therefore you should identify which of these elements make you unique. For example, if your compensation structures are not the highest in the market or you do not have many perks, rather let your EVP focus on the things that you are strong at (perhaps work-life balance or an amazing corporate culture). Highlight your strengths while having good explanations regarding your weaknesses. Let me offer an example of how a small start-up could position themselves: “As a start-up, our compensation packages might not be the highest in the market, but we offer an amazing collaborative environment where junior staff work side-by-side with the owners and directors of the company. This environment allows ideas to flow freely between team members (regardless of your position) and enables junior staff to lean and grow a lot more than they would have in a large corporate where they are seen as just a number”. This offers a good explanation for uncompetitive salaries, but immediately takes the attention way by focusing on their strengths as a start-up: Having direct access to industry experts and building a company together with them.
*Note to Business Executives: If your competitors succeed in employing higher quality people due to a better Employer Brand, you will be competing in the market with one hand behind your back. Top Talent is only attracted to Top Employer Brands. Winning the War on Talent requires a strong EVP.