Our collective experiences throughout the pandemic period have shaped not just how we live our lives, but our daily working patterns, and how we behave towards each other.

Every one of us has been affected, and, at some point, has reflected on our lives before COVID-19. Similarly, organisations are reflecting on the last 18 months, and looking at how they now need to position their businesses for the future; key to that is to create, or revisit, their employee value proposition (EVP).

Empowered employees

This recent period of reflection has empowered employees to consider whether their employers have values which resonate with their own, and whether the actions they see day-to-day reflect those values. It seems that many employees have decided to vote with their feet.

The recent press coverage of the so-called ‘Great Resignation’, and the fact that there were over 1 million job vacancies in the UK in September 2021, seems to have heightened the discussion around retaining and engaging workforces, and ensuring that their experience in the workplace is fulfilling.

A new ‘war for talent’ has begun, and organisations need to create compelling reasons why employees, or prospective employees, should decide to stay, or join, the organisation. Creating and maintaining an employee value proposition is critical to this.

The elements of an EVP

Let’s start with a working definition:

An EVP is the experiences and offerings provided by an organisation,
in exchange for the skills, capabilities and experience brought by the employee.

It’s an employment deal, derived from the employee experience, such as their everyday interactions, rewards, and growth opportunities. In the world of talent communications, your EVP is the foundation of your reputation as a place to work, and is, alongside the tangible formal offer, at the heart of why somebody would want to work for you.

Whilst the component parts of an employee value proposition have remained broadly the same since before the pandemic, the importance and weighting of specific elements has changed; the EVP for the post-pandemic workforce must:

  • orient towards seeing employees as people, not as workers or ‘headcount’;
  • provide a positive experience, not simply work; and
  • focus on employees’ feelings, and their physical and mental wellbeing.

The pandemic has changed the relationship between people and their work, and the EVP must evolve to reflect these changes. Failing to do so is a risk: the workforce is more mobile and flexible than ever, there’s a huge number of vacancies, and people are increasingly discerning in what they expect from employers. The bottom line is that organisations no longer enjoy the upper hand in the recruitment and retention of talent.

Why an EVP matters

If you are considering whether you need an EVP, or are in the process of reworking an existing EVP, these are some of the key factors that should shape your thinking:

  • A shortage of skilled labour globally: New economic powers are emerging; there are aging populations in Europe, the US and Japan; and the competition for experienced and skilled employees has intensified. Outcome: attractive employers will get the best people.
  • A shortage of skilled labour in key sectors: For example, haulage and logistics, agricultural staff, etc. It is an employee-centric marketplace.
  • Doing more with less: High pressure to cut costs and increase productivity means recruiting the right people is imperative. Skilled employees will get things done quickly and efficiently.
  • Growth and profitability: Recruitment and retention are becoming more critical, as employees with the right skills, knowledge and experience drive growth.
  • Popularity: Great reputations attract great people.
  • Strength: How attractive the company is perceived to be will drive its bargaining power. It also helps create an employer brand that makes employees want to stay, rather than look elsewhere.

Recent global events have created a deeper understanding of people’s motivations, and why they work where they do. The balance of power in the employer/employee relationship has shifted towards the employee. As a result, many are finding current employee engagement limiting, which has driven a desire for a more holistic employee experience.

The employee experience

‘Employee experience’ encompasses the employee as a human being, someone who is impacted by ‘moments that matter’ within their workplace. Employee experience therefore has to be built around the needs of employees: humans first, buildings and solutions to follow.

There are a number of key employee experience challenges for organisations, which impact employee touchpoints and the employee value proposition:

  • Personal: Do you understand how employees feel at every touchpoint of their experience in the organisation
  • Culture: How will the employee experience match and adhere to the organisational purpose, values and goals? And how do you project these externally to prospective employees?
  • Processes and systems: How do your processes and systems support the employee experience in a world of hybrid working?
  • Technology: Do you have the technology in place to allow employees to work at their best, whether that be in an office, factory, at home or elsewhere?
  • Voice: Are your employees empowered, with the freedom to challenge, innovate and be agile in their roles?

Building an EVP

With this change in the employee experience in mind, there are five essential stages in executing an EVP programme:

  1. Positioning: Assess what and who your organisation currently is and what it isn’t. You should be clear about who you are.
  2. Employee viewpoint: Knowing what your company can and cannot offer is crucial for building a strong EVP. Talk to your people at all levels of the organisation.
  3. Drivers: Define the critical drivers of your EVP from an internal perspective.
  4. External viewpoint: Ask yourself key questions to define what your target audience will see:
    • What salary range and employment benefits will attract my target audience?
    • What career growth opportunities are my target audience looking for?
    • What kind of company culture will help colleagues succeed at work?
    • What constitutes an ideal work environment for my target audience?
    • What offering will differentiate us from the competition?
  5. Analysis and output: Once you have completed the above steps, and identified how you differ from the competition and what employee experience you can deliver, write a strong employee value proposition statement to encapsulate your findings. Then ensure it is well communicated through the appropriate channels.

Getting it right

Whilst it can be somewhat aspirational, your EVP should closely match the reality of the workplace. There’s little point in projecting an organisation that is dynamic, innovative and fast paced… if it isn’t. You risk recruiting people who will be disappointed with their role, and who won’t hang around.

The second pitfall is thinking the work is done once the EVP is created. You need to continually evolve, tweak and change the messaging to reflect what is happening internally and externally. The views of employees, and prospective employees, have changed markedly over the past 18 months, and will evolve further as we continue to emerge from the grip of the pandemic.

The employee value proposition has always been an important tool. However, recent events mean it is more critical than ever to get it right. In the fight for top talent, an impactful and effective EVP will set you apart from the competition. As employees seek a great place to work, and a great experience in the workplace, it’s time to show them what you have to offer.

To talk about how to create or improve your organisation’s EVP, check out my upcoming Discovery Session, or drop me a line: Ian.Barrow@corporateculture.co.uk