Neglect your EVP and face losing top talent

Neglect your EVP and face losing top talent

A differing perception versus reality is something we have all experienced in different forms throughout our lives. Whether it is going on holiday and finding that the ‘ocean view’ you were promised can only be achieved by standing on your tip toes in one corner of the room; or ordering something second-hand online and realising that it’s slightly more ‘used’ than the description suggested, reality doesn’t always live up to your expectations. Starting a new job is another scenario where the two don’t always match up.

What is your EVP?

In the early days within an organisation, we find ourselves asking if the role lives up to our expectations or whether we have been mis-sold any aspect of the organisation. This is where a clearly defined Employer Value Proposition (EVP) plays a vital role. While there are many varying definitions, an EVP is essentially ‘the deal’ between the employer and employee – the unique set of benefits a member of staff receives in return for the skills, capabilities and experience they bring to a business. Companies that offer an attractive EVP will not only have a more engaged workforce but will also likely benefit from an improved overall business performance. This is all the more important in skills-short industries where businesses are competing for talent.

As part of the EVP, companies should ensure that remuneration and benefits accurately match the aspiration of potential employees. Not only will this attract new talent, it will enhance the reputation of a business as a desirable place to work more broadly.

Why your EVP is about more than just pay rates

Happy, engaged employees will naturally become advocates of the business and, over time, factors beyond salary and benefits contribute significantly to making companies good places to work, like clear career paths, flexible working arrangements and investment in training and development. Those companies unable to compete at the top end of the salary spectrum can still attract and retain talent by getting the blend of other characteristics right. And the consequence of not getting the non-financial benefits right can be more costly than you might think. A negative culture is the second biggest influencer on whether engineers choose to leave a job (Matchtech Voice of the Workforce report 2017).

Listening to the employees within a business is key to creating a sustainable, relevant and compelling EVP. It cannot be something which is created from the top down. Each individual perceives benefits differently – for some, professional development will be the most attractive proposition, while others will care more about flexible working or a company’s CSR programme.

Having worked at or provided services for several organisations over the course of my career, I have reflected back on what motivated me or others to join these companies and how their EVPs compared.

The good and the bad of EVPs

My first employer had a great reputation within the industry but fell short when it came to the salary and benefits package. However, the senior leadership team were genuine advocates of professional development, and the people were committed and positive about the company. The business created an inclusive environment, where employees felt that they had a voice and a clear career path. While some complained about the salary being below market rate, people stayed because the brand was consistent with the company’s EVP (despite this being long before the EVP concept was born!).

In a very different example, one of the clients I represented in a previous role had a strong brand, with a “cutting-edge” reputation within its industry. People joined the business purely on this basis, presuming that it must be a great place to work. After working with the client for several months and talking to a wide range of employees, it became clear that the experience did not live up to these expectations. The hours were long with limited flexibility, remuneration was average, and the culture made people feel isolated. Despite its strong brand, the company’s EVP was poor and it struggled to retain its top talent. A revolving door is a true sign of a business getting its EVP wrong.

Having a well-defined, effective EVP ultimately reduces the cost of hiring and more importantly the cost of re-hiring, in terms of time spent bringing people into the business and for them to become effective and influential in their position.

A strong brand will only get you so far so underpinning it with a strong EVP is key to creating a winning proposition to existing and potential employees. Developing the two in unison – brand and EVP – will help ensure your company’s reputation is strengthened while you continue to attract, retain and develop the best people.

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