War for Talent: The Role of the Employee Value Proposition

Never before has the role of the employee value proposition been so vital. Even before the Great Resignation the battle for talent was fierce. The combination of businesses scaling back up post-Covid creating new job opportunities (an additional 1.3m in the UK alone), with a reduction in the workforce caused by aging demographics, early retirements and Brexit, has meant that the workforce is simply short of people. Of course, automation and shifts in the future of work will play their part in time, but right now there is an immediate talent crisis.

When you add to this the increasing expectations employees have of their employers, it’s no surprise to hear that organisations invested 10% more in 2021 on their employer branding and recruitment than they did pre-Covid.

How to win the talent war

The real question is how to invest that additional budget wisely to win this talent war. The good news is there’s a robust blueprint for getting your employer brand right. Businesses have been building their brands to attract customers for many decades, just like how employer brands need to attract ‘customers’ (in this case talent) in the same way. It’s probably a good idea to think of that talent in two distinct camps: external candidates applying to join the organisation and internal existing employees who need to be engaged to stay.

Your employer brand needs to be compelling enough that it can draw attention, stand out from the crowd (creating space between your organisation and competitors) whilst also being an honest reflection of the experience an employee will live if they join the organisation. There is no value in creating a false impression, for example promoting your culture of innovation if the reality is there’s a blame culture where mistakes are career defining. This only sets the wrong expectation, attracting the wrong candidates who quickly get frustrated and leave, while often leaving you negative Glassdoor feedback on their way out to prevent others making the same mistake. Mismatched employer brands might accelerate recruitment but cause expensive and time consuming attrition that doesn’t help you win talent over time.

In fact, the CIPD points out that you have an employer brand whether you consciously develop it or not, and it’s based on the way the organization is seen as a ‘place to work’ by potential recruits, current employees, leavers, and retirees.

When you set about developing your employer brand, you’re not starting from scratch. It is an extension of your corporate brand, offering an employee centred expression of the core, and it’s critical the two align. To make it compelling, you will need to investigate what the organisation can offer that’s different or valuable from other roles, vacancies and organisations and create a single minded proposition that resonates.

A stand out employer brand

A leading example of this is Netflix, infamous for hiring only ‘fully formed adults’ their employee value proposition (EVP) is about empowerment and freedom, from pioneering the ‘take whatever vacation time you feel appropriate’ policy their culture has stand out appeal.

Of course, this ‘no rules’ culture comes with an expectation of high performance and ambition, so the Netflix culture isn’t for everyone, but that’s the exact point. Netflix’s employer brand attracts those who are right for it and immediately filters those looking for a more family-friendly approach. This is great employer branding in action.

Not all organisations are Netflix, with such a standout proposition. In reality many jobs are very similar, they require certain working hours, offer similar benefits and since the increase in work from home policies have similar flexibility, so how does the average organisation identify a unique selling point? In some crowded industries the working conditions and even pay may be the same making it difficult to stand out. If you were to compare your job adverts to your industry competitors having removed the brand logos to identify them, what could you observe? Are they clones? If so, it might be time to re-evaluate your employee value proposition and think about what is really important to your candidates. Will your candidates value flexible working hours or advancement and opportunities? What stands out about your culture or purpose?

Defining your employee value proposition

There are various models that you can use as a starting point for looking at the areas your EVP should include, but in general you need to think about what area matter to candidates and employees, here are some examples:

  • Culture & people
  • Diversity, inclusion and belonging
  • Financial compensation and benefits
  • Organisational vision & career opportunities
  • Development, personal growth & advancement
  • Working environment
  • Integrity, respect, fairness and purpose
  • Freedom, voice, empowerment and flexibility
  • Job security

Now take another look at your job adverts, website, career pages, Glassdoor and anywhere else a potential candidate could get a sense of your EVP. How does your EVP come across currently? If there’s a gap, what could you do to close that gap? Gather some more reviews and create fresh case studies and testimonials that help tell the stories that aren’t being told.

You may need to think broader than the typical pay and flexible working hours. Employees are demanding much more from their employers than they did pre-Covid. They expect their employers to do more than simply make a profit. Increasingly contributing to society and making a positive impact on the planet is becoming a hygiene factor, expected by many employees of their employers. Organisations can think about things like committing to having a climate positive workforce or provide additional wellbeing support like the treasured 4-day week.

If you want to find out about how we’ve helped other businesses create an desirable and aligned employer brand that attracts and retains top talent, get in touch.

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