Elvis Presley is quoted as saying “Values are like fingerprints. Nobody's are the same, but you leave 'em all over everything you do.” In a lot of ways, he’s right. Values should be so deeply embedded that their presence becomes as distinctive and enduring as fingerprints. But unlike our actual fingerprints, we get a say in what are values are and the same is true of organisations. Captured in an employee value proposition (EVP), values should be part of the intentional fingerprint that every organisation is happy to leave on all they do.
In our recent forums on reward and EVP in partnership with the National Rewards Group (NRG), delegates told us they understand having an EVP is critical. But the reality is, not every company has one. Their fingerprints are haphazard and don’t necessarily clearly identify the organisation and what it offers.
A well articulated EVP is the organisation’s chance to state the terms of the social contract between employer and employee. While reward is an important aspect, it’s not everything, with only 35 percent of respondents in a recent NRG survey reporting that reward is a top reason of employee-initiated turnover. The effects of a strong EVP are real: companies with strong EVPs are able to position their reward below market median because the brand offsets the difference.
In this article we’ll look at what it takes to build a compelling EVP (spoiler: it doesn’t just happen) and look at some of the best ways to get there.
Three challenges that all organisations face
Speaking to the participants at our recent forums, it’s clear that many organisations face the same challenges in creating a compelling EVP.
- One size does not fit all. It’s easy to assume that one EVP will work for everyone, but like most things in life, that’s not the case. While the overarching message needs to be consistent with the company mission and values, the EVP can be nuanced to reflect the different stages of the employment journey and demographics.
- Turning rhetoric into reality is the biggest challenge. If your organisation struggles to bridge the gap between the perfectly polished EVP statement and the experience on the ground, you’re not alone – this is the number one challenge. The key is truly living the brand – doing what you say, consistently. Communication is crucial here - do your people really understand the offer? And do you really understand what your people want?
- Put in the effort. Crafting a well-planned, robust EVP takes time and effort. You need to set your EVP in the context of your business strategy. You need to hear from the employees, you need buy-in from senior leaders. You need to design customised EVPs for employee segments and align your total rewards strategy with your talent management strategy. As the saying goes, this doesn’t happen overnight. The process can take weeks or months.
The golden rules for developing an EVP
The right process for developing an EVP will vary from organisation to organisation, driven by each individual culture and the shape of the employee population. That said, these four principles are universal no matter the exact process:
- Always ask the question: never assume you know what your employees like about working for your organisation.
- Needs trump simple demographics: understanding demographic differences in your population is important, but avoid creating boxes. Think in terms of employee needs rather than age, gender or occupation.
- Flexibility is critical: develop a package that can be adapted to suit different life circumstances – and allow employees to choose a package that suits them best.
Values first, always: don’t compromise on your values. If a particular tangible or intangible benefit clashes with your values, simply take it off the table. The goal should always be a values-led EVP where all elements create a consistent message.
Learn more about how we helped Ardent Mills build a compelling employee value proposition from the ground up in this case study.