Three happy employees smiling while looking at a tablet screen.

What you need to know about an employee value proposition

18 May 2022

Hays’ Nick Deligiannis explains what an EVP is and how it can be used by employers to attract and retain top talent.

A good employee value proposition, or EVP, helps an organisation draw the attention of top talent. It is a clear and consistent message about the experience of working at your organisation and highlights the unique experience you offer that attracts, engages and retains top talent.

In short, it helps you understand and share what successful employees like best about working for you. Remember, your organisation is unique. It may make the same products or provide the same service as your competitors, but it is unique in its own way.

What is an employee value proposition?

An EVP seeks to identify and communicate these unique benefits. Covering both tangible and intangible factors, from your company values and culture to rewards and opportunities, it introduces the unique benefits and experience an employee receives in exchange for their skills and experience.

In doing so, it communicates why your organisation is the right place for the type of people who succeed there, and nobody else.

It’s important to make a distinction here with your employer brand. While your EVP communicates to your potential and existing employees what they can get in return for working for your organisation, your employer brand refers to the reputation the wider world – not just potential employees – have of you.

The two do overlap, since an employer brand aims to take your EVP and present it externally in a creative and captivating external message. For this reason, the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

However, you can think of your EVP as the promise you offer your employees, while your employer brand is the message you tell the wider world about what you stand for, how you do business and what it’s like to work for you.

Why is an employee value proposition important?

How often have you seen dull and predictable EVPs such as, ‘Our people are our greatest assets’ or ‘We value our people’? Such statements do not describe what’s unique about working for your organisation.

An EVP is important because it tells a candidate what they’ll get in return for working with you. By communicating the experience of working at your organisation, you’ll attract candidates who are a natural fit and value the benefits they’ll receive for their skills and experience. In addition, those who do not align with your EVP will be less inclined to apply.

But defining the essence of what your organisation offers its staff is not a simple matter of sitting down with your marketing team and crafting a catchy strapline or captivating image. It takes genuine reflection of the real value you offer. With that in mind, here’s our advice on how to go about developing an employee value proposition.

Tips for defining your employee value proposition

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1. Identify your competitive advantage

Establish your competitive advantage. Find out what your existing employees think is unique about working for your organisation and why they stay. Once you uncover existing perceptions, you can leverage them to elevate your EVP.

Run anonymous surveys, focus groups or one-on-one interviews with current employees to find out what’s important to them, what engages them and why they remain with your organisation. Ask candidates in job interviews why they applied for a role in your organisation. Run exit interviews to understand why departing staff left and what may have encouraged them to stay.

The recruitment agency you use can also give you feedback on what attracts candidates to your roles.

The information you collate should include your employees’ perceptions of your culture, values, goals, career progression, leaders, support, salaries and benefits. So, when conducting this research, go beyond salary and financial benefits to identify the intangible experience and rewards that staff value.

For example, do you provide mentorships that allow employees to grow and develop their career or clear and transparent promotional pathways so that everyone is aware of exactly what must be achieved to qualify for a promotion? Or does the value you offer your staff come in the form of regular upskilling or a culture of collaboration?

2. Consider the importance of employee rewards and benefits

Today’s candidates look for a more engaging EVP than has perhaps existed in many businesses before now. Offerings like free lunches and team drinks are nice to have, but candidates see through such gimmicks if flexibility, hybrid working, work-life balance and rewards are not also provided.

Your values and purpose are increasingly important to candidates too. Employees want to know that their job matters and the company they work for makes a positive impact.

Within your EVP, communicate the societal, environmental and cultural issues you champion and how staff can participate in these programmes.

3. Highlight the common unique selling points

Once you collate this data you will be able to clearly list the core values and unique selling points that your employees rate highly.

Being able to define what your top talent values the most about working for you gives you clear direction when it comes time to write your EVP.

4. Write these in uncomplicated language

Your message should be succinct and clear. It should highlight what’s most important to your employees, why they stay and what employment at your organisation offers that’s unique in your market.

5. Check it’s based in truth

Your EVP should be more than just descriptive sentences. It needs to be based in truth and should represent the sum of the experience of working at your organisation as simply and truthfully as possible.

This will ensure you attract people who will thrive in the everyday experience of your workplace, rather than those who are attracted to the message but fail to be engaged by the reality.

To do this, you can test your EVP with your top talent to confirm that it accurately conveys the experience of working for your organisation.

What next?

Defining your EVP is the easy part. It’s implementing it that’s the challenge and where many employers fall. Once you’ve defined your EVP, creatively bring it to life in your external employer brand.

All of your touchpoints with potential recruits and customers, from your website to the application process, must reflect your EVP. Consistency is the key when communicating your EVP, both internally and externally.

Keep the messages uniform across all channels and throughout every stage of the employment relationship, from the initial job description to the career progression available.

If you don’t have a consistent message about your company’s values and what it’s like to work for, potential employees cannot determine if your organisation will be a good fit for them and vice versa.

Remember that your EVP isn’t just a message you communicate during the recruitment process – it should be brought to life in every interaction your organisation makes. For example, if you claim to support work-life balance or ongoing development, but do not provide training, career progression, study leave or flexible working hours, the reality of your workplace does not match your promise.

Always refine your EVP

Constantly measure the success of your EVP, such as by monitoring candidate applications and employee retention rates. Run employee surveys to understand what’s important to your staff. Ensure existing employees are consulted throughout the lifecycle of their career with you, not only after their first 12 months.

If necessary, adapt your employment proposition to ensure it remains relevant and is brought to life throughout your employees’ day-to-day experience. Reshape your EVP when required to authentically align with employee expectations.

By Nick Deligiannis

Nick Deligiannis is managing director of Hays Australia and New Zealand. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Viewpoint blog.

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