Employers everywhere are familiar with the Great Resignation. The elevated quit rate among employees that began in 2021 is affecting organizations across industries. The Great Resignation is partially a response to the opportunity the pandemic gave employees to evaluate their job and its effect on their personal well-being, together with the new power employees have in a tight labor market.
While individual reasons for changing jobs vary, one thing is clear: the need for employers to attract and retain employees is more critical than ever. A great employee value proposition is a key tool for employers to build and maintain a strong workforce. This article covers the importance of an employee value proposition to business success and how to create and maintain a compelling proposition that reflects your organization.
What is an employee value proposition (EVP)?
At its core, an employee value proposition (EVP) is the unique set of benefits and opportunities that a company offers employees in return for their skills and discretionary effort. While compensation is arguably the most critical factor, other elements of an EVP have become increasingly valuable to employees today, including work-life balance, location, culture, and opportunities for advancement. For this reason, the best employee value propositions are holistic and offer everything a modern employee wants and needs in an employer. In addition to benefits and opportunities, a strong EVP is a unique reflection of an organization’s culture as confirmed and validated by current employees and managers.
Employee value proposition vs. employer brand
It’s easy to confuse an EVP with employer branding, and the two are closely related. An employer brand is how your organization is perceived by potential employees, current workers, customers, and the general public. It’s an expression of the culture, values, and overall corporate direction of a company. It’s most often used for recruiting and marketing efforts.
An employee value proposition is more about the “deal” between employee and employer. While an EVP reflects the culture and values of a company, it’s focused on what’s “in it” for an individual in terms of compensation, benefits, working environment, career opportunities, and more. Naturally, the two need to be aligned and cohesively deliver a positive employee experience across the entire employee lifecycle.
Why is an EVP important to business success?
Establishing a strong employee value proposition is a vital part of driving business success. Here are just a few ways a great EVP can benefit your organization.
Organizations that provide real value to employees are more likely to attract and retain the best talent. According to a recent Gartner report, organizations that deliver on their EVP are able to decrease employee turnover by nearly 70% and increase new hire commitment by close to 30%.
Build an inclusive work environment
Research shows that diverse companies outperform less diverse competitors across a number of key metrics, including overall performance, share price and profit, and innovation. An EVP that combines compelling benefits with fair and equal compensation and an inclusive work environment will increase a company’s chances of attracting diverse talent.
Leverage employee advocacy
Engaged employees who understand and value their company’s EVP can be your organization’s best brand ambassadors. Eighty-four percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than formal advertising, which means employee advocacy can be even more effective than traditional marketing efforts. From improved messaging reach on social media to higher conversion rates, employee advocacy can have a serious impact on business success.
What does a great EVP look like?
A great employee value proposition should incorporate the programs and practices that are most important to today’s employees. It should also reflect your organization’s unique culture and goals while appealing to the workforce your company wants to build. For instance, a sports equipment retailer might focus on health benefits and include fitness opportunities and discounts. An emerging tech company might want to instead appeal to millennials by focusing on opportunities for growth while offering incentives for innovation.
Start by considering the following four key areas, then tailor your organization’s EVP based on its offerings, needs, and vision.
1. Recognition and incentives
Recognition and incentives include monetary compensation but go far beyond this traditional reward. Employees today expect comprehensive recognition programs and a variety of meaningful incentives. These are areas where your company can be creative and really differentiate its EVP.
Start by adopting an employee recognition platform that facilitates frequent social recognition from anywhere, anytime. It should also let employees accrue and award points they can redeem for rewards that are actually valuable to them, from memorable experiences to gifts they’ve always wanted. Meanwhile, look to add incentives that go beyond the norm, like profit sharing, additional time off, wellness programs, and support for professional development.
2. Employee wellness
Supporting employee wellness is an essential part of any employee value proposition. In today’s changing work environment, disconnection, stress, and burnout are an unfortunate reality for many employees. Organizations should support employees’ physical and emotional health by providing the resources for them to practice self-care and incentivizing them to make healthy choices. Specific wellness initiatives can include everything from training on mindfulness and emotional intelligence to providing necessary health services like risk assessments and in-office flu shots.
3. Opportunities for growth
A truly holistic EVP should include opportunities for professional development and career advancement. These are key components of the employee experience and employers risk losing top performers if they don’t establish clear career paths, support growth on and off the job, and empower employees with additional responsibilities — together with the resources required to fulfill them.
Specific professional development initiatives may include tuition reimbursement, paid attendance at industry conferences, and company-provided educational opportunities, like on-the-job training and virtual learning programs. Consider a program or platform that provides ongoing information about new roles, projects, and experiences as well as potential career paths and their requirements. And ensure leaders act as coaches whose goal is to help employees reach their full potential.
4. Organizational culture
Organizational culture can be more difficult to pin down than other areas of an EVP, but it underlies all of them. According to recent research, “toxic culture” was the top reason cited by employees for leaving their organizations. While every organization’s culture is different, there are certain qualities that every company should strive for: trust, alignment, appreciation, innovation, teamwork, and integrity. Consider what programs or platforms might help instill the behaviors and practices your company needs to make these and other key concepts a core part of its organizational culture.
How to create a compelling employee value proposition
Creating a great EVP is all about assessing the core strengths of your organization and what makes it a great place to work. Once you have defined these key components, write your employee value proposition, validate it, and communicate it through the right channels. The five steps below provide a roadmap for building your organization’s EVP, from initial research through ongoing communication and improvement.
1. Get feedback from your employees
Every great employee value proposition starts with research. How do you know what your employees want and value if you don’t ask them? Your organization’s leadership might think that its health and wellness benefits are cutting edge. But if the majority of the workforce sees them differently, your organization will need to make some changes if it wants wellness to be a core part of its EVP.
Be sure to ask employees at all levels of the organization for input. A manager’s perspective could be very different from someone in an entry level position — and both are equally important. You might also consider interviewing past employees to understand why they left and what may have tempted them to stay.
Use modern feedback channels like pulse surveys, powered by an employee engagement platform, to collect input and focus questions on what is working as well as what could be improved. Open-ended questions like those below are the best way to collect authentic feedback:
- What do you like best about your job?
- What benefits or programs are most important to you?
- Do you get enough support to achieve your professional goals?
- What improvements would you like to see?
2. Connect your EVP to company values and culture
The feedback you get from employees provides an excellent starting point to assess what you currently offer and to evaluate your EVP components. The next step is to ensure alignment with your company values and culture to ensure your employee value proposition supports your long-term talent needs. Your EVP should be an extension of your organization’s business strategy and corporate brand. Review your company’s core values and assess overall alignment with the EVP elements you have identified.
3. Define the key reasons your organization is a great place to work
Ultimately, your EVP is what sets your company apart from the competition. What elements make your organization especially attractive to current and potential employees? Is it the culture, the benefits, the opportunities for advancement, or the great teamwork? Dig into your research and take an objective look at your organization to define what elements truly elevate the employee experience.
As you define your employee value proposition, ensure that it’s authentic. Your EVP articulates what you want to be known for as an employer, which is why alignment with company goals is so important. However, it also needs to be a true and authentic reflection of your company culture. If it’s not, it won’t hold much appeal for current or future employees.
4. Write the employee value proposition
To ensure your EVP is clearly defined and communicated, it needs to be formulated and put down on paper. Call it your EVP “statement.” Don’t be afraid to get creative and work closely with your marketing team to ensure alignment with your employer brand.
For inspiration, check out the careers pages of some of the country’s most popular employers. For example, Nike’s headlines its benefits page by proclaiming “[w]e take care of our team.” Using words, visuals and tone, the concepts of fitness, teamwork, and achievement are used consistently through the entire careers website to describe the employee experience at NIKE.
Another great example is Apple careers: “Join us. Be you.” The supporting statement is all about innovation, imagination, and individual value. Dig a little deeper, and you find an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. By telling their story and what they offer, Apple is appealing to individuals with the creative mindset that the organization needs to succeed.
5. Communicate your EVP and make it an always-improving reality
Your company should regularly communicate its employee value proposition to current employees as well as potential recruits. It’s never a bad time to remind someone of why it’s great to work at your organization. Armed with your EVP messaging, employees can also serve as strong brand ambassadors via social media channels.
For potential recruits, the careers section of your corporate website is an obvious starting point. But don’t forget about the other touchpoints for recruits and new employees: job fairs, college recruiting events, LinkedIn, and other business networking sites. Your EVP messaging should continue through the interview, offer, and onboarding stages to ensure a cohesive employment experience.
It’s also important to check in and validate your messaging periodically to ensure reality still matches what your EVP advertises. Organizations are constantly changing, and sometimes just a few minor changes to your employee value proposition is all it takes to restore alignment. If employee input reveals areas where your company is falling short, act on the feedback quickly to deliver the employee experience your EVP promises.
Develop an irresistible EVP at your company
Right now, with available jobs outpacing the number of candidates, it’s more important than ever for companies to attract and retain talent. Organizations need to develop authentic and compelling EVPs to compete for talent. They then must communicate the EVP both internally and externally, while validating it to ensure alignment with overall brand direction and the company’s business strategy.
It’s a tall order, but there are tools that can help. The Achievers Employee Experience Platform includes Achievers Listen, your organization’s ticket to understanding and boosting employee engagement, and Achievers Recognize, an intuitive recognition solution that makes it easy for everyone at your company to show appreciation.