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How to develop your employer value proposition

By ensuring you understand the problem you need to solve

How to develop your employer value proposition: Before you get to the research…

And here I don’t mean how to conduct the research process, how to refine that into a statement, and whichever type of model you want to use.

I – and many others - have written about that before. I feel confident that I will do so again.

 … but after you’ve identified the need

And what I also don’t mean is how to convince people that you need an EVP either. But let me expand on that a little bit.

I do think people tend to fall into two camps here.

·         I think there’s organisation type A who – in their world – want to market themselves better as an employer, and they see an EVP as central to that.

·         And then I think there’s organisation type B who want to market themselves better as an employer, but don’t see an EVP as central

I think in the Org-B world, they are confident that if they talk about themselves in a pragmatic way, drawing on the actual experiences of their people, and if they don’t try to make claims that they can’t substantiate – then they’ll get to the same kind of place.

That is, they will develop a brand that portrays aspects of working for them that are Distinctive, Attractive, Realistic and Consistent.

I think that also Org-Bs they may have been dissuaded from entering into defining an EVP by the industry that has sprung up around them. If you’re being – continually - told that defining your EVP is a complex, lengthy and expensive process, and that by the time you’ve finished it, it will be out of date – why would you want that?

I honestly think a large part of the industry is out to sabotage itself by making it such a hard sell to deliver something that – let’s remember – does nothing by itself. The EVP is only ever an enabler or catalyst

The risk of working without an EVP

Where I think Org-Bs are taking is a risk is in building mutual understanding. The danger is that their eventual brand will be fragmented: a series of positive and attractive stories, but without the consistent connection between them.

Which can be fine, for each individual attraction campaign. But that’s all you ever have, a series of attraction campaigns. It’ll be far harder to achieve the benefits of a shared drive to bring people’s perception of you as an employer closer to where you’d like it to be and/or it should be. You’ll have spokes of visibility; you won’t have a continual and managed shift of perception.

(I suspect strongly, that as soon as you start to identify that risk, and start to bring consistency, you’ll find yourself in a process of engineering, or maybe reverse engineering, an EVP in any event).

Just because you see the need, doesn’t mean everyone else does

Your enthusiasm is one thing. But you now need to ask people to commit time, money and brainspace to something that - we’re telling them upfront - doesn’t have an immediate ROI.

That’s why it’s so important to bring everyone to the same levels of understanding.

Let’s say you’re in the type A organisation. You see an EVP as a central part of your employer branding efforts. You may have the budget, you may yourself have the mental capacity to lead on the project (with or without external support).

But you still need to get people onside, and understanding what you’re trying to do, so that:

·         Now – they’ll give you the support you’re looking for

·         In the future – they’ll turn to the EVP for their own needs - rather than do their own thing - and quite possibly help drum up advocates

Because those are the hurdles you need to clear.

First off, you need a definition of your problem

We can define what an EVP is: a narrative you want to drive your audience towards / reasons to work for you, not your competitors / proving you have something different to offer.

We can say what it will help you do too.

But what you absolutely need on top of that is what it will specifically do for you.

What is the pain in your business that you would like to go away, or at least reduce the impact of?

Let’s say you can’t get the quality of people you’re looking for (and maybe that’s because they don’t understand the professional challenge on offer)

Or you’re too reliant on agency recruitment, because you don’t get enough direct applicants

Or there isn’t as much internal mobility as you like, because people don’t understand the opportunities in other functions.

It will help to be able to quantify that problem in time, in resource – and hence ultimately in money. That is the language everyone understands. And so, with that view you can look at:

·         What is your current state, and what are you looking to change about that?

·         What will that look like, and what will enable you to do more effectively in the future?

·         What is the future state that you can get excited about?

By defining the problem, we can think about the measures of success

I’ll say it again, an EVP does nowt by itself.

So, we’re thinking about what the EVP will enable you to do in the future. You now know that desired future state, it’s just a matter of crystalising what that will mean in some measurable metrics.

There are many (many) articles on ways to measure the effectiveness of employer branding. You will want to have something in there on time, cost and especially quality of people you can access.

But don’t forget:

·         Time, cost and quality can’t be realised if you don’t shift people’s perceptions – include ways to directly measure that. So that must start with better understanding your target audience right now – what do they care about, and what can you tell them about that?

·         What it means, and enables you to do internally – and that can include shifting internal perception too. Maybe you can hope to move the engagement dial, your EVP can after all not only apply across the whole people strategy, it can start to advise the people strategy. But perhaps, for a near future realisable goal, you want to encourage more internal movement.

·         A far more prosaic measure. Once you start applying your EVP to your employer branding, does everything look and feel more similar? Are you portraying the same messages? Would someone externally know what you are saying to them? Does it make life easier for recruiters and hiring managers? Are you making good connections between HR, marketing, internal comms?

You will need to get the right people onside

There will be the people that are actively involved on a tactical level, and that there should be those that are offering strategic input too.

But I think you will need an executive sponsor too. Likesay, we shouldn’t be dragging this process out, but – when everyone has demanding day jobs – it’s powerful, if not essential to have someone, with clout, who can say “This is a priority for me”.

Having all of this in place means you can talk to the people that need to be involved, and let them know:

“This is what we need from you. And once we have it, we can deliver THESE, by THEN, allowing us to do THIS, THAT and THE OTHER.”

That’s a plan.

 Counter, or even better pre-counter, the objections

And in my experience, once we’ve got past identifying the need and defining what to do about it, there will still be objections. And I think the objections come in three main buckets:

·         You’re not building another brand!

·         We can’t ask all of this again!

·         You’re going to tell people we’re all the same!?

So, let me try and help with all of those objections:

·         You’re not building another brand!

You’re right, we’re not, and it would be daft to try. This organisation has a brand, and you - through all the ways you interact with users – have spent time establishing that. Even if I wanted to give you a new brand, I can’t compete with all of those associations and perceptions. I have to work with them. I have to take the brand that exists – products, services, heritage, values, culture, reputation etc. – and change the prism. So now, this is how it seen by employees, rather than the people they serve. That’s it.

Now, of course, the brand that exists may not always be helpful to our cause. Existing perceptions may need to be challenged. But, done right, that can only be to the advantage of the whole brand.

·         We can’t ask all of this again!

Bang on, you really might not have to. There’s enough data and knowledge in this organisation to be able to construct the bones of the EVP.

But there’s a very good chance that you don’t have enough sentiment.

You’re not going to stick on a job advert, or an Insta post – 77% of people would recommend this as a good place to work. The unanswered question that is screaming out of that is “Why?”

You need to take people past the facts, important as they are, and start to give people the feels.

There’s a lot of rationality in deciding to join, commit and remain at a company, but there’s a whole bunch of emotion too.

You need to talk to both, so we need to ensure that within the evidence we review there are real voices, real experiences.

·         You’re going to tell people we’re all the same!?

Nope. If at all possible, we’d like to link every part, level and region of the business back to as few common themes as possible. But there may ultimately be a limit to that.

Every EVP I’ve worked on has an element of crowbarring or shoehorning. There’s an important piece of evidence that isn’t big enough to sit alone, and doesn’t quite belong with anything else – so we fudge a way to wrap it in with some other things.

The more you start to segment the EVP, the more this is likely to happen. Your EVP should have enough flex for different bits of the business to use it in different ways.

The trick is to evaluate where you’re moving away from the positive truth for a function/country etc. just to try and stick within the model. Because the positive truth should always win.


And that is how we can look to get your EVP moving, and into the definition stages.

Fancy a free no-obligation chat about EVP?

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