At its heart, an employee value proposition (EVP) is the unique set of benefits an employee receives in return for the skills, capabilities and experience they bring to a company. An EVP is about defining the essence of your company—how it is unique and what it stands for.
An EVP describes the mix of characteristics, benefits, and ways of working in an organization. It’s the deal struck between company and employee in return for their contribution and performance. This “deal” characterizes an employer and differentiates it from its competition.
Why Do I Need an EVP?
Developing a strong EVP is a key element of any recruiting and retention effort as part of the larger employer brand. At its most basic, an EVP represents everything of value that an employer provides to its employees—pay, benefits, training, career development opportunities and so on—and it is then “marketed” to the workforce.
EVP’s matter because they should be the foundation that your brand and all your internal retention efforts as well as your external recruiting efforts are established on.
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One of the mistakes companies make when creating an EVP is focusing on the leadership of their company, rather than making an employee-focused EVP. For recruiting and retention, your EVP statement must reflect the value to the employee, not the value to company leadership or bottom line (while those are both nice side effects of a solid, “talk-the-talk” and “walk-the-walk” EVP).
You’ll want to make an effort to develop your EVP in the words of your employees and potential candidates via:
- Executive interviews and workshops with key stakeholders to understand talent priorities from a strategic perspective
- Qualitative focus groups that enrich your understanding of employee values and perceptions
- Branding and marketing support, including optimal and differentiated messaging, tested internally.
Creating Your EVP – Employee Value Proposition
It’s easy to throw a few value propositions into a statement and put it on your careers site or have it stenciled on a wall. However, it’s key to create an EVP that reflects the current values of your workplace, and that means starting internally. How is your company morale? Honestly, how is it? If your EVP talks about how much your employees love working for your organization and why, but your current employees would roll their eyes at the statement, you have two options: 1) Rewrite your EVP or 2) Focus on improving morale for your current employees before you start marketing a value proposition to potential employees.
“Improving morale” seems like a never-ending, broad, depends on who you talk to kind of task. As an HR professional, your employees are not only the best advocates for your brand, they can sniff out a BS statement from a mile away. You’re never going to make 100% of your employees happy 100% of the time, but what you can do is find out if there are one or two common threads that may be impacting employee morale negatively. Consider anonymous surveys (and understand that, depending on the state of your company morale, many employees will not believe the surveys are anonymous), establish trust between human resources and employees of the company, and use surveys not only to try and uncover negatives, but also to isolate the positives. Start with the positives.
Your current employees and what they love about your company are going to be the best resource for crafting a strong EVP statement. If you discover that most employees rate the CEO negatively (pro tip: take a look at your company’s Glassdoor reviews), but they love their own autonomy and that they’re not micromanaged, your EVP could focus on the fact that your employees are empowered to make their own decisions, to take risks without consequences, that they feel their creativity is rewarded, and so on.
An employee survey can also help you identify what you could easily fix from a human resources perspective. Some years ago, I consulted for a company CEO who loved to promote the fact that he met one-on-one with every single employee, every quarter. However, employees didn’t exactly see these meetings as a benefit. Perhaps because the company had a large millennial employee base, employees felt that these one-on-ones with their CEO was akin to being “called to the principal’s office.” They took every suggestion or comment during these meetings as criticism. When asked what they preferred, the answer was more communication with their direct supervisors. Did they care whether or not the CEO knew them personally or understood what they did at the company? No. They cared about whether or not the CEO was equipped to steer the company in a positive direction that would make an impact on the company’s bottom line. The result? No more one-on-one meetings, more regular and transparent updates from the CEO on the financial health of the company.
Knowing what employees want and value is the foundation of a successful EVP. However, employers cannot assume that they know which parts of the employment package employees view as the most significant. A perception gap can result in a weak EVP. If employers assume incorrectly, they could be missing critical opportunities to emphasize how the organization provides what employees prize most.
Examples of EVP Statements
When building your EVP, consider that the most significant contributors to retention are development and career opportunities, together with the relationships and respect that the employee builds within your organization, particularly those with managers and with peers.
The most important question to ask when creating your company’s EVP is “what do we currently offer to our employees in exchange for their time and effort?”
Company EVP Examples
I’m knee-deep in EVP coaching with a client right now, and as they start their EVP journey for themselves, I wanted to give them some examples. These are a few of my favorites I found that demonstrate the uniqueness and differences for an EVP.
“We’re building a company people love. A company that will stand the test of time, so we invest in our people and optimize for your long-term happiness.” – Hubspot
“We work hard, throw Nerf darts even harder, and have a whole lot of fun.” – Yelp
“At Goldman Sachs, you will make an impact.” – Goldman Sachs
“Do cool things that matter.” – Google
“From empowering mentorships to customized coaching, PwC provides you with the support you need to help you develop your career. You’ll work with people from diverse backgrounds and industries to solve important problems. Are you ready to grow?” PwC
“We’re Shopify. Our mission is to make commerce better for everyone – but we’re not the workplace for everyone. We thrive on change, operate on trust, and leverage the diverse perspectives of people on our team in everything we do. We solve problems at a rapid pace. In short, we get shit done.” – Shopify
“You can make a difference by helping to build a smarter, safer and more sustainable world.” – Honeywell
“Lead the future of Beauty. When you love your work and the people you work with, amazing things can happen.” – L’Oreal
“We lead. We invent. We deliver. We use the power of sport to move the world.” – Nike
What to Do With Your EVP
Once you’ve developed a clear and descriptive employee value proposition statement, share it with your employees, candidates, and new hires. Having an EVP statement allows you to easily communicate the value your company offers.
Finally, SHRM recommends that employers review their EVPs regularly to make sure they remain relevant. Asking EVP-related questions when employees join or leave the company, during performance reviews, and in employee surveys can provide ongoing data about how employees perceive the EVP. Recruitment and retention metrics can also indicate how well the EVP fits with employee needs and expectations.