These five critical success factors will help you decide.
One of the most important trends in business over the past several years has been the growing focus on the employee value proposition (EVP). Companies of varying sizes, industries and cultures are eager to set themselves apart as employers of choice in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market for top talent.
Despite its growing stature, however, the EVP remains incredibly misunderstood. More than employer branding—and even more than a contract or deal between a company and its employees—an EVP is a relationship. It’s a relationship that represents a bond between an employer and its employees, outlining expectations and each group’s commitment to the other.
A well-defined and compelling EVP is undoubtedly a powerful tool that companies can use to address the challenges of employee recruiting, retention and engagement, but getting there is often painstaking work. Defining and articulating an EVP depends on a number of moving parts, but at the end of the day, five critical success factors will determine just how compelling an EVP will be.
- A commitment to change management.
Is your leadership committed to change management? Can you actually commit to the regular changes your company will inevitably need to make? This commitment is essential if you want your EVP to stick. Do you claim to offer a platform that provides amazing, globally significant work, competitive compensation, world-class learning and development, five-course lunches on Fridays, or company retreats in Tahiti? If you promise it, you need to deliver it—full stop. A commitment to change management touches everything from concrete benefits to processes, policies, ways of working, and culture. It’s about identifying the gaps between aspiration and reality and making the hard decisions about what steps are needed to close those gaps.
- A commitment to the employee experience.
Hand in hand with a commitment to change management is a commitment to the employee experience. One recent study in Harvard Business Review claims that companies that invest heavily in the employee experience are included 28 times as often among Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, nearly 12 times as often in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work, twice as often in Forbes’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, and over four times as often in LinkedIn’s list of North America’s Most In-Demand Employers. In a word, investment in the employee experience pays measurable reputational dividends.
- A message that resonates.
Assuming that your company is ready to collectively roll up its sleeves and do the hard work of change management and committing to the employee experience, you’ll need a message that resonates. Does your central EVP statement about the relationship ring true with employees? Does it really describe what it’s like to work there? Before going live with your EVP message, be sure to validate it with a broad and diverse group of employees who can be trusted to provide you with honest feedback. To be meaningful, your message must speak to current, prospective and even former employees. It should aim to be long-lasting by balancing the company's aspirations with a realistic idea of what it can commit to.
- Employees who serve as advocates.
Just as you need a message that resonates, you need messengers who stretch far beyond the recruiting, marketing and corporate communications teams. In other words, you need employees who can serve as advocates and make the case in their communities—on social media and elsewhere—that their company is a great place to work. If employees are willing to take the time to be advocates and ambassadors, you know your EVP has staying power.
- A well-functioning feedback loop.
None of the four success factors above would be possible without the fifth: a well-functioning feedback loop among internal and external stakeholders. Is yours a listening organization? Do leaders really get what employees are telling them? Are leaders getting through to employees? Do you listen to the outside world, including the pool of talent you’re hoping to draw from? Communicators and HR professionals have—or should have—a variety of tools and processes to collect, analyze and report various forms of feedback. As cross-functional business partners, it’s their job to connect the dots and drive this critical organizational alignment. Maintaining a well-functioning feedback loop is a best practice for communications in general, but it’s especially vital both before defining an EVP and as you prepare to activate it.
EVPs are hard work—there’s no escaping that fact. But if your organization is well positioned with each of these five success factors, you’re well on your way to formalizing and articulating the commitments and expectations that set you apart as a great place to work. That’s the essence of a compelling EVP.