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Audience appeal

A strong EVP is the key to becoming a magnet for talent, and having engaged and motivated employees, argues talentsmoothie director Sally Bibb

There is a lot of talk in HR circles about EVP (Employee Value Proposition). There is also a lot of confusion about the subject. An EVP is quite simply the ‘deal’ - including benefits, career development, training and management support - that people get when they decide to work for you. All great companies have clear and differentiated EVPs. They understand the appeal of working there to their key employee groups and they bring their EVP to life in very practical and tangible ways. And for retail companies that employ large numbers of Generation Y (those under age 30), having an EVP that appeals to this group could be a matter of survival as competition intensifies for the best young people.

Some companies confuse ‘EVP’ with ‘employer brand’. The latter is simply the articulation of the EVP. Focusing on your employer brand alone is like a consumer goods company paying attention to their products’ packaging without ensuring that the contents are appealing to their consumers. An effective EVP enables an organisation to stand out as different but also it ensures that the ‘packaging’ reflects the ‘contents’. All too often people join a company tempted by the branding and are disappointed when they experience the reality.

So what are the benefits of spending time and effort on developing an EVP?

According to the Corporate Leadership Council’s research, a well thought through and executed EVP can improve the commitment of new hires by up to 29% and increase the likelihood of employees acting as advocates from an average of 24% to 47%. An effective EVP also lets you source more deeply within the labour market increasing your access to passive candidates. But probably the most compelling benefit is that an effective EVP allows you to stand out from your competitors. A strong and well articulated EVP makes it obvious to potential employees why they should choose your company rather than another. It also means that existing employees are clear about the benefits of staying with you.

What can an EVP do for you?

A clear and differentiated EVP ensures that you attract and retain people that you would otherwise lose to other organisations with more attractive EVPs. A good EVP contains elements that appeal to different groups of employees from different cultures, age groups and functions.

Creating an EVP involves surveying and talking to existing employees. This is a powerful engagement exercise and people usually enjoy and appreciate it. The process can also help to re-build/enhance trust and increase motivation.

To create an EVP you need to understand what is important to your employees and potential hires. Having this insight will mean that you understand what you need to do to attract, engage and retain people that you want, where improvements need to be made and what will most likely make people leave if they are
not addressed. Organisations with strong and credible EVPs become as famous for the way they treat people and the quality of their people as they are for their products and services.

What makes an effective EVP?

Companies with the most effective EVPs are those that have a deep understanding of what is important to key segments of their workforce. Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy realised that his company knew more about its customers than it did about its employees. He is probably not alone and herein lies the key to a truly compelling EVP. Just as you do with your customers, you need to understand what is important to your employees - what engages and keeps them. The organisations that succeed in creating EVPs that really work are those that understand you have to segment your workforce. Segmentation is relatively uncommon in HR but is essential in creating an effective EVP.

Some companies fall into the trap of omitting business priorities from their EVP. Inherent in all good EVPs is a deep understanding of what is important to the business as well as what is important to the employees.

The EVP must be real, that is, a large proportion of it must be true now. It should, however, also contain elements that are not necessarily true now but that the organisation aspires to. This is important to drive strategy and progress.

As well as the content of the EVP, it must also be articulated in a style that appeals to the audience. So many companies write about themselves in dull corporate speak and the net result is a lot of companies that claim to be unique but sound the same.

So, if you are wondering whether you should invest in developing an EVP for your business it is worth considering the implications of not doing so. If you want to be a magnet for the best talent, it all starts with your EVP.

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