Written by
Imogen Pudduck

Published
29 Jan 2016

EVPs explained

29 Jan 2016 • by Imogen Pudduck

Who benefits the employee or the employer?

The truth is, I still don’t really know what an EVP is, and I wonder if many leaders of business or HR professionals really do either. It’s no surprise when even the term itself is confused. ‘Employer’ and ‘employee’ are interchangeable, depending on whether you believe this ‘plan’ benefits the company or the person. Which is best? The answer is both.

For me, having to spell out that there is ‘value’ to be had in holding a job in the company makes it all feels a little contrived. If we were to give it a new name, I think it could be as simple as an ‘employment proposition’. That is, what your business is like as a place to work and what makes it brilliant.

No one wants to advertise that they have a blame culture

Often an EVP is referred to as an employer brand – a shiny way of telling the world why you are the company of choice. The problem, I suspect, is that as many companies have got bigger and older, they have forgotten what it is that really makes them special and have left their culture in the hands of (sometimes poor) managers to organically grow. Advertising ‘we have a blame culture’ or ‘we don’t have trust and an open feedback culture’ is not attractive, so we create a beautiful utopia to sell ourselves to others in the hope that they will see past these flaws once they have signed their contact.

In reality, your ‘employment proposition’ should be a means to show people outside of your company, what you’re doing to make it a great place to work. This is ever more important for the next generations of workers who ask themselves: ‘Can I be myself? Can I make a difference here? Are their opportunities to grow and stretch me?’

The EVP revolution is coming

Change is slowly happening as more leaders realise their people are really the key to long-term success. Some businesses are starting to understand that their ability to attract and retain their people (and keep them motivated and dynamic) is so much more than offering a bonus scheme or attractive benefits package. They have a strategic plan to consider how to build a high performance culture based on trust, giving their people real purpose and the ability to flourish so they reciprocate in going over and above to take responsibility to achieve results.

So, where to start?

There are two important questions to ask yourself when thinking about packaging up your ‘employment proposition’:

1. Who are you as a company; what made you special and unique when you first started?

2. What is your internal culture like?

If you struggle to tell someone this when down at the pub over a drink, then you have work to do.

Top tips to build a brilliant proposition:

1. Be yourself
As above, work out who you are. There shouldn’t be such a thing as a distinct brand for your customers and a separate one for your people. Your company brand is your company brand.

Imagine you were just starting up and no one had ever heard of you. How would you explain your attitude to life, personality and values to sell yourself? What impact do you make in the world? Don’t be too generic.

2. Don’t fake it
You may have an amazing benefits package but if the culture doesn’t live up to the marketing campaign, you will lose people the minute they set foot in the door. Take a reality check and work on what really needs to change to attract and retain your best people. If you don’t know, ask them face to face and if you have problems, involve your people to fix them.

3. First impressions count
You set the tone the minute you interact with new candidates. What you do and how you interact at pre-boarding and during inductions makes a difference.

4. Create a real culture of empowerment, open feedback and ideas
Think of what you want to achieve, the values and behaviours you believe will get you there, and ideas to provide an environment to nurture this. Set your expectations high and be open about the type of people you want to work in your business.

5. Build an army of ambassadors
This will this reduce your recruitment costs and more – we are in an age of word of mouth marketing. You only need to look at social media and tools such as Glassdoor and Trip Advisor to see the power of endorsement.

It is far easier to tell people you are a great place to work and hope that is enough. But the trick is to make it real and get people talking. If you can become known as a great place to work, you will have the pick of the best new talent and retain your most brilliant people.

EVP flows from the inside out, so ensure you have the best culture first and in turn this will not only motivate and engage your people, but will set you up for longer business success.