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The Employee Value Proposition Has Never Been More Important – Or Misunderstood

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 — May 27th, 2022

The Employee Value Proposition Has Never Been More Important – Or Misunderstood

The relationship between employer and employee has changed dramatically over the past two years.

Certainly where and how we work is different, and so is what workers now want and need from their jobs, and in their life—and they are not afraid to make this very clear to their employers.

The stakes are high for companies amidst the Great Resignation, and often the reasons for workers changing jobs are subtle and complex.

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That means that the social contract, or Employee Value Proposition (EVP,) between a company and its people also needs to transform, and the way we communicate this ongoing agreement about the relationship also must become more sophisticated.

The ‘Give’ and the ‘Get’

At its simplest and most transactional, the EVP articulates the 'Give' and the 'Get' when it comes to:

● Compensation and benefits

● Culture

● Work-related to an employee’s functional role

● Colleagues and leaders

● Development and growth opportunities

● Overall employee experience

It’s a way of establishing clear expectations:

Give: Here's what we (the company) commit to giving you (the employee.)

Get: Here's what we (the company) expect to get from you (the employee) in return in the way of behaviors, performance, etc.

Even if a company had a well-articulated and implemented EVP before the pandemic, it has almost certainly changed. And for companies that don’t have one, there’s never been a better time to develop one.

The truth is, it's getting harder to wing it when it comes to EVP because employees expect organizations to have figured this out already—they want to know that their employers are committed to creating a world of work that's worth showing up for.

But there are some common misconceptions about what an EVP is, and is not, so before organizations embark on defining and articulating theirs, it’s worth clearing up confusion on some key areas.

An EVP is not a wish list

While there are different methodologies for developing an EVP, at the heart of the process is a desire to understand the wants and needs of the people who work for an organization, and this always requires some form of consultation.

Sometimes companies mistake asking employees about their desired experience as a commitment to giving them everything they ask for, or to instantly transform into an ideal place to work.

However, it’s actually the process of gaining a better understanding of the gap between ‘where we are’ and ‘where employees wish we were,’ that helps create an honest EVP that bonds both groups.

While a good EVP certainly informs ‘where to from here,’ and areas where employee experience can be improved, it’s also an opportunity for the ‘Get’ to accurately reflect the current state.

For example, if employee consultation reveals frustration in getting clear and consistent information from headquarters, an EVP ‘Get’ theme may reflect that employees should feel empowered to use their best judgment to solve problems locally, and amidst ambiguity.

An EVP is not the same as an Employer Brand

Often the desire to develop an EVP is driven by the need for clarity and consistency when it comes to recruitment marketing.

While this is an important application of the EVP, it’s actually just as important that it informs and influences norms and behaviors for existing employees.

If the employee experience that’s being sold to new recruits differs significantly from what they find when they arrive they are unlikely to last very long, thus creating a vicious circle of recruitment and retention challenges.

An EVP doesn’t need a billboard to be powerful

Contrary to popular belief, once developed, communicating the EVP doesn’t mean a big, formal ‘roll-out’ campaign. The articulation becomes a North Star for the organization and is then woven consistently into communications, policies, and programs.

Rather than being knocked over the head by top-down promises, employees begin to see, feel and experience the real EVP across many touchpoints.

Some of these might include:

● Open enrolment and benefits communication

● Performance management frameworks and processes

● Town Halls and other leadership communications

● Intranet and other digital workplace design

● Rewards & Recognition programs

● Learning & Development programs and online platform design

An EVP is a cross-functional partnership

While many of the examples above are HR-related, leading the development and articulation process of developing an EVP is, at its core, the role of the internal communications function.

There are a number of reasons for this, including the importance of strategic storytelling, and ensuring consistency across all channels and touchpoints.

But it is the critical connection between EVP and brand—helping to create a seamless continuum between internal and external—that places it squarely in a strong Communications team’s sweet spot.

This is also the reason why cross-functional collaboration and lockstep partnership, not just with HR, but every People-related function is so imperative. IT, Operations, Change Management, DEI, the Executive team, and other key stakeholders have key roles to play.

No matter where a company is on its Employee Value Proposition journey it will find allies and collaborators across the organization ready to help bring the EVP to life in the hearts and minds of employees.

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