How to bolster staff, HR recruitment with a powerful employee value proposition (EVP)
In modern society, building an inclusive employer brand should be considered mission critical for businesses large and small. The most successful companies are the ones that see challenges and opportunities from many different angles, and having a diverse employee population allows you to do just that. An inclusive employer brand lets you engage, recruit, and hire a wonderful spectrum of people who can bring their varied backgrounds to bear for your business. Simply put, building an inclusive employer brand brings a diverse set of experiences and perspectives to the table, which in turn allows your company to be smarter, more thoughtful, and ultimately more successful.
One way to keep your business stuck where it is today is to keep hiring the people who look like your current employees. Embracing diversity is an opportunity to embrace new perspectives that can help your business grow in new and meaningful ways. When you build your employer brand, it’s your chance to take control of the narrative and have a real impact on how talent views your business. If your employer brand isn’t inclusive and doesn’t show underrepresented talent that you value them and are excited to work with them, then they’re going to choose another place to work and your business isn’t going to benefit from their perspective.
It’s really important when creating an employer brand that people can see themselves working in your organization. And by see themselves, I mean literally see people who look like them, who share a similar background, and bring similar skills and experiences to the job. Sharing the stories of diverse peoples—especially in their own words—in your employer brand sends a strong signal to candidates: We see you, we value you, and you’ll be able to be yourself here and thrive. If that part is missing, then you’re likely going to miss out on engaging with and hiring the variety of people your business needs to be truly successful.
You need to meet prospective employees where they are and make it easy for them to imagine being successful in your organization. One way to do this is to create a toolkit that allows for localized activation, giving your recruiters and HR people the power to customize their outreach materials and recruitment collateral to match the moment. This can be things like creating an easy-to-update Canva library for them to use, supplying social media templates that they can dial in for specific talent groups, and even customizing your employer brand messaging framework to resonate with different groups you’re trying to engage. Because, while it’s important to highlight an authentic variety of people and experiences in your employer brand, it’s critical that you build in the flexibility for your boots-on-the-ground recruiters to customize it to their needs, especially if you’re a multinational company engaging people from a number of cultures.
Can A Company “Fake It ‘Til It Makes It” When Crafting Its Employee Value Proposition (EVP)?
When a company works to create an EVP, it’s often a part of a larger set of initiatives focused on enhancing the employee experience. You might be working to boost total benefits, or to enhance work-life balance, or to improve in a number of other areas to increase employee satisfaction. No matter what area you are working to improve, here are a few insights that can foster a more effective EVP.
- Balancing promise and progress: What to include (or not include) in your EVP usually can be evaluated by looking at two things — the timing of what you’re creating and the language you use when talking about initiatives that aren’t quite fully baked.
- Consider your timing: If you’re close to launching a really great initiative that you know needs to be part of your EVP to attract the right people, you can include it…as long as it’s going to be implemented by the time your EVP starts gaining traction.
For instance, let’s say you’re creating a really excellent rewards program, something you know your people and future talent will value. It’s set to launch next quarter—the vendor is set, the program mapped out, the budget locked in, and you have a standout name, visual identity and messaging. The rocket is rumbling on the pad—this thing is definitely going to launch.
So do you mention rewards in your EVP? Of course, because you’ve fully committed to delivering and it’s going to happen soon enough.
- Use the right language: But what about other initiatives that aren’t quite this far along? How do you decide if you want to include these in your EVP? Well, that boils down to how you talk about it. If you still have work to do, but you know your organization has good intentions and ambitions, you can capture the spirit of your intentions in an EVP. The key is to use the right language to characterize your work-in-progress initiatives.
- Fully baked versus work in progress: You can look at your initiatives like chocolate chip cookies versus cookie dough. People find value in fully-baked cookies, but they also love cookie dough—although it is not yet baked, it still holds value in the hearts of those with a sweet tooth. Both can be very attractive, it’s just a matter of how you talk about them.
Let’s look at how we talk about a program that’s fully baked. A company that has a mature and robust leadership development offering might say that “we offer a comprehensive training and development process to keep you challenged, engaged, and growing as a leader and as a professional.” It’s very specific.
But what if you’re still at the cookie dough stage? Here we’d say you can include leadership development in your EVP if you use the right language and highlight your passion and your commitment, which are valuable to prospects in their own right.
So instead of saying “we offer a comprehensive training and development program” you might say “we are committed to creating the leaders of tomorrow through an ever-growing foundation of training and support.”
It’s a little softer, but still meaningful, especially when it reflects your true commitment and beliefs as an organization. As long as you can support it with some tangible assets today and you’re confident more great stuff is coming, it really comes down to how you say it.
- Striking the right balance: When it comes to balancing today’s realities with tomorrow’s ambitions, we say if improvements are imminent, you can be specific. If they are not quite baked but reflect a true commitment of your organization, lean into your excitement for them and include them in your EVP using broader—but still motivating—language.
In the end you should always work to be authentic and honest about the value you’re providing. It matters, especially to young talent who respect transparency. They don’t need you to be perfect, they just need you to be honest.
Martha Marchesi is CEO and Jim Galligan is Director of Creative Strategy at JK Design—a full-service creative agency with a powerhouse roster that includes Johnson & Johnson, Philips, Priceline, Prudential, ADP, Tiffany & Co. and more. A veteran of Madison Avenue, Martha is a master brand storyteller, strategic and creative expert and accomplished thought leader. The firm’s mission is to measurably favorably impact clients’ brands, businesses and bottom lines. Connect with her at www.JKDesign.com.