Employer Branding

How to Define Your Employee Value Proposition: The DIY Approach

Profile photo of Susannah Sack
Written by Susannah Sack
How to Define Your Employee Value Proposition: The DIY Approach
5 (100%) 5 votes

If you want to take charge of your company’s Employer Brand, a good place to start is by defining your Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

Your EVP consists of the tangible and intangible rewards (i.e. the value) employees can expect in exchange for their time and effort working for your company. The EVP is all about understanding why your employees love working for your company.

A clearly defined EVP serves as the basis for your Employer Brand strategy and gives you a framework for creating authentic, compelling Recruitment Marketing content.

Working with a consulting firm or recruitment marketing agency is one way to approach your EVP, but uncovering your EVP yourself may be easier than you think. Follow these simple steps to design and activate your own Employee Value Proposition.

Step 1: Understand the Outcome

When starting your EVP project, your first instinct is probably to start Googling EVP examples. Let me save you the trouble: that’s not how an EVP works.

Most companies don’t come right out and tell job seekers, “these are the things we promise you if you come work for us.” When you set out to define your EVP, understand that your final product is basically just a bulleted list. That’s it.

The EVP itself is not a dynamic graphic or a perfectly wordsmithed paragraph, but rather a simple, concise list of the things your employees value about working at your company. It’s the blueprint for your Employer Brand, meant primarily for your recruiting team, marketing team and anyone else involved with the talent acquisition content and experience.

Step 2: Identify the Data (and work with what you have)

Vision, values and mission statements can get away with being a bit obtuse or even aspirational, but the EVP must be honest and authentic to the core.

If you promise applicants one thing, but they experience something completely different, they’ll feel like they’ve been lied to. To create an accurate, meaningful EVP, you need to get straight to the source: your employees.

The best way to collect EVP data is to facilitate surveys, interviews and focus groups with as many employees as you can. Ask open-ended questions that prompt detailed descriptions about what it’s like to work at your company. Check out TalentLyft’s sample survey questions for inspiration as you develop your own survey questions or interview scripts.

For each question you ask, be sure to plan how you’ll capture the responses and analyze the results at the end. The more open-ended questions you ask, the more data you’ll have to cull through, so plan carefully.

Tips for EVP data collection:

  • Use free tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to create simple surveys that make it easy to export and analyze the results.
  • Ask someone to be your designated note-taker during interviews and focus groups, so you can focus on facilitating dialogue and asking follow-up questions.
  • Instead of face-to-face interviews, opt for video conference calls that allow you to record the sessions (with permission, of course) so you can easily reference exactly what was said.
  • For focus groups, display your question prompts on posters around the room and have participants give their answers on Post-It notes. The interactive design will energize the group and you’ll walk away with a whole stack of self-reported data to analyze.

Surveys and focus groups are the ideal way to gather input for your EVP, but they certainly aren’t the only way. Think of all the different mechanisms your company uses to collects data and work with whatever you can get your hands on.

You can find EVP inspiration in unlikely places. For example, if your company conducts exit interviews for terminating employees, is there a question about how employees would rate the company or whether they would recommend it to a friend? Has your company recently conducted an employee engagement survey? Do you have message boards or other online forums where employees connect?

Perhaps the greatest goldmine for easy insight into your company’s Employee Value Proposition is the anonymous employer review website Glassdoor.

Employer reviews consist of 5-point ratings for various company attributes, like culture and career opportunities, as well as free text responses to the “pros” and “cons” of working at the company. Your company’s Glassdoor profile administrator will be able to export employer reviews as an Excel file that you can then include in your EVP data set.

Get your hands on as much employee input as you can and make the most of the data your company is already collecting from employees.

Step 3: Find the Themes

To define the Employee Value Proposition, you need to identify and articulate all the elusive things that cause your employees to work at your company over others.

Whatever sources of data you’re using, your job is to translate your employees’ individual sentiments into a compelling, accurate story about life at your company.

Pay special attention to sentiments that reflect company culture and those unspoken norms you’ve never given much thought to. For example, even if your company doesn’t have an official policy about work schedules, your data may reveal how much employees appreciate the workplace norm of flexible hours.

Some themes will emerge naturally as you start to see certain words appear over and over. If you’re having trouble making meaning out of your data set, or just want to take a more structured approach to your data analysis, start with pre-determined categories. Establish a few general bins and start sorting and creating themes around responses accordingly.

In a study published by Dabirian, Kietzmann, & Diba, researchers analyzed 38,000 Glassdoor reviews to determine eight different types of value propositions. Consider using these value proposition categories as general buckets to start creating themes around your data and revealing patterns:

  • Social: Is it a fun place to work, with talented people and a great culture?
  • Interest: Is it an interesting place to work, with challenging but achievable goals?
  • Application: Is the work meaningful and does it invite the application of knowledge and skills?
  • Development: Are there opportunities to grow and advance professionally?
  • Economic: Is work rewarded appropriately through salaries, benefits and perks?
  • Management: Are managers good, honest leaders, who inspire, trust, protect, enable and respect employees?
  • Work/life balance: Are work arrangements flexible enough to achieve success on and off the job?

After sorting your data into general groupings, take a closer look and see if you can identify more specific themes within each category.

For example, you may have originally sorted some employee comments into a “people” category. Taking a second look, you may realize that there are even more meaningful patterns related to people, like supportive team members, a culture of helping, or that people are exceptionally smart.

The themes and patterns you identify will eventually become the elements of your Employee Value Proposition. The patterns that become value propositions should be the sentiments that appear consistently across all your data sets. If you observe a theme about great managers in your survey data, but your Glassdoor data shows negative ratings and comments about managers, the “great managers” theme is probably not consistent enough to include in your EVP.

You might come up with anywhere from 5 to 10 value propositions, and you probably won’t get it right on the first try. Give yourself the time and space to test your draft EVP with employees, solicit reactions and feedback and go back to your data to fine-tune. If most people react to your EVP with agreement, you’re on the right track.

Step 4: Bring it to Life

Once you’ve finalized the elements of your EVP and gotten support from the appropriate stakeholders (e.g. marketing, corporate brand, PR), it’s time to start communicating the Employee Value Proposition.

The obvious places to start will be your careers site and Recruitment Marketing collateral. But to really bring your EVP to life, you need to look at all aspects of the candidate journey and assess whether your EVP is consistently reflected at each stage.

Consider the direct and indirect channels you can use to communicate your EVP. What emails are job seekers receiving from your company and does the messaging reflect your EVP? Do your job descriptions align with the elements of your EVP?

Look carefully at all aspects of  your candidate experience to avoid contradictory elements that don’t align with your  Employee Value Proposition. For example:

EVP Element Contradiction
“Exciting, fast-paced environment” Outdated ATS and application process
“Friendly people” Impersonal template emails
“Transparent decision making” Limited interview follow-up
Step 5: Revisit and Fine-Tune

The Employee Value Proposition isn’t static. It will change as your workforce demographics change.

Revisit your EVP every year and make sure it still resonates with your employees. Look for opportunities to curate elements of your EVP and adapt to different personas and audiences. Perhaps you have variations of your EVP for sales, engineering, and intern audiences.

An authentic, well-defined Employee Value Proposition is the foundation to a strong Employer Brand. Strategically integrating your EVP throughout the candidate journey allows you to clearly communicate what it’s like to work at your company and the types of people you’re looking to hire. The talented job seekers who share your values will be more attracted to your company. The job seekers who don’t will be less inclined to apply, saving valuable time and resources for you and the candidates.

How to Define Your Employee Value Proposition: The DIY Approach
5 (100%) 5 votes

About the Author

Profile photo of Susannah Sack

Susannah Sack

Susannah Sack leads employer branding and recruitment marketing at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).