Defining an employee value proposition (EVP) is an important first phase in building out your employer brand and understanding who you are as an organization. Your EVP communicates to candidates what they get out of the experience if they come to work specifically with you.
In the past, an EVP project has always been the first thing that I’ve focused on with my team when we’re launching a new employer brand program. And that EVP then acts as the guiding set of messaging and visuals that informs everything we create from a content perspective.
That being said though, EVPs aren’t the type of thing that you can just set and forget. Because your organization’s culture is always changing, your EVP will shift over time too. As a result, it’s important to revisit and refine your EVP every couple of years.
In this post, I’d like to share a methodology that’s been introduced to me by an agency I’ve partnered with in the past, TMP Worldwide. This approach has helped to uncover EVPs at a range of organizations where I’ve worked and might be a good starting point if your team is thinking about defining or reworking your EVP in the near future. I’ve also provided a checklist infographic to serve as a jumping off point to activate your EVP through internal and external touchpoints. Click here to see the EVP checklist now.
Rally note: If you want to learn even more from Debbie about EVPs and employer branding, you can watch the excellent session she delivered at RallyFwd for free and on demand.
Is now the right time to define or refine your EVP?
Given all the changes that are happening right now as a result of COVID-19, it might be a good time to take a step back and see if your EVP needs to be modified.
As mentioned before, EVPs are living and breathing documents that do need to be adjusted over time as your organization and culture changes — and most organizations are going through a lot of changes right now.
Read more about three ways your employer brand can re-recruit employees here.
Further to that, because hiring has slowed down for many organizations, your team might actually have more time available to invest into an EVP project now. All that being said, however, I suggest that you proceed with some caution. You know your own organization’s current climate and you can judge whether or not now is an appropriate time to begin this type of work.
After all, building out an EVP requires thoughtful input from your leaders, employees and other stakeholders. You’ll need to assess: a) if they have the bandwidth to provide input, and b) if the timing is right given how your business has been impacted by COVID-19.
For example, if your organization is in the unfortunate position where you’ve had to lay off workers, then it will likely not be the right time to begin interviewing employees on what they like best about working for your organization. The responses you receive now will be influenced by the current events — which could be a great thing for companies that have been leading during this time — just keep this in mind before deciding what approach makes sense for your org.
Learn more about nine fixable mistakes when creating an employee value proposition.
If you already have an EVP, refining your EVP may be more essential. It’s inauthentic to be pushing out messaging that’s no longer relevant, like “our office lunches are the best!” or messaging that is clearly misaligned with how your organization has been conducting itself (you can watch my RallyFwd session, When Life Reveals Your Real EVP, for more on this).
After consideration, if you decide that now is indeed the right time to define or refine your EVP, here is a methodology that you can use to get to work here:
How to define or refine your organization’s EVP
Phase one: conduct research
Every EVP begins with a solid research foundation. Similarly, if you already have an EVP but are just looking to validate or refine it, you’ll want to conduct research with stakeholder groups to ensure your approach is still resonating and coming across as authentic. Here’s what this looks like in action:
When tackling an EVP project, you’ll need to get input from your leaders on the aspirational components of your EVP. You can ask questions like:
If you’re building out your EVP for the first time —
- What is the future of our organization?
- What talent will we need to land to achieve this?
- What do we offer our employees that stands out from other organizations?
If you’re refining your EVP —
- Does this messaging and visual platform still hold true with who we are now and where we’re headed?
- Does it align with our behaviors throughout this crisis period?
- Is there anything that we should consider adding, modifying or omitting?
Employee focus groups
From there, to ensure your EVP isn’t overly aspirational, but is also rooted in reality, you need to get your employees input too. This is arguably the most important component of the EVP research you’ll embark on.
In the past, I’ve done this in partnership with our agency partner by arranging a focus group of up to 15 employees for each talent segment. During these focus groups, we’ll ask questions like:
If you’re building out your EVP for the first time —
- What do you value most about working here on the [x] team?
- Why did you choose to join our company?
- What makes you stick around long term?
If you’re refining your EVP —
- Does this messaging and visual platform still resonate with you?
- Do any elements of this feel like they aren’t what you’ve experienced working here?
- Is there anything you’d suggest adding, modifying or omitting?
If you have bandwidth, you can also consider implementing a survey alongside these focus groups to get input from a larger percentage of your employee base.
Existing research & data
The last part of the research stage involves pulling in any other data that provides insight into how employees are currently thinking about their experience with you. This could include:
- Employee engagement survey results
- Workplace award survey data
- Anonymous employee reviews from sites like Glassdoor, kununu, etc.
- External market data from vendors like Universum or Potential Park that reveal information about what candidates value today
- Consumer marketing sentiment data (to ensure your product brand and employer brand are aligned)
Phase two: Develop the strategy
From there, once you’ve conducted all of the research, you can pull everything together and look for the common themes that emerge. These are common feedback points that have come up across multiple different research inputs that will help inform how you position or reposition your brand messaging.
You can use these common themes to develop a positioning statement, along with 3 to 5 pillars that support this positioning statement. It can be a good idea to partner with your marketing team or partner with a recruitment marketing agency to get the wording just right and to make sure your positioning aligns with your product brand (or at least doesn’t undermine or contradict it!).
You’ll also want to come up with a set of visual brand guidelines that showcase how this positioning package translates to various visual assets. This will help you during phase three of your EVP project and on an ongoing basis.
If you are refining your EVP rather than building a new one, then during the strategy stage it is more about massaging the positioning statement and pillars you already have, rather than creating something from scratch. The finished product should ideally be connected with the previous iteration, if your original EVP project was thoroughly conducted in the first place. And if it wasn’t thoroughly conducted then it might be worth starting from the beginning anyway, as an inauthentic EVP can do more harm than good for your brand!
Phase three: EVP application
Lastly, once you’ve finished creating or revising your EVP and have received the necessary internal approvals, you’re ready for the fun part! At this stage, you can apply your new or revised EVP across all your external and internal touchpoints.
To approach this part of the work, you might consider creating a checklist of all the touchpoints where you will need to communicate your EVP. From there, you can prioritize the touchpoints in order of the ones that get the most visibility and tackle them as a team one by one.
You may be able to partner with marketing on some of the external application projects, and with internal communications and other members of the HR team on some of the internal ones. It’s really important to get that internal piece right too so that your EVP feels authentic and is reinforced throughout the entire employee experience from the ground up!
Get the EVP Checklist
Your own checklist may likely look a little different depending on your organization, but this should work as a starting point that you can customize.
I hope this methodology for defining or refining your EVP is useful when you’re ready. Best of luck as you continue to define and communicate your organization’s employer brand identity to attract and retain the right talent for your company.