Why you need to hone your EVP to attract and retain top talent

The fact that a Google search of ‘EVP’ serves up ‘electronic voice phenomenon’ (spooky sound recordings believed to be the voice of spirits), and not ‘employee value proposition’ (why people should work for you) suggests this concept is not as widely understood as it should be. Unless interpreting the ‘wooohs’ of the dead has more of a following than we realised. But, what would we know? We’re employee engagement specialists, not ghost-hunters.

So, what exactly is EVP in the context of employee engagement? Gartner defines it as “the set of attributes that define the value prospective candidates and employees gain through employment by an organisation”. In simpler terms, EVP is all about the effort (or lack thereof) an organisation makes to attract, recruit and retain its employees.

Why would a graduate select your trainee programme over another? Why would someone want to stay with you long-term and not jump ship? And why would someone leave you a sparkling review, post-exit, on Glassdoor? It’s all in your EVP!

Beyond pay and benefits

Typically, a strong EVP offers an employee an inspiring and meaningful place to work, great pay and benefits, a terrific team of people aligned in their values, and a unique environment that is not easily replicated.

Why is your company a compelling place to work? What do people gain, personally and professionally for exchanging their skills, experience and enthusiasm with what you have to offer? If ‘competitive salary’ and ‘free tea and coffee’ are all that spring to mind, it’s time to hone your EVP.

Why EVP should matter to every business

Scarce talent

Whilst you may think there’s currently a bigger pool of talent out there from the increase in redundancies due to COVID-19, there are also many organisations looking to recruit, and the competition is tough. If Company A and Company B are both digital software companies building similar products, what will make the candidate choose A over B?

Especially now, the shift to working from home has forced office location further down the consideration list when looking for a job; there’s very few ways to attract candidates without upping the salary offer. That’s where EVP steps in.

If you can prove to candidates that you take care of your employees and have programmes in place to support their wellbeing and social relationships as well as their professional careers, your organisation presents as a much more attractive option.

Image of bored employee

More choice

When you are on the hunt for someone to join your organisation, it’s important to find the best candidates. Some organisations will use recruiters to widen their choice but Gartner’s research shows that companies with a well-managed EVP can reach 50% “deeper” into the market to attract passive candidates.

But why you would attract passive candidates rather than those actively looking in the market? LinkedIn’s insight shows that 13% are casually looking and 15% are reaching out to their personal network for opportunities, 45% are open to talking about new opportunities and 15% are completely satisfied and don’t want to move. Only 15%. Alarming, isn’t it? Or exciting, if you consider how many people could be persuaded to join your company with the help of an enticing EVP.

The luck of loyalty

Most organisations hope to find loyal employees who want to stick around, but a growing trend is beginning to make this difficult. Deloitte surveyed over 10,000 millennials (those born between 1983 and December 1994) and found that almost half of them planned to leave their current jobs within two years, and only 28% had plans to stick around beyond five.

What does this tell us? It indicates that there’s a movement towards the removal of the stigma attached to moving jobs frequently. If you want to develop or find a new challenge by changing careers, you’ll be in good company.

Of course, the knock-on effect for organisations is that you will now find it even harder to hold on to talent. There is even more pressure to get your EVP right to convince them to stay. Whilst many of the millennials said pay was a frequent factor in moving jobs, those who work in large private sector organisations said they had “lost faith in the ethics of these organisations of the last year”.

If more time and effort was spent on developing these areas of EVP, you would have a much better chance of retaining talent. Whilst fresh faces and new ideas can be beneficial, getting into a high turnover pattern is risky, and a solid plan to attract, recruit and maintain talent is more advisable.

The five ingredients in your EVP cake

Gartner splits employee value proposition into five simple categories.

Showing the Gartner EVP categories

You may think some of these categories could be easily adapted to make instant improvements to your EVP. Let’s take ‘Rewards’, for example. If budgets allow, you could add another day to someone’s annual leave, gift them their birthday off or even increase their pay, but financial rewards alone do not a good EVP make. Organisations who provide consistently recognise and celebrate their people, for example, have 14% better employee engagement, productivity and customer service than those without. How are you recognising the hard work of your people?

While adjusting salaries can be fairly easy to implement, developing an attractive social environment (as part of the ‘People’ category of EVP) is more difficult to achieve. Who hasn’t reminisced about a former job which wasn’t so good, but ‘Oh, the people were brilliant’? And how many of us stay in jobs we don’t really enjoy because the people are fantastic? Don’t underestimate the power of camaraderie, but don’t rely on it alone to provide a great day at work.

‘Manager quality’ also impacts your EVP and as people management is often an overlooked prerequisite for those responsible for mentoring their staff, it’s not such a simple fix. Can you count how many outstanding managers you’ve worked for? Probably just on the one hand. However, training for anyone managing people should be a straightforward solution and once your managers have learned how to successfully manage a team, to nurture their talents and provide the right environment for them to flourish, individual team members will benefit and your EVP points will soar.

At the other end of the spectrum are the long-term goals that are harder to change – the ‘Organisation’ category. The HR department does not hold reign over the organisation’s position in the market nor the quality of your products or services. But you can help lead the way in defining who you are as an organisation and what it means to work there.

This could be in the way you approach diversity, ethics or your impact on the environment. These are all powerful tools that will influence people’s decision to join your business from the outside looking in as a prospective employee. And how you communicate these endeavours to your people is paramount, too. Show your workforce how you’re making a difference, don’t expect them to just know.

EVP pays

When attempting senior leaders to back a new initiative, its impact on the bottom line is almost always going to be high up the agenda. Luckily for HR or employee engagement leaders hoping to improve their EVP, there’s plenty of research to show a positive impact in this arena. Engaged teams achieve 21% greater profitability, 17% higher productivity and 10% higher customer ratings compared to disengaged teams (Aon). Also, companies with a strong EVP and employee brand see a 28% reduction in staff turnover rates.

Benefits aside, a fairly obvious reason to develop your EVP is – we all want to work for companies that pay attention and take care of their people, don’t we? Companies that foster communities and generate stronger social relationships with our colleagues benefit everyone and make work enjoyable.

Reviewing your current EVP

Creating an attractive EVP should not be a top-down activity, but one in which all employees can help shape. After all, they’re living and breathing the culture of the company, so it’s essential to seek their feedback on their perception of how things really are. Ask current employees why they chose to work for you over someone else. What do they most value about working here? And why do they stay?

Your current employees should be your greatest brand ambassadors, as long as the vision you’re selling externally is also mirrored internally. Your EVP should be incorporated into your employee handbook, induction, recognition and reward programme, internal comms and even your business plans. It must be visible to everyone in the organisation.

Use employee surveys and polls, focus groups, exit interviews, and seek thorough (even if uncomfortable) feedback from former employees and job applicants. Why did they really leave the business or decide not to sign their contract and join?

Once you’ve gathering such insights, you can begin to understand what aspects of your organisation your people value the most, helping you to create a robust EVP strategy which aligns with your business objectives and values and make your company an appealing place to work, for prospective employees and career stalwarts alike. With an effective, well-crafted EVP, new candidates should be knocking at your door.

To learn more about how a centralised recognition and reward strategy could positively impact your organisation's EVP, speak to us about the Rippl platform.