How has COVID-19 transformed employee value proposition ?

In our recent blog, we explored the benefits of having a compelling employee value proposition (EVP). We covered what it is, as well as precisely what makes a good EVP. What became apparent when conducting our research around EVP is that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a considerable impact. So much so that we thought we’d explore some of the areas in this separate blog. First, let’s remind ourselves of the categories of EVP as suggested by Gartner.

Showing the Gartner EVP categories

A downwards spiral

With job losses and redundancies becoming the norm since March 2020, there is no surprise to hear that some areas of EVP became more frequent on social media platforms, such as Twitter.

Gartner’s research shows that, initially, employees were concerned about the ‘Reward’ category of EVP (for example, impact on salary and paid leave), but the ‘People’ category soon exceeded that. Many tweets during 2020 tended to be of negative sentiment, meaning people were increasingly concerned about how their work leaders would react to the UK lockdown and how this would impact their employee engagement and teamwork.

Graphs showing the sentiment on Twitter EVP

The research shows that other tweets mainly focused on lay-offs, job changes and reductions in salary, with people taking to social media to vent their frustrations. Understandably too, as people’s worlds got turned upside down in a matter of weeks, and nobody saw it coming. With frequent changes to the UK’s Job Retention Scheme (better known as the furlough scheme), we are likely to see a similar pattern happening again for EVP. The current unemployment rate is 4.7% (as of April 2021, according to the ONS), but the Bank of England expects this to rise to 7.5% following the furlough scheme’s completion. What can you do to support your employees through this difficult time? Ensure that you communicate clearly, regularly and transparently. Employees tend to panic most when they are uncertain how their work leaders will respond to changes in the economy. Having relevant information to hand will help employees gain an element of control. Your people will feel more valued if they stay connected with the essential things in the business.

Back to school

Up until May 2021, a cumulative 11.5 million jobs had been furloughed from 1.3 million different employers in the UK. With this many people not fulfilling their usual job capacity, there has been an unexpected opportunity for learning and development (L&D) during the pandemic.

Lending itself to the ‘Opportunity’ category, L&D has always been a widely desirable part of EVP. Employees are almost always keen to learn new skills or refresh knowledge but rarely have the time to do it. Leaders in L&D believe that whilst COVID-19 hasn’t radically shifted the industry, it has certainly accelerated it.

Due to the guidelines of the furlough scheme, employees were still able to spend time on L&D for themselves (and their employer) even though they weren’t allowed to work. This opened up a real opportunity for people to think about areas of their personal and professional life that they wanted to improve.

So, how has the pandemic changed L&D?

Firstly, there has been less reliance on classroom-based learning, which can otherwise be difficult and costly to organise (thus, providing a blocker for organisations investing in it in the first place).

The force to working from home has made organisations realise that L&D can be achieved from the comfort of your sofa. 75% of organisations said the way some or all training was delivered had changed as a result of Coronavirus, and 50% said they had made their training available online. This is compared to only 15% of organisations who offered online training pre-pandemic – a stark contrast.

Additionally, Gartner saw that L&D appeared as a top theme on both Twitter and Weibo (Chinese social media platform) for the first time ever since the pandemic – indicating that people used the lockdown as a mechanism for self-development.

If your organisation isn’t already facilitating the L&D of its employees, think about ways you can provide tools and resources for self-development. Even if it’s encouraging your employees to use lost commuting hours to do more training, enhancing their development opportunities will make them feel like there is a more positive path ahead.

Mitigating a crisis

After speaking to our customers, we found that many of them were looking for tools to support their employee engagement initiatives pre-pandemic, but this became even more of a priority during the pandemic. Why? With employees being forced apart to work from home, it has become even harder to motivate employees and to keep them engaged with managers and their colleagues.

What’s worse, some employees seem to be working harder or longer than normal. Around one-third of people are working more hours at home than when they were in the office, according to an ONS survey. This could be due to childcare complications, sharing working space with family or friends or simply because of the difficulty to switch off when working in your own home. Either way, many employees feel like they’re not being recognised for their work now they’re out of the office, which negatively impacts organisations’ EVP.

Businesses must put together a clear plan to mitigate an employee engagement crisis where you lose the passion, drive and engagement of your employees you’ve spent years cultivating. This is where something like Rippl can come in handy – an employee engagement tool to help incentivise, recognise and reward your people. By opening up communication lines and recognising their positive impact, your employees will feel informed, valued and connected.

Things to consider when building your EVP:

  • How are you portraying your EVP visually and verbally? Consider this internally with your employees as well as with prospective employees.

  • How does your EVP fit in with your brand image? Is it aligned?

  • Have you got a clear company statement?

  • How can you communicate your EVP internally once it’s clearly defined?

  • Are there any tools that could help support your EVP or make you stand out from the crowd?

  • Do you practice what you preach when it comes to employee promises?

  • How often do you review your strategy? Have you re-reviewed since the pandemic to consider the impact it has had?

If you're looking at ways to improve your employee value proposition and are considering a recognition and reward platform, chat to us about seeing the Rippl platform in action.