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Building employee value propositions

Your EVP is about articulating what the company will deliver to its employees and what it expects in return

Employees want to be treated almost like customers in so far as they expect almost a consumer experience

Employees want to be treated almost like customers in so far as they expect almost a consumer experience

 

Businesses are used to spending large sums of money to figure out precisely what their customers want. But in a time of skills shortages, ensuring you know what your employees want is a contributor to competitive advantage too. It’s why building your “employee value proposition” is so important.

“Your EVP is about articulating what the company will deliver to its employees and what it expects in return. It’s the give and the get,” says Jenny Smyth, talent and reward country lead at Willis Towers Watson Ireland, a global professional services firm that helps clients manage risk, optimise benefits and cultivate talent.

“If for example the company is going to offer flexibility in terms of working from home, that the employee ensures the work will get done at home and the dog won’t be barking in the background when they’re making professional phone calls.”

At heart, the EVP is about the employee experience, and covers everything from values, leadership, working environment to rewards, pay benefits, career development opportunities and other softer rewards such as opportunities to travel.

Getting your EVP right isn’t just about employees either, she points out, but all the touch points at which a person interacts with your business. “You need to think about potential employees too. So, they could be a customer of yours, they could have friends or family already working with you, or have met you through university Milk Round interviews. And of course these days younger people are all on sites such as Glassdoor and social media,” she says.

Your EVP includes your on-boarding process, performance reviews, career opportunities, and your culture, “basically what it’s like to work there”, she says.

These days, if you hold on to someone for two or three years you are doing well, says Smyth. So it’s now also important to ensure your EVP extends to people leaving too.

“What you hope for are ‘boomerangers’, those that leave, go off and then come back with a whole new skill set. So that means keeping in touch with them on LinkedIn or alumni groups and so on. How you manage your exit is also part of your EVP.”

Establishing it is about active listening. “Typically in the past people had their annual employee engagement survey and by the time you got all the results back and sorted, it was time to start again. Now it’s much more about pulsing – that is, engaging staff in more frequent shorter survey questions. We provide a tool to help with this which many of our clients use and it enables you take the temperature of the workforce.”

For their part, employees expect a “real connection” with their employers too. “They want to be treated almost like customers in so far as they expect almost a consumer experience,” she says, pointing to the advent of HR portals large organisations use that employees log on to and receive personalised information from.

It must come from the top down in terms of leadership, she says. One of the consequences of the financial crisis was that people “stood back and asked, ‘what type of organisation am I working for?’” Millennials in particular will now ask what impact a prospective employer is having on the environment, for example, or what its core values are, or its corporate and social responsibility activities.”

Willis Towers Watson’s research indicates that the quality of your senior leadership is also significant issue in terms of how workers view the organisation they work for. If, as Smyth puts it, “career security is the new job security”, they want to work with a company they trust as well as one that will develop them.