It’s a hot topic at the moment. Now more than ever organisations need to be clear as to what they stand for as an employer and how they want to be known in the audiences that matter to them. They seek authenticity, they seek differentiation, they seek clarity and above all they seek relevance in a changing world.
However simple the process may look on the outside, it can be fraught with danger. We’ve been in the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and Employer Branding business longer than most and are often called upon to save an EVP programme or even start again. With something so critical to both your People Agenda and business performance, getting it right is key, but too often that’s not happening, so, in our experience what are the common mistakes that you should seek to avoid in developing and implementing your EVP and employer brand?
It was on someone’s to do list but no objectives were set. So there was no consideration of how the EVP should serve the People Plan and, in doing so, the wider business plan.
You can’t be something on the outside (for instance: customer centric, agile, commercial) that you aren’t or will never be on the inside. It’s your people that deliver your products and services and those valuable customer experiences day in day out. If the new EVP and employer brand exist in isolation from the customer brand it’s going to be a bumpy road.
A well thought through and implemented EVP will make you money and save you money but you can’t improve what you don’t accurately measure, and you can’t achieve what you don’t set. No focus means no direction in EVP land.
HR can own and drive the EVP formulation and implementation but the process needs senior level investment – both financially and in terms of broader support – from day one. If the senior leadership team is not bought in to the process and the business returns then it can be like herding cats.
Further down the track Functional Heads and Line Managers will need to understand and support the EVP. More than that they’ll need to show that commitment through their actions in recruitment, induction, communications, performance management, engagement and more. The EVP is the overarching statement of intent of what you stand for as an employer. That means every aspect of the employee lifecycle, and in every part of the business. Every business will have those little silos and fiefdoms but an element of company consistency is key.
It’s an interesting project and the temptation to form a working party of well-meaning amateurs to work together and ‘come up with something’ is too great to resist. Effective employer branding is the work of professionals. You wouldn’t let a well-meaning amateur with a bit of spare time, install the firewall or the fire alarm for that matter, so why take liberties with something as important as the EVP and employer brand? Of course, the internal team will have input and lots of it, but the analysis of the brand assets, the objectivity in setting the hierarchy of messaging, ensuring authenticity and the creative flair to bring the EVP to life are specialist skills.
All decisions in designing the EVP and Employer Brand need to be securely knowledge based – and that means effective research. Every organisation is different but as a minimum it will mean quantitative and reliable employee survey information, one to ones with key stakeholders and focus groups of representative key staff. To this we may even add competitor research, ex-employees, mystery shopping and more. Your EVP has to be authentic, distinct and compelling. Without sufficient research you simply won’t know if it’s any of those three.
Someone sat in a room on their own with unlimited access to Google and ‘did it’- they may be someone from HR or even Marketing. It ticks the box but languishes in a nether world of irrelevance. Absolutely one to avoid.
The EVP might be well supported and researched but the implementation goes awry. Everyone gets caught up in the exciting bit of the creative process and what appears on the page, online, offline, at events. Inside the company and out. However, the EVP doesn’t reflect the true reality of working there. And, rather than kerb their enthusiasm and momentum by stopping, pausing and checking, they carry on regardless. It might be too aspirational, culturally misaligned, too ‘salesy’. It might be that the new emerging brand wasn’t checked with the key audiences and without careful attention to the findings of the research, diving into implementation without taking time to step back and review.
There’s sometimes a temptation to use corporate speak or be too jargonistic. Or the final EVP and brand are signed off by a committee causing dilution and lack of focus. Our advice is that if you are unique then your EVP should be too. Be you. Be unique. And reap the benefits.
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about your EVP project – we’re always happy to have an initial conversation and advise you on your best next steps.