With an employer value proposition (EVP), a company defines what it can offer potential and current employees and what it expects from them. A well-grounded EVP sharpens the identity of the employer, strengthens the employer brand, and facilitates recruitment marketing. However, it takes time to develop and requires a targeted approach. This article will take you through the main milestones on the road to achieving a solid employer value proposition.
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Why an Employer Value Proposition Is Essential
The balance between applicants and employers on the job market has altered significantly in recent years. Ten years ago, it was primarily the employer who found themselves in a privileged position when selecting suitable employees: Potential candidates were carefully scrutinized during the application process, although the employer revealed little about themselves. So at the time of hiring, the employer would know a great deal about their new employee; they, however, would know very little about their future workplace.
With an increasing skills shortage and a worsening ‘war for talent’, the balance of this relationship has shifted. Skilled workers and talented individuals are more in demand on the job market than ever before – often being in a position to choose between different potential employers. As a result, nowadays it is not only the applicant but also the company that has to present themselves in the best possible light. Employer branding has become increasingly important, and employers with a poorly defined identity or even a negative employer image have a harder time recruiting.
The employer value proposition plays the same role for a company that a job application, made up of a cover letter, CV, and references, does for an applicant. In short, an employer uses the attractive value propositions in the EVP to woo talented individuals on the job market. Just like a good application, an employer value proposition should be both attractive and realistic at the same time. Careful preparation is therefore indispensable, meaning that companies should pay close attention to the following points.
Who Should Be Involved in Drawing Up the Employer Value Proposition?
When it comes to the question of which groups of people at a company should be involved in preparing an EVP, the industry portal employerbranding.org follows systems theory in recommending: ‘Include everyone who you can’t get away with leaving out’. Specifically, this means that the primary focus will be on a project group who are responsible for promoting employer branding and, if necessary, taking on recruitment marketing at a later stage. At the kick-off meeting at the latest, the works council, managers, and the senior management team should be involved in order to create a lasting basic framework. The EVP ties in with the company’s underlying strategy and philosophy, so employees, HR managers, and the management team in general need to be involved.
Include everyone who you can’t get away with leaving out
Defining EVP Target Groups
It is not possible to make a sweeping statement on how attractive any particular EVP is. The impact of an EVP always relates directly to a specific target group. So before you begin to list the arguments in favour of working at your company, you must first define who you are trying to reach. It is advisable to develop an overall, quite generic EVP and then tailor it to specific groups of employees, depending on which positions and departments new employees are to be recruited for. This could be described as a kind of target group-specific branding. Candidates applying for a post in the capital city office are likely to go for a different EVP to those who are interested in a position at a local branch in the country.
Factors Affecting the Employer Value Proposition
No two EVPs are alike, and the challenge in preparing one is to credibly identify your own strengths as an employer. To do this, a company should ask itself the question: What arguments do I have on hand that could really convince a potential candidate to apply here? These could involve very disparate factors, but here are the most important aspects:
The Starting Point of the EVP: Remuneration
A good starting point for thinking about the EVP is the level of remuneration the company offers. This can serve as a basis for further orientation. The remuneration may be below the market average, be aligned with the market, or be higher. In each of these scenarios, the factors that are not pay-related will have a different level of importance. A company that pays its employees at a higher rate than the competition ensures that applicants will have a positive perception of the employer right from the beginning. For this reason, all other factors become less relevant, although that does not mean that they are unimportant. Over the long term, a high level of remuneration cannot make up for a miserable working environment. A company that offers its employees only average or indeed low pay needs other unique selling points in order to attract skilled employees and talented individuals.
Along with pay, the working environment is also one of the most important factors. This includes propositions such as fitting out the workplace to a high standard, offering stylish office furnishings, and supplying the employees with soft drinks and snacks. Furthermore, there is the option of allowing employees to work from home (home office). These factors are particularly important for young target audiences who value flexibility and a healthy work-life balance.
It is important that applicants feel they can identify with the corporate culture, including all the values that a company stands for. The focus here can be very specific. The company culture can reflect attitudes towards human, social, or even political issues. For many applicants who are seeking long-term employment, it is important that their employer shares their views, at least when it comes to fundamental questions. In the end, most workers want to be able to go to work with a clear conscience.
How good are the career opportunities and promotion prospects in the company? The answer to this question can also tip the scales in favour of your company. Are employees supported and encouraged to develop their abilities? Are free training courses offered? Is there a prospect of moving to a managerial position within the foreseeable future? Are there positive examples of home-grown talent rising through the ranks? Companies who use their employer value proposition in recruitment marketing to present a transparent outlook to new employees will score points among high potentials on the job market.
How can a long-established company compete with the appeal of young, agile start-ups? One way would be, for example, to emphasize factors such as stability and job security. A long history, constant growth, or a market-leading position give an employee security. The feeling that a position is not under threat from a commercial perspective can be an essential decision criterion for the risk-averse candidate.
Keep an Eye on the Competition
By no means should companies blindly copy their rivals when it comes to preparing an EVP. Doing so would mean that no unique selling point is created, nor would it be guaranteed that their own intended audience is targeted in the best possible way. Nevertheless, it is advisable to keep track of direct competitors, their value propositions, and their recruitment marketing activities in order to respond to them should it prove necessary. For example, if a competitor cannot offer an especially good canteen, you should emphasize this value proposition particularly strongly. As certain EVP factors, such as pay or tangible promotion opportunities, are not always communicated openly by competitors, resorting to ‘undercover’ measures is certainly an option. For example, going to career fairs incognito to seek information from competitors is a common practice in many companies.
Identifying Your Own Company’s Strengths
The easiest way to discover what strengths your own company has from an employee perspective is to ask the employees directly. Doing so in the form of a questionnaire or a detailed interview can bring important insights to light. The focus of the questions should be on why an employee decided to accept a position at your company, why they still enjoy working there, and why they would recommend the company as an employer to a friend.
Tips on Formulating the Employer Value Proposition
Once the target groups have been defined, your own strengths analysed from an external and internal point of view, and the weaknesses of the competition taken into account, the final EVP needs to be drafted. In doing so, companies should be guided by certain ground rules:
The more specifically an EVP is worded, the more credible and powerful it will be. It is imperative that companies avoid generic phrases such as ‘good career opportunities’ or ‘a wide range of responsibilities’. Applicants will have already read them countless times, and they sound arbitrary and uninspired. Employers should therefore determine precisely which of their arguments are really appealing and which sound somewhat interchangeable. An endless stream of self-glorification is less credible than the detailed description of a few key points. In the end, honesty and an EVP which presents a realistic view of your company will pay off. Employees who are disappointed by the promises made can do a great deal of harm by disseminating a negative impression of your employer branding. A well-thought-out EVP supports the recruitment, retention, and motivation of employees.