The concept of “Employee Value Proposition” represents any organization’s positioning of various people related practices, processes and experience in eyes of the present and potential employees. Though several organizations have developed compelling value propositions, HR research articles seldom emphasize on steps required to articulate a compelling employee value proposition.
The most comprehensive definition for EVP that I have come across is given by Minchington, B (2006) –’Your Employer Brand’ which describes EVP as "a set of associations and offerings provided by an organization in return for the skills, capabilities and experiences an employee brings to the organization".
Having a well-defined EVP has several benefits for an organization such as employee satisfaction and engagement, enhanced brand attraction and quality of hire, retention of talent etc.
EVP conceptualization can be divided into 3 stages -
- Collection of Data and Insights
- Analysis through Frames of Reference
- EVP statement articulation
Step 1 – Collection of Data and Insights
The objective of the data collection is to obtain insights from stakeholders and understand the key characteristics of organization’s current offerings and experience. The stakeholders include insights from current and previous employees, recruitment consultants and prospective employees. The mechanism can include focused group discussions, online surveys, in-depth insighting etc. The researcher can refer to previous employee engagement surveys, cultural diagnostics, best workplace findings etc. to gather insights on engagement drivers.
Indicative questions which can be used for employee insighting during Focus Group Discussion (FGD) are as follows:
- Why do you love coming to work?
- Why talented people should join our organization? What do we offer?
- Even if we paid you less than competitors, how would you pitch to your friend to join our organization?
- (For employees having tenure greater than 5 years): Why have you chosen to stay for more than 5 years?
- Are we a modern manufacturing/service workplace? What areas need to be improved?
Using affinity analysis for the responses received, you can arrive at themes which represent potential EVP elements.
What is affinity analysis?
Affinity analysis helps to cluster similar meaning words into a common theme. During insighting, the audience may use same / similar words which may resonate with single theme.
For e.g. Empowerment can be represented as freedom to act, autonomy, express opinions freely etc.
Step 2 - Analysis through Frames of Reference
For shortlisting potential EVP elements, one needs to analyze these elements through certain frame of references.
Following are examples of frames of reference
- Perceived as current strength by employees
- Alignment with strategic objectives
a. Alignment with Core philosophy and vision,
b. Long term business goals,
c. customer value proposition
- Opportunity for Competitive Differentiation in talent market
A representative format for identifying EVP elements is depicted above. The elements which stand the 3-stage filter test can be chosen as EVP elements. This test can be carried out with senior leadership and key influencers in the organization.
Step 3 - EVP statement articulation
EVP creation process requires validation of potential EVP attributes with employees and senior leadership.
Debate: Should the value proposition be aspirational (where we want to be) or rooted in current reality?
In SHRM White paper, Bernie Eisenberg and others offer the following point - “Many organizations have two sets of values. There are the real values that drive current decision-making and then there are the preferred values, which an organization believes should be real, even if they are not.” In nutshell, the EVP attributes can be mix of current strengths and future aspirations for the business.
(Reference: The Role of Value Proposition and Employment Branding in Retaining Top Talent, SHRM White paper, Bernie Eisenberg, Cydney Kilduff, Susan Burleigh, SPHR, and Kevin C. Wilson, Reviewed June 2002)
Sample EVP Statements
Mahindra & Mahindra – Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors
- CAPable People. REAL Experience
- Challenge Conventions
- Bring Alternative Thinking to the Workplace
- Drive Positive Change in the lives of customers and communities
- Recognition for Outperformance
- Empowering Environment
- Abundant Learning opportunity
- A thrilling experience
- An environment that will inspire you
- A School of excellence
- A World of Opportunities
EVP Alignment Audit
Before communicating the EVP to the employees, an independent audit is recommended to understand the current state and gaps in the employee offerings and employee touch-point experiences. An example to highlight the previous statement e.g. If EVP element chosen is empowerment at work, do I need to take my superior’s permission for training, policy matters etc.
The alignment study can include –
- Interviews with HR process owner – understanding current (as-in) process (as per policy, process design)
- Leadership Interviews on understanding current challenges and painting a desired state
- Focus Group Discussion (FGDs) to understand employee perceptions – gaps in design and experiences of HR offerings (For e.g. a reward meant to be given instantaneously actually takes 8 months for an employee to obtain.)
An EVP alignment scorecard can be developed which depicts alignment of the process with each EVP element.
The alignment can be checked at two levels –
- Process Alignment: Is the process design or policy (on paper) aligned to the employer brand attributes? For e.g. if empowering environment is my EVP element, as a people manager am I empowered to distribute rewards? Do I have a sanctioned reward budget?
- Experience Alignment: Is the actual employee experience aligned to the employer brand attributes? For e.g. An organization with EVP elements as ‘abundant learning opportunities’ provides plethora of training, e-learning and self-development opportunities for making a successful career.
EVP offerings – Action plan
Based on the results of this study, action plans can be created focusing on addressing the gaps found. For buy-in of business and HR leaders, workshop using co-creation methodology can be used.
The EVP can be launched in the annual communication meet by senior leaders. For enhancing believability, powerful medium of storytelling can be used to explain various facets of EVP elements. Symbolic representation (logo or mascot) and a catchy tagline will help in easy recall for employees.
Explaining concept like EVP and employer brand attributes to the employees can be challenge for HR. Focus on making EVP ‘experiential’ will help in easier grasping of the concept and enhance believability. Making EVP ‘experiential’ for employees through EVP Zone (a daylong event for employees in which people practices and offerings can be explained) will help them appreciate this concept better.
(This chapter is an excerpt from the author's book “Demystifying HR” available on Kindle. “Demystifying HR” is an attempt to explain HR concepts based on author’s experience as an HR practitioner across industries like manufacturing, IT and pharma. The approaches, suggested by the author, are industry agnostic and can be readily implemented or customized depending on the context.)