After a year where the number of open vacancies outstripped the number of unemployed for the first time on record, UK businesses have revealed a slight cooling in hiring sentiment as we enter 2023. However, even though recruitment intentions have lowered, hiring intentions are still an average 19% net positive and 72% of UK companies are reporting difficulties securing the workers they require. Additionally, staffing problems are being exacerbated by something called ‘leaky bucket syndrome’ – a situation where as fast as businesses hire new talent, existing workers leave for greener pastures. It’s like forever filling a bucket full of holes.
“There are some blurred lines around what people see as the true definition of EVP. They misinterpret it for Employer Brand. This is not an isolated problem, it’s an industry-wide problem”
Paul Bhangoo, Global Employer Brand and Attraction Manager, BT.
With competition for talent seeming likely to remain as fierce this year as it was in 2022, organisations cannot afford constant worker wastage. A Net Zero approach to talent is their best solution. What does this mean? It means businesses aim for zero waste through the entire talent pipeline and lifecycle, reimagining how they attract, hire, reskill and redeploy talent to optimise the skills of all their employees. Critical elements of this reimagining are an Employer’s Branding and their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) – core messages that make workers want to work for you and stay to grow their career. These messages are not the same, but they must reflect each other to achieve success. However, in many cases, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between these important attributes.
To achieve Net Zero success, businesses must establish clear differentiations and align their employer/employee propositions. Sounds difficult? It isn’t. Here are the four key steps to follow:
Step 1: Define your Employer Brand
An organisation’s Employer Brand is the image/story businesses reveal about themselves when attracting new talent. It is different from the organisation’s Marketing Brand, which promotes the company’s products and services, although as with Employer Brand and EVP there must be synergy between these propositions.
When functioning positively, Employer Brand is the secret sauce that makes workers want to work for you. It encompasses aspects of the business that form your organisation’s DNA. These aspects will include ‘hard assets’, such as the perceived ranking of the business in its sector, or its cutting-edge innovation processes, but they will also include ‘soft assets’ such as the company’s culture and values, and their attitude to DE&I (diversity, equity & inclusion) – the crucial, personal aspects that help candidates and employees determine if your business is right for them.
Whether businesses like it or not, the internet has given candidates the power to conduct early and extensive research on businesses and how they function as employers. In many cases, social media and employee review sites such as Glassdoor will have given candidates a pre-determined decision on your suitability as their next employer before any job interview. Businesses with incoherent or negative Employer Brand aspects will likely fare badly in the competition for new workers and will struggle to retain the best talent they already have. In such cases, organisations should review their internal structures, attitudes towards DE&I, and if necessary, change the company culture to provide (not simply project for appearances), workplace positivity. A successful Employer Brand will attract and retain talent with an environment where the candidate feels they will be welcome, the work will be fulfilling, their input will be appreciated, and that they will be a valuable part of a dynamic organisation.
Step 2: Define your EVP
An organisation’s Employer Value Proposition is a broader concept that includes the full value that a business provides to an individual as an employer and the value that the individual gives back in return. EVP is an important force that helps candidates decide why they should work for an organisation. It also helps existing workers decide if they should stay and grow their career with their employer instead of moving on.
In essence, EVP is the articulation of the Employer Brand, how theory works in practice, and it’s more than just compensation and benefits. It includes the organisation’s purpose and the employee’s role within that mission, the company’s culture, its attitude towards DE&I, its work policies, how individuals are incentivised, how they’re developed, and the experience an individual will have with an organisation from the first touch point all the way through to their last day.
In a labour market where employee’s currently hold the power, an organisation’s EVP can make or break the hiring process. Workers are seeking roles where they will thrive, not just survive. This is particularly evident with young Millennials and Gen Z, who are demanding more from employers, analysing organisations’ very EVP closely and remaining tough to convince before making a work decision – a situation that will only increase as these young workers form a growing percentage of the workforce. As with Employer Brand, businesses with weak or negative EVP should conduct serious internal review – diagnosing where the issues are and making necessary changes. A strong EVP should make candidates say ‘hey, I’d like to work there’, and your current workers say, ‘ I love my job’.
Lastly, synergy is essential to successful EVP – it must harmonise with your Employer Brand, and to a lesser degree, your Marketing Brand. Consistency in proposition messaging and practice is what makes an organisation attractive to customers, candidates and existing workers – one theme, but with subtle differences.
Step 3: Different but together
When developing and broadcasting their Employer Brand and EVP, it is very easy for businesses to fall into the trap of combining both propositions – muddling the attitude of the organisation with the proposition it extends to candidates and current workers. Differentiation is important to avoid confusion and to prevent dilution of either proposition. Employer Brand and EVP are not identical, but they must reflect each other – left/right, black/white. This means aligning E/Brand and EVP to achieving synergy where each attribute supports the other – and echoes the Marketing Brand.
How does this work in practice? Consider this example of an imaginary tech company:
- The business sells sleek, ground-breaking products. Their marketing aura is one of perfection. This is their Marketing Brand.
- They treat their employees with honesty and transparency, seeking to solve employee problems as soon as they emerge, offering industry-leading benefits and space for employees to experiment and evaluate their theories and abilities as they grow. They are a great company to work for. This is the Employer Brand.
- They offer new candidates first class compensation and an open path to success. In return they expect transparency, honesty and diligence to achieve the best the candidate can do – perfection in means perfection out. The business also offers existing workers pathways to development, opportunities to learn new skills, to redeploy their abilities and to keep growing within the business. In short, it’s a great working environment. This is the EVP.
The propositions are different, but they have the same context – this is a business that’s good to be a part of.
Step 4: Constant review and maintenance are Key
Lastly, successful E/Brand and EVP propositions are not set it and forget it. They are a work in progress that needs constant maintenance to reflect changing times, generational shift, and industry disruption. Organisations must conduct regular review of employee attitudes and test the waters in the open market – find out for yourself what former employees are saying about you, how does your Employer Brand stack up to your major competitors? Employers should listen to worker and candidate commentary and act upon their recommendations. Most importantly, employees must have the space to provide feedback in an open and unbiased environment. A safe and robust reporting structure is essential to achieve meaningful results.
Discover more about a Net Zero approach to talent
An organisation’s Employer Brand and EVP are an essential part of a Net Zero approach to talent. Learn much more about this important subject and other aspects of workforce sustainability with the Manpower Talent Solutions podcast ‘Bland to Brand, EVP vs. Employer Brand’.
Join Paul Bhangoo from BT and other speakers on this important subject. Listen to the Podcast now.