The employee value proposition (EVP) gets to the heart of why anyone, in a competitive labor market, would decide to work at your organization above others. An EVP is traditionally understood as asking, why should I apply for this job? What makes them better than anywhere else? There are many criteria people use to think through these questions: concrete rewards (good wages and benefits), opportunities for advancement, fitting people into ideal roles, and a brand that someone can be proud to work for.
All of that seems easy enough, but why can it be hard to accomplish in practice? There is currently a worldwide talent shortage because of skills not catching up with technology, and lack of applicants in markets that, before the pandemic, were nearing full employment. These are challenges that no business can fix on their own. Common advice is that one should be clear, consistent, and value-driven in branding – nowadays, that goes without saying. There are other things worth keeping in the back of your mind when hiring employees and expanding to new applicants.
Move beyond the tagline.
There are great companies out there, but their workplace culture can’t be reduced to inspirational sentences. Dell may tell you “You thrive, We thrive,” GE may say “Imagination at work,” and Southwest Airlines may say “Welcome on board the flight of your life,” and those are probably true to how the companies see themselves and take on new projects. But how do these mantras stack up to more bread-and-butter questions like, “what is their pay?” “what would I be working on every day?” or “are the people there fostering a good culture?”
Make honest assessments that go beyond surveys.
The regular questionnaires for employees to fill out may seem like the quickest or easiest way to get a read on the company climate, but the questions might be too broad or the answers non-descript. Whether employees are unsure how things could improve, are fearful of being too honest, or think that their legitimate complaints won’t be well-received, surveys will have gaps. Instead, the entire chain of management has to figure out, from the outside-looking-in, whether the daily workday would appeal to them if they started over again. Your chain-of-command has people who have long tenures at the company; do they notice any shifts in the culture of the company, for better or worse? The main question to ask, once you put yourself in the shoes of a potential applicant, is this: looking at your everyday operations, what stands out to you? This reflective process should absolutely include employee input, but you should take advantage of the position you have to step back and look at the whole.
Get recent hires involved in interviewing and recruiting new applicants
They could be incentivized by additional hourly pay for reviewing applications, taking interviews, and answering questions about the company. The newest employees you have will have the most direct experience with the current job market, and can speak to what was attractive about the excellent business they now work for! This is akin to having college students give tours, as they have the first-hand experience that enables them to field questions with a balance of unvarnished truth and effective branding.
Successful businesses know that their EVP is what sets them apart, but that’s also because the proposition is more than a slogan, a mission statement, or a benefits package. If your company offers the work that people want to center their daily lives around, you will be ahead of the curve when the economy recovers.