How To Develop A Strategic EVP

Andrew Hrvol Headshot
c/o Andrew Hrvol
Having the right employee value proposition can serve as an incredibly powerful tool in attracting, engaging and retaining high-impact talent.

Done right, an employee value proposition drives engagement for current employees and attracts potential impactful candidates. The key is implementing this tool strategically, in alignment with the values and vision of the company.

“An authentic EVP should be equal parts realistic and aspirational—a true reflection of your talent strategy, culture and employee experience,” says Andrew Hrvol, a senior consultant with Kincentric, a global HR advisory firm based in Chicago. He shares his advice for best practices when it comes to defining and developing an effective EVP, and how to bring it to life.

What is an EVP and who “owns” it?

The employee value proposition (EVP) refers to the tangible and intangible benefits realized by employees of an organization. A function of the organization’s brand and a reflection of its image, reputation, mission, vision and purpose, an EVP can serve as an incredibly powerful tool in attracting, engaging and retaining high-impact employees who will support the culture of the organization to drive business outcomes.

An authentic EVP should be equal parts realistic and aspirational—a true reflection of your talent strategy, culture and employee experience—and the more closely aligned your EVP is with the lived experience of employees, the more engaged employees will become.

Accountability for defining and communicating a strong, authentic and effective EVP starts at the top of the organization, led by leaders, and enabled by the human resources team. An effective EVP is brought to life through a shared vision, leadership support, cross-business ownership of culture and a consistent and holistic employee experience. The EVP must be embedded across the employee lifecycle, touching all major moments that matter, embraced and reinforced by leaders and managers and experienced consistently at all levels within the organization. 

What can organizations do to define an EVP that is relevant, effective and authentic? 

Perceptions have shifted dramatically in the wake of recent global health and economic crises, giving rise to a more human-centric era of work. We have seen dramatic shifts in the how, when and where work gets done, and employee expectations have evolved. To remain successful in recruitment and retention efforts, organizations must ensure they are meeting employees where they are at—embracing new ways of working and creating an employee experience that meets their shifting needs and expectations.

An EVP that resonates with candidates and employees must be both aspirational as well as grounded in the realities of the organization. Organizations will need to assess current processes, programs and strategies, as well as gain insights into the employee experience to truly understand what differentiates their organization from competitors.

Leaders must also understand what type of employee they are trying to attract, identifying the characteristics, capabilities and competencies needed now and in the future. They must clearly articulate the leadership vision for the future of the organization—one that is aligned with corporate branding as well as the business strategy and culture—to create differentiated messaging and content for recruitment efforts and evolve the candidate experience to attract the right talent at the right time.

Is an EVP a “one-size-fits-all” approach?

While an organization should have an overarching EVP that is reflected across the enterprise, that doesn’t mean that how the EVP is expressed in actual actions and processes must be the same for everyone. You must allow room for “personalization,” which starts with a deep understanding of the unique needs, expectations, motivations and drivers of your candidates and employees.

Creating profiles or personas based on this analysis will enable you to identify opportunities to enrich the employee experience and ensure the EVP is strategically built to connect with them on multiple levels while in support of the broader organizational experience objective.

For example, let’s say you want a “learning culture” to be part of your EVP. For engineers in your organization, that may be about staying current with or even ahead of new technologies and trends. For those on the front-line, it may be training to help them better understand and master the products and services they provide to customers.

For managers, it may be exposure to opportunities that allow them to expand their leadership capabilities. While each of these supports an EVP of a “learning culture,” they are personalized in ways to meet the unique needs of each employee group.

How does the EVP connect to the organization’s culture and employee experience to impact employee engagement?

The fastest way to lose the war for talent—both candidates and current employees—is to activate your EVP without considering your current and desired culture and employee experience. Culture consists of the key behaviors and values of an organization and informs how people interact with each other and with the business, while the employee experience is the way in which employees interpret and feel about those interactions with others and with the organization as a whole.

Accurately and realistically articulating your culture and ensuring it delivers the employee experience promised in your EVP is critical. If your EVP does not adequately reflect the lived experience of your employees, their dissatisfaction will increase, productivity will decrease and engagement levels will fall.  

Your EVP should be equal parts realistic and aspirational, aligning business goals with talent strategy, while identifying the skills, competencies, experiences and mindsets needed to create high-impact employees. The EVP should serve as your North Star—providing a future-state brand for your organization and serving as a siren call to those high-impact candidates who will help drive your business strategy.

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