This is part 2 of a two part series. To read the first part, click here.
In our last FreeFlowing article we introduced the topic of employer branding and discussed why it’s important.
In this newsletter, we will breakdown the concept of “Employee Value Proposition” or EVP, that is the bedrock for employer branding efforts.
Before getting into EVP, it is important to understand some general traits of talent market that firms need to consider before they go about defining their EVP.
Some salient traits of talent market
Target consumer is more open for deeper engagement: everyone today is proactively looking for better career opportunities and growth avenues. So, if a candidate comes across an interesting opportunity, she won’t mind doing some deliberate research to know more about the employer. Hence, the target group for an employer brand is open for deeper engagement. This is unlike B2C where consumers often wait for ‘Skip Ad’ button.
Target audience has an open consideration set: today careers are fluid, skill-sets are modular and people seek to build horizontal expertise along with domain depth. This fact has been starkly highlighted in a recent McKinsey Research on talent and attrition that states: “Companies can no longer assume that they can fill empty slots with workers similar to the ones who just left. Globally, just 35 percent of those who quit in the past two years took a new job in the same industry.”
Clearly then, talent has an open mind when it comes to exploring opportunities- and is willing to give a fair chance to companies they know or look up to as well as those that they discover along the way.
Brand reputation is more important than awareness: interestingly, when it comes to B2C branding, top-of-mind awareness is a very important moment of truth that helps to build trust and evoke an interest in knowing more. This is slightly different for employer brands where the target group is even willing to give a fair chance to a ‘not so known’ or ‘salient’ employer brand. Further, as these brands are researched and are found to have a good reputation, there is a sense of epiphany that quickens the buy-in. So, when it comes to employer branding, a good reputation (in terms of employee references in real world and review/rating in virtual world) can help to overcome the lack of high salience.
Requires building both external and internal facing brand: finally, building an employer brand entails a dual undertaking. On the one hand it requires building a brand that’s facing an external audience- the potential talent pool. On the other hand, it also requires building an internal brand- among the current set of employees. And these 2 brands need to be absolutely consistent. An employer branding effort that doesn’t focus on internal branding is bound to fail as its own employees play a big role in building the equity of the employer brand.
So, how can a firm build a compelling Employee Value Proposition?
Employee Value Proposition is a manifesto that summarizes an organization’s value-add to its talent and tells both potential and current employees why it is an irresistible place to work.
From our discussions with founders and employees of more than 30 organizations of different sizes and in different categories, we have seen that a compelling EVP rests on the foundation of 5 pillars:
People: the internal employees, the alumni and the potential talent- all three stakeholders need to resonate with the proposition. It is important to remember that more than what the company says, employer branding is built by what people say and experience. If this element isn’t working, all the efforts at building an employer brand are bound to fail. Young employees today want to derive a sense of identity from their employer that they can leverage in real and virtual worlds. They come with a learner’s mindset and expect their job to broaden their horizons. Hence, giving them a sense of belonging to a like-minded community of high caliber talent where they can push boundaries, learn and contribute is critical to build an employer brand.
Policies: policies of an organization define the expected work-ethics and acceptable boundaries of behaviour and therefore play a big role in moulding employer brand perceptions. Both current and potential employees judge an organization on a range of factors- from its hiring practices (fair, transparent, inclusive) to its policies around flexi-working, rewards & recognition, learning & development, leaves and even exit. Policies that encourage gender diversity (income equality, maternity leaves etc.) are becoming a choice driver. Young employees today look for a workplace that enables self-expression (from dress codes to norms around social media usage). Hence policies that allow them to freely express their personality, voice their opinions and those that trust them implicitly and allow them to work without compromising on their social lives are increasingly appreciated.
Perks: while a traditional way to look at perks would put lopsided focus on monetary compensation, the definition of “CTC” from an employee perspective is “Care towards Career”. What it means is that beyond immediate gratifications like competitive in-hand salary, joining bonus etc., talent today also seeks perks that deliver disproportionate future returns. These would include aspects like ESOPs, global exposure, opportunities for cross-functional learning, options to pursue personal passions and a working environment (office set-up) that’s simultaneously productive and insta-worthy.
Purpose: new-age talent carries a natural affinity towards purpose driven brands, and employer branding is no exception. Organizations that espouse a clear sense of purpose make their talent feel that they can be a part of a team that’s creating a big difference. This is particularly true in the case of startups where purpose is often pioneered and evangelized by their founding team. In the classic David vs. Goliath battle for attracting talent, where upcoming startups are squarely pitched against established legacy players, purpose often becomes a handy tool in the David’s armoury.
Pulse: while people and practices are the tangible aspects, an employer brand is also perceived based on an intangible cultural vibe- the quintessential pulse. “Pulse” is gauged from diverse sources- rituals & quirks, the vibrancy of the workplace, the mood in the town-halls, the organizational lingo and the degree of openness. In case of startups, the founder’s passion and how the entire organization rallies around a single mission also become an important yardstick to gauge it. Talent today seeks a youthful, dynamic and a ‘campus-like’ vibe in their workplace- the traditional notion of seeing workplace as serious and stiff is passe. ‘Pulse’ helps them decide if they can really fit and thrive in the organization.
People, Policies, Perks, Purpose and Pulse together form “Employee Value Proposition“.
Some of the best firms headline their employee branding effort with a succinct EVP, followed by specific benefits and snippets of culture to offer strong reasons to believe in their proposition.
*For example, the value proposition of Nike is “Win as a team”. This directly reflects in and flows from the benefit bouquet and cultural codes at Nike. Nike’s culture emphasizes accomplishing excellence with a team mentality. It is notable that the EVP at Nike also ties in well with its consumer proposition, thereby building a good coherence between its employee and consumer facing brand.
There was a time when an employer brand was built by default- thanks to a firm’s legacy, its market value or even its compensation bouquet. But times are changing.
The good news is that an employer brand can be systematically cultivated with a strong employee value proposition that rests on the right foundations.
WORKSHOP ALERT! - THE POWER OF BRAND PURPOSE
We live in an era where consumers hold brands accountable in more ways than one, and where ‘conscious consumerism’ is on the rise. In such an era, a genuine brand purpose is a great way for brands to differentiate themselves and grow their business.
Here’s what you will learn from the workshop:
– What is brand purpose, and more importantly, what it is not.
– Why is brand purpose important in today’s world.
– Practical frameworks to unearth and identify a great brand purpose.
All this will be bolstered by hands-on interactive sessions, solving real life case studies.