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Crafting Your Employer Value Proposition: A Step-by-Step Guide

Danielle McClowJuly 3, 2024Candidate ExperienceEmployee CommunicationEmployer BrandingEmployer Value Proposition

If you found this blog post, you’re likely looking to strengthen your organization's employer brand but aren’t sure where to begin.

An employer brand is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent with the skills necessary to achieve your organizational goals. However, understanding the components of a strong employer brand can be challenging. This is where an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) comes in.

What is an EVP? 

An EVP is how you can manage your perception and reputation as an employer. The EVP explains the reasons to work for your organization that go beyond the organization's purpose into how an employee's contribution can improve their career and lifestyle.

What an EVP is vs. what it isn’t 

An organization's EVP boldly defines you as an employer, outlining talent expectations and how the employee will be valued in return. It’s crafted to depict a unique work experience that resonates with what professionals seek in their careers, drawing the right candidates to open roles.

A good EVP is … 

  • A creative expression of who you are, where you’re headed and what it’s like to be a part of it
  • A strategic tool to engage and motivate potential and current employees
  • Balanced: credible, relevant, differentiating, and aspirational

An EVP isn’t … 

  • Your brand purpose; it’s a translation of what it means for your people and what they receive in return
  • For clients/customers; it’s for your people — past, present, and future
  • Simply a tagline; it’s a layered framework for building effective communications

Five steps to create an EVP 

Over many decades, the Symphony Talent team has developed a methodology for creating EVPs that reflect an organization’s core values and highlight what makes it a unique place to work. 

The secret is gaining an honest, holistic view of the current organization, its employees, applicants, competition, and where it ultimately wants to be. This proven process allows us to define:

  • Where is the organization today?
  • Where is it going tomorrow? 
  • How can they stand out? 

Step 1: Discover

In the discovery step, conduct internal and external research to learn what talent wants, their perceptions of your company, and your strong points as an employer. 

Do your research when creating an EVP

Internal research ensures that the EVP accurately reflects the current employee experience, preventing any surprises for new hires and showcasing the organization’s future goals. This alignment is crucial as it helps attract talent with the right skills and attitudes needed for the organization to achieve business goals.

Expert tip: The next step, which is crucial and often overlooked by many EVP methodologies, is conducting external research. 

External research provides a clear view into the minds of your target audience, revealing their true thoughts and feelings about your brand, including barriers, motivations, and points of differentiation. This "warts and all" honesty is crucial for understanding relevance. Additionally, analyzing competitors helps you stand out in messaging and your branding approach from design to activation.

Consider two types of research: qualitative, which is descriptive and delves into the “quality” of the employee experience and candidate perceptions, and quantitative, which is numbers-based and gives trends, patterns, and correlation across a set number of variables. The first includes research activities like interviews and focus groups, while quantitative data comes from surveys and audits. 

To achieve success, your research team needs to get a 360-degree perspective, researching internal and external factors to identify the organization’s challenge(s) as an employer brand.

  • The research should help you uncover and determine specific things to help you define your employer brand — including the emotional drivers for why a candidate would choose your organization. The research and insights from this phase will help you pinpoint your current challenge, identify your ultimate desired state, and determine what (and how) you plan to communicate to your audience to get them to that desired state. 

Step 2: Define

In the define step, your team creates a brand position and EVP framework that distills your research into why talent would choose to work and remain with you. You take the discovery insights and develop a North Star employer brand platform to solidify and articulate differentiators and benefits to key talent audiences.

Employer brand strategy and positioning: This is where you define how an EVP gets you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Use the distilled research findings to develop your messaging framework, looking at how your positioning statement and emotional drivers are articulated, ensuring credibility, relevance, aspiration, and differentiation. This becomes the basis for engaging an authentic narrative about your business strategy, people and DEI strategies, and brand purpose.

The messaging framework will depict employees' behavioral and mindset expectations (the give) and show what they receive from the employer in return (the get). Ultimately, this delivers a foundation of critical points, phrases, and messages that organizations of all sizes articulate why candidates should choose to work with them.

Expert tip: For internal testing and validation and to glean tangible proof points for your proposed messaging and concepts, we recommend a series of proofpoint workshops. A proofpoint workshop is a focus group aiming to get people within the company to bring to life the elements of the EVP with real-world examples. 

Step 3: Design

Once you’ve defined your EVP, the visual identity helps manage it. The design stage allows you to create a strong visual identity that will work across multiple assets and markets to create a competitive, cohesive talent experience.

Key design considerations: 

  • Internal/external: The design must seamlessly integrate internal and external activities for a holistic approach.
  • Differentiation: It must stand out among the competition or be different from the industry norms, allowing you to attract and engage as early as possible.
  • Variety: The creative must be able to be used across multiple touchpoints and activations, so variety needs to be built in to avoid repetition and redundancy.
  • Flexibility: It must be able to flex across different markets, regions, demographics, and talent groups.
  • Identity: The EVP must comfortably sit alongside corporate marketing’s visual identity but be a distinct and recognizable entity.
  • Emotional connection: the visual identity must evoke emotion and is the visual interpretation of the EVP so that it will reflect the brand idea in totality. 

Expert tip: Create an engaging yet practical Brand Book to connect your EVP, messaging framework, and creative platform easily and usefully for internal audiences with step-by-step guides. 

Step 4: Deploy

The EVP comes to life in the deployment stage by developing and activating creative assets, from internal training to careers sites to talent marketing across owned and earned media channels. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to deployment. However, best practices and a clear strategic plan set this stage for success.

A brand doesn't exist as a set of messages and visuals. It lives by being communicated consistently in the channels the target audience will use. An activation strategy defines the audience and provides a clear recommendation for how they can experience your brand for themselves.

Expert tip: Segment your audience using your motivation data and identify the challenge and reputational goal for each audience. Then, the activations you need to achieve each objective will feel organic and part of your employer brand experience.

Step 5: Data

You'll see great success when you create an authentic EVP, activate it internally and externally, and create objectives to track its ROI. Measure effectiveness using activation data and brand sentiment testing, then iterate the approach.

Data points to measure the ROI of EVP work:

  • Retention rate: Has retention improved year over year since the EVP launch?
  • Employee engagement: Do you see increased employee productivity, pride, or morale?
  • Quality of hire: Has your hire quality improved?
  • Cost per hire: Has this decreased since the EVP launch?
  • Number of applicants/interests: Have you seen an increase in applications or individuals joining your talent pool?
  • Brand sentiment: Have people gained an increased positive perception of you as an employer?

Expert tip: Track rankings and awards, analyze the data from your websites and ATS, and then survey internal and external talent about their sentiment towards you as an employer.

New EVP, now what?  

EVP research is rooted in a 360-degree understanding of your organization. It combines motivations and in-depth research, blending scientific rigor with emotion. When building the framework for your EVP, never lose sight of the fact that you are ultimately talking about people to people. 

To learn more about EVPs, speak to an expert today! 

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