Who needs an employee value proposition? You do – especially now.

In today’s uncertain times, having a clear employee value proposition (EVP) and employer brand may be more critical to your business success than ever before. Even if you’re not actively hiring right now – or are even focusing your attention on layoffs and pay reductions – defining and managing your EVP is essential as you work to shepherd your business through a global pandemic. After all, you need your current workforce to remain committed and loyal to your business. And, as businesses regain strength after COVID-19, a well-defined EVP and employer brand will help you attract, hire and retain the people you need to take your organization forward.

EVP versus employer brand

Let’s start with a couple of definitions. Your EVP is an internal strategic articulation of what the business provides to – and expects from – employees. Your employer brand brings that value proposition to life for candidates, new hires and longtime employees.

An EVP without an employer brand is dry and won’t resonate with everyone it should. And an employer brand without an EVP is an empty promise. In other words, you should have both. Success starts with a clear EVP, which can help you:

  • Provide focus and clarity about your company’s purpose and culture.
  • Attract the right people with the right talent necessary for the business to move forward.
  • Align your talent initiatives with corporate strategy (and therefore reinforce it).
  • Crystalize what people should understand about your corporate culture.

How to start the process of developing an EVP

There’s no such thing as a quick guide to a process that, by definition, is complex and nuanced. But we do want to offer some helpful guidance because the process of developing an EVP can shine a light on opportunities for internal improvements. Not all processes are the same, and you should be cautious about trying to develop your EVP internally. Like trying to put out a fire from inside a burning building, it’s possible – but it helps to bring in some outside perspective and expertise. If you try to gather insights from your employees, they may be so uncomfortable sharing anything less than “ideal” that all you get is an echo of what employees think that leadership wants to hear. In other words, you may not get the kind of accurate input you need.

Of course, not all processes are the same, nor is every process right for every organization. When choosing a partner to help you with your employer brand, here are a few questions to ask – and answers to look for:

  • How have you helped others develop their employer brands? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them? Seek substantial experience helping multiple clients in multiple industries. Listen for what potential partners consider to be a challenge, as well as the capabilities and demeanor they bring to achieving resolution.
  • Our biggest recruitment/hiring/retention issue right now is [insert issue here]. Will the EVP you help us develop overcome that? The right EVP partner will help you address critical issues, especially those related to gaps between what candidates and employees expect and the experience you deliver as an employer. They’ll also show you how elevating your EVP just enough can help you pull your workforce from its current state toward who and where you want to be, in a way that’s more than talk.
  • What should we expect from your EVP development process? Look for a thorough process that gathers and analyzes input and insights, not only from executives, but also from multiple people representing multiple levels of your organization, as well as current candidates and former employees. At the same time, you want to be sure that the process will deliver results in a way that doesn’t waste your time.
  • What metrics does your process include? How will you help us evaluate effectiveness and resonance with our key audiences? The best EVPs can be backed up by research. And, you want a partner who will stand by their work, helping you test messages and make adjustments to get it right.

The importance of reevaluating your EVP (at the right time)

When you live and breathe your EVP every day, it can be tempting to want to update or “freshen it up” after a year or so. Be careful before you give in to that impulse. Consistency is critical to help audiences truly grasp your EVP over time. Even in unusual times like these, we recommend that companies do what they can to remain true to EVPs that have helped attract and retain employees who are loyal company advocates.

That said, while a well-crafted EVP should be robust enough to provide clear employer branding direction for three to five years, today’s times may be disruptive enough to warrant an update. Likewise, you’ll want to revisit your EVP and employer brand if you’re experiencing other major disruptions such as:

  • Significant changes in corporate structure (i.e., acquisitions, new leadership).
  • Industry changes (such as those that might dictate a shift from a manufacturing model to a service model).
  • A past problem on which you’re making significant progress (i.e., surveyed employees have illuminated an issue).
  • Competitive threats (i.e., they have a better, more attractive EVP than you and are winning away talent).
  • Competitive opportunities (i.e., you have a better, more attractive EVP, but not enough people recognize it).

Bottom line: Whether you’re striving to keep your current employees engaged or you’re looking ahead to new workforce needs, the right EVP can help you stack the deck in your favor.


*Adapted from the article by Relish Marketing President, Pam Willoughby for the Atlanta Business Chronicle Leadership Trust.