Talent War - Getting the perks and benefits right is just the first step

Claire Gallagher
By Claire Gallagher | 21 July 2022
Claire Gallagher

Organisations must deliver on the promise – for all staff – not just use EVPs (Employee Value Propositions) as a recruitment tool warns Claire Gallagher. Smoke and mirrors won’t cut it and beware of overpromising because, in six to 12 months, the jig will be up.

As an employer brand specialist, it is my job to identify and embed the values of a brand into an organisation.

A new or refreshed brand and all that comes with it – logos, names, colour schemes, strap lines, tone of voice – can be an extremely powerful signifier of change for an organisation.

But all that work is often pointless if you don't get your internal people involved and ensure they are part of the vision.

An extension of this work is Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) which have been getting plenty of attention recently.

In case you're unfamiliar, an EVP is an organisation's way of formalising the contract with its staff as to how it will treat them. You may know it best as a list of perks and benefits but when it’s done right, it's so much more. In short, it signals why staff should join AND why they should stay.

As businesses continue to grapple with the fallout from COVID from hybrid working to talent shortages, how they treat people has moved into the spotlight and the desire to put EVPs in place has grown exponentially. In our business alone, requests to develop EVPs have quadrupled.

While I’m thrilled businesses are now taking their people seriously – it's a tragedy it took a pandemic for many organisations to realise it’s not just a one-way street, you need to care about people and show up for them – I'd also issue a warning.

EVPs aren't as simple as promising people loads of days off or a free muffin on Friday mornings. You must ensure they are diverse, meaningful and relevant to your existing team as well as the talent you are looking to attract. And you have to follow through.

EVPs that offer the world may make a splash during the recruitment process, but many organisations then experience churn at the six-to-12-month point when the expectations don't meet the reality of what it's really like to work for your business.

For example, you may say you cover travel but in reality, just give people a $20 Uber voucher. Or some perks only apply to people of a certain tenure. Worse still, you sold your new recruits on a culture of flexibility or opportunity for growth only for them to discover your idea of what that looks like is very different from theirs.

If you overpromise and underdeliver, you're wasting time and potentially damaging your reputation. This will have a roll-on effect not only on ongoing recruitment but also the wider brand.

Studies show that online comments from current employees are considered "most trusted" by prospective hires while Glassdoor tells us 79% of job seekers use social media when conducting their job search. People talk which means the experience of your current team will affect your ability to hire talent.

The best EVPs outline what an organisation offers prospective hires and existing members of the team. They outline what the company will be like to work for and what employees and employers can expect from each other in return. They align with the brand on all levels.

At their heart, they should anchor around three ideas: equity and fairness, where everyone feels safe and respected; investing in your people, their growth and well-being; and doing the right thing, for your people, your communities and the planet. That's what builds advocacy. You should work here because you are valued, you can thrive and together we can do great things.

If you don’t have an EVP in place, the best place to start is to sit down with your existing team and talk about what matters to them, what you want from them and what they require in return.

Co-design the EVP, ensure it draws from the brand of your organisation and then put in place a system to ensure it reflects the day-to-day reality of your people.

Parts of this story may be a work in progress but share this information internally and externally, integrating it into onboarding, induction, performance management, reward and recognition, learning and development and internal communications. Your EVP sets the standard against which you are asking people to measure you. You must follow through, otherwise, all your good work will soon be for naught.

I applaud agencies for implementing and sharing their EVPs. Reading through the lists of perks was eye-opening, particularly for someone that began in this business when having children was a career-limiting move for women and flexible working meant answering emails at home on a Sunday.

But agencies and other businesses in our industry need to ensure this isn’t a vanity play for who has the best-looking list of perks. It has to be back backed by substance.

Claire Gallagher is the Employer Brand Director at branding and design consultancy Principals.

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