Five Things That Will Define Your EVP and Employer Brand
Five things you need to understand to properly define your employer brand and employee value proposition.
We live in a world where simplification reigns supreme. Thanks to the rise of social media, most people have come to expect important, nuanced concepts to be explained in 280 characters.
But this can get toxic — fast. When it comes to important and incredibly nuanced topics, oversimplification is common, but it causes massive damage. Take diversity, equity, and inclusion. It has become ingrained in the corporate lexicon with little thought to how the concepts diverge and intersect. In fact, many business leaders incorrectly use “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion” interchangeably, leading to ineffective DEI goals and outcomes.
In the same way, when companies fail to correctly distinguish between an employee value proposition (EVP) and an employer brand, they end up shortchanging their talent attraction, engagement, and retention efforts.
EVP vs. Employer Brand
The easiest way to differentiate between an EVP and an employer brand is to think about your employer brand as your employer reputation, or how others might describe what it’s like to work for you. That said, it's easy to see the importance of employer branding. After all, if you have an intentionally built, "good" employer reputation, you’ll find it easier to populate your hiring pipeline.
Netflix is a good example of a company that’s built a solid employer reputation through efforts like an employee-led podcast that showcases the inside experience. And those efforts have paid off; Netflix became the top tech employer in 2020. In contrast, the employer reputations of Amazon and Tesla have declined over the past few years as former employees have come forward about the toxic working environments at both companies.
Now that we’ve broken down employer brand a little, let’s focus on EVP. You can think about your EVP as your “give and get.” Said another way:
- What must employees give to succeed at your organisation long term?
- What kind of benefits, strengths, and opportunities do they get in return?
A well-crafted EVP should accurately outline the demands, expectations, and realities of the job to paint a clear picture of how to thrive at your organisation. Your employer brand or reputation might do the hard work of attracting talent, but it’s your EVP that will ultimately determine whether that talent sticks around. If new hires don’t feel like the lived experience of working for your company matches the EVP you promised, they won’t hesitate to find new jobs with more authentic employers.
Defining Your 'Give and Get'
While the EVP and employer brand differ, they work together. As the legendary Chinese military general Sun Tzu said: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Your employer brand is your strategy (your why and what), and your EVP is your tactics (your how).
With that in mind, here are five things you need to understand in order to properly define your “give and get”:
- Your vulnerabilities
Some employers try to paint glowing but unrealistic pictures of their companies. This is a mistake, and it’s one that people can often see right through. Employees would much rather see you owning your vulnerabilities. It implies honesty, which is the bedrock of trust, affinity, and engagement. So start talking about the knowledge gaps and challenges within your company, and watch as talented people become motivated to help you rise to the occasion.
- The role’s day-to-day realities
If a job is demanding, that’s OK, but you need to be upfront about it. And you’ll be surprised to see that candidates appreciate the honesty — because, really, who likes getting the rug pulled from underneath them on day one? When you explain the realities of the role — warts and all — those who choose to apply have already weighed the downsides, and those who weren’t cut out for the role anyway have self-selected out. It’s a win-win.
- The true behaviours
Culture is another one of those corporate buzzwords that’s easily misdefined, but it’s really just a set of consistent behaviours observed within a company. When candidates want to know about your culture, it’s because they want to know whether they’ll fit in. And considering that a lack of belonging is one of the top reasons employees resign, it’s important that you articulate your culture accurately. Just remember that spouting off your company values isn’t enough to set accurate expectations of life on the job because values are sometimes vague and always positive. Instead, cite tangible examples of employee experiences so candidates can decide for themselves.
- The strengths and benefits
We’ve talked a lot about owning the “negative” aspects of a job or organisation, but you can and should herald your strengths and the tangible benefits of those strengths, too. In fact, once someone has absorbed the adversity of the job environment, the bounty becomes all the sweeter. For example, if your strength is that your organisation is filled with the industry’s top experts, the tangible benefit for the candidate is that they may have access to that knowledge to advance their own careers. Just make sure the benefits stack up to the sacrifices — it’s a “give and get,” after all.
- The opportunities
The opportunities available to employees will be specific to the employer. Some are established from the outset and designed through the lens of professional development, while others exist due to the nature of the business. For example, working for a nonprofit gives employees the opportunity to make a difference in their communities, and working for an airline gives employees the opportunity to travel the world. Think about the organic upsides of working for your company, and continue to develop others through employer brand research.
Once you understand that your EVP is not a magnet to attract anyone and everyone but a smart filter that allows you to compel only the best-suited talent while repelling the majority, you can harness it to create a powerful, strategic employer brand and then watch as the right talent comes your way.