The pandemic changed the world of work dramatically, and employees have been re-evaluating their relationship with work and with their companies. It has been well-reported that people have taken the opportunity to move industries, start their own business or leave the workplace completely. The Employee Value Proposition (EVP) has come under huge scrutiny and continues to be in a state of flux. Its task of attracting and keeping staff, and helping to fill any talent gaps, is now more daunting than ever.
Armstrong Craven’s Insight & Talent Analytics team has, unsurprisingly, seen a big increase in our clients’ and prospective clients’ interest in their EVP. Company culture insight projects are increasing, as companies look to future-proof themselves, to ensure continuing attractiveness to talent.
Most of our insight projects now have a dedicated section on companies’ approaches to flexible working and employees’ preferences. Clients report losing candidates and existing staff to competitors offering, for example, fully remote roles. Clients are also commissioning insight reports to explore the usual EVP pull factors and, in addition, the push factors, (i.e. the reasons people leave), to use in their talent attraction strategies.
We recently completed a project focused on flexible working, researching a group of target companies’ current policies, future plans and the likely impact on EVP. As a result, our client realised they need regional and current talent insight to hone their EVP. Furthermore, we strongly recommend to clients, when recruiting scarce talent, that they benchmark key aspects of their EVP (in particular, the benefits they offer) against their closest competitors and that they offer a tailored EVP for specific roles. We also ‘road-test’ a client’s new EVP with a talent cohort sample.
Even before the pandemic, companies were focusing their EVP to attract and retain staff in the face of many pressures. These included flat employee engagement figures as reported by several sources including Gartner, ongoing live feedback via social media and aggregators like Glassdoor, and the need to meet new demands from Gen Z, in particular to work for companies that align with their values.
In this article, we examine some of the ways companies are adapting their EVP to address the existing talent pressures, as well as how they are adjusting to the major shifts brought about by the pandemic. We briefly consider what direction the EVP might go next and look at how companies can future-proof their EVP.
Companies are naturally still competing on salary, a major component of EVP. However, other components, in particular benefits and work patterns, are now moving centre-stage. In fact, some components of the EVP have regularly been major news stories. Companies are exploring post-pandemic measures to attract and retain staff and adapt to the new world, clustered around a few themes.
The EVP was already shifting pre-pandemic; however, it had to make significant adjustments during Covid and will, of course, need to continue to evolve. The potential direction of travel can be seen from recent reports on EVP with recommendations.
Gartner, in its CHRO Guide: Reinvent your EVP for a Post-pandemic Workforce, reports that employers must focus on a whole-person approach to EVP and orient themselves towards employees as people rather than workers.
The term radical flexibility is being used. McKinsey describes an approach where, for example, tasks could be broken down into modularized work. These tasks could therefore be independent of traditional five-day work weeks with set working hours. Similarly, CapGemini recommends that employers develop an “employer promise” that links job roles to outcomes and expresses career growth potential.
Increased customization and personalization of the EVP are also expected, where employers will highlight different aspects depending on the region, cohort or life stage of existing and prospective talent.
Intrinsic benefits will continue to develop and be embedded into working life. For example, in a recent survey by Remote, the top two benefits were “healthy food in the office, home deliveries, or meal stipends” and “hours off every month specifically for mental health improvement” across all five countries surveyed; France, Germany, Netherlands, UK and USA.
There are many ways to future-proof your EVP. These will vary depending on the company size, and many companies will, of course, already be doing some of these:
Use focus groups made up of different cohorts, - new hires, different functions, multiple generations or people from under- represented groups. Top-down management- led policies are no longer enough. More informal methods can work well too. In a recent Talent Mapping & Insight Project, an example of the CEO who has lunch regularly with different small groups of new recruits from all levels was reported very positively.
Explore ways to make your company culture more real or tangible for new colleagues as soon as they join, whether in a hybrid, office- based or remote role. At Hilti, for example, a company well known for investing in its culture since the late ’80s, all new hires are trained on the Hilti culture, and so is everyone responsible for distilling culture to others, e.g. newly promoted team leaders. Embedding culture for younger hires, especially those with little or no experience of pre-pandemic office life, is even more critical. The opinion article in the Boston Globe in March 2022, My Generation isn’t Looking to Make Friends at Work, about GenZ knowledge workers captures this succinctly and the article was widely read.
EVP will have to shift from being the sole responsibility of HR and Senior Leadership to the whole company. HR and senior leaders will have to be more open to feedback from TA and hiring managers struggling to attract talent in competition with more flexible competitors.
Talent Intelligence can help you gather perceptions of your EVP (from former, current and prospective talent) to compete effectively for talent with current and potential new competitors, industries, regions and additional talent pools. It can identify key drivers, motivators and barriers for specific talent pools, enabling you to position your employer brand to make the biggest impact.
The EVP trends reported above highlight the massive need for strong team leadership and good management practices. Armstrong Craven’s Insight & Talent Analytics team has already come across examples of companies that emphasize upskilling their functional managers to help lower attrition and attract talent. Managers must be empathetic and skilled to get the best out of their teams and retain them.
McKinsey’s latest American Opportunity Survey shows high levels of those surveyed who have either been diagnosed with or have received treatment for mental health issues:
The survey also shows that almost half of respondents have actively sought new work in the past 12 months, are currently looking for a new job, or plan to start looking in the next year.
Focus on different aspects for various groups, and consider establishing employee ‘personas’ within the workforce to help with this.
A strong and enhanced EVP needs to have visibility externally; encourage employees to use social media to promote the organization.
These are challenging times for companies to attract and retain talent due to many factors, and both known and unknown challenges are ahead. Companies will have to continue to adapt and, in some cases, radically change policies and accepted wisdom, for example, the necessity of office face-time to develop culture. To address these challenges, managers will need support from their companies to develop a clear understanding of the personal and professional drivers of talent to be able to retain and get the best from them. Also, a larger group of stakeholders within companies are now key to developing and maintaining a company’s EVP to help it attract its share of new talent.
Working with a Talent Intelligence partner, such as Armstrong Craven’s Insight & Talent Analytics team, that has experience in providing current, tailored EVP talent insight can provide a distinct advantage.