5 steps to build an effective Employee Value Proposition


The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged businesses in Canada over the past two years. Now many are scrambling to attract and retain talent in this competitive and tight labour market.  The reality of the Canadian workforce was that Boomers were always going to retire within the next ten years and with that take valuable experiences, knowledge, and skill sets that we were only beginning to replace. However, in the third quarter of 2020, nearly 30 million Baby Boomers left the job market and retired, according to the Pew Research Center. A study further showed that many Boomers took early retirement due to the Covid-19 leveraging the unprecedented increase in home equity and smart investment decisions throughout their careers.

Additional factors such as immigration pause, the exit of women from the labour market and the lack of adequate skills to replace the lost(retired) talent forced Canadian businesses to take deliberate measures to attract and retain talent. However, one unexpected challenge that has been an overwhelming realization for many Canadians is that their employment was not aligned with their own values and that their work-life balance was no longer sustainable or rewarding. As employees return to the workforce, they have changed what their work expectations are, or they are prepared to sit on the sidelines.

January 2022 Labour Force Survey respondents were asked to report their main reason for planning to leave their job - Preliminary results show that at least 1 in 5 of those planning to leave (22.2%) reported reasons related to the quality of employment, including low pay (15.7%), heavy workload (4.3%) and inability to do their current job from home (2.2%).

One of the most effective strategies to entice job seekers back to the workforce and impact retention is a clearly defined and compelling Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

“Minchington (2005) defines an employer value proposition (EVP) as a set of associations and offerings provided by an organization in return for the skills, capabilities, and experiences an employee brings to the organization.”

In simpler words, Employee Value Proposition is a unique blend of benefits that an employee receives in return for their skills, capabilities, and experience. This does not include salary/rate of pay per se, but the halo effect of being known for paying competitive salaries does (respect, values and rewards workers, etc.). EVP acts as a driver to attract/retain talent and needs to be consistent, effective, and well- communicated in things like job posts, your career/job webpage, on social media (Glassdoor, LinkedIn job board employer page, etc.).

Explicitly defining organizational values, diversity and inclusion policies, corporate social responsibility, vision, mission, etc., are some great starting points that most successful businesses adopt. But if you are just getting started, here are steps to create a compelling EVP:

Step 1 -Discovery:

Developing an effective EVP that works for your business must start with what you know and don’t know. Conduct research to understand what your employer brand stands for in the job market. Is your brand telling a story you want to tell?

It is imperative to have a very objective perspective on how your brand is being perceived by your target audience, client, or candidates. Consider speaking to your current employees and checking out reviews by past employees. This can offer you in-depth insights on what is the general perception of your company.

With this starting point, also look at your competitors, how are they differentiating themselves, and speaking about their employee experience. Potential job seekers are weighing the pros and cons of both you and your competitors before they apply. Remember it’s a candidate market for most sectors.

Step 2 - Focus on Employee research:

Anonymous employee surveys are a potential gold mine if you are truly interested in building your EVP. Collect feedback from your current employees and new hires. Get to know their drivers to select you as an employer, what makes them stay at your organization etc. From new hires and candidates, consider gathering reasons why they chose to apply to work for your organization. Consider building demographic target personas of your present and future hires based on knowledge derived during this process.

You can also include past employees in your research to gain insights on what you could have done differently to keep them from leaving. These inputs can help you strategically plan what you need to offer in your EVP to check employee attrition.

Step 3 – Define components of your EVP

EVP ideally must be research-driven, based on what you discovered during your market research and employee focus group process. Define the key components of your EVP using findings from the two previous steps. Arrive at your company’s new EVP by answering questions like, for example:

  • What salary range or benefits are likely to attract my target candidate?

  • What are the career growth opportunities that my target candidate is looking for?

  • How is my organization’s work culture perceived and what can I do to better this perception?

  • Where are we with DE&I programs? Does everyone feel welcome? Does our organization reflect the community we serve?

  • What rewards and recognition programs are we leveraging?

  • Do my CSR and ESG align with the values of my employees and candidate pool?

It is important to note individuals in different stages of their careers are driven by different EVP factors. Therefore building one EVP for all target personas may not be effective. For instance, a new graduate is driven by career growth, learning opportunities, etc., but a seasoned professional with long-term experience may look for job satisfaction, work-life balance, etc.

Step 4 – Write and promote your EVP

Once you have determined what you are offering, translate them into EVP statements in a way a job seeker can understand and relate to them.

A strong and well-researched EVP can help you attract top talent and make a connection with your target audience. Once you have derived differentiating factors and what you can deliver as an employer to your future employees, draft your EVP statements. Keep the statements concise and consistent with your overall brand experience.

In today’s age of social media, it has become easy to promote and distribute information to the target audience. After all, a good EVP can only benefit you when it is communicated to your audiences.

Whether you choose to promote it on your website’s careers page, social media pages, or through your job postings and internal content channels, leverage the channels you choose and look for new meaningful ways to connect with your audience.

Step 5 – Monitor and adjust

Once you have communicated your EVP to the potential target audience, continue to review and gather feedback through focus groups and social media engagement.

Review your EVP from time to time as your employee’s expectations may change over time. For instance, many candidates these days lay special emphasis on work-life balance or hybrid and remote work opportunities, which was not an important EVP before COVID.

By not considering the changing behaviors of candidates and competition operating in the job market today, you may miss out on acquiring new top talent and perhaps also lose existing talent in your organization.

Need more information on what is driving the current candidates and what the future of work holds? Download our free Talent Squeeze report.


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