How Authentic Is Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)?

EVP_marketing_Image

Marketing has become an integral part of talent strategy. The use of messages and branding to foster engagement, attract candidates and retain employees have resulted in some organizations thoughtfully and others inadvertently, developing Employee Value Propositions (EVP’s). EVP’s are messages that articulate what an employee can expect when they work for the company. The promises. Most of the messages, in one way or another, tend to emphasize employee development and career progression (like the image above). Branding supplements the message by offering  visual images of what an employee can experience when they’re in the organization.

The ability to deliver against EVP’s can have a tangible impact on both talent sourcing and retention. Talent functions must realize the authenticity of an EVP will be compared to real employee experiences through social media channels. Research has shown there is a direct correlation between employee reviews on social media and job application follow through. In a recent US study of more than 4,600 job seekers; almost 50% of them used social sites like Glassdoor to research the company as part of their job search strategy1. Employee reviews have greater influence on which companies candidates will choose that more closely aligns with their values. In the example below the EVP advertised career progression, but the employee review exposed this as a misrepresentation. Candidates who value career advancement may choose not to apply to that company based on the review.

bad_review_evp

EVP is important to retain your current talent bench. Consider the following true story and how it reflects on the genuineness of the EVP.

bad_meetingA friend of mine choose to work at a company that articulated messages of career progression and development in the job description, website, branding and interview processes. As an employee, she worked hard to build great relationships and develop her skill set. Messages about commitment to career development and progression were continuously communicated in town halls, intranet sites, emails and corporate communications. After a few years she felt ready to move to the next level within her career tract. With consistently great performance reviews, she anticipated an easy conversation with her Manager on formulating a plan. She raised the subject about career advancement. Her boss listened to her and after a brief pause said; “You’ll need some of these first (pointing to her grey hair) if you want to move up.” In one short sentence the conversation had ended. The employee had taken her Manager’s comments as a clear message that seniority was equal to age. She knew she would not be advancing anytime soon.

Completely disengaged, within three months she resigned and went to a direct competitor.

Of course not every employee is pegged for progression. However, this story is reflective of a top performer who believed the company was committed to advancement, irrespective of age. The revelation that the EVP was false (from her perspective) resulted in her becoming disconnected, disengaged and demotivated. No surprise, she does not endorse this company as a great place to work to her network or family. This is a tangible example that the smaller the gap between your EVP promise and delivery; the higher your retention rate can be.

Now that we’ve seen authenticity matters, what can your organization do to create a genuine EVP’s?

  • Solicit feedback/crowdsource regularly to understand what works and what can be improved – Don’t rely on annual engagement surveys to assess how people feel. Solicit genuine feedback regularly through different mediums. Highlight what is working and document what could be improved.

feedback

  •  Action feedback to address gaps – I can’t stress this enough. Feedback is abundant on ways to improve. Yet so often nothing is done to actually address it. Demonstrate you are listening to your employees by actioning feedback. If you don’t it will be seen as disingenuous.
  • Update your EVP with endorsed content Your EVP is only genuine if your employees endorse it. Update it with validated content so it is authentic.
  • Revisit your EVP every 3-5 years to align it to your strategy – The workforce is changing. Your strategy changes. Your EVP should be reflective of your strategy.
  •  Use employees to promote genuine EVP messages through social media channels – Many companies are afraid of employee reviews on social media sites. They tend to want to “shut it down” or ignore it, hoping it will go away. Instead embrace social media sites and build it into your strategy. Provide alternative, genuine experiences on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed to help job seekers make an informed decision about your company.

happy-employeeThere are lots of opportunities to build genuine EVP’s. I hope these few ideas will help you to start thinking about ways to develop authentic messages!

I would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me twitter@annzalie.barrett or pca_icon_linkedin_111w_116hLinkedIn.

 

[1] http://recruitingdaily.com/glassdoor-reviews/

Gen X: What are you doing to retain them?

There are lots of articles, blog posts and studies centred on the millennial generation. Born between 1980-2000; Millennials comprise about 29% of the current workforce, just shy of Gen X at 33% (1965-1979) and Baby Boomers representing 38% (1946- 1964)1 . This has resulted in a more even distribution of multiple generations in the workforce. 

behold-a-millennial-in-its-elementEven though Millennials have been labelled as needy and narcissistic their entry into the workforce has had a significant impact in helping change the way organizations communicate and approach work. First, their reliance on technology, in particular mobile, has pushed the envelope to adopt more mobile friendly solutions at work. Things like approving transactions (e.g. registering for an on-line course) on mobile devices, IM’ing (texting) and adding apps on phones are all current technology interactions Millennials are accustomed to.

Second, the daily use of social networking channels to facilitate engagement and collaboration. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, etc., are all various social platforms Millennials use to interact, convey information and build networks. Their ease of use and navigation on these channels has challenged their older counter parts to get with the times and use these as relevant ways to communicate and interact. Millennials assume employers use these tools as forums to engage with employees and customers, solicit feedback, build networks and work across functional teams.

Third, the erosion of traditional hierarchies. Unlike Baby Boomers who work within a disciplined hierarchical structure, Gen_xMillennials approach collaboration in a broad, encompassing manner.  They have no problem booking a meeting with a VP (bypassing the chain of command) to help them better understand issues or network. This approach is challenging traditional authoritative hierarchical structures in the workplace. For Gen Xers who have been molded to abide by current hierarchical protocol, they may feel liberated by this new approach and at the same time overshadowed by the Millennials ability to effect change so quickly. 

As much as Millennials have helped push the broad adoption of social media in the workplace, in my opinion I think Gen Xers were really the first generation to embrace technology and gamification on a mass scale. The consumption of technologies for personal use such as PC’s (personal computer), Sony Walkman’s, cell phones, Nintendo game consoles, CD players, etc. were all widely adopted and embraced by Gen X.  The development and availability of different forms of content such as videos’ and the internet laid the foundation for eCommerce and digital marketing. 

In the current landscape Gen Xers are now sandwiched between soon to be retiring Baby Boomers and the masses of Millennials continuing to enSandwich-Generationter the workforce.2  Gen Xers have been in the workplace for almost 20 years, accumulating a variety of experiences and building their skill set. For them retention is centered on flexibility, career and skill development and of course career progression.  They are focused on carving out a career and will work through a variety of different jobs to build skills to keep their career moving forward. The acquisition of new skills and experiences can be viewed as a form of “career security” where skills and experiences are portable from one job to another3. Gen Xers are described as a highly motivated and tenacious generation. Their general attitude is if we don’t like it, we’re out of here.

It is estimated by the year 2020 approximately 33 million jobs will open up in the US as Baby Boomers start to retire4 . In Canada that number is career-progressionapproximately 9.8 million5.  Organizations need to develop a holistic human capital plan to mitigate the risk of losing Gen Xers who may not feel like they have opportunities to progress or move in their careers.  Baby Boomers in positions of management will also need to adjust their approach to managing across generations to retain talent. Both Millennials and Gen Xers who find themselves working in a rigid hierarchical structure may seek out other environments that are more collaborative and empowering.  Here are few things organizations need to consider in human capital planning to retain Gen Xers:

      1. Don’t favour Millennials at the expense of Gen Xers– Your Gen Xers have 20+ years of experience under their belt. They have worked through different jobs to amass skills and gain experience. Consider what Gen Xers bring to the table. Forward thinking, technically savvy people who embrace new ideas coupled with solid experience will yield your company good leaders who can think strategically.
      2. Have serious conversations about career progression – I’ve had a number of friends leave organizations due to lack of career advancement opportunities.  Discussions about progression are important to Gen Xers at this stage of their career. They’ve put in the time and want to see there is some pay off for their hard work. Gen Xers expect to start having serious conversations about their next position and how management will help them get there. If they don’t feel there is a genuine commitment they’ll look for an employer who values them.
      3. Be inclusionary– Does your organization create an environment where your Gen Xers and Millennials are sitting at the table to provide input and strategic insight? Gen Xers want to feel they are valued in the organization and want be included in discussions where they can contribute their insights and expertise. Millennials want an opportunity to learn from their counterparts in a collaborative way. If your organization deems Baby Boomers as the only qualified group to be involved in strategic planning and decision making you will not only find yourself at a competitive disadvantage, but quickly find some of your talent (Gen Xers and Millennials) going to other companies who value their insight and observations.

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      Gen X’ers are valuable assets to your organization. Don’t take them for granted!

      By Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

      1. [http://brighterlife.ca/2012/07/19/bridging-the-gap-in-multi-generational-teams/]
      2. [http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Editorial/Magazine-Features/Gen-X–Stuck-in-the-Middle-79865.aspx]
      3. [http://www.examiner.com/article/keys-to-the-retention-of-generation-x]
      4. [http://ebn.benefitnews.com/news/hispanic-jobs-baby-boomers-health-2721781-1.html]
      5. [http://beyondrewards.ca/Articles/Art10-05.html]