A recent study by LinkedIn’s Hiring Solutions Insights Team found the power of an employer’s brand is strongly connected to talent acquisition efforts.
A further study by Universum, a global research firm, concluded that “the role of an employer value proposition (EVP) is to create a clear and consistent foundation for employer brand activities, defining how the employer wants to be perceived both externally in the talent marketplace, and internally by current employees as a result of their employer brand experience.”
The EVP is something quite different than the company brand, which relates to the external business-to-business or business-to-consumer marketplace. Increased awareness of the EVP has resulted in a wholesale review of the leadership agenda for many organizations.
The values of the Millennials and Gen Z are gaining credibility in the corporate world. The new values speak of performing meaningful work for organizations committed to making a difference in the world, and employers have come to recognize that a proposition reflecting those values has to start at the top of the leadership chain.
Companies with a positive employer brand are much more likely to attract key talent, especially in executive leadership positions. Data from 2019 demonstrated conclusively that 9 of 10 of the World’s Most Attractive Employers have acknowledged that employer branding is one of their top priorities.
Larger companies with traditional outlooks are experiencing challenges in articulating a competitive employer brand. For decades they have regarded themselves as competing mainly with their business sector peers, but these days tech companies who have specialized in branding, internal and external, are scooping up top talent. Banks are no longer competing against other banks; they are competing with startups and potential scaleups, largely due to perception of the employer brand.
Work/life balance, cultural diversity, the use of data, the value of the work itself, the contribution to society: some of these considerations came to light as far back as 1974 in Studs Terkel’s famous book Working. However, the present rate of technological change is bringing the meaning and the future of work to centre stage.
The most widely cited element in creating a positive EVP is “inspiring purpose”. That is a marked departure from concerns of employees of ten or twenty years ago, who preferred “personal and professional development”, and “a friendly working environment” and “attractive products/services” as guideposts in their career decisions.
As of 2019, data from the World’s Most Attractive Employers reveals a consensus of 5 main factors influencing the EVP:
- Inspiring purpose (54%)
- Innovation (39%)
- Commitment to diversity & inclusion (37%)
- A creative and dynamic environment (27%)
- Challenging work (24%)
The September 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review emphasized the value of inspiring purpose as a key component of the EVP. They published their findings of an 8-year study and found that “many high-growth companies use purpose to generate sustained profitable growth, stay relevant in a rapidly changing world, and deepen ties with their stakeholders”.
The most successful companies, the HBR study concluded, put purpose at their core, using it to redefine the playing field, thus reshaping their value propositions both internally and externally.
Implementing that strategy requires answering some tough questions: the first – how to transform the leadership agenda, the second – how to communicate and generate purpose throughout the organization.
The advantages of a strong EVP are becoming clear to those organizations who have successfully adopted the strategy. The organization becomes more unified. The stakeholders (employees, suppliers, customers) become more motivated to interact, participate and contribute. The impact of the venture becomes broader, and more meaningful. Last, but far from least, companies are attracting the talent they need to grow and prosper.