Eight years working in the telecommunications industry has left me with an anthology of anecdotes to draw from when exploring and trying to articulate the future of work. Here’s my latest; reimagining an EVP is like walking into a telco store to purchase a new mobile phone contract.
Let’s step back a few paces, what exactly is an EVP ie. Employee Value Proposition? Simply put, it’s a concept that has been echoing through our organisational halls the last couple of decades, arguably as a solution to what has been coined in the past as the “war for talent”, and a response to the ultimate question; why would an extremely talented person choose to work here? And equally, how do we keep them around for the long haul?
Once upon a time these were questions we reserved solely for our customers; why would an extremely informed consumer choose to buy our product? And equally, how do we retain their repeat business?
The age old ‘job description’ has almost become the graveyard for anything exciting about the much-fabled Employee Experience. Akin to walking into a Vodafone store, having matched your needs to the ability of the company to meet those needs – reputable brand, quality product, value for money, ease and speed of transaction, customer support – a tick-box, order taking transaction, whereby you leave having achieved exactly, but no more than, what you set out to.
Now we speak of ‘value’; one step beyond what we contract our employees to deliver, to what they will gain in return from their organisation. These days any telco provider can offer you the latest iPhone, a price competitive contract with more data than we ever expect to use, all on a reliable cellular network. So what makes a customer choose one over the other? What if we layer on the value; the ‘steak knives’ that set apart one company from the other – the complimentary email set up and contacts transfer, a recycling service for your old phone, an offering of insurance products and accessories. We as employers talk about attractive remuneration schemes, flexible working, and even those magic catch-all words of autonomy, agility, purpose and values.
Now we’re getting somewhere, employees understand what is expected of them but it comes neatly packaged with a “why”. We’re starting to attract the right people, and they’re staying a little longer because they’re aligned to our purpose and ways of working. I have worked in market leading tech companies that pride themselves on this model of value creation, but at what cost? And yes, there is a cost. Although these organisations may go on to achieve what they set out to do, in a purposeful way, have they created an EVP built to achieve lasting cultural transformation?
If you can create a culture where people are as excited on their 100th day as they were on their first, and as comfortable on their 1st as they are on their 100th, then you have achieved something special. But while the EVP belongs to, and is created by, the organisation, will it not still always be a culture of ‘compliance’? Where people will do what is expected of them, albeit it might be good meaningful work, but still through business as usual and only enacted through continuous intervention when the goal post moves.
Now, what would make that telco truly memorable, advantageously competitive, and the standout place to work for? Imagine they told you to go away and buy a Fair Phone (a competing company), based on your desire to be more sustainable in your purchase, and simply use their sim card; business as UNusual, but all of a sudden this company stands for something bigger than you’d expect.
Let’s go full circle and imagine this telco is in fact our own organisation, where the only objective we have set out to our employees is to be better today than we were yesterday; a culture of ‘commitment’. In this case, a co-created but employee owned EVP that allows for innovation, trust, agility, and ownership; encouraging the customer to buy a handset from elsewhere, because that’s what our customer deserves. Individuals going beyond what is required of them, and seeking to understand the long term impact and value of their work; the difference between an individual sale, and lifelong customer advocacy.
With commitment comes loyalty, dedication, and ultimately extraordinary levels of performance because people feel part of something.
What EVPs whittle down to is choice; people will come and go based on what you stand for – not what you pay them, call them, or ask of them. The risk we take by settling for a compliant organisation, is although we might achieve GOOD things, without commitment the ultimate cost is failing to achieve GREAT things.
Broch Cleminson Head of Agile & Creative Solutions & Perry Timms MCIPD & FRSA, Chief Energy Officer – PTHR