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Why it’s time to refresh your EVP

Nathan Miller - Humanforce

Why it’s time to refresh your EVP

The employee value proposition (EVP) has traditionally formed the backbone of the employer brand; it’s the “hook” that retains your top talent and acts as a magnet to attract candidates to your organisation.

The EVP is essentially the promise employers make to their employees. In return for their commitment, loyalty, skills, knowledge and expertise, employees receive meaningful work, a safe work environment, competitive and fair remuneration, and a range of benefits – including the opportunity to further their career with new skills and career paths.

However, after more than two years of continuous disruption, many EVPs are no longer fit for purpose. This is especially the case for employers in rota-driven, shift-based (or “deskless”) work environments – many of which bore the frontline brunt of COVID-19. To remain competitive in a candidate-driven labour market where skills shortages are acute, it’s time for a rethink.

Time for change

There are three key reasons why employers in deskless work environments are going back to basics to refresh their EVP:

1.      A growing desire for a more ‘human-centric’ EVP

‘The Great Resignation’, which emerged at the tail end of 2021, soon evolved into ‘The Great Reflection’ as employees questioned the role of work in their lives.

Not surprisingly, EVPs that were born pre-pandemic are no longer hitting the mark. Such EVPs were often built upon a “spray and pray” approach to employee benefits and had limited scope for personalisation, didn’t factor in elements like health and wellbeing, and rarely focused on corporate ethics and values.

Gartner has suggested three key recurring themes have eroded the impact of the traditional EVP:

  1. Employees are people, not just workers
  2. Work is a subset of life, not separate from it
  3. Values come through feelings, not just features

While pay and benefits are still important to employees, especially given current economic conditions, they also want jobs that are intrinsically motivating and provide a sense of meaning and purpose, community and camaraderie, and growth and development

If employees are reconsidering where work fits into their lives – which research suggests is one of the outcomes of the pandemic – aligning work to a purpose can help create more meaning for employees. A clear purpose should encompass both the work done as an organisation and its role in our communities. Gartner suggests one way to make employees feel invested in the organisation is by taking action on societal and cultural issues, including being clear on areas such as: social responsibility, environmental responsibility, and ethics/integrity.

2.      Skills shortages

Employers globally are still reeling from three years of significant disruption due to COVID-19. Even as the direct impact of the pandemic eases, a talent shortage of historical scale has presented itself. One 2022 study from ManpowerGroup found that 75% of companies globally have reported talent shortages and difficulty hiring – a 16-year high.

The same survey found that sectors dependent on deskless workers were the heaviest hit, taking out five of the top seven spots for industries reporting shortages, including:

  • Education, health and government
  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale and retail trade
  • Restaurants and hotels
  • Construction

In the UK, the Labour Market Outlook (Summer 2022) by the CIPD found that almost half (47%) of employers have hard-to-fill vacancies. In response to ongoing recruitment and retention issues, employers with hard-to-fill vacancies were looking to upskill more existing staff (41%), advertising more jobs as flexible (35%), and raising wages (29%).

Anything that employers can do to stand out from the pack and position themselves as an employer of choice should be investigated.

3.      A decline in engagement and discretionary effort

Recruitment isn’t the only HR challenge; retention of existing talent is also a critical issue. Maintaining engagement amongst a fatigued workforce will be a key component of any retention effort.

Research from Gallup shows that most employees are either not engaged or are actively disengaged. In 2022, just 21% of global workers are engaged and in the UK the situation is more dire: just 14% are engaged.

Engaged employees consistently put in discretionary effort: they are willing to go the extra mile, they work with passion, and they feel a profound connection to their organisation. They are the people who will drive innovation and move your business forward.

What’s going on? At the end of 2021 there was a “radical reset”, meaning employees and candidates set clearer boundaries about what they will and won’t accept from employers. While they might have once worked themselves to breaking point to meet the demands of their employer, since COVID-19 many employees became more comfortable undertaking their scheduled hours and doing no more than the bare minimum required to hold onto their job. Instead, their focus has gone towards their family or working on passion projects. In short, discretionary effort has declined.

However, it’s not all bad news. People are still willing to invest the extra effort, but they want something in return for it – and that ‘something’ is not necessarily more pay. All roads lead back to creating a compelling EVP for 2022 and beyond.

Where to start

Refreshing the EVP requires a cross-functional, strategic approach. The first stakeholders to consider are your employees. It’s important to understand the value your organisation currently offers to employees and where improvements could be made. The VoE – or voice of employees – can be obtained through:

  • Stay and exit interviews, candidate feedback, as well as metrics relating to absenteeism, time and attendance, engagement, wellness, etc.
  • Engagement / pulse survey results, which will help identify areas that need attention. Aim to create a constant feedback loop – to do this in a deskless environment, technology which is compatible with the flow of work for deskless workers (e.g. mobile apps) should be considered
  • Anonymised ways for employees to report their experiences at the organisation, as well as their suggestions on improvements – akin to the traditional ‘suggestion boxes’
  • Employee listening sessions to determine which benefits employees value to the most
  • Sessions with managers to learn about the different challenges their employees face

In addition, HR should undertake their own research. What are people saying on employer review sites like Glassdoor? What messages are your competitors putting out to the market, especially in their job advertisements or on their careers page?

Keeping track of general market trends can also help. For example, according to a March 2022 global survey by BCG, deskless workers are unhappy about several aspects of their work. For example:

  • 56% of shift workers are not satisfied with their schedules
  • 49% are not satisfied with their benefits package
  • 48% do not feel they have an opportunity for career growth / advancement
  • 46% do not feel they have the chance to learn new skills / roles
  • 42% feel their work goes unnoticed

An effective EVP – and the benefits on offer – should always be realistic and achievable. BCG highlighted a disconnect in what benefits deskless workers would like to receive versus what they are offered. See the table below.

The benefits deskless workers would like The most common benefits offered
Performance bonus 22% 20%
Health insurance 17% 22%
Transit / commute allowance 25% 10%
Paid sick leave 14% 35%
Onsite food 13% 17%
Signing bonus 11%
Mental health benefits 10% 11%
Onsite beverages 10% 20%
Corporate discounts 9% 14%
Parental / caregiver leave* 9% 16%

*Deskless workers would like both parental / caregiver leave; however, only parental leave is among the most common benefits offered

Employee needs change over time, and there will be differences based on the roles, location, and demographic make-up of your workforce. Humanforce’s latest eBook (details below) identifies three emerging areas that are worth considering building into the EVP for a deskless workplace, including:

1.      A holistic approach to employee wellbeing

It’s time to focus not only physical wellbeing but also mental and financial wellbeing. In tough economic times, the latter is gaining real traction – but what financial wellbeing benefits can employers offer deskless workers?

2.      Flexible work

Flexible work isn’t just about the location at which work is undertaken. It’s also about providing more autonomy and choice about the hours worked – and that’s something that can be offered to deskless workers.

3.      Learning and professional development

Providing “anywhere, anytime” microlearning at the point of need is one way to ensure the development needs of deskless workers are not neglected.

Want to know more?

For tips on how to revitalise your EVP and further insights into what deskless employees expect from their employer in this post-pandemic era, download Humanforce’s ‘Guide to Refreshing your EVP’ today.

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