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EVP is key to unlocking hiring and retention strategies

Janette Martin, CEO - Talos360

Getting the employee value proposition (EVP) right is crucial for any business seeking to attract top talent, in what has become a highly competitive field for candidates. It’s also a crucial tool for helping employers hold onto the good people they already have. EVP is more than just a collection of employee benefits, it is the embodiment of all of the advantages to working for a particular employer. It reflects the values and culture of an organisation, helping recruiters ensure that they can attract people who are a great ‘fit’ for existing teams and the overall business, increasing the likelihood that they will stay and build a career there.

For this reason, a well-defined EVP must be authentic, influencing every aspect of company policy and work life for employees. It must be communicated with consistency via all channels, from employee engagement portals and social media to job advertising. When businesses talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk, employees soon notice and vote with their feet.

Reality bites
The Great Resignation has dominated discussions around retention and advice for employers who are seeking to reverse the trend. Without a doubt, many dissatisfied employees are looking for a new role, with a better EVP as part of a desire to feel more fulfilled at work. The current economic crisis in the UK may be changing this as inflation drives many to stick with jobs they don’t find fulfilling, because they need to keep paying the bills. It comes as no surprise that higher salary is the biggest driver for a change in employer. Our recent report, The Great Renegotiation, shows 71% of employees who have searched for a new job in the last 2 months were motivated by salary.

Many businesses are not in a position to offer more pay right now, as they too are being hit by rising fuel and energy costs. In order to stand out from the competition, employers need to be more creative in finding ways to attract and retail top talent.

What they really, really want
We know that employee expectations changed during and since the pandemic. Shaping an attractive EVP requires a sophisticated understanding of what people are looking for now. The easiest way to start doing this is to identify what existing employees think of the organisation. A good employee engagement tool simplifies this and normalises the opening of dialogue around employee needs and wants. Quick surveys and other tools put people at ease, giving employers useful insights into the things people do, and don’t value.

Another obvious, but surprisingly often neglected process is the use of exit interviews to establish why people leave. Sometimes, an anonymised questionnaire will get to the heart of uncomfortable issues, for example if there is a problem with a particular manager or colleague. It’s also really important to ask candidates why they applied to work for the company during recruitment interviews – their reasons might confound expectation.

Recent surveys have revealed that although they do not usually support a better work-life balance, remote and hybrid working continue to be in demand. Many people are feeling the pressure to work extra hours when they are at home, perhaps driven by a need to prove that they are more productive, or because it is harder to switch off devices at the end of the day. Uncovering why an organisation’s employees still prefer to work from home, at least part of the time, might be crucial to devising benefits and a working culture that truly supports them.

One reason that hybrid continues to be an expectation may be that people are out of love with commuting. Our survey shows that saving on travel costs matters to 58% of candidates. This is likely to endure as fuel costs continue to rise. If employers want people in the office, they may need to consider helping with subsidised travel schemes, or installing free-to-use electric vehicle charging points.

Having experienced working from home, many now resent the time lost to commuting and perhaps, getting this time back might seem like good compensation for putting in some extra work time every day. Employees have also welcomed having more control over their daily timetable. In our research they cite saving money on food and other at-work expenses, improved feeling of wellbeing, ease of keeping on top of household chores, ability to wear more comfortable clothes and more flexibility around childcare and looking after pets as compelling reasons to work from home.

It looks therefore, like flexible and hybrid working are here to stay, at least for foreseeable future. Autonomy and flexibility are going to be standard expectations for EVP and making these available, points to an employer that trusts its people, giving them more agency over how they structure their day and get their work done. According to our recent survey of jobseekers, one in five (20%) say they would look for another job if they didn’t have the option to work from home. Surely, the number one take home from this must be keeping a close eye on the wellbeing of employees who do work extra hours, with leaders encouraging people to switch off at contracted times and a culture that doesn’t expect anyone to respond to emails and calls in their own time.

What makes an attractive EVP?
Companies that are successful in engaging with employees will have nurtured loyalty and pride in the brand.  To be truly authentic, values and culture must be consistent and visible at every level. If managers are less than aligned with these, it will be hard to retain good people as they will feel mis-sold on EVP and will look for a better match elsewhere.

Employee benefits need to be bespoke for each individual. Not everyone wants or cares about parental leave, for example, and not everyone feels the need for a gym membership. It makes sense to curate a selection of benefits that employees can choose from. As building loyalty is part of a retention strategy, some of these benefits can actively reward loyalty and engagement. For example, adding extra days of annual leave for each year worked, or promoting an employee referral programme to encourage them to get friends to apply in exchange for a reasonable financial reward.

Untapping potential
The Great Renegotiation report also found almost four in ten (39%) jobseekers prioritise clear progression and 35% prioritise opportunities for developing skills and upskilling. Also, automation is threatening many roles now. When people are looking for a new role, they want to be able to build  careers with employers who will nurture their skills and help them stay relevant, reskilling as required.

It makes sense to re-train and move a good employee into a different department, than make them redundant and look for someone new. Estimates of the cost of hiring new employees vary but most agree, it is a costly exercise, with no guarantee that the person will stay for long. Instead, what better way to demonstrate to an employee how much they are valued when their role becomes redundant, than to hold onto them and offer retraining as required?

Designing a relevant Learning and Development (L&D) programme that adapts to the different skills and needs of individuals is in itself a highly powerful engagement and retention strategy. Learning new skills can be enjoyable and stimulating. Gaining understanding of new concepts or how to use new technology is empowering. It makes people feel valued. Employers that prioritise L&D when designing EVP will be most successful in winning the war for attracting and retaining talent.

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