Adding value to your brand

At Penna we often hear the term Employer Value Proposition (EVP). However, when people talk about EVP they often mean different things. Put simply, EVP is an expression of an organisation’s culture. While it attracts people to join, it’s also a reason why people stay.

The main confusion occurs when a nice creative advert is labelled as an EVP. The issue then lies when it is not implemented widely and only used as the external brand of an organisation, when in fact a good EVP goes further than that.

Yes, it needs to be used externally as a reason why people might work for a company (so should be reflected across your employer brand from your website to your social media), but it is also important internally. If it doesn’t ring true internally, candidates are likely to see through it and new joiners can feel mislead once they start.

The benefits of a well implemented EVP strategy can be stark. Firms with an attractive EVP can pay 11% less in salaries.

From local government to commercial organisations, we have helped clients articulate their EVP and communicate it to employees and candidates. We’re more than used to dealing with a variety of challenges that an EVP can aim to address. An example we are particularly proud of is the one we created internally: ‘We Are Family’ is our Penna EVP.

Our culture is important to us at Penna and there is a clear relationship between an organisation’s culture and it’s EVP, with the former informing the latter. Further than this, an EVP needs to evolve with the organisation and be revisited. You need to ask people for feedback, listen to it, and be seen to change.

At Penna, we have a regular staff survey as most do, but that is combined with less formal channels including regular ‘directors’ dinners’ – a relaxed forum for small groups to share ideas with company directors – and ‘pear trees’ where employees can anonymously post thoughts to be shared at our monthly family gatherings.

These are the steps necessary to make a good EVP:

Authenticity (it resonates with people) 

It may not resonate with everyone to the same extent, but they understand and respect it all the same. It can be aspirational, as long as it’s honest about where an organisation is going. This is achieved by hearing the views of as many employees as possible. Just the process of this can make people feel listened to.

Look and feel
Knowing what culture you want to express is one thing, but the imagery and tone of voice is really important, and that’s where a great creative team come in. They turn research and facts into something memorable. One of the key attributes here is distinctiveness – an EVP should focus not just on what makes your organisation great, but what makes it unique compared to other employers.

Activation (it is used widely, both externally and crucially inside an organisation)
It becomes part of the DNA, and you hear it in the language used by the people who work there. Effective internal activation of an EVP should serve to amplify the most positive aspects of the culture that are already present. This is often the part that’s missed out.

Penna recently helped Luton BC with their EVP challenges. There was a new strategic plan, but the organisation was struggling with various issues, some national (such as finding suitable social care applicants, funding cuts and meeting the needs of a diverse community) and some more localised, including poor perception of the council as a place to work and increased competition for talent with other regional councils. Penna supported Luton and in partnership developed their new EVP: ‘Realise the remarkable’.

Helen Davey, recruitment manager at Luton commented: ‘Our EVP has meant we have one unified voice to articulate to candidates how great the opportunities are here at the council, we’ve redesigned all our attraction materials in line with our employer brand and it’s really helping us address our recruitment challenges.’

Angela Claridge, HR service director at Luton, agrees that a good EVP should be inward focused as well as external: ‘Recruitment is just the first step of any employee’s journey as they enter through the organisation’s door. Once inside they need to know the corporate ethos matches the promise of the exterior. Here at Luton our ambition is that, over time, our EVP will increasingly help us ensure those who join us stay, because the reality is consistent with their initial expectations.’

If you are struggling to attract the best talent, experiencing excessive staff turnover, or are just going through a period of organisational change, it’s a good time to consider investing in an EVP. If you already have one then consider whether it’s still relevant now, and in the future.

Amy Morris is head of client development at Penna

Amy Morris

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