(first published by CHRO SA on 14 May 2019)

Employer brand expert Celeste Sirin explains what the difference is and why they both matter.

Irrespective of the maturity level of employer branding within companies across the globe, the debate and confusion surrounding the various jargon, buzzwords and acronyms associated with employer branding as a business practice is ongoing. Whilst many people utilize the terms Employer Value Proposition (or Employee Value Proposition) and Employer Branding interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two, with both being very relevant to keeping up with today’s job seekers who have a strong consumer mind-set and an internal employee workforce who know what they want.

What is an EVP (Employer Value Proposition)?

A distinct set of attributes that a company offers into the candidate market (attract) and instills within their employee workforce (retain) in return for the knowledge, skills and capabilities – is referred to as the Employer Value Proposition. The EVP comprises a collection of tangible (monetary compensation e.g. competitive salary, commission, employee benefits or sponsorship for further education) and intangible rewards (flexible working hours, high level of responsibility, growth opportunities, decision-making involvement, remote working, overseas travel etc.).

“Why should I work for your Company versus another? What’s in it for me?

Why is an EVP necessary?

As in consumer/product marketing, companies need to define what unique selling points are on offer to potential candidates and what benefits are available to retain and re-engage existing employees. Simply put, if a prospective work seeker, employee, service provider, alumni or even a consumer was asked what makes your company an attractive or best place to work, your EVP would be your answer. In 2017 research confirmed that the No 1 reason candidates chose one job over another was company culture and fit with their focus being very much on purpose and belief. Here in South Africa we are faced with our own unique and challenging labour market, where monetary packages and employee benefits presently take precedence over intrinsic elements when building a compelling EVP. A company’s EVP does not remain static and can be influenced by inside organizational developments (mergers and acquisitions, retrenchments, change in EXCO and Leadership team) as well as external economic, political and technological factors. Through these changes, employers need to review their EVP regularly in order to ensure that they remain relevant.

There are many proven benefits around crafting a desirable EVP, some of which are typically geared toward reducing recruitment costs, taking deliberate action to “package” a unique differentiator to compete for high demand talent, especially as it relates to attracting talent within the passive candidate market, reducing staff turnover or to reinstate the EVP to improve employee engagement and productivity. Regardless of the size of one’s company a purpose-built and desirable EVP can assist you in competing for scarce skills and re-engaging those employees who have lost motivation and purpose for remaining employed within a company.

How does one craft a compelling EVP?

There is a roadmap that organizations need to follow in order to craft a distinct, authentic and competitive EVP. It starts with confirming why you are building an EVP, what the EVP will entail, who it will involve, what deliverables can be expected, an anticipated roll-out plan, an indication of timeframes and, more important, established metrics/measurables (e.g. average time to hire, quality applicants to vacancy, applications vs placement conversion ratio). Building an EVP begins internally where organizations are advised to discover, explore and investigate employee sentiments first. Thereafter, external market research and competitive analysis, to gather accurate candidate insights needs, with a view to ensuring that there are no disparities and perfect alignment between both internal and external market perceptions and insights. Upon completion you would define your EVP based on your insights and research, addressing what your organization is able to offer versus what your researched sample groups are seeking. Establish what your distinct differentiators are and thereafter compile your “draft” EVP which you would test with a group of employees internally with a view to refining and confirming it. The next step would be to launch your EVP both internally and externally with a view to bringing it to life! There are many examples of high performing EVP’s https://bit.ly/2lQ5fDO

What is an Employer Brand

Just as companies have a consumer brand with associated features and benefits, so too do companies have an employer brand built on the foundation of the company’s EVP. The employer brand forms part of the holistic parent brand and describes the company’s reputation. The employer brand reputation is built on candidate perceptions and values that employees receive from the company.

The employer brand is central to 21st century recruiters with LinkedIn confirming that 83% of employers stating that their employer brand plays a significant part in attracting talent. Coupled with this, LinkedIn confirms that 40% less employees leave companies with strong employer brands after their first 6 months of employment, whilst 83% employees agree that they would leave their current company if offered a job offer from a company with a better reputation.

Employer Branding

The process and sequence of activities involved in communicating your EVP, company’s brand and reputation as the best place to work. It helps you stand out and provide compelling reason for joining your company The advanced technological environment, digital eco-system and mobile devices provide Talent Leaders with the ideal channels and vehicles to position, inform/educate and promote their companies in attracting talent. Internally employer branding can be used as a great employee morale booster, to repurpose a disengaged workforce or relaunch a newly crafted/revamped EVP.

Why Employer Branding Matters?

Ongoing research and insights confirm that employer branding has a significant impact on attracting, engaging and retaining talent, with 72% of recruiting leaders globally agreeing that it has a significant impact on hiring. According to the LinkedIn survey companies with a strong employer brand see 50% more qualified applicants, take 1-2x faster to hire and reduce cost per hire by 50%. Employer branding is the art and science behind amplifying and/or influencing brand perceptions and it encompasses everything from consistent messaging, content writing, visuals enabling organizations to articulate their unique story and Employer Value Propositions. The process used to promote your Employer Brand through different channels such as social media, company career site, job boards, current employees, job descriptions etc. is called recruitment marketing.

Whilst the SA labour market is somewhat incomparable to how the rest of the globe is presently positioned, with the focus being very much towards employee engagement and well-being, Leaders should be concentrating on the fundamental elements of employer branding relative to our present climate i.e. retention, refining the EVP through re-embedding and engaging your employees on what counts, candidate experience and management and continuing with employer brand building insofar as still attracting the critical skill set requirements, with LinkedIn confirming that 75% of job seekers confirm they will consider an employer brand before applying for a job.

A recent article published by Josh Bersin on Employee Engagement 3.0 – From Feedback to Action highlights that if employees are happy, they will build better products, innovate more and spend more quality time with customers. Bersin confirms that up until now companies have built technology to encourage employee engagement, benchmarking and feedback but that we are now entering an interesting era where we need to move beyond “the floods of feedback data (surveys and comments)” to assisting managers to take action through management systems to assist Leaders.

In summary, companies that have defined what aspects (compensation, benefits, career, work environment and culture) employees like most about working for an organization i.e. EVP and have created/packaged and positioned their employer brand as a great place to work, through implementing and maintaining an ongoing employer branding strategy, will be the progressive Leaders to best attract, engage, retain and nurture the finest talent.

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