Employer branding is still widely misunderstood, and appreciation of its business impact is highly varied. Though, it’s positive to see the renewed focus on developing or redefining Employee Value Propositions (EVP’s), and marketing of employer brands to build the awareness and attractiveness of organisations to compete for critical talent.
In these crazy times, the clash of employee experience versus changing expectations means that creating an EVP that is credible, exciting and relatively constant has become a challenge. Given the complexity and ongoing nature of the work, those embarking on an EVP build project need to be better equipped to ensure their investment of resource and funding delivers a return on investment.
I’ve developed countless EVP’s for Australian and global organisations, and I’ve spoken with many people who have done the same. Today I’m rounding up and sharing the most common mistakes and setbacks that people face, so you can be better prepared for success.
#1 – Know what you’re getting yourself into – get better educated on the topic
An EVP is inextricably intertwined with company strategy. It’s highly complex to uncover and define. It is not your values, purpose or DE&I strategy. It is not a tagline or campaign creative. And it’s not the silver bullet that you’re looking for.
It should be informing your current and future people experience, and defining it is just the start of your employer branding journey…
#2 – Set a clear scope and realistic expectations – get clear on the impact and outcomes of your work
If you’re not all in on this work, then don’t go claiming the impressive benefits and return that organisations like Gartner promise when building an effective EVP. Get clear on the work that you and your team are able to actually do, and ensure you’re focusing on the actual benefits that this will deliver.
If you’re in TA and your project focus is purely on external attraction, then ensure your success metrics don’t include employee retention (which I commonly see.) However, if retention needs to be a core focus as you’re losing talent at an alarming rate, then make sure you’ve got the right stakeholders onboard who have the responsibility and influence on the related work.
Low appreciation for business impact of an EVP, is perhaps a result of the fact that people are naively promising far greater return than what their scoped project can actually deliver.
#3 – Engage all key stakeholders upfront – you can’t do this alone
If you want to do this right and not just make it an external marketing strategy, you’ll need the right people in the business taking shared ownership.
Too many times I hear people say that Brand or Comms are being blockers, so they’ll deliver this themselves in TA – asking for forgiveness, not permission. Given that this cuts across the entire employee experience and it’s an extension of your organisation’s brand, you need to work with the custodians of it. Given you’ll need to communicate with employees and the external market, you need to do this with your comms experts and the owners of these channels.
And most importantly, get the business onboard. They need to be in support of this, to ensure it’s the reality their delivering to their people, but also because they’re support in driving a movement is absolutely necessary. Build your influencer army.
#4 – Be realistic about timelines – it takes a long time to get it to market, so impact won’t be fast
I’m going to say it… no EVP project I have seen has ever been delivered to the original time schedule.
There are a number of reasons for this. Once organisations start, they often realise it’s a much bigger project than anticipated. Often it’s the lack of resource to drive the work, on top of people’s day jobs. Some are blocked at the end as they didn’t get the right people involved at the start. But mostly, it’s because people haven’t built in enough time for engaging stakeholders, socialising the work, and gaining alignment on the outcomes of it.
From research > EVP definition > strategy > creative build > internal and external launch – you are realistically looking at 6 months minimum. And I stress minimum.
#5 – Secure appropriate funding – $$ are required for EVP build and ongoing promotion (and it’s not cheap)
Reality is, this is a marketing exercise. And no marketing function works off zero-dollar budgets. Yet, too many organisations are trying to do this with small HR budgets.
Not only do you need money for the research and strategy phase, you need creative development and production budgets to bring these messages to life. But the work doesn’t end there… you need to take your messages to market, both internally and externally. Reaching an external audience of people who are not following your organisation, needs decent marketing budgets to achieve.
Secure a yearly budget for employer branding, because building a brand is an ongoing investment. If Google and Atlassian need always-on marketing, it’s fair to say that your business does too.
#6 – Get Leadership buy in – ensure everyone is onboard as this work isn’t limited to recruitment, it impacts your people strategy (you need greater influence)
Defining an EVP is making a promise for what every person in your organisation can expect to receive. You need total alignment and for everyone to be ‘all in’ on the essence of your EVP, as all future people decisions need to be in support of it.
Your leadership team need to be comfortable that the EVP is reflective of reality, and that it positions the organisation in the way they want it to be seen.
Delivery on the EVP requires the commitment and shared accountability of your leaders and every people manager. But in order to remain competitive, you need to continually question whether this EVP is enough to compete. And if not, you need to evolve and strengthen the employee experience to create a more compelling EVP. To do that kind of work, absolutely requires your leadership team to be on this journey.
#7 – Ensure you’ve got the right resources; capability and capacity – your TA team doesn’t have all the skills you need
Last, but perhaps the most common issue. Make sure you build a project team with the right skills and resource. This work is time consuming and it stretches across many disciplines.
The required skills include research, analysis, strategy, project management, brand, design, marketing, communications, people experience, advocacy, social media, digital, events, measurement and more.
Assuming this capability is not sitting in your talent or HR team, you’ll need to build a project group of internal and external resources. Leverage the expertise in your business (point #3) and look for ways to integrate this work in current operations.
An EVP is not a quick fix solution to your talent challenges, but done well, it can help build an employer brand that gives you competitive advantage.
By ensuring you’ve got the right people bought into the journey, with a good understanding of what’s involved and the amazing benefits, then it’s a tool that will help you stand out in this tough market.
Enjoy this challenging but rewarding project!
This post originally appeared on Employer Brand Mason and has been republished here with permission.
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