Employer Branding

A Guide to EVP Development

The EVP (employer value proposition) can be the centerpiece of an effective employer brand. But what the heck is it? How do you go about developing one? What companies can we learn from?

To get some answers, I’ve spoken to that other Sage of Omaha, Maren Hogan of Red Branch Media. Have a listen to the episode below, keep reading for a transcript of our conversation and make sure you subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

What is an EVP?

So an employer value proposition, is basically your overarching statement as to what you bring to the table as an employer to your employees. So I was recently asked a question like, “Oh, what is it? Does it stand for employee value proposition or employer value proposition?” And I believe the answer is both, because you really want people to understand what each person is bringing to the relationship, and what each person can anticipate getting out of the relationship. It is especially true when you really want those goals to be aligned.

Do you have a step by step approach to EVP?

We do have a step by step approach. I will say that there are a lot of really good models out there. We’ve used models from all of the big thinkers, to help our clients when they want to develop an EVP. Because in some cases, it will be a startup. So we have to go in and talk to each of their employees. We have to talk to leadership at the company and say, “Okay, what do you think the values are?” Then we turn around and ask the same question of employees, “What do you think the values are?” So that’s one approach. Another approach might be a large corporation that has existed for a very long time and is looking to move into maybe new areas. I’m doing a case study around that shortly in SourceCon to say, “Hey, you know, what works in the Midwest may not work on the coasts or what have you.” So that’s another model that we sort of follow.

And then there’s a third model which is to say, “Okay, we’ve never paid very much attention to employer brand, we know we need to. We have a problem.” This is usually when there’s an issue within the organization, high turnover or, you know, bad reviews or whatever, and then we take a step by step. It’s more of a tactical approach. We do the surveys and we do the anecdotal talks, but then we make sure to also start improving things tactically so they can see movement. Because one of the big issues when people start tackling their EVP or their employer brand, is that they don’t see enough movement quickly enough, and then they abandon the project, leaving employees even more embittered and frustrated.

Which companies who have good EVPs could we all learn from?

A company that I feel has a good EVP is American Airlines. And I say this simply because you asked the thing about the USP, and of course, people complain about airlines all the time, and they’re always ticked off because this is late and that’s late and they lost my bag. But what you can see from the employees on the inside is that they really, really feel valued, appreciate where they work. Nike is another great place that really takes care of their people, that really makes them feel valued, and focuses on really trying to bring that employer brand home. Southwest Airlines is another one. There was a kerfuffle two or three years ago where you heard about an employee being kind of ticked off at Southwest. But literally, in all the times that it’s been part of my presence and that I’ve heard presentations from people who work there and talk to people that work there, people have been extremely happy, extraordinarily happy to go to work. So I would say that is a very excellent example.

An employer brand that I think that is not at all flashy but really treats their workers right is Aldi. It’s a chain of supermarkets, they also own Trader Joe’s, and I’m sure that they also treat their Trader Joe’s people very wonderfully. But small things like their register workers can sit down, and they’re paid a fair and equitable wage, and they’re always willing to help. And that really does translate into when I, as a consumer, go in there, you get a really great feeling of these people are happy to be here, they’re not overworked, they’re not overburdened. I would compare and contrast that with, say, a Walmart, where it feels very different when you walk into the store.

Follow Maren on Twitter @MarenHogan and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.