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What is an Employer Value Proposition, or “EVP” as they are also called? And further more, do we still need them?

Employer Value Propositions are the most common touch point when HR kicks of the development of an employer image or employer branding. The Swedish company Universum, who I consider the pioneer in employer branding states the following:

“EVP is the core of your employer brand that defines its positioning and strategic direction. An effective Employer Value Proposition should reflect the external demands, your competition, the internal reality and the strategic context of your company. Besides, you also must include the values and principles represented by your company.”

Google the topic and you will find several descriptions about the purpose and meaning of EVP’s. Google EVP examples and you are likely to find very different outcomes. It appears as if all the important notes on what an EVP should be, the general interpretation of an EVP comes out as a generic slogan. A generic slogan as no value for your business.

Why the current state of an Employer Value Proposition lacks impact?

#1 Using replica EVP’s

Despite all the empowering statements and instructions of what employer value propositions are meant for, it seems there is a tendency to copy paste from each other. Especially alarming is when you see two competing companies using pretty much the same EVPs! I’ve come across this not just once, but a few times recently in our business.

If the EVP is at the core of your employer brand, and an employer brand is a differentiating factor, why would the HR management even allow their EVP to be a replica of their competitor’s EVP? This baffles me.

#2 Focusing employer branding on creating EVP slogans

Another reason, why the current state of EVP’s lack impact is the tendency to focus employer branding work on formulating slogans. With this I mean cases where employers start and finish employer branding work on the creation of EVP slogans.

Slogan marketing was very necessary before the age of content marketing and social media. When we had very limited space for talent marketing messages, it paid of to say what you want to say in a nutshell. During those times, there was also the very limited amount of competition of the eye balls of our target audiences. Slogans suited print adverts, roll ups and job posts.

But this is a different time. Consumer behavior has changed greatly. For many years now we have seen the growth in the consumer need to be informed and inspired with content. The challenge with limiting our employer brand marketing to slogans is that slogans are highly uninformative.

Furthermore, we find the employers and businesses suffering from the curse of knowledge when formulating their employer value propositions and other marketing messages. We are the prisoners of our own knowledge and assume an external audience has the same level of knowledge to interpret the meaning of the message.

#3 Creating too complex and grandiose employer value propositions

Then there are the EVP’s that are so grandiose with words and promises one has no idea what the statement actually means. It is a different ball game to write catchy slogans for products than for actual workplaces. When we overpromise we risk to underdeliver. Furthermore, our employees are not going to participate in our efforts to employer brand market when they cannot explain in their own words what our messages mean.

While I whole heartedly agree with the purpose of an employee value proposition, in practice I am yet to witness a really empowering EVP that is simple enough to comprehend and represents the authentic employee experiences of your business.

In the modern Eminent Employer Branding -method, we talk about how as an employer we are able to make the lives of our employees better than the competition. As the work life continues it’s transformation, talents expect employers more and more to understand how everything at home impacts work and how work impacts our personal lives. We have been able to find some fantastic differentiators for employer branding with this expansion of thought.

So, do we still need employer value propositions?

To be honest, in the current format, my answer is no. And with the current format I mean when our employer branding equals creating an EVP that lacks impact and considering our work is done.

Many, many years ago, I discovered a book called “Purple your People” by Jane Sunley. I always thought her way to “get the people stuff right” really inspired me. While many things have changed permanently in our operating environment and behavior, I still believe in Jane’s views on people promises still stand.

Later on, last year to be exact, Mark Miller came up with the concept of “Talent Magnet” based on studies he did in US. While the book itself has a lot of extra jabber I found a bit difficult to concentrate in, his findings on what makes a company a talent magnet are extremely worthy to take note on.

Us humans are more and more educated and informed because of the internet and abundance of information free to get our hands into. We know so much more about what other employers do and treat their employees. And we have become more and more demanding about what we feel is right for us.

Talent marketing, communication, marketing and branding for the talent audiences will rise up in it’s importance to growth companies. When more and more organizations are pushing their messages to the same masses, the more important it becomes for us to clarify our messages and pinpoint the real value an employee can expect to receive when joining our companies.

The typical EVP is not going to be able to stand up for itself in this transformation of business marketing. For that reason, I no longer believe in these “traditional” employer value propositions.

What are employer value propositions and do we still need them? Modern Employer Brand by Susanna Rantanen

The accompanying podcast-episode

In this episode #13 of Building a Modern Employer Brand, we talk about why content marketing works so well in employer branding.

Episode-length: 17:14 min

Listen to this episode on Soundcloud >>

Listen to this episode on Spotify >>

Episode content:

  • What is an employer value proposition and do we still need them?
  • The three typical angles to employer branding I have experienced
  • Why employer value propositions lack effectiveness
  • Why talent content marketing can give you much better results than creating and marketing EVP-slogans

About Building a Modern Employer Brand -podcast

Building a Modern Employer Brand-podcast is a weekly podcast bringing you a modern breath of air into HR marketing and employer branding. 

This podcast is dedicated to all modern growth companies and modern employer branding practitioners who want to really influence their talent audiences and add measurable value to growing and scaling modern businesses with HR marketing and employer branding.

The Building a Modern Employer Brand -podcast is sponsored by Employee Experience Agency Emine and scripted & hosted by Susanna Rantanen.

Find this podcast currently on Soundcloud and Spotify.