Many of our competitors talk about EVPs as transactions, a contract between employee and employer. It’s an effective way to communicate your ‘deal’, expressing what you expect from candidates and what they can receive in terms of benefits and environment in return.
But what isn’t communicated is the human side of the EVP. A way for a candidate to assess a prospective employer for what’s important to them in that moment, which might be around feeling safe and secure for some and finding a place that they can really thrive for others.
In a move towards creating more human interactions between employers, employees, and candidates, we’ve developed what we call the ‘Purpose, Passion and Mindset’ model. This approach enables employers to invite the right behaviours and mindsets to the party and provides flexibility for individuals as they navigate their time with a company.
From an employer perspective, the purpose should be pretty easy to define. Why does your business exist? Why did it start? What is the vision for the future? Who are the people you need to deliver on that purpose? If we are running a focus group with employees and no one knows the purpose of the organisation, it’s a red flag for us around how this is being communicated.
But from a candidate or employee perspective, purpose is more fluid. We can use it to mean what an individual’s purpose is as a human being at that high aspirational level, it could be what that person wants to achieve in the next five years, or it might be the distinction between living to work and working to live. It might be that different life stages whether it’s moving to a different part of the world, prioritising mental health, deciding to have children (or not to have children), being a carer, etc. impacts what work means to our candidate. And it can go the other way, where individuals think “right, I’m going to prioritise my career now”.
By truly understanding your offer as an employer, you can help candidates see how your purpose can align with their purpose on a personal level. If there is a disconnect between what you as a business want to drive towards and what part of your audience need, ask yourself whether there is space to accommodate. To take an extreme example, if an organisation was to use “success at any cost” as their vision, it says a lot about how employees might be treated and how they might treat each other. And while it might get a certain type of person through the door, you can be sure that they’ll be in trouble if those other non-work considerations come knocking.
Too often, the ‘purpose’ aspect of an EVP is weighted in favour of what the employer wants to say and not what the candidates need to hear. How can you apply the ‘what’s in it for me?’ filter to what you’re communicating?
Passion or mastery recognises the things that fire us up and are our non-negotiables. Many EVP pillars talk about a sense of restless innovation and continuous personal and professional development, but equally important are the people who consistently deliver. Passion allows us to connect with candidates and employees around what they are personally passionate about whether that’s coming to work for the social interaction with customers, creating a culture of belonging, working with people who treat each other with respect at one side of the spectrum through to developing new skills and making an impact at the other.
The non-negotiables from an employer perspective are the things that businesses say are more important than anything else. These might be found in a manifesto, a charter, or a set of pillars and they tell candidates the three, four, five elements that need to come together to reach that vision we’ve just talked about.
Bringing these two elements together and aligning the employer and candidate ‘passion’ tells a candidate that what they can bring to the table will be valued here. My colleague Paula talks about the risk of an EVP being “too epic” which turns people off (and can be damaging from an inclusion perspective too), talk in human terms about the things that are important to you as a business, and help candidates connect your corporate value set with their own.
So far, so expected, to a certain degree but where this approach becomes behavioural is by adding the mindset layer on top of what we have already discussed. Behavioural frameworks, appraisal criteria, and assessment design are all common execution of an Employer Brand. Something that’s done once the new the brand has been created and launched, rather than a thread that runs through the whole development process.
This feels like a glaring omission if you consider that describing the mindset and behaviours is the closet you might get to describing your culture to someone externally. It’s really important to get both the sentiment and language right when you’re describing them for that reason.
- Purpose doesn’t just mean talking about what your business wants to achieve, it’s helping candidate see how a job can help them get the things they want in life in a much wider sense.
- Don’t be ‘too epic’. Talk about what’s important to you as a business and as an employer in normal language. And, be inclusive in order to harness all the things your people are passionate about.
- Behaviours are part of the Employer Brand, not an execution
While these elements come together to create a robust EVP, they can also be used as a diagnostic tool to examine any disconnect between employer and candidate and identify the programme of work required to close the gap.