7 Things You Should Know When Crafting Your Employee Value Proposition

An Employee Value Proposition (EVP) has a big job to do. Aside from acting as a messaging lighthouse to attract candidates who would fit at your company, an EVP should serve as the as the cornerstone to your overall employment brand. And getting it right is primarily the responsibility of the writer. No pressure or anything.

While words aren’t everything—visuals matter a great deal, particularly to initially attract candidates—the writing is what gets people inspired, keeps them engaged, and makes them see themselves as someone who could give your company 40+ hours of their lives each week.

So before you put pen to paper on your EVP, think about these seven things to ensure that the finished product will attract the right people, discourage the really wrong people, and act as a long-term platform for your employment brand to grow.

1. Research is where it’s at.

It is hard to write something that resonates with people when you don’t know what those people hold dear. Before writing a single word of the EVP, we take our clients through an intensive cultural discovery process, consisting of key stakeholder interviews, focus groups and our quantitative cultural insight survey.

When it’s all over, a few golden nuggets emerge. These insights tell us what the most valuable employees at an organization care about. Why they came there. Why they stay. And why no other organization can turn their heads. Because the goal is to find more employees who value the same things, those uncovered nuggets become the foundation of the EVP. They are the realities that no other organization can claim because they make your company unique. As a writer, focusing on these insights will direct your work in a way that will resonate to the right candidates.

2. But it doesn’t just stop at research.

It’s common to unearth some troubling truths during the research process. While some of the findings may surprise or even discourage you, it’s important that you learn how to turn your cultural limitations into assets. Remember, the good and the bad must be taken together because they both help genuinely define your company culture.

And while you may not shout every negative finding from the mountaintop, you should be able to pivot culture findings in a way that will be meaningful to prospects and current employees. Sometimes, the authentic truth about your company is the powerful motivation to change and make life better for those who work for you.

3. Edit yourself.

As much as you may want to, you can’t include everything about your company in the EVP. Prune your list to what is essential. What is it about your company that is wholly unique from any other? What is it that makes your great people truly great? What makes your best people stay, year after year? Chances are, it’s not a 3% match on the 401(k) or a flex spending account.

But a culture of mentoring that advances careers faster or a genuine, provable emphasis on employee well-being? That’s the stuff of great EVPs. Save the common, everyday benefits for an interior page on your career website—the EVP is about those few insights that matter.

4. Concept first. Then content.

The creative concept of an EVP is not just about the words. It’s about the visuals and words working together to convey a singular, unique understanding of who your company is at its core. Work with your designer to develop a concept that combines the verbal and the visual in a cohesive way, grabbing attention and pulling the reading into the EVP.

Once you have a winning concept, it’s easier to write content that fits within that framework, while staying true to the research. A good concept provides a look, feel and tone before you even start writing, and the research provides a solid starting point for content. And those are the kind of guidelines that set a writer up for success.

5. Get emotional.

Too often, companies treat candidates as if they’re somehow more rational than the average human. We lay on the facts, thick and heavy, and ignore the truth that what a job seeker wants is a more fulfilling life and a place to belong.

Show candidates the heart of who you are. Most of them won’t be building a pros and cons spreadsheet to compare benefits packages. Instead, they’ll be deciding which companies feel like the kind of place they want to spend most of their waking hours—and then they’ll backfill with hard facts to rationalize that feeling.

Do you want to provide the rational facts? Of course. But not in the EVP. The EVP is where you make the emotional connection that spurs a search for more data to prove out the feeling. If a candidate doesn’t feel emotionally drawn to your company, they won’t bother to find out about the excellent benefits package, professional development opportunities or employee recognition program you’ve worked so hard on.

You can amp up the emotional connection by:

    • Showcasing employee testimonial videos of your best people who deeply represent your culture
    • Leading with the company’s ‘why’—think about the mission that unites your people in common cause and compels them to do remarkable things every day
    • Highlighting the kind of professional and personal growth that your ideal candidate can experience at your company
    • Showing your leadership in a relatable way through videos or compelling blog posts
    • Making the culture the star—talk about the kinds of things employees do together, the work they do in the community, and the fun that’s had every day in the workplace

6. Write like a human.

The word ‘authentic’ is thrown around like confetti in discussions about corporate culture. And with good reason. Candidates want to know who the company really is. To know that, they need to see the human vulnerability of the people who work for you and lead the charge. That means using everyday conversational language, and writing the way your candidates talk to one another—not the way an investor relations brochure would talk to them. Use fragments. Start sentences with prepositions. Break the rules. If it’s appropriate to your culture, embrace slang. You might not ace a high school essay test this way, but you’re more likely to convey a more genuine sense of your company when you shy away from corporate speak.

Another key element of writing like a human? Owning your flaws. No company is perfect. Don’t be afraid to confide in your candidates about something that you’re working to improve, or why you need their help so much. It will increase your credibility, and it can help separate those candidates who will fit your culture and are ready to jump in and make things better from those who won’t.

7. Remember, you’re playing the long game.

Your employment brand isn’t finished once you release the EVP. Use the completed EVP as a guideline for how to write the rest of your employee- and candidate-focused communications, including your career site, social recruitment messaging, job descriptions, offer letters, internal HR pieces—everything.

Don’t sacrifice what you’ve done with the EVP because you’re in a hurry to fill a position, or because it’s easier to just put something out than to pay attention to how it supports your long-term message. When everything lines up with the tone, style and content of your EVP, you’re doing the long-term work required to build an employment brand that not only resonates with prospective employees, but that rings true with candidates. And that is the ultimate measure of success in the employment branding game.

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