Crafting a rewarding and resonant employee experience is no accident; rather, it’s the result of an intentional and consistent effort to build a workplace that enables your employees to thrive. Yet even after accomplishing this result, some companies might find it difficult to express just what makes their employee experience so unique and desirable—particularly to someone outside the company.
And an inability to communicate about your employee experience significantly inhibits recruitment and retention efforts—even inhibiting employees from performing their best work.
That’s why a crucial part of delivering on your employee experience involves defining how to communicate the value of working at your organization to prospective (and current) employees. You communicate the value of joining your organization through consistent messaging and decision-making, which upholds that value. And in expressing your value comprehensively, you’ll cultivate shared understanding, set clear expectations and empower current (and future) employees to prosper.
And that’s why you define your employee value proposition, or EVP.
Employee experience—built by deliberate design
When discussing employee experience, it’s critical to establish that it’s an intentional endeavor distinct from notions of “company culture.” Your culture exists without intentional effort.
In contrast, employee experience is deliberate—a holistic effort to create a work environment that aligns with and consistently manifests your brand’s purpose, promise and values in every aspect to achieve:
- Shared employee brand belief
- Employees’ ability to do their best work
- Better recruitment both in numbers and in quality of candidates
- Strong retention and overall employee satisfaction
But crafting the perfect employee experience doesn’t automatically mean it’s easily communicated. And just as happenstance has no place in your employee experience efforts, its communication shouldn’t be open to interpretation either. Doing so leaves recruited talent with mistaken impressions about your brand, affecting their interest in working for you or creating misalignments before their start date. And murky understandings hinder your ability to bring your employees together to deliver on your brand and organization’s purpose. As a result, employees may not buy in, may only buy into their interpretation or become confused or disillusioned about what working for your company means.
In today’s hyper-competitive labor market, happenstance simply isn’t a risk worth taking when it comes to talent acquisition and retention. Instead, you’ll need to harness the power of the value your company offers through a distinct communications (and accountability) tool: your EVP.
Defining your EVP
Simply put, an employee value proposition is a tool that “packages up” what it’s like to work for your company in a manner both authentic and differentiating it from other organizations. This makes your EVP invaluable to showcasing, communicating and delivering your employee experience.
For example, when navigating to Nike’s careers page, prospective applicants encounter messaging that includes:
- “We use the power of sport to move the world.”
- “We see a world where everybody is an athlete—united in the joy of movement.”
- “Driven by our passion for sport and our instinct for innovation, we aim to elevate human potential.”
- “Every day, we are demanding a better future for ourselves, our athletes and our communities.”
- “Win as a team.”
Immediately, the reader gains an understanding of what it (should) mean to work at Nike. Every engagement that prospective employee has with Nike’s brand—whether as a customer or future team member—should reinforce this understanding and inspire their contribution toward its pursuit.
Does your organization need an EVP?
Yes, but your organization also needs to determine whether an EVP should be your first step. Bear in mind that although an EVP is a communications and delivery tool for expressing and remaining faithful to your employee experience, it remains only one of the numerous efforts you can take to improve relationships with candidates and current employees.
To intentionally build your employee experience, your organization first needs a defined purpose—the reason your organization exists. Your purpose unifies employees to deliver on your brand. It takes a concerted effort to cultivate the environment to achieve that purpose—particularly through recruitment and retention strategies. The EVP simply packages up these elements and positions them with respect to their unique and desirable aspects.
So while EVPs remain necessary, they first require your organization to have something to package. So, before beginning work on your EVP, be sure to consult with your leadership, key stakeholders, HR, internal communications and marketing teams to confirm your organization has determined the following:
- Your purpose
- The type of employees you need to attract to fulfill it
- The kind of employee experience needed to attract those employees
- And a commitment from the organization to all of the above
However, if your organization struggles with the following, then you should definitely prioritize defining an EVP:
- Telling a compelling and comprehensive story about the unique value of working for your company.
- Differentiating your employee experience from your competitors.
- Finding, attracting and retaining the talent needed to achieve your purpose and deliver on your brand.
- Ensuring all employees understand, see and feel the value of working at your organization.
Looking closer at the intersection of your EVP and employee experience
As covered above, your EVP is a tool used in communicating the value of working for your company and the employee experience current employees and prospective hires can expect. But it’s also a guide for ensuring accountability and delivery—because your employee experience may resonate on paper and in ads, but making it a reality requires action.
What happens when the employee experience you present to prospective and current employees doesn’t live up to their reality? Disillusionment, dissatisfaction and casual-to-serious job searching sets in.
To that end, your EVP also serves as a decision-making and resource allocation tool when it comes to the employee programs, initiatives and offerings you invest in.
Guiding alignment through your EVP
Revisiting the Nike example, every part of their messaging revolves around activity and (inclusive) athletics.
So, when the company provides breakfast or meeting snacks, would Nike employees pause at the sight of donut boxes? Would Nike offer employment perks like reimbursing two tickets to an entertainment event per month or would they cover the cost of gym memberships and wellness education? Do Nike’s performance reviews emphasize and reward employees’ efforts to innovate, collaborate and improve their work quality and efficiency?
Every aspect of your employee experience—from the messaging you communicate to the programs you invest in—should be held up against your EVP to ask, “Do they align?”
Because if anyone will quickly recognize misalignment between your EVP and reality, it’ll be your employees, who immerse themselves in your brand throughout every workday and are tasked with representing it in every interaction (internally and externally).
Ultimately, the most important attribute of your EVP is its genuineness and accurate portrayal of what working for your company means and involves—and the value your company promises its employees. Without that, you lose current (and, eventually, prospective) employees’ belief and trust.
Your employee experience is about more than what you say
Effectively communicating your employee experience is fundamental to individuals’ understanding and buy-in, meaning success remains contingent on it. Particularly for prospective employees, they may encounter your messaging before having a tangible experience they can associate with your brand. But current employees already experience the reality of working for your company, and—ideally—talented newcomers will soon.
Do your company’s actions reflect the employee experience it promises? Holding yourself accountable on its delivery proves equally important.
Fortunately, an EVP helps with both—establishing the value of working at your company and helping ensure you fulfill that promise through the decisions you make about employee programs, investments and resources.
Nike. Nike Careers.