Employees are moving back into the workplace still filled with massive uncertainty as to where we are heading with the pandemic. Many are questioning their relevance, their purpose, and whether employers will meet their needs as they return to a very different workplace. This raises the question of whether your employer value proposition (EVP) will still resonate with returning employees.

A good departure point is the trusted framework of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which cannot be a more accurate guide in thinking about employees’ immediate and basic physiological, safety, and security (financial, personal health, and well-being) requirements. Indeed, the health of an organization starts with the psychological well-being, experience, and stability of its stable workforce. Thus, your updated EVP might prioritize financial stability and supportive leadership over promotions and commissions.

Or it might not.

The only way to know is for you to have conversations with your people to understand their disposition, because no individual’s needs are the same. It’s also worth pointing out that no EVP remains static even during the best of times, so gauging employee sentiment is always important as you examine your talent framework.

Refinement Through Research

Attitudes, behaviors, values and priorities are always changing. And right now, they’re fluctuating constantly in the face of so much uncertainty. Gathering constructive employee input will therefore form the foundation to understand which pillars of your EVP you might need to modify or prioritize — that is, distinguishing between “the have to haves” and the “the nice to haves.”

This will provide you (and ultimately your people) with peace of mind that you are looking after employees’ immediate needs, especially in ways that foster retention and a committed workforce. Particularly as the culture, values, and expected behaviors at many companies have been put to the test, now is the perfect time to conduct research to reset them and help build a workforce that’s prepared for future challenges.

With employees having had to work from home and social distancing, many might be questioning their purpose and their relevance within your organization. On the other hand, many others might’ve reaped the rewards of witnessing what they thought was not possible, like saving time by not commuting or traveling, flexible working hours, work-life balance, etc. Many people consequently feel far more productive and efficient.

Upon onboarding employees back into the workplace, knowing exactly how workers feel about such changes can assist you with better engaging, addressing, supporting, and retaining your workers.

Focusing on Different Skills

During these times, we’ve seen strong emotional qualities of forgiveness, kindness, empathy, and compassion shining through — all of which may have been previously overlooked as part of your company’s EVP. Now might be the time to assess whether to adopt them as part of your DNA.

You’ll also need to make a conscious effort to recruit based on these characteristics for culture fit. Same goes for other skills that may have become more prominent recently, including time-management, presentation, resourcefulness, communications, adaptability, continuous learning, and self-management. You can begin turning up the volume on these inherent behaviors that were once sorely overlooked but are now more relevant and prominent in our changing and agile environment.

A New Competitive Edge

Companies that recognize and invest in the importance of reassessing the relevance of their EVP today and once the pandemic eases will be the ones to retain best-in-class talent and attract the most sought-after skills. Regardless of the unemployment rate, talent will continue to search for unique, inspiring, and exciting employer brands. What’s more, they will easily spot those organizations that are lagging behind with outdated and irrelevant EVPs.

(first published by ERE Recruiting Intelligence on 21 July 2020)