There’s an open secret at your company that few people, if anyone, will voice. Your employee value proposition is boring.

Here’s what’s going on: Organizations spend copious amounts of time, resources, and five-digit figures in building their EVPs. What’s more, within a disrupted global talent market, companies are continuing to work tirelessly to redefine their employer value propositions so that they don’t become outdated.

This has often entailed shifting their EVP quickly to cater to the immediate needs and wellbeing of their employee workforce, especially with so many people dispersed and working remotely. Which sounds good, but can also lead to problems — some companies are now building their EVPs based on the present, most obvious employee basic needs, such as safety, mental and financial wellbeing, upskilling and ongoing learning, increased IT capabilities, flexibility, etc.

Why is that a problem? Because it feels like every employer is saying roughly the same thing. They talk about making a difference together, they emphasize career growth, they tout innovation or creativity or other generic buzzwords, they prompt unremarkable benefits like paid vacation time (come on, really!?), they cite corporate values like teamwork and collaboration that couldn’t be more generic.

Generic. That’s the problem. EVPs feel largely generic. It’s not enough for your EVP to be different than it was a year ago? It’s also got to be different than everyone else’s right now to remain relevant and attract the right talent.

So the questions become: How intentional are employer brand and talent leaders in differentiating their EVPs? How can companies avoid making the same mistakes they were making pre-Covid when EVPs were drowning in a proverbial sea of sameness? And wherein the process do employers likely go wrong?

To answer these questions, it’s vital to examine some others:

  • Are you asking the right questions of employees at the outset, or dictating what you want to hear?
    Are you sufficiently encouraging your people to voice their opinions about their work experience? If you want to understand what makes your business unique, then it’s your people — not just your senior leaders — who will give you the answers you need (if not always want) to hear.
  • Are you too focused on what your competitors are doing?
    Oh, Competitor X has a great EVP. Let’s make ours similar! Except, if you follow the crowd, you’ll get lost in it. You’re not Facebook or Amazon or Netflix or Google or any other company. Nor should you be. Embrace your uniqueness — because the reality is that not everyone wants to work for Facebook or Amazon or Netflix or Google.
  • Are you trying to be everything to everyone?
    If you don’t focus on your corporate culture and instead try to appeal to too many people, you’ll end up appealing to no one. Your EVP should attract the right candidates and repel the wrong ones.
  • Are you not being deliberate enough when sharing your distinct differentiators?
    The biggest downfall is when companies complete EVP foundational work, and then…nothing. Nothing happens. No one does anything with it. No one takes action to build a plan. Or maybe someone does, but then no one executes it. Where is the sustainability? Employer branding is a living organism that needs to be massaged continuously and not just be put on the shelf once crafted? So much planning, resources, budget and time goes into building an employer branding strategy yet it fails dismally when it’s not adopted as part of a company business/talent strategy?
  • Are you enabling talent to make an emotional connection?
    It’s not enough to have a written EVP. You’ve got to inform, entertain, and communicate your key differentiators in ways that grab people. With remote work becoming more common, you have an opportunity to show employees’ personal stories about working in your new work environment. Candidates crave such stories. They want to hear, see, and feel what WFH is like at your organization. Look at reality shows
  • Are your recruiters and other talent advisors failing to live up to your EVP?
    Are they consequently ruining the candidate experience? Maybe they simply need extra guidance to convey your EVP better to candidates.

By asking these questions, you’re likelier to arrive at a far more effective and differentiated EVP. And in many cases, it won’t be differentiated based on what you say. Rather, it is how you say something that will truly distinguish your company. For example, check out these videos by SalesforceWorkSafe VictoriaSuveyMonkey, and this amazing clip by Apple. Each conveys its EVP in a truly unique way.

So before you start crafting a new EVP, be sure you’re clear on the answers to these questions. Otherwise, you’ll just waste time and money again looking and sounding like every other company.

(first published by ERE Recruiting Intelligence on 15 March 2021)