What is your Employee Value Proposition? (And why does it matter?)


With all due respect, it seems that few HR organizations have any idea what really attracts top talent to their organization. Or even what keeps their employees engaged throughout the employee experience.

Whenever HR is asked by their leaders “why can’t we get better talent?”, this question inevitably comes to the surface.

The first response will always be that it’s a competitive market and there are more opportunities for candidates due to a better economy.  In reality, they are just like many other employers who can’t articulate what makes their offering different.

Today’s top talent know they have career options and they know their worth. And if your organization can’t answer “what’s in it for them to come work for you?” with what they’re looking for (and its rarely salary or stability), those candidates will keep looking until they find an organization that can answer that question at their first engagement with their messaging.

Even top talent at your own organization.

But here’s the good news: There’s an answer. It’s developing or refining your employee value proposition (also called an employer value proposition or EVP). An EVP is about defining the essence of your company - how it is unique and what it stands for. It encompasses the central reasons that people are proud and motivated to work there, such as the inspiring vision, support for their career aspirations, or distinctive culture.

Best of all, when integrated into all aspects of a business, a strong EVP will help to retain top performers and attract the best external talent. Your organization becomes a magnet for the people you want and need to employ, and helps you stick tight to those you already have. 


So how is an EVP different from an Employment Brand?

Download your free guide: 5 Steps to Creating a Social Media Recruiting strategyThink of your employment branding as the creative expression of the promise that you make employees and candidates. An EVP, on the other hand, defines the "give and get" of the employment deal (the value that employees are expected to contribute with the value that they can expect in return). It also defines what values and characteristics the organization would most like to be associated with as an employer. 

EVPs have become closely related to the concept of employer branding with the EVP being used to define the underlying "offer" on which an organization’s employer brand is based. Think of the old adage “which came first, the chicken or the egg:” without understanding your employee value proposition, your employment brand can actually ring pretty hollow and inauthentic. 

There are many ways an organization can approach developing an EVP, but in our experience, the process can be defined in five key steps: 


1. Data gathering

The first step is to review the data you currently have available. This might include employee engagement, onboarding or exit surveys and recruitment and retention metrics. Analyze this data by key employee populations to identify trends and themes. Remember to look beyond the top line numbers - the real insights come from the verbatim comments of employees that provide context to the numbers.


2. Focus groups

This is the most important step in developing your EVP and should involve key stakeholders including senior leadership, HR, marketing and, most importantly, both existing and prospective employees. 

We always recommend grouping participants by job area or role for these employee focus groups. Believe it or not, they were drawn to your opportunity for different reasons and see value (and drawbacks) in different aspects of your employee experience and workplace culture. This will help you parse out “drivers and challenges” to each job area that can help inform your HR strategy. 

Don’t forget to poll or interview your silver medalist candidates—those prospective candidates that were interviewed, but not hired. These often get overlooked and provide real nuggets of information that can help inform how your candidate experience stacks up.  


3. Concept development

 Using the research and insights you’ve gathered, list out the key areas where the experience in different job areas overlap. For example, if your employees across all groups were drawn to your company for its Values-Driven Environment or Focus on Career Development, those are among the pillars your employee experience is built on. But keep these areas focused; for example, it could be tempting to identify “Fun” as a pillar if your company has used it to describe their work environment for years, but if it never comes up in focus group conversation, chances are good that it’s not important to your message! You’ll use these pillars to help you to craft your value proposition as a simple overarching statement that will become the essence of your employee experience and employer brand commitment.


4. Concept testing

 It’s really not enough to simply get buy-in from senior management before taking your EVP messaging further. Before you begin any type of promotion proceeds, you need to test it to make sure it is consistent with what your employees think and say about your company. Whether you do it in person or via survey, run your “pillar statements” past employees, particularly those in your focus groups, to ensure your EVP is an authentic, genuine reflection of the value your company provides.  


5. Deployment

Once your EVP has been defined and tested, find a creative and memorable way to introduce it to your employees. Make it a celebration, as it really represents the pride you have in your people and your workplace. Incorporate aspects of the EVP into onboarding, your engagement surveys, company announcements, reward and recognition initiatives, internal communications, policies and business plans, so that it is reflected in the way your company conducts its daily operations.  

Then, find creative and relevant ways to communicate it to the people you are trying to attract. Start by conveying it through all hiring channels such as company websites, advertising and the interview process, so that prospective talent can determine if they would make a good fit for your business. Consistently communicating a compelling EVP in all external communications will also help the passive candidate form a positive perception of the value of working for your company. 

A well-developed EVP can provide many benefits, from better attraction and retention of key talent, to informing and supporting HR strategy.  Not only will you have candidates fighting to work for you, but employees who are proud to be brand ambassadors for the unique organization your EVP and your employment brand portrays. 

Do you know what it takes to drive better engagement with your candidates and employees? Talk with the experts at Newton Talent and learn how we can help you build and implement the right strategy for your company. Connect with us.

Written by Patty Silbert

President of Newton Talent since 2018, Patty Silbert has over 30 years of experience developing the innovative solutions that help HR professionals just like you meet their most pressing recruitment challenges and their companies achieve their talent acquisition goals. She is a regular writer and speaker on the subjects of recruitment strategy, employment branding, HR technology, and leadership.