This is adapted from a presentation I recently gave at a Worldwide Employee Benefits (WEB) Chicago West Monthly Meeting. The topic of this meeting was, “Becoming an Employer of Choice through Strategic Benefit Design & Communication.” I was excited for this event, because I don’t usually meet with an audience made up entirely of benefits professionals. My audiences typically consist of human resource professionals across the various HR disciplines, so I had to be in a benefits state of mind for an all-benefits group.
When we work with our clients to develop a solution or make an improvement, my team and I like to use the phrase “better practice” rather than “best practice.”
By that I don’t mean that you should settle for a mediocre solution for the HR issues you’re addressing. On the contrary, “better practice” means continuously improving.
The phrase “best practice” can cause people to forget that the best solution at the moment will not always be the best over time. Times change, organizations change, and most importantly, the workforce changes.
The phrase “better practice” takes all that into account, emphasizing the importance of continuous evolution. It’s key to implement the “better practice” mindset, especially in the context of employee benefits and the employer-employee relationship.
In the past, the employer-employee relationship has heavily focused on salary and benefits in exchange for work. However, it is now becoming increasingly clear that employers cannot stop at tangible benefits if they expect to be able to attract and retain the right talent.
What’s the better practice here? Improving your EVP—your Employee Value Proposition.
An EVP is defined as everything, both tangible and intangible, that an employer provides its employees in exchange for the value employees contribute to the organization. That means, in addition to compensation and benefits, also providing the following:
● Challenging and meaningful work
● Opportunity for personal achievement
● Appealing organizational culture
● Career development
● Pride-inducing set of workplace values
● And more
In other words, compensation and benefits, in the traditional sense, are just the beginning. By providing your employees with more than traditional benefits, you give them the additional tools they need in order to succeed at work and life.
A comprehensive EVP can do these things:
● Help attract and retain talent
● Foster employee engagement
● Give the company a competitive edge
● Create a strong people brand
● Establish a line-of-sight culture
● And more
With a good EVP—one that clearly lays out what you expect of your employees and what your employees can expect from you—your company will be able to achieve much more than it otherwise could.
Creating your EVP
Although that all might sound complicated, the good news is, your organization already has an EVP! The bad news is that your EVP might need some TLC.
However, refining your EVP may not be as daunting a task as you expect.
Assess: Start by reviewing the total rewards you are currently offering your employees.
Ask: Figure out what your employees really want. Are you offering the right benefits to your workforce? Are you offering the ones you think they want or the ones they actually want?
Prioritize: Consider your priorities: What’s at the top of your list—attracting new talent, retaining proven talent, building your brand (either employee or company, or both) or something else? The key is to decide on the desired outcome, then start building out the steps you’ll have to take to get there.
Putting your EVP in action
Test it: Talk to stakeholders—Leadership, HR, Marketing, Communications and a selection of existing employees. Since the EVP will impact a variety of people, it’s crucial to receive feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders, those people who represent both your present and future workforce. This evaluation process will help you determine what to do to refine both the content and the communication style of your message, making it a better fit for your current and future employees.
Communicate: Once you establish your EVP, make sure the team and the workforce are aware of what it is and how it was created through their feedback and suggestions. It’s important to let them know you listened before you acted, and that they feel good about the process.
What happens now?
Now comes a crucial aspect that is often overlooked: keeping the EVP up-to-date. An EVP is a living thing that you have to feed, water, walk and care for.
It can be all too easy to let years pass without re-evaluating the EVP, so it’s important to find a good system for staying accountable. That might mean instituting a schedule for re-examining the EVP and making adjustments.
Even though shifts, especially in the intangibles offered to employees, might not always occur on a neat, quarterly or yearly schedule, it’s critical to keep the EVP front of mind. Because, even though at this point you’ve established a best practice, the goal is to always be making it better.
As it turns out, the all-benefits audience was excited and receptive to hearing a fresh perspective on total rewards. We had a great discussion, and I look forward to more strategic and creative WEB meetings in the future.