This is part II of our series on helping recruitment teams get the microscopic fill of the mechanics behind building an Employee Value Proposition. If you missed part I, have your fill here. In the “Vocation of Man,” Fichte said that “you could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby …changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole”.
A parallel to Fichte’s thoughts resides in the metaphor of the “Butterfly Effect” that took birth from a study about chaotic systems (like weather). The study discovered that, over time, the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil was capable of setting off a series of atmospheric events that, weeks later, induced the formation of a tornado in Texas.
Closer to home, we found this metaphor realise itself when talent acquisition teams converge to craft an Employee Value Proposition for their respective organisations. Where the process itself is a delicate and powerful step, a deeper look into the various ingredients that form the EVP mix is crucial for success — consider the various ingredients flapping their wings together for their employer brand taking shape of the proverbial tornado.
Butterflies In Motion: Employee Value Proposition
An organisation’s EVP, and the factors (our butterflies, in this perspective) that contribute to its development, oftentimes assume an intentional and sometimes unintentional structure. Dynamically transforming factors such as:
- Competitive talent landscape.
- Economic contributions for and of an organisation.
- Operating performance.
- Growth objectives and the overall industry dynamics.
They help an organisation find ground and articulate their companies’ values as the business transformations consistently take place.
Like Lego blocks assembling together to create a sum greater than the parts, an EVP has 5 generic pillars that converge to create an employer voice. Think of this voice as the communication guideline that speaks of any of these distinct pillars in the same breath as the other. The mix of these pillars remains largely similar across organisations; what differs is the gravity that any of these constituents might lend to themselves depending upon growth objectives, talent landscape, macro or micro industry forces and strategic imperatives.
These five prime components are –
Arguably the most crucial pillar assumed across most organisations from startups to MNCs, career growth (and its lack thereof) is one of the biggest factors behind employees seeking a change of organisation. You’d observe that, in an organisation, with abundant growth opportunities, the employee retention rate will be significantly higher. At a macroscopic level, here are some factors that bolster career growth –
- Introspection on the growth of skill sets at the employees’ present job.
- Gaps between the current levels of competency and their future aspirations.
- Development of roadmaps to help employees grow in their current position and towards their future aspirations.
- Hiring internal career coaches to help sharpen employees’ resumes.
- Financing external sources of learning for skill sets’ advancement.
For instance, Google’s work atmosphere consistently emphasises on aiming big and translates it into their initiatives and rewards. With a focus on aspects such as:
- Technical innovation that brings solutions across multiple spheres of life.
- Technical awards and collaborations with an aim to impact the community.
For e.g. Google Rise Awards — Indian Slum & Rural Innovation Project
- Exposure offered in the development of the world’s best cloud computing infrastructure.
“Do you have the same spring in your step going to work as the one you have going on a date?” This question sums up the intent behind communicating the many spokes of a culture umbrella that define an organisation’s reputation, the core ingredients of which are –
- An organisation’s reputation.
- The quality of interaction and camaraderie between co-workers.
- The engagement between employees with the organisation’s goals and values.
- The efficacy and quality of management spanning verticals.
- An organisation’s participation and level of engagement in community service, to name a few.
For example, Adobe, synonymous to ‘constant reinvention’, created a transparent concept of “Picturing life at Adobe”. They realised the concept by –
- Creating an Adobe Life page that speaks volumes about their sense of community through inspiring blog stories about their employees’ personal challenges and achievements.
- Creating an active twitter hashtag that deeply incorporated their values and culture. By letting their employees become the organisation’s voice, Adobe could transparently reflect the culture and opportunities that it fostered.
By connecting with and valuing their internal employees across verticals, and giving an honest glimpse of their work culture, Adobe gracefully struck all the right chords with their audience, inside and outside.
Philosophy/Vision Drives Employee Value Proposition
Every employee, at an intrinsic level, seeks to contribute their efforts to a workplace that is deeply rooted in its core values and is resonant with the organisation’s tenets and beliefs. This deceivingly subtle pillar of the Employee Value Proposition is of critical relevance as it indicates the willingness of association amongst the talent pools within and outside the organisation — directly hinting at an organisation’s willingness to put its money where the mouth is. The pillar of Philosophy generally speaks about –
- An organisation’s central values and ethics.
- Their reason of existence.
- How they create solutions while always keeping these tenets uncompromised.
For e.g. Right from the point of inception, Amazon has invariably taken their philosophy of being the most customer-centric company on earth to heart. An example of how atomically this has been implemented across the organisation can be observed in the engagement process with their prospective employees. A typical interview at Amazon sees to –
- Scheduling interviews within a short frame of interaction to respect a candidate’s time.
- Ensuring exposure to intellectual interactions at the campus with their prospective teams to better gauge the cerebral and emotional compatibility with the team members.
- Carrying out the post-interview engagement in a short span of time.
- Revolving an attitude of respect and regard around the candidate’s experience at every level of engagement such as, the waiting time between interviews, the interaction with internal employees and the reception by the recruitment coordinators.
In doing so, Amazon reflects the uniformity with which their values are imbued into every molecule of the organisation.
Work Environment Contributes To Employee Value Proposition
The work environment of an organisation is a strong determiner of their underlying principles and relates most directly to the way the internal workforce feels about and perceive the organisation. Work environment would entail various metrics such as job interest activation, work-life balance, autonomy, work arrangements, etc.
For eg. Cisco is one of the few organisations that have consciously acknowledged the significance of work-life balance early-on. They have thoughtfully evolved their EVP around this ideology by not holding physical presence as a parameter of productivity at workspace.
An example of their innovative employee-centric strategies is the redesigning of their workspace to create collaborative, connected workspace environments. These spaces are designed to be conducive to creativity — featuring bright colours, moveable work stations, an open, free-flowing work environment, and ensuring a protected and collaborative connectivity via mobile devices.
Rewards Or Benefits
“A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”
An organisation’s biggest asset is its people. The incorporation of this sentiment at a granular level helps build a motivated and highly productive workforce by tying employees to the company’s goals. Rewards or Benefits would include (but not be limited to) –
- Health benefits.
- Parenthood support.
- Retirement benefits.
For e.g. Flipkart’s recent revamp of talent branding ensured that their EVP spoke loudly and clearly about their core value — Empathy. Their career page illustrates how they’ve gracefully embodied it across their pillar of Benefits to add meaning and value to their internal and external audience. These benefits explore Insurance, work-life balance support, parents’ support, wellness, mobility, retirement amongst miscellaneous other benefits.
Redirecting Your Tornadoes
“If a single flap of wings can lead to the generation of a tornado, it can equally well be pivotal in transforming — or even avoiding one.” — Edward Lorenz, father of Chaos Theory and the butterfly effect.
While the last five years have seen countless transformations in the IT recruitment landscape in India, the concept of a conscious Employee Value Proposition is still nascent in our country. Interestingly though, the adapted EVP model survives despite undergoing continual transformations with the industry’s evolution. Where a multitude of factors govern the transformations in our sector, it is imperative to understand how they function together at an atomic scale. This would empower one to leverage the absolute power contained in the process of creating the EVP.
In an exhaustive and organic manner, we attempt to put forth the wisdom we accumulated from seasoned industry experts into understanding the most formative aspects that go behind building a robust EVP in our consistently volatile landscape.
The Internal Workforce
Gaining momentum with the strongest resource at your disposal — your internal workforce.
A plethora of relevant information resides with your internal employees across the organisation’s verticals. Their viewpoints and experiences, when converged, form powerful qualitative data that can serve as the strong foundation an EVP’s structure needs.
For e.g., some of this information would involve –
- How the internal employees feel about their work, culture and their perceivable growth.
- Your leaders’ thought processes and views behind their decision-making steps.
- The last but prominent experience of the employees that exit your organisation.
- The interconnected ways that govern the functioning of your teams of accountables (read: HR, TA, marketing, et al).
A practical methodology that extracts relevant information would employ the following measures.
Conducting an intensive research by reaching out to your internal workforce across verticals.
For e.g., By understanding –
- The factors that motivate your employee to work in the organisation.
- The growth opportunities that the employees see for themselves.
- The values that they resonate with deeply.
- The employees’ pain-points.
Extensively analysing the acquired data to comprehend the internal employees’ perception and understanding of your organisation.
By understanding the divergence of an organisation’s perceived image from what it truly stands for, a clearer structure can be achieved. Some of the key considerations to take here are –
- The overlapping perceptions between internal workforce, organisations’ leaders’ perspectives, and the opinion of the external talent pool.
- The gaps that exist between the aforementioned audience’s opinions.
- The differentiators of your organisation that bolster its identity.
Designing a fresh strategy that addresses the existing lacunas and instils transparency across verticals.
Cross Functional Alignment
The conundrum of picking the driver behind the steering wheel of an EVP — Cross functional Alignment
In the Indian context today, there’s no single custodian who holds complete accountability of managing an organisation’s EVP. We’re more likely to come across responsibilities that are add-on badges for a TA or an HR person, or, (an idea even more bewildering) for the corporate communications team. This reality is akin to the proverbial elephant in the room being examined and understood individually by blindfolded people — where none of the above-mentioned teams (our blindfolded examiners) have a thorough understanding of the subject at hand.
However, the light at the end of the tunnel is the wave of transformations that continually wash over our industry. It is natural then, that to survive its volatility and fast pace organisations need to be innovative and multi-skilled.
An employee value proposition is innately connected to the organisation’s employer brand, corporate brand, HR strategies, internal communications, engagement and recruitment. From a position as central and impactful, the process of developing an EVP demands a sole custodian with a birds’-eye view.
An ideal custodian would understand the importance of running operations in a closely aligned and collaborated manner while also being proficient at skill sets across multiple domains.
The sole custodian needs an expert in the HR domain with an in-depth understanding of the landscape to drives its operational nucleus. At the same time, they would also need a wider perspective from the Marketing standpoint to be able to innovatively tackle other facets such as campaigns and audience targeting.
For e.g. Take into account the collaboration across miscellaneous teams within Flipkart when they set out to communicate about their diverse talent force. Their collaborative approach brought a confluence of advertising, marketing, internal and external communication teams whose seamless internal coaction beautifully voiced out their value proposition.
The video that covered Flipkart’s Employees’ stories was brought to life by their talent branding team. It went on to strike an amplified impact across the external audience when their PR and Communications team collaborated to convey this video as their talent story. Right after, it was adopted by their marketing team and permeated into their employee value proposition model to envelop the company’s culture. The multi-level collaborations of different creative mindsets brought the employees closer and illustrated how creative successes can be achieved with collaboration and uniformity.
Localising An International Brand Value
Based on the demographic projections across different regions of the world, countries like India, that have a positive demographic development, find it difficult (and will continue to do so) to attract the most befitting candidates from a vast sea of employable talent.
When an organisation sets out to establish themselves across different geographies, they need to take into account several factors such as –
- A specific market’s need.
- The functional channels of communication to reach out to their intended masses, to state a few.
The biggest challenge arises when an established organization sets forth to mould its EVP in harmony with a new audience.
For e.g. A couple of years ago, a very limited portion of Intel’s targeted pool (in India) was aware of the fact that a lot of their transformative, global products had been created in our country. When Intel decided to re-craft their EVP for the Indian mass, they incorporated a multiple channel strategy to address the above-mentioned challenges.
As a part of this strategy, they took the below initiatives –
- Building a talent community of software professionals
Intel’s talent community on LinkedIn opened a venue for engaging conversations with prospective talent pool while helping them showcase their innovations and lending glimpses of life at Intel. In the same vein, by making their business managers and employees the brand ambassadors within the community, Intel was able to direct relevant content and product innovation stories at their targeted segment with successful results.
- Targeting and understanding the right spaces for their targeted segment of talent pool
By understanding where Intel’s most befitting talent crowd resided, Intel restructured its approach to reach out to them across relevant events and social media channels. These events saw Intel speak at length about the product innovations and developments that were happening at the India Research labs — a fact that had earlier been remiss from the organisation’s conversations.
- Collaborating tightly with their recruiters to metamorphose their entire messaging
To ensure a uniform and informative voice across the different outlets of communication, Intel’s Branding team brought about a coupling boot camp. Its primary goal was to align the approach, messaging and depth in understanding between the marketing, sales and HR teams.
- Enabling their leaders to speak at various events and channels while also maintaining their organisation’s consistency
A critical source of communication — the face of the organisation that was the leaders, were rigorously conditioned to adapt and make their voice and messaging consistent at events, across blog content, and various social media channels.
Articulating Your Pillars Right
Much like the chaos systems (of unpredictable weather processes), our industry is dynamically changing. A critical, and often under-valued aspect in the process of establishing an EVP is of articulating and establishing the pillars in the strongest and clearest way possible. With a strong ground, an EVP survives the trials of volatile dynamics by evolving with the changes while holding onto the core ideals.
To their talent, Flipkart has been beautifully authentic by communicating in their employee value proposition, the system of paradoxes that reflects in their organisation. They’re courageous and risk-taking, changeable and ambitious — where the dynamic changes in their workplace foster a challenging environment, it also sprouts ample opportunities for their talent to grow and thrive in.
By identifying themselves holistically, they were able to chart their EVP in the most authentic manner. From their blog pieces, their graphic stories to the internal employee video stories, uniformity is religiously maintained across all their sources of content.
In a similar manner, their employee value proposition has stood out and reflected in their business decisions across the timeline.
For instance, their core belief lies in having the courage to try what no-one else has attempted before. While this philosophy has been equally successful (The Big Billion Day Sale) and unsuccessful (implementing an app-only strategy for Myntra), the company has evolved for the better while holding tight to those core beliefs.
An effective implementation of your employee value proposition allows an organisation to stand out while ensuring they hold their ground to the values they truly harbour. An organisation’s EVP is involved with a deep intricacy across a milieu of factors like employer brand, HR strategies, internal communications within an organisation, engagement and recruitment. In getting the employee value proposition right, an organisation can affect positive outcomes across a span of time and people. Much like the butterfly that flutters its wings, creating powerful storms — in the right direction.
[This post by Nikita Tiwari first appeared on DoSelect and has been reproduced with permission.]