Thursday, December 10, 2009

Employer Branding, Step 2: Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

The objective of this stage is to define a set of values, associations and offerings that characterize you as an employer. The set must support the business strategy of the company and fit into the corporate brand.

Your employer value proposition needs to contain associations and values specific to the company’s role as an employer in order to fulfill its purpose among potential and current employees. In addition, it should be very specific in order to differentiate you from other companies. Survey conducted by Universum shows that the majority of companies in Europe and the US that already have a developed employer value proposition, states it could become clearer.

Many employers I have spoken to have pointed out the importance of finding concrete arguments for why their company is attractive. Novo Nordisk, today Denmark’s number one ideal employer among graduates, said once that it has, in the past, made the mistake of not having defined the company’s image before producing their advertisements. Consequently, the company did not have the most effective communication.

My advice for getting your employer value proposition right is presented below.

Decide who your target groups are

Without knowing exactly who you will be communicating to, you will not be able to formulate an attractive proposition. So, already at this point you have to know in detail what your different target groups are. However, it is not enough to know who they are. In order to develop your proposition, three additional areas must be considered:

Your Image – what should you say?
What do candidates want to hear? This is a first and essential question to answer. By doing qualitative and quantitative research you get information on what your target groups want from their ideal employers.

Some years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers said they learned along the way to pay better attention to what their potential candidates “wanted to hear” before elaborating and communicating their offer to the different target groups.

Then the question is - what is our image? What kind of perception do candidates have about us? And is it a match or mismatch between preferences and our image?

Your Identity – what can you say?
To ensure that your formulated employer value proposition is true it needs also include the current perceptions of your employees. Sometimes companies make the mistake of basing their communications around factors attractive for potential employees notwithstanding the fact that they may be far from the truth of the day. Obviously, when there is a discrepancy between the promise and the delivery there will be disappointment and frustration among your employees. Recruiting may become successful in short term; however, retention will collapse and even affect recruitment potential in the long run.

Your Profile – what do you want to say?
The employer value proposition and the employer brand cannot and should not be in any way separate from the corporate brand. They should be consistent and support each other in order to fulfill business objectives. Therefore, management must be involved in the process, since brand vision must come from them.

Companies should make a realistic evaluation of what they would like to say (based on the vision statement from top management), what candidates would like to hear, and what they can say given internal realities. The process of creating a proper employer value proposition should take time, be based on proper research and involve all relevant groups. Once you have developed your set of values, offerings and associations in this manner you should conduct this simple test:
· Is it attractive?
· Is it true?
· Is it in line with our corporate values?
· Is it differentiating us from competitors?

If you can answer these four questions with yes then you can go to the next step – to make a communication plan. If not there is still work to be done.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Employer branding, Step 1: Research

Too many companies make Employer Branding decisions based on gut feelings. STOP doing that! Time to change. The starting point for any employer branding strategy, no matter the company size should be Research.

The goal of this first step is to ensure knowledge of the current position of your employer brand: how it is perceived internally and externally – all in order to create a robust base for decision making in later stages of the process. Research can and should be used for two purposes: 1) planning and 2) evaluation. Evaluation refers mostly to step five:

My experience is that conducting internal and external research is among the least prioritized
activities in order to reach employer branding objectives. The fact that many HR professionals still follow their instincts rather than factual data for deciding on how to promote their employer brands
is alarming. I see though some encouraging signs of changing approach. Research improves the quality of activities conducted by employers and can reduce costs of branding activities dramatically.

Internal and external research
Employer branding is a prerequisite both for successful recruiting and retention. Both internal and external research is thus crucial for creating a sufficient basis of your employer branding strategy; they help you to create an understanding of internal and external target groups.
Some questions that are important to answer before going further in an employer branding strategy are:

a) What do graduates and professionals consider from an ideal employer?

b) What are the differences between graduates and professionals?

c) How satisfied are our employees?

d) What do former employers tell others about us?

e) How do our main competitors promote their employer brand?

f) What perception has potential employees about us?

g) Which channels have potential employees used to get a perception of us?

In my next blogs I will talk more in depth step 2) – a series of five blogs about Employer Branding:). Enjoy and comment!