You want to succeed in this market, but it seems like the ground is continually shifting under your feet. Or maybe you feel like Captain Bligh, steering The Bounty through tumultuous waters. Post-pandemic, it’s far from business-as-usual. Leaders are contending with a huge range of issues old and new, including:
- The Great Resignation/Reshuffle
- Talent shortages
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Attraction and retention
- Psychological safety
- Career path management
- Environmental, social and governance expectations
- Organizational and cultural shifts
What these topics collectively represent is a hot discussion around the future of work. Technology has enabled remote work and an intentionality around connectivity that we’ve never seen before. Yet many business owners are stuck in the top-down mentality that is demonstrated through an all-hands-on-deck approach, preferably under strict oversight of the first mate.
I’ve lived and worked in seven different countries—and that has certainly shaped my ability to see things from a variety of perspectives—but no one has gone through anything like what we’ve been through in the last two and a half years. (Yes, it has been that long already.) This experience informs one key aspect of my job, which is to is to show business leaders how to effectively refocus their strategy, design their future of work and understand the difference between a passing squall and a seismic shift.
Most people are familiar with the acronym UVP (unique value proposition). It’s what sets you apart from your competitors and makes you distinct (and thus valuable) in the marketplace. But you may not have heard the term EVP. This one stands for Employee Value Proposition, a bucket term containing many things that you are actually very familiar with, only viewed from a particular perspective—your workforce’s.
Specifically, your EVP is an internal promise to your employees that defines what people get from working for your company. Why do people want to join your company, perform their best, and stay with you? Salary, you say? Well, 91 per cent of job seekers see culture as more important than salary and 80 per cent of candidates consider employer brand when choosing to apply. In Canada, we’re not just seeing generational shifts, we’re seeing shifts in technology, immigration, and work-life balance. It was time for a course correction; unfortunately, it took a pandemic to get many employers to realize it.
I describe EVP development to my clients as progressing through four iterative phases. Why iterative? Because people aren’t static. Relationships are constantly evolving, and that means being genuinely curious.
- First is the Discovery Phase. You ask questions, identify moments that matter for your employees, understand better what makes your company special from their perspective, and then benchmark against best practice and an external brand scan.
- Now you’re ready to enter the Define Phase. This is your next-level EVP, in which you identify current gaps and ideate on the possibilities for your future of work. Don’t make the mistake in this phase of thinking that defining EVP is the same as employer branding. EVP is employee-centered, alive, and constantly evolving. This process involves not just relationships but interaction with your employees, increased awareness of your competitors and workplace trends, and an understanding that you don’t just deliver great customer experience—you deliver great candidate experience. Every employee remains a candidate, and they will vote with their feet.
- Next comes the Design Phase. Together with your employees, you create detailed initiatives to meet your new EVP. This includes a robust change impact analysis. As the over-quoted Einstein once said, (to paraphrase) you can’t get different results by repeating the same actions—that’s insane. So how do you know if you’re actually perpetuating the same paradigm? Are the people who designed the company’s current culture the same ones reviewing and approving the new culture?
- The fourth component is the Deliver Phase, in which you create the roadmap to implement your unique EVP, including organizational change management support and value realization metrics.
Has your company realized all the value it can out of your employee value proposition? Maybe it’s time to reevaluate what’s important to your prospective and current employees!
Captain Bligh made a comment for the ages while beating his sailors for misdemeanours, thus leading to the famous mutiny. He said: “Beatings will continue until morale improves.” Humour is one way to deal with the situation. The other is to call on some trusted expertise and ask for help. It’s the navigation required for the future of work.
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