This week I sat down with Mike Beeley to discuss the meaning of the term ‘EVP’ as well as the importance of having an employee brand. We take a look at the Australian Defence Force as a prime example of an entity that heavily invests into talent acquisition and building their employer brand. Mike Beeley is the CEO of Lightbox Communications and has spent the last 30 years helping global and local organisations understand their EVP and how to market their employment proposition to their target audiences through traditional and emerging media. Here are our insights.
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What’s an EVP and an Employer Brand?
There are varying opinions about what the term “EVP” means. Firstly, what the acronym is – in Australia, we call it the “Employee Value Proposition.” This term represents the idea that an employee derives a sense of value from working for the organisation. In the UK and other parts of the world, they tend to call it an “Employer Value Proposition.” It’s semantics as to which one’s correct, but here we prefer the employee value proposition.
Essentially, it means to focus on the employee’s needs, and you’ll usually have a degree of success with this. In academic terms, an EVP is an emotional contract between an employer and an employee over what represents a great working environment. Whether that be a fair remuneration and reward for working there, or what it feels like to do so.
That’s the academic term, and you can probably shorten that to being an agreement or a deal between someone on how we all reach our goals. How do employees and employers both reach their goals in harmony and in cooperation with each other?
Can we use an EVP to say why an employee would want to work for us and stay working for us?
An EVP starts internally with what we’re offering our current people. You can’t take an EVP and go external with it straight away; it has to be authentic. It has to be competitive, and it has to be consistent.
We have to start internally – “why do people join us?”
Just as importantly, “why do people leave?”
There are some absolute truths in there which may not be palatable or attractive to us, but they need uncovering. Otherwise, they will remain there and remain problems. Finding out from across the organisation what makes people want to work, what attracts them and what disappoints people, is vital.
So the EVP is a deal. The EVP is a deal between employees and employers about what’s the optimal outcome to achieve all our goals. The other phrase for it could be, it’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room as an employer. That’s also probably the definition of a brand. The employer brand, therefore, is the articulation and the communication of an EVP to all the company’s different audiences.
A single EVP can be adapted to all different cohorts as appropriate. The messaging will be different for apprentices, school leavers as well as for people at different stages in life, such as people returning to the workforce from bringing up children. Contingent workers will attract a slightly different EVP, for example, as they’re going to be less interested in long term career development and more about other things. The EVP is a single piece of work, and the employer brand is how we communicate the EVP to different audiences.
An Example: The Australian Defence Force
One example that comes to mind is those massive campaigns by the Army. They have a huge budget – they spend millions of dollars across every single type of media in the country. What they’re advertising becomes more of a ‘story’. It’s not just an ad saying come and work with us and we’ll pay you ‘$x’ amount, they’re talking about a lifestyle. They’re talking about a person’s career and life beyond leaving the Army. Is that just in your head going, ‘something is going on here’. They’re trying to articulate the full EVP. Are those campaigns built with that in mind?
Yes, indeed. Where that comes from is an insight through research into what people look for and what people respond to. To put those numbers into perspective, the ADF (Australian Defence Force) spends somewhere between $50 – $60 million a year on their recruitment advertising and talent acquisition. That’s for an organisation that hires somewhere between 7,000 – 8,000 people. That’s quite a significant amount of spend to attract all those people into the Defence Force.
Why Are They Doing That?
The Australian Defence Force, or any defence force, likely has one of the highest senses of purpose in the country. An EVP could get shortened to a single sentence that addresses ‘purpose’. There’s a famous man called Simon Sinek, who’s an American ‘corporate philosopher.’ He talks about the ‘what’, the ‘how’ and the ‘why‘ of organisations. We all know what we do and how we do it. However, very few people ask ‘WHY?‘. Why are we doing this, and what impact does that have? The sense of purpose provided by an organisation is crucial. An EVP essentially helps employers articulate that sense of purpose.
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