As HR teams increasingly use social media and content marketing to source top talent, crossover terms such as ‘employer brand’ and ‘employer value proposition (EVP)’ are cropping up more frequently. So what do these terms mean, and what can a strong employer brand and EVP do for your company?       

First up, your employer brand. This is simply how your brand is perceived in the talent market and it relates to staff experience at all stages of the employee lifecycle – from initial engagement through to onboarding, career progression, offboarding and beyond. The term itself might be relatively new, but the concept is not. It’s really just your reputation as an employer, and to make sure it’s a positive one means you need to create exceptional experiences for employees. And that brings us to your employer value proposition (EVP).

Your EVP is all about defining what your company stands for. It encompasses what you offer as an employer – pay, benefits, environment, career development, daily perks – plus culture, values and mission. It’s everything that makes your employees get out of bed and love coming into the office, and is that middle ground between what employees and employers want.

Clearly, an employer brand and EVP go very much hand in hand. But why do they matter? It goes without saying that a negative employer brand is not what you want if you’re looking to attract and retain top talent. But there’s a little more to it than that – and Amazon is an excellent example. 

This brand has made more than a few headlines over the treatment and working conditions of its employees, and it’s renowned for being a high-pressure, cut-throat environment in which to work. But still it continues to attract new employees. As a leading ecommerce retailer, Amazon has positioned itself as a brand which seeks out people who want to push the boundaries on innovation. Usually, these are high-performers who excel under pressure; what Amazon has done is build an EVP from what was previously perceived as a problem. 

It’s a clever move by the technology giant, and it shows the power of a strong EVP. But it’s always better to take control of your employer brand by building a solid reputation too. Here are the main benefits of having both a strong employer brand and EVP:

An easier (and possibly cheaper) hiring process 

72% of executives believe that employer branding has an impact on hiring and 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job. 

When you’re an employer of choice, building talent pools becomes easier. If people have bought into your company, then they’ll likely find you. Therefore, KPIs such as cost-per-hire and time-to-hire are dramatically decreased.

However, don’t forget that the hiring process in itself could actually affect your employer brand too, or even your consumer brand. Virgin Media found that 6% of their 123,000 rejected candidates each year went on to cancel their monthly subscription due to a bad experience, which ended up costing them £4.4m annually.

Ensure you’re covering the basics with candidates at the very least. Be receptive and respond to all applicants. Keep them engaged so that even if you’re not hiring, you’re making them advocates.

An extended employee lifecycle

If you’re aligning your values with your existing employees and new recruits, then you’re fostering an inclusive culture. This is going to lead to better staff retention. In fact, LinkedIn has reported that companies investing in employer branding experience a 28% decrease in staff turnover.

Improved performance

71% of companies with a clear and effective employer brand have reported improved company performance, as opposed to 45% of firms with less developed employer brands.

Next steps

If you’re looking to build an EVP from scratch then be sure to consult your wider organisation – not just the leadership team – so you understand what makes them tick. Employee engagement surveys are a great place to start.

You’ll want to work with your marketing team to define and develop your employer brand; you can take a lot from the already-developed consumer brand in terms of tone of voice and communications. Do some research to discover what people are saying about you on social media and sites like Glassdoor too. 

Your marketing team may also help you turn your research into talent profiles – the HR version of customer personas. Talent profiles are important, helping you to ensure you’re targeting the right audience with the right message. From there, you can build awareness through strong SEO, social media and content marketing strategies.

New territory: COVID-19

While the above steps will always be of relevance, there’s one more thing to consider – the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have a profound impact on our lives. People’s values and expectations have inevitably changed, and to remain an employer of choice in a post-COVID market, brands must develop an EVP which responds to the crisis and employees’ altered priorities. 

Coronavirus has forced major changes in the workplace. Remote working has become the norm – and while many have enjoyed the increased freedom and flexibility, this style of working can also become isolating and monotonous. A company culture which prioritises collaboration and teamwork is therefore more important now than ever. 

The same goes for well-being. Even before the emergence of COVID-19, the burgeoning wellness trend meant that employees had high expectations of employers regarding well-being in the workplace – and the pandemic means that those expectations are only set to increase. People will want to work for brands which put their health and happiness first. 

Post-COVID-19, the brands which attract and retain top talent will be those that are sensitive to the situation and have adapted their EVPs accordingly. Think about what matters most to people in this new world we’re living in – things like compassion, relationships and wellness – and build those into your EVP.