What is an EVP? And how can it help you bridge the digital skills gap?
24 August 2021 • 6 min read
The digital skills gap is a real and urgent problem for many organisations. However, there are nevertheless practical ways it can be tackled. One such way is with a stellar EVP - or Employee Value Proposition.
We typically think about value propositions in relation to product strategy. To a certain extent the notion of an EVP is a development of that way of thinking. Given the challenges organisations face when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, adopting a product mindset can help you to think through the challenge in a more strategic manner.
What is an EVP (Employee Value Proposition)?
An EVP, at a basic level, is simply what you offer employees in return for their time, skills, and engagement. It’s a way of thinking about your organisation as a product from the employee perspective. Sure, perhaps you have a job opening - and maybe you think it's great. But with an, EVP you can better answer the question that will occupy the minds of prospective candidates: why that job?
Fundamentally, then, an EVP is a formal way of articulating why someone should join the company (and why someone should stay with the company). By taking the time to do this, it puts you in a far better position to tackle your skill gap challenges.
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The core components of an EVP
There are a number of components to an EVP. Broadly these can be broken down into the following categories:
- Vision and branding
- Culture and environment
- Recruitment and on-boarding
- Talent and development
The vision and branding clarifies the vision and culture. This is what attracts prospective talent and engages existing employees.
Recruitment and onboarding, meanwhile, protects the culture by ensuring people are content and that they have the confidence to hit the ground running when they join.
Talent and development runs alongside all this, helping you to ensure you have the capabilities you need, and that there are opportunities for growth and learning for current team members.
How to develop an exceptional Employee Value Proposition
If those are the core components of an EVP, how do you actually develop one? Here are some practical steps.
Understand who your employees are and build an EVP that’s compelling to them
The digital workforce is relatively young. Millennials and Gen Z are overrepresented in tech and digital compared to other functions within an organisation. It’s essential, then, that organisations research and understand what’s important to these people in their careers and design the end-to-end employee lifecycle accordingly.
Of course reward and recognition packages are vital. A salary that’s enough to take salary as an issue off the table is important, and along with the other ingredients of the EVP, should ensure an engaged employee who isn’t likely to have their head turned by bigger offers elsewhere. In instances where employees are moving purely on the basis of a salary, if your EVP lacks the other ingredients that makes your organisation attractive, it’s much less likely to lead to a long-lasting and sustainable relationship.
Create a strong digital vision and purpose supported by a compelling roadmap
Above all else, it’s vital that you have a clear digital vision and strategy for your organisation. Without it, all the other steps (listed below) will be ineffective.
This is partly about clarity: employees need to know what they’re doing or will feel unfocused and disengaged. But it’s also about ambition and opportunities for growth - the vision needs exciting goals and stretch targets.
Often, businesses focus on underlying capability build or migration activity at the expense of more engaging work that has direct and visible benefits to customers and colleagues. Make the work that individuals are doing interesting and ensure it has a clear link to the purpose, vision or strategy of the wider organisation.
Don’t neglect the importance of fully embedding digital and agile ways of working
Today’s talent has heightened expectations of how an employer will interact across all touchpoints. They may expect it to mirror how they interact with brands they shop with in day to life. Digital native companies have an advantage here as ‘out of the box’ processes (such as HR processes) can be easily deployed. Digital is in their DNA; extending it to a broad range of domains should be relatively straightforward for them.
Within the digital delivery space it’s critical that organisations focus on embedding ways of working that support a digital business. For example, where an established business is adopting agile methodologies for delivering features to the digital ‘estate’, adopting these ways of working across delivery teams and management can be one of the hardest elements of digital transformation.
It requires a mindset shift and a continued effort to get it right.
Embed a culture and a pathway for learning, development and training
Think about how your organisation can create a culture of learning and curiosity, and map out clear learning pathways in support of this. This will range from formal training courses to upskill and build competency on technical specialisms - these will need to be conducted externally in most cases. Then building communities of interest around digital topics and methods is one way that businesses can drive curiosity and collaboration around key issues.
Supporting the training and the learning culture should be a transparent development process whereby employees can rise through levels of competence based on their experience and their delivery thus keeping them moving on an upwards trajectory and developing themselves - this is beneficial for both the organisation and the employee. The introduction of ‘micro-progressions’ (small incremental grade, rewards and capability increases) can be an effective way of structuring continual development of an employee whilst keeping them engaged.
Build an external voice and a digital credibility that employees are proud of
Working for an organisation that is respected in its field and has an external presence and a ‘point of view’ is a significant factor for employees. This is amplified where there are technical roles involved and where professional track record is a factor. Working for a brand that’s positively thought of externally increases the closeness that one feels to the organisation they work for.
Building a presence on social media, engaging web content, and encouraging digital employees to ‘have a voice’ can therefore contribute to an increased brand perception in the space - and can bolster your EVP. It can also give an insight into the culture of an organisation depending on the tone of voice and content used. Other elements that influence this might be location or environment that a business chooses for its working space.
Conclusion: Integrity and authenticity matters when it comes to your Employee Value Proposition
There’s no single way to develop an EVP. Ultimately it needs to be true to you - inauthenticity is easy to spot and will undermine both the perception of potential employees and internal morale.
However, if you’re willing to take the time to seriously consider what your EVP looks like, then you will be taking a big step forward in tackling the challenges posed by the digital skills gap.
And let’s be honest - that challenge won’t be disappearing any time soon. So what’s stopping you?
Learn how to craft an EVP that attracts and retains talent.
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