Employee Value Proposition – Think Delivery, Not Just Design & Communications

I have been thinking about one of the hottest trends in HR circles – Employee Value Proposition. The origin of Value Proposition perhaps is in strategy and marketing. Kaplan & Norton, who introduced the world to Balanced Scorecards, said – “Strategy is based on a differentiated value proposition. Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation.” Which leads us to another commonly used term Customer Value Proposition. Wikipedia defines it as – “a Customer Value Proposition consists of the sum-total of benefits which a vendor promises a customer will receive in return for the customer’s associated payment.” Essentially, we are talking about a the “delivery of a promise” in return for something that’s valuable to the customer (usually money payment, search costs etc.). The “promise” itself isn’t sufficient, the delivery is critical to the value proposition.

Employee Value Proposition (EVP) can also be understood in a similar way. It is the sum-total of benefits and experiences a company promises an employee in return for the employee’s time and efforts. The EVP can include compensation, benefits, learning & development opportunities and the overall workplace experience. Usually, companies would define their EVP through some combination of these. So, that’s the promise. But, the crucial challenge for HR, leaders and managers is to deliver on the EVP.

Many a times, I see HR professionals in a rush to define the EVP and communicate it to the world. We want to create a message, come up with great tag-lines, brand the communications and throw it out. Advertisements, posters, billboards, social media – you can do it all and still achieve nothing. A badly execution EVP strategy can never solve talent attraction and retention problems. To be effective in the EVP initiative, it is equally or more important to think about whether existing systems, policies, culture, management style and processes support the delivery of the EVP. If not, then we need to think about what changes are required. Your Employer Brand could fail miserably if the brand doesn’t deliver on the promises. And in this day and age, sentiments are often vented quite openly on public channels.

So, if your EVP promises “a culture that thrives on teamwork, leveraging collaboration to solve X challenges”, but employees join the organisation only to find silos, then its a failure. Or if you promise “performance based pay and best-in-class benefits”, but pay is driven by tenure and benefits are just about average when compared to other organizations, employees will feel disenchanted. The list of examples can be endless.

So, the first step is to look within, not outside. Look within and ensure that the delivery mechanisms are in place. If you get it right, you will just end up creating engaged employees, who also act as advocates for the Employer Brand. It’s as much about the delivery, as it is about the those feel-good, slick communications.

8 thoughts on “Employee Value Proposition – Think Delivery, Not Just Design & Communications

  1. Great post and while I agree with your premise, I think it’s also important to understand that every organization already has an employee value proposition and nd employment brand, be it active or passive, positive or negative. When looking at these terms and strategic initiatives, it is critical to start by learning from your employees what the current value proposition is today, in their words. Too many companies want to start their employment branding projects by creating a new employment brand/culture/experience, one that is normally much more romantic or sexy than there actual reality. Start with understanding where your organization stands in relation to employment branding and value propositions, promote and reinforce the best of what you are today, then plan and develop new initiatives to affect the culture in a positive way.


  2. Abhishek

    I wrote a very similar post at the beginning of April (http://www.organizationview.com/what-makes-a-strong-employee-value-proposition).

    As for being introspective, my view is yes, this is important but you also need to understand EVP of those outside the organization. Both rely on measurement, ideally on a regular (6 month?) basis. EVP also differs based on a range of factors, most notably geography. Alignment is key.

    Delivering / influencing the EVP needs, as you note, to be reinforced in every action the organization, and especially HR & internal comms does. Actions count far more than words as you note.

    For me there is little / no difference between the terms EVP and employer brand. In formal brand management terms EVP would be preferred.



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  4. Hi Abhishek,

    nice to read your blog after a while.my tuppence….EVP is best felt rather communicated.

    therefore the importance of delivery cannot be overemphasized.was wondering whether like all organizations, delivery of any brand promise(be it to customer or employee) boils down to the backend….be it pizza in 30 mins or a great induction on your first day at work.

    perhaps it’s time for HR to look at it’s backend as well? identify it’s best suppliers(HR employees) for particular processes and deliver the best experience?


  5. Absolutely! The delivery of the promised proposition boils down to backend or rather employee-facing operational activities. Problem is that employers jump on the bandwagon of creating “dare to dream” or “performance driven growth” campaigns without really thinking how that experience will be delivered. They want to do the “sexy” part, without really doing the nuts and bolts! For HR to really do a good job of it, they really need to ensure they walk the talk.


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