How to Create a Stand Out Employee Value Proposition

A job offer, at its core, is a sale.

As is the case with any sale, a customer’s ultimate decision is going to be determined by one question: “What’s in it for me?”

Of course, the “it” that a candidate is seeking can vary: “It” can be anything from compensation and career growth to community or a feeling of purpose. As an employer, you’ll only be able to land top talent if your answer to that question is clear and — just as importantly — authentic.

In other words: a well-defined EVP, or Employee Value Proposition, is paramount.

But what exactly is an Employee Value Proposition?

We’re glad you asked. An employee value proposition is an all-encompassing set of core values and benefits that a company offers to employees.

That’s right: all-encompassing. Sounds scary, we know — especially considering the fact that a compelling EVP can and should be summarized in just a few sentences, or even a few words.

So, what makes a good employee value proposition? What are some examples of strong employee value propositions? And most importantly, how can you create an EVP that is easily digestible while remaining unique to your company’s employer brand?

We’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide to help you create a stand-out employee value proposition. Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Look honestly at your employer brand.

First off, it’s important to understand the difference between an employer brand and an employee value proposition. Whereas an employer brand is a holistic identity based on the perception of what it’s like to work for your company, an employee value proposition is a concrete summation of what a candidate stands to gain by joining your team. EVP is an important (if not the most important) part of your employer brand.

Think of an EVP as a tool to communicate the essentials of your employer brand in the simplest terms possible.

Keep in mind: you are doing your company no favors if you market a lofty employer brand that is inaccurate or dishonest. Do not underestimate the modern candidate’s well-attuned BS filter.

If you sell a story that isn’t true, you may land an attractive candidate that otherwise may have sought work elsewhere. But the odds of that candidate sticking around longterm — and your odds of building a cohesive team — are slim to none.

For example, if your company enforces strict working hours, then “Freedom” may not be a term worth emphasizing in your EVP. Even if a candidate doesn’t sniff out the inauthenticity and joins your team, your odds of retaining that candidate long-term will take a major hit once they realize one of the elements that attracted them to your company doesn’t actually exist.

We know it’s tempting to promise the world when you’re dealing with big targets and a compressed timeline. Obviously, a powerful EVP message is worth a lot more to you today than at some point in the future, when you may not even be with the company any longer. But you cannot just snap your fingers and bend your company’s employer brand to your will. For the good of your company (and your legacy),  you must patiently build your company values and culture in a way that will produce an authentic and impactful employer brand over time.

So, take ample time to think deeply about your employer brand. Poll your current employees. Conduct internal focus groups. Research public opinion. Stop thinking about what you want your employer brand to be. Start thinking about what it already is.

And once you’ve done that, you’ll be empowered to extract and define an honest, unique, and powerful EVP message.

Step 2: Identify meaning.

An EVP should take numerous factors into consideration, including compensation, benefits, company culture, learning and development opportunities, and more. But as you craft your company’s EVP, be careful not to get too bogged down in the literal details of what your company provides for its employees.

Sure, some of your most beloved benefits may be organic snacks, extensive paid vacation, and cold brew on tap. But those types of concrete benefits fail to describe so many other elements of what a modern candidate looks for in a new job. It’s important to understand the difference between benefits and their intrinsic meanings — a great EVP focuses on meaning.

Organic snacks indicate that your company encourages employees to be healthy. Maybe your company also takes measures to ensure employees don’t get overworked, and even offers a gym stipend. If those benefits are genuinely appreciated by your employees and play a big role in their day-to-day work lives, then maybe “Employee Welfare” would be an apt inclusion in your EVP.

However, if you offer gym stipends and organic snacks to try to compensate for the fact that your employees are overworked and pressured to live unhealthy lives, then “Employee Welfare” probably can’t genuinely be called a core company value.

Surface-level benefits can provide insights into an employer’s values and priorities, but they can often exist solely for sake of appearances. Before long, candidates and new hires will be able to tell the difference.

If you feel I’m laying on the “be honest” message pretty thick, don’t be alarmed. It’s intentional. It’s critical that you ground yourself in 100% honesty when going to market with an EVP message.

Steps 3 and 4: Distill and review.

Ultimately, a potential candidate who wants to know “what’s in it for me?” is going to want that question answered in a clear and concise manner.

What positive role is your company going to play in a candidate’s career — and for that matter, in their personal life? What’s going to get that candidate through the front door, and keep them there? Why will their work feel meaningful? And how are you going to make a candidate care about your answer before losing their attention?

Sound like an impossible task? Companies like IBM, UiPath, ZX Ventures, and Verizon have all managed to distill the DNA of their large organizations into EVPs that feel compelling, and more importantly, true.

Start by identifying the right parties — both internal and external — to work through the creative iteration process. Then, once your core team has settled on a go-to-market EVP, test it on the rest of your organization.

Seek feedback. Send out a survey. Do everything you can to ensure that the EVP you’ve detailed out reflects the reality of your organization through the eyes of your employees, and not just through the eyes of your C-level execs. Once you’ve aligned your entire organization, you’ll be ready to execute a rollout.

Step 5: Roll it out!

Once you’ve settled on a powerful, inspiring, authentic EVP, you’ve got one thing left to do: roll it out. Emphasize your EVP on your careers page, explore its many facets through custom employer branding video, and utilize social media and blog content to ensure that, with time, your EVP will become a well-recognized core component of your public employer brand. Good luck!