To attract top talent, HR leaders have to rethink their employer branding. But, before they do so, they need a foundation made up of a powerful “employee value proposition” (EVP) and a positive employee experience.

EVP has quickly become a core differentiator in the increasingly competitive talent market, and it’s one that can’t be ignored — 65% of candidates say they’ve pulled themselves from a hiring process because of an unattractive EVP.  It is, consequently, imperative that you revisit your EVP so that you make sure it evolves to reflect the current reality. The Employee Experience should stem from the EVP but should also inform it as circumstances change. From here, you can adapt your Employer Branding. Start with six elements when rethinking your EVP:

Prioritize diversity, belonging and inclusion 

Not only does a diverse workforce attract young job seekers but, once they’re hired, they’re more likely to stay. Millennials stay twice as long with companies that foster DI&B as those that don’t. 

You must set the tone and strategy for DI&B, communicating to your staff and workers that this is a business imperative that will directly affect your company’s competitive position.

Create a shared vision of tomorrow

Employees and job seekers want to work for companies that stand for something that they, too, can rally behind, and this aligned vision is increasingly important. Seventy-nine percent of adults, in four different countries, would consider a company’s mission and culture before applying, and over half say that company culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.

You must ensure that your organization is relating to your employees and applicants as whole people, understanding that work has become a subset of life, not something that is separate from personal life.

Commit to social responsibility

If you want to attract top workers today, you must follow the lead of companies that are intertwining social messaging with their strategies for attracting and retaining employees.

For example, Indeed presents Rising Voices was created to ”uncover, invest in and share stories created by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) filmmakers across the US around the meaning of work and the idea that jobs have the power to change us all”. In Canada, brand advertisements have used French-Canadian talents to sing completely localized songs over the images instead of keeping the American songs. 

Unless you provide workers with opportunities to make a difference, you will not attract and hold onto those workers.

Offer opportunities for professional growth and development
The pandemic has been a case study in how quickly things can change. If you want to be fleet-footed, you must develop a workforce that is resilient and adaptable. In this regard, EVP is not simply a list of employee benefits and features, but a mantra of enterprise survival.

When Canadians think about what’s needed to succeed in the modern workplace, they have in mind a broad range of skills that extend beyond technical know-how, according to the Future Skills Centre.

Committing resources to this area can be a significant differentiator for Canadian companies. Maple Leaf Foods, for example, created a three-year career development program for recent graduates called the Leadership Track Graduate Program (LT Program). Through this program, recent graduates are paired with senior-level company mentors who coach mentees on workplace culture, management training, and more. This program has helped fuel the organization’s pipeline from the entry-level up.

During the pandemic, many companies have put their development programs on hold as they grappled with the immediate challenges before them. With workers pondering the new normal, now is the time to renew your commitment to professional growth and opportunities, both for the sake of your workers and to prepare your company for whatever comes next.

Prioritize Meaningful flexibility

Flexibility has become a daily ritual in a time of disruption. In 2016, just 4% of Canadian employees worked the majority of hours from home. Now, 32% are majority work-from-home, and they like it that way: more than half of Canadian employees said they’d leave their current employer if flexible work were eliminated.

That being said, workplace flexibility takes strategic planning and an adaptable structure. "With this move to having a much more flexible workforce, we've also been very thoughtful about what do we need to provide to our employees and how do we support our leaders to be able to lead different types of teams as well, so people continue to feel included," says Ania Cox, chief people officer with Coast Capital.

As a leader, you must develop a strategy that will account for the complex blend of workforce models in the future.

Promote wellness, well-being, and happiness at work
Many companies have been happy with the level of productivity they have maintained during the pandemic. However, lurking beneath that is mounting burnout and mental health issues. In Canada, 47% of workers say they feel exhausted during a typical workday, compared with the 39% global average. And that’s a problem: burned-out workers are 2.6 times more likely to be actively job hunting.

A comprehensive wellness program can significantly bolster Employer Branding. Nearly half of job candidates want to work for companies that support a healthy work-life balance, a factor second only to salary.

Despite the significance of workplace well-being – and even though 87% of companies have well-being initiatives – just 55% have a long-term strategy in place for achieving targeted wellness goals.

This demonstrates that your EVP can not simply be a series of initiatives and slogans. It must reflect the character and culture of a company, with each of the six elements in the EVP pulling together in a strategic way. While the tactical execution is important, it’s even fundamentally more important for you to consider what your company stands for as you develop or revisit your EVP.

Putting your EVP into practice
Your EVP must be paired with a good employee experience — the authentic daily experiences that employees have with (and share about) your organization — to create a potent attraction tool: Employer Branding.

In an increasingly competitive job market, employer branding anchored by EVP and employee experience becomes an essential differentiator, aiding in recruitment and retention.

But it’s not enough to simply “re-brand.” You must first align your EVP and employee experience with the wants, needs, and expectations of the current workforce. Typically, this requires a gut-check across the business and a significant commitment to:

  1. Lean in, listen and take action on what employees want.
  2. Identify what needs to change from both an EVP and an employee experience perspective.
  3. Revise employer banding to ensure consistency and authenticity.
  4. Show, rather than tell, candidates what could be if they join your organization.

Employees and applicants are telling you what they want. Make sure you’re listening.
Given the criticality of EVP and employer branding to your talent strategy, it’s essential you and your team are clear on what employees want and expect in terms of DI&B, shared vision, social responsibility, learning and development, and flexibility.

They’re more than happy to tell you. Start by digging into the Indeed Work Happiness Score, which can help HR leaders and managers better understand how employees feel at work and why. To calculate scores, Indeed surveys current and former employees, rating companies on a scale of one to five, based on employee happiness. In addition, respondents are surveyed on key dimensions that drive well-being and happiness at work, including belonging, inclusion, compensation, flexibility, appreciation, management, stress, purpose, and energy. 

Keep in mind employer branding isn’t a finish line. In this period of employee-led workplace transformation, it’s essential to keep the conversations going — to keep revisiting your EVP, your employee experience, and employer branding as the landscape changes. By leaning into market conditions and employee expectations, you’ll be well-positioned to project your company’s best, most authentic self to your next great employees and current talent.