The Best Employee Value Propositions of 2019
In a recent post, we dug into the details of employee value propositions (EVPs). We defined them (the unique set of benefits that employees receive in return for the skills and other contributions they bring to the company to help it succeed). We described the organizational benefits of having one (brand differentiation, increased employee engagement, improved financial performance, focused HR agendas). We talked about the elements of the employee experience that a good EVP should cover (opportunity, people, organization, work, and rewards). We explained how to get the data for your EVP, how to narrow it down, and how to test it. Really, we covered everything… except we didn’t show you what a good EVP looks like.
Happily, our customers—who have a lot to teach us—have some great EVPs in place. We’ve found them on their careers pages—a genre that attempts to encapsulate the whole of an organization’s value to employees in a single space. Below, we’ll discuss five companies we think are hitting the mark… and why.
Before we dive in, there are four characteristics worth keeping in mind that, collectively, make for a powerful EVP. We can’t say with absolute certainty whether the following EVPs adhere to all four characteristics; but they’re certainly worth summoning in your own EVP efforts:
- It should be inspirational, not aspirational. The EVP needs to align with the truth of the employee experience. Make sure your organization can deliver on what it’s selling… but also make sure it inspires prospective and current employees to do their best work and realize their best selves.
- It should be unique. The EVP is a differentiator. Generic EVPs won’t mean anything to prospects… so don’t duplicate what your competition is offering. Indeed, pay attention to competitors’ EVPs to ensure you’re not replicating the same monotonous industry commitments. (Ping-pong, anyone?)
- It should align with company objectives. Your EVP needs to support your organization’s strategic vision, helping build the brand the stakeholders collectively envision. In particular, it should align with your HR strategy.
- It should align with what passive talent values. If you’ve done your research, your EVP should be inherently employee-focused. (Remember, EVP-creation is a bottom-up exercise, informed by current, past, and prospective employees.) Make sure it’s compelling for exactly the people it’s written to engage, rather than for company leadership. When the EVP matches what talent is looking for, the odds of engaging them exponentially increase.
Now, here are those five companies:
What Heap does well:
- They describe their product in layman’s terms. This is part of the “organization” element of the EVP: What’s the product offering, what pain point does it solve, and how does it solve it better than the competition does? Top talent wants to work on a product they can stand behind—and they’re not always coming from within your industry. A product description like Heap’s—free of industry jargon—ensures prospective candidates aren’t alienated or turned off from responding to outreach.
- Their core values are unique, and uniquely expressed. Indeed, “slope over y-intercept” may be our new favorite phrase for privileging potential to past achievements. It’s memorable, and particularly attractive to mathematically- or rationally-minded talent. (So is the Principle of Charity, mentioned in their value “Assume Good Intentions”: Heap’s EVP keeps a consistent persona in mind.)
- Their benefits exceed the expected. Medical, dental, 401k, lunch… these are virtually a given in many industries at this point. But we don’t often see rewards like “Lyft Credits” or “Cloud Credits.” We gather Heap has done its internal research and is offering employees precisely what they’ve said is most valuable to them. And if these things are valuable to employees, they’ll be valuable to prospects as well.
What AppZen does well:
- They’re refreshingly straightforward about who wouldn’t fit the team. AppZen isn’t “looking for those hard-nosed types,” and they’re “steering clear of arrogant bro-culture types.” While EVPs at other companies might refer to “cultures of collaboration” or “synergy,” AppZen emphasizes “checking your ego.” The candidness is striking; and it increases the likelihood of appealing to prospects who value inclusion.
- They offer social proof. Social proof is the socio-psychological phenomenon in which people look to others to determine “right” action in a given situation. When it comes to “selling” your EVP to prospective candidates, it looks a lot like company reputation. Awards like “Great Place to Work” and “Best Engineering Team” show prospective talent that the value the organization promises them is legitimate.
- They forefront data points and programs. AppZen doesn’t just claim to “have diverse teams”; their engineering and data science teams are “40% female.” They have a “TouchPoints” program and a “Cross-functional Check-in” program so employees can experience direct contact with customers. “AppZen Involved” lets employees give back to the community. The point here is that the company has built a variety of internal structures to support the values they claim to uphold… and they’re monitoring their data to ensure they’re moving the needle on where they want to be. From a prospect perspective, this is remarkably compelling.
What Sentry does well:
- They offer social proof, too... except Sentry’s social proof comes direct from its employees. Sentry’s careers page houses a slider in which employees celebrate various aspects of the company—from its mission, to its culture, to its customer-centricity. There’s no better place for prospective candidates to hear how great it is to work for the company than from those who already are.
- They get detailed. From coffee brands, to insurance premium costs, to the company tradition in which new talent chooses a book to contribute to the employee library, these details help prospective candidates imagine the specific value they’ll receive as employees. And the easier it is for them to imagine working with you, the more motivated they’ll be to reach out (or to respond).
- They acknowledge the diversity of their talent pool’s needs. Whether you like open floor plans or work best in solitude, whether you’re ready to have kids or preparing to send them to college, whether you’d choose yoga or game night after work, Sentry is clearly seeking diverse talent in the benefits it offers.
What Coursera does well:
- They offer a message from the top in a short video. The CEO, co-founders, and board members speak to Coursera’s mission, its value to users, what’s next for the company, and what kind of talent is likely to thrive at the organization. When the EVP has buy-in from the top—and the message comes from there—prospective candidates can be all the more confident that it’s baked into the organization’s DNA.
- They pay attention to what passive talent values… and they’re walking the talk. Like AppZen, Coursera doesn’t just claim to prize diversity: They demonstrate it with their employee resource groups (ERGs), the logos of which they display on their careers page.
- They offer unique benefits. “Make-A-Thons”?! We love that Coursera is making space for employees’ passion projects. It creates space for a community to organically burgeon and thrive… all while participants work on the things that “work” often consumes time for.
- They turn their own product into an employee benefit. Access to courses reminds employees that it’s not just paying users Coursera cares about. This is a terrific EVP element for prospects who consider themselves lifelong-learners. And it’s a brilliant move for the company: it means more product advocates over the long run.
What Lob does well:
- They lead with their company mission. The company mission affects the employee experience in both distinct and subtle ways. Articulating it gives prospects an idea of the larger purpose they’d be committing themselves to, and of the value their efforts would have for the end user.
- They allow prospects to “meet” their entire team. We’ve discussed what the “people” element of the EVP entails: company culture, quality of management, the reputation of senior leaders, collaboration, camaraderie, team spirit. Granted, you can’t fully know these things until you’ve arrived… but a birds-eye view of each individual contributor to the company goes a long way toward building prospect confidence.
- They display images reflecting the company culture. We don’t have to tell you about the power of “showing versus telling.” Lob’s done this beautifully here.
- They shout out their social initiatives. You may have noted that Lob has chosen reforestation as its focal issue. (It used its own API to build an automated donation service that helped plant 11,000+ trees in Nepal, Madagascar, and Haiti.) CSR initiatives are well worth shouting out in your EVP: They’ll tug at prospects’ heartstrings. After all, we all want to be a part of something even bigger than our respective industries.
So there you have it. If your organization already has an EVP—or if it’s describing employee value on its careers page—you now know what to start calling out in your outreach to passive talent. Of course, you can link directly to the careers page in your emails; but consider highlighting the elements of the EVP most relevant to the segment you’re reaching out to in the email. And if your organization hasn’t formalized an EVP, consider offering to help craft one. After all, as a member of the recruiting organization, you’re at the front lines of explaining why top talent should come work for your company. Having an EVP in place will make that aspect of your job all the easier.
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