As the Great Resignation and record levels of job openings took root in 2022, organizations investing in employer branding and EVP development skyrocketed.
Although there is much to commend for the companies that adopted employer branding into their talent and culture strategy, many employers skipped essential steps before launching and are now working with EVPs that are providing little return on their investment. We wanted to highlight that there are always agile solutions to this problem so that the employer brand can work more efficiently over time.
Let’s look at five of the most common mistakes employers make when building an EVP and employer brand:
1. Building an EVP and tagline without listening to talent first.
EVP stands for Employee Value Proposition. It represents what talent value most about working with an organization. It must be authentic, aligned to what they value most, provide clear commitments, and offer inspiration for the future.
The only way to get at that is to listen to your talent across the company. Co-creating the Employee Value Proposition is a part of the impact. Learning what matters most, how it is experienced, and how leaders and the company reinforce those experiences, are key to developing the EVP pillars, storytelling, and impactful employer brand frameworks.
The EVP is for your employees company-wide, so include everyone in the process of its research and development. If you are uncertain if the EVP is resonating with employees at present, now is the time to consider the following:
- EVP validation workshops with two to three of your core talent demographics to learn how and where it can better align to the attributes that matter most, where you can reduce threats and what is needed to be more compelling to your talent audiences.
- EVP ranking and storytelling contests to get a sense of what is resonating across the organization. Which pillars do talent most experience? What personal stories do employees have to share?
2. No external research is conducted.
Most organizations that embark on EVP and employer brand exercises expect that the work will result in greater volume of candidates applying to their open roles. Unfortunately, they skip the important step of learning from their target talent pools how the company is perceived, what matters most to each of their talent audiences, and what path they take when exploring opportunities.
We are in a work world where most talent are not actively looking for work, and there are more opportunities available than ever. Your EVP and employer brand campaigns need to stand out and resonate with that audience. Be certain that your EVP doesn’t just reflect the inside of your organization, but that it also aligns to what your future talents want most, and can be found in the places they spend the most time (either digitally or in their communities).
3. You don’t have talent personas to guide your conversations.
If you haven’t developed talent personas yet for the core audiences you’re looking to hire from in 2023, it’s time to get those in place. At Blu Ivy, we use personas to help us design recruitment marketing campaigns that resonate with our clients’ target talent audiences.
Helping our clients understand and develop talent personas is an essential step in designing an employer brand and recruitment marketing strategies. Personas help you visualize the person you are trying to hire. They help you relate to them as real humans rather than a void of invisible job applicants.
Developing talent personas that provide insights on who your audience is, what their preferences are for their next career move, who they see as the ideal employer and why, and where the persona spends their time digitally our in their communities will all inform how you build campaigns that drive better quality of candidates and hires.
4. Your EVP is the same as competitors’ EVPs.
When Blu Ivy starts an employer brand project with a client, one of the first things we do is look at how our client communicates their employer brand and culture offering versus their top talent competitors. Our goal when doing this benchmarking audit is to see how similar or unique each employer is and to ensure that we offer you something that is compelling and differentiated. After all, if we are all saying that we offer the same things, there is no real reason to stay or join your organization versus your competitors offering the same perks.
Every organization has something uniquely compelling about it. Knowing that uniqueness can be the foundation of your employer brand positioning and future marketing. Regularly benchmarking your EVP and employer brand messaging and understanding external perceptions and reputation are key to having a high impact solution.
5. You don’t have a targeted media campaign.
Many organizations go to the effort to build a fantastic EVP, they have talent personas, and strong creative, but they fail to treat the brand like a campaign with clear calls to action. When the EVP and new employer brand just sits on your careers site or your social media platforms, it is missing all of the potential hires that don’t have you top of mind as an employer. Social media platforms like your company’s LinkedIn page also tend to market to those already following.
With your ideal talent personas in hand, building a targeted media campaign is essential to driving a measurable impact on applications and quality of hires. Spending more money on job boards or social advertising does not guarantee results. What you need is a highly targeted and measurable approach to advertising and converting job seekers into applicants.
Once you’ve done the above, have a strong EVP that has been validated with employees, and connects to your personas, you can ensure that your storytelling and advertising align. After all, that great work needs to reach people where they live, and connect with them at each stage of the candidate lifecycle.
The Top 12 Recruitment Tools That Should Reflect Your EVP
- Targeted digital or out-of-home (i.e. radio, bus, subway, movie theatre, digital pop-up ads, special interest advertising)
- Careers site
- Company social media sites
- Review Sites (Glassdoor, Indeed, Comparably)
- Campus and event marketing
- Job Descriptions
- Job Boards
- Office entryways, interview rooms, elevators, and digital screens in-office
- Candidate brochures, interview invitations, thank you communications
- Offers and welcome packages
- Interview scripts with HR and hiring managers
Whether actively or passively considering new opportunities, potential candidates expect to see your employer brand (i.e., how your brand is perceived externally) show up in all these areas. More passive candidates might take notice of your social media or targeted recruitment campaigns that get served up to them, while those who are actively looking will comb through your longer form assets with a fine-toothed comb.
When they go through your company’s career site and website overall, candidates will take note of how those things speak to them as an individual. Do you address things that fit the stage of life they’re in? Are things organized and easy to understand?
If they leave your site and bounce to a reputation site, what will your reviews say about you? Have your current employees internalized your EVP enough that they would use in talking about their experience at your company? Are they equipped to be true social ambassadors?
Should they get to the interview and offer stages, is your EVP messaging reiterated throughout? Are hiring managers and potential direct colleagues lacing the messaging into conversation? Are they affirming the importance of your EVP pillars and able to give examples of how they manifest at work?
If you’re thinking of taking on new talent, now is the time to audit your current EVP and see if you can answer ‘yes’ to the questions we’ve just posed.
Your EVP Needs to Foster the Right Relationship Fit
Traditionally, the employer-employee relationship is a transactional one. Companies pay their employees in exchange for the completion of tasks and services. Although the framework of this relationship is simple and easily understood, most of today’s employees want to feel good about their work and their impact on the business and larger world in ways that go beyond the transaction itself.
In today’s working world, many companies have opted for a community relationship model. This model entails that employees and managers at all levels of an organization commit to working toward a collective good where all team members and the world at large benefit from the community’s joint success.
Other organizations focus on a mentorship approach, which usually requires an extraordinary level of commitment from team members in exchange for exceptional experience and exposure. Employees usually believe this exchange puts them at an advantage because the reputation of the company will allow them to achieve their future career goals.
Meanwhile, lifestyle relationship companies offer a fun, congenial atmosphere with a lot of perks in exchange for the labour of their employees. These companies promote a vision of professional life in which life and work blend together seamlessly, offering satisfaction and community to employees.
In each of these models, compensation is a part of the employer-employee relationship, but when employers embrace these other facets of work, they open themselves up to the possibility of stronger company cultures, better business results, and more lasting ties with their employees.
How to Craft a Relationship with Staying Power
Forging these deeper relationships is more important than ever as we navigate the changes to work induced by the global pandemic. It’s been harder for leaders to connect with their employees, and it’s no secret that disengaged employees are more likely to leave for other opportunities.
So, how can you shape your EVP to forge truly compelling relationships both during recruitment and beyond?
At Blu Ivy Group, we advise clients to start with internal workforce research that provides a holistic understanding of the current situation in an organization. It covers everything from how your key talent pools search for jobs, to the perception of a company among its current talent and its aspirational talent group. We frequently run focus groups or use other types of organizational interviewing and investigation to surface the reality within organizations. It’s essential to uncover what employees are happy with and what they feel is missing. With that information, and by considering internal business needs, you can begin to form a truly responsive and relational EVP.
This internal research can be combined with the kind of community building needed to help your employee value proposition take full hold within your organization. At Blu Ivy, we do this through Living the Brand co-creation experience workshops that invite stakeholders to combine forces, solving business problems in a way that sparks creativity, creates connections, and inspires positive energy.
With a clear vision of the kind of relationship you’re seeking to build, and a targeted EVP that addresses the lived experiences of your current employees, the next step is to spread this message both externally and internally in a unified way. Externally, you can craft compelling recruitment marketing campaigns using this messaging.
Internally, it’s essential that you involve low and mid-level leaders in an employer brand campaign. After all, people managers have the most significant influence on employee experience and trust (and can also be among the most disengaged and disenfranchised employees in many organizations).
Only by setting clear expectations with them about the culture they need to build, and by offering authentic messaging and actions designed to respond to their concerns, can you create a company culture that will lead to both talent attraction and retention.
Managing Director & Co-Founder
Blu Ivy Group
Blu Ivy Group is a global leader in employer branding, organizational culture, and recruitment marketing. We help organizations across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors build extraordinary employee experiences, magnetic employer brands and high-performance cultures.
From C-Suite to Employer Brand and Talent Acquisition leadership, we partner with our clients to transform their organizations and design the most compelling workplaces of the future.
For inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org