In today’s candidate-driven hiring market, marked by jobs growth, low unemployment, and high quit rates, employers need to ensure they’re positioning themselves as competitively as possible to attract and retain top-performing talent.

Beyond the standard job description, a well-thought-out employee value proposition (EVP) needs to create a compelling vision of what the company stands for, what its mission, is and what value it brings to its employees and prospective employees.

Positioned strategically, an EVP is critical to answering the question, “Why should I choose to join your organization instead of another?” Here are some recommendations for how employers can create an EVP that accurately represents the organization and resonates with job seekers.

Why Do Companies Need an EVP?

Attracting and retaining in-demand employees, especially in mission-critical roles, is essential to achieving business goals and perhaps to maintain a competitive edge. Top accounting and finance talent is more sought-after than ever. But even more important than access to a quantity of talent is ensuring your company is attracting the right quality of candidates: the ones that offer the most value and fit best within your organization.

For employers, EVP is critical to ensuring that the right candidates are drawn to your brand, and existing employees remain productive and focused. With elements of both branding and engagement, an effective EVP creates a sense of meaning and belonging for prospective and current employees.

To accurately reflect the company, engage employees at all levels of the organization when building an EVP. Make sure to have an idea of how similar companies are presenting themselves in the marketplace and what value differentiators your company possesses. Focus on positioning the company and its jobs competitively. Make sure, above all, to be honest and authentic.

Five Components of a Successful EVP

Although it’s important to ensure they meet the particular style of your company, there are certain factors that should be included in a company’s EVP:

  1. What the company is/what it does. For some job seekers, the EVP could be among their first impressions of the company. Be clear about what it produces or provides, its objectives, and its value in the marketplace. Use this opportunity to establish a voice or tone that reflects the company’s brand (i.e. formal, casual, intellectual, approachable).
  2. What the company aspires to. The EVP shouldn’t just be about what the company does now; it should also communicate the company’s plans and aspirations for the future. Workers want to grow and evolve, and they don’t want an environment that’s stagnant and complacent. Let them know that the company is focused on the long-term, beyond today’s deliverables.
  3. Traits to look for. Don’t be afraid to ask for the employees you want. Although it’s a given that appropriate skills and experience are needed, know how your company operates and what kind of employee will succeed best. Do you need risk-takers? Client service superstars? Tech wizards? Your environment may be very buttoned-up and serious or more relaxed and informal, and different workers will self-select into the conditions they prefer.
  4. Company culture. Other than pay raises and traditional benefits, factors such as an on-site gym or day care earn a lot of attention, but other environmental factors can be nearly as influential. Culture can be a defining feature, whether that includes growth opportunities, management style, access to leadership, a relaxed dress code, or team happy hours. More and more, flextime and an option for remote work are sought. Whatever the company offers, clearly articulate the day-to-day factors that can tip the scales in today’s job market, in particular if it’s a goal to offset other components of the job that may be less attractive, such as atypical shifts, mandatory overtime, or a less attractive location.
  5. How the company operates. Employees today are increasingly interested in knowing how their work will be evaluated and measured, how it fits into company goals, and how it impacts the organization and its success. Be straightforward about what it takes to move up in the organization, opportunities for advancement, and how individual efforts are recognized. What development opportunities does the company offer that will best align employees with what they want to achieve in their career?

Once a strong EVP is in place, make sure job seekers see it. A 2018 poll of Fortune 500 companies found that 59% of them neglected to communicate information on why employees would want to work for them during the recruitment and hiring process, which is a serious missed opportunity. Ensure that the human resources department is working with all hiring managers so they can articulate the unique value proposition. If you’re working with a recruitment partner, it should also be able to present the EVP accurately and compellingly.

Feature the EVP on the company’s website and in job descriptions to support talent acquisition efforts. But also make sure that current employees have access to it; they can serve as the best brand ambassadors, since they have first-hand knowledge and credibility.

A generic job description won’t ensure that a company gets quality candidates. Investing in developing and communicating the EVP takes advantage of a great opportunity to attract and retain top-performing employees and help the company become known as an employer of choice.

Keith Mirabile is executive director at Aerotek, a recruitment and staffing agency.

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