Written by: Karl Feldman
Does your firm struggle to attract the smart, capable people you need to take your business to a higher level of success? You’re not alone.
Hiring and retaining talent is one of the top challenges faced by most professional services firms. In fact, it’s third only to increased competition from new firms and downward price pressure/commoditization according to Hinge’s latest research study.
There’s isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. In a tight job market, it can be tougher to attract quality talent than find new clients. But there are steps you can take to help great people gravitate to your firm. And your very first step should be to craft an employer value proposition (also called an employee value proposition or EVP).
What is an employer value proposition?
An employer value proposition is nothing more than an engaging appeal to prospective employees. It’s made up of a set of characteristics, features, and values that describe what it’s like to work in your organization and how it improves employees’ lives.
It is both a marketing message and a promise, so be careful that you don’t make claims that can’t come true. At the same time, you want to develop a message that’s positive, approachable and energizing. You can use your EVP anywhere you want to speak to potential employees — your website, recruiting collateral, displays and HR talking points.
Examples of a value proposition
The easiest way to understand an EVP is to examine real-world examples. You can find these yourself by visiting a firm’s website and checking out their Careers page.
Unfortunately, not all firms have a well-articulated EVP. In fact, most don’t — which is exactly why you should. Let’s take a look at a couple of solid examples to get started:
Help Build the Future
Make a difference your way
Work where you’re inspired to explore your passions, where your talents are nurtured and cultivated. Innovate with leading-edge technologies on some of the coolest projects you can imagine. And get the tools you need to keep learning and growing so you stay continually ahead of the game while making a difference in the world.
Where can your career take you?
At Jacobs, we help prepare people for new opportunities and challenges in their careers. With positions at every level, openings in multiple disciplines, expertise in a range of markets and offices around the globe, we create an environment where you can learn, grow, and thrive.
If you share our commitment to doing what’s best for clients, enjoy working in teams and hold yourself to the highest ethical standards, you’ll fit right in.
Ingredients of a Strong EVP
So what makes these EVPs effective? And how do you develop your own?
First of all, writing your employer value proposition is an act of persuasion. So approach it as if you were marketing one of your services.
Your goal is to stimulate interest in three things: 1) your firm’s mission, 2) its culture and 3) employee career development. By “mission,” I don’t mean your mission statement. Think instead about how your firm helps clients, is advancing the industry or creating some greater good. What is your firm’s larger purpose? In the Accenture example, one of the world’s largest consulting firms can credibly say “Help build the future… Make a difference your way.”
When you talk about your culture, think about what keeps employees happy and engaged? Jacobs says it creates “an environment where you can learn, grow, and thrive.” To address career development, consider how you improve the skills and prospects of your team members. Do you offer training, tuition assistance, a clear career path? What’s the biggest reason people stay at your firm? Accenture offers opportunities to “innovate with leading-edge technologies on some of the coolest projects you can imagine.”
As I was digging around to research this article I noticed that many firms use the phrase “make a difference,” or something similar, in their EVP (see the Accenture example above, for example). These companies are clearly tapping into people’s more altruistic desires to live meaningful lives and contribute to the betterment of society.
While I don’t necessarily recommend that you lead with this sentiment (after all, an EVP is should distinguish you from the competition), you may be wise to consider a social message in your value proposition. Keep in mind, that it should reflect your firm and its values. Better not to include such a statement than to set up an expectation that you can’t live up to.
So when the rubber meets the road, your employer value proposition should be compact and written in simple language. You can always expand on individual points in other places. Your EVP should be a brief paragraph or two that lay out the key benefits and appeal of working at your firm.
Getting the message right is one thing, but if you are struggling to come up with these benefits, it may be time to consider focusing on creating a more compelling employer brand and culture. Firms with a compelling EVP are at a distinct advantage in the employee marketplace.
If finding great people is an ongoing struggle, you should take a critical look at your firm’s employer value proposition.
Are you describing a place that sounds appealing, even exciting, to work? Are you painting a picture for prospective employees that draws them in and makes them think, “Hey, I might really like it here”?
An employer value proposition is a simple idea that can have a powerful impact on your business. What’s yours?