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Linking the employment value proposition with employer branding

Matching external perceptions with internal realities


February 19, 2020
By Brian Kreissl

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Photo: Getty Images

Last week, I discussed the importance of the employment value proposition (EVP) and how it relates to an organization’s employer brand and its ability to attract, retain and engage employees. The EVP is all about the total value the organization provides to employees in exchange for their efforts.

An organization’s EVP should focus on the unique aspects of what makes employees stay with the company. In order to understand the EVP, it’s important to understand the profile of the organization’s workforce, why they enjoy working for the company, the types of programs and benefits that keep them happy and why they leave.

This can be completed through an audit that includes information gathered through employee surveys, focus groups, exit interviews and anecdotal feedback. Another relevant concept is the “stay interview” with employees that seeks to find out why they remain with the organization.

The EVP relates primarily to a company’s existing employees, while its employer brand is mainly about the public face of the organization. The employer brand is therefore more about talent attraction and acquisition than employee relations.

While there may be a slight difference between the value derived by existing employees and the public perception of what it’s like to work there, there should be a certain congruence between the two. One thing that can cause misalignment is when a negative public relations event tarnishes the employer brand.

Another difference between the two concepts is the EVP is generally based on research, while the employer brand is generally built upon the EVP and is about expression to the outside world. Obviously, it is important to determine the company’s EVP before communicating its employer brand to the outside world.

A related concept is what some experts refer to as the talent brand, which refers not only to the external perceptions of the company in the labour market, but also to how the company’s past and current employees feel about the organization. Nevertheless, this is going to have an impact on what the outside world thinks of it as well.

Managing perceptions of the organization

If you’re thinking all this terminology seems confusing, redundant and overlapping, you aren’t alone. In my opinion, these differences aren’t all that important; what’s important is the fact that the organization needs to manage perceptions of how it is viewed in the labour market.

As mentioned last week, this isn’t solely about creating hype or spin, but should be more of a genuine reflection of the EVP and what it’s like to work for the organization. What attracts candidates to your company and why do employees enjoy working there?

Organizations try to carefully craft their reputations in the form of an employer brand, but that brand must be authentic and transparent. Companies simply cannot try to pretend they’re something they aren’t when trying to attract candidates because people see through inauthentic employer branding.

So, what is included in employer branding? While the tendency is to think about logos, fonts, colours, pictures and taglines on job postings and the company careers page, employer branding is about so much more than that.

Basically, the employer brand is the perception people have about what it might be like to work for the organization. In most cases, the overall brand and product or service brands also impact the employer brand, and there should be a fit among the organization’s various brands.

The employer brand includes things like a candidate’s experience right from when they first apply for a job online, through the interview stage, background and reference checks, employment offers and onboarding. A candidate’s experience with the applicant tracking system (ATS), interviews, communications and even the built environment are all part of the organization’s employer brand.

This all relates to the concept of candidate experience, which companies are increasingly beginning to appreciate the importance of. While employer branding and candidate experience are closely related, branding is more about perception while candidate experience is more about the reality on the ground.

This comes back to the importance of perception matching reality. While employers want to position their organization as an employer of choice – and being included on one or more lists of top employers is highly coveted – the best way is to actually make perception match reality.

That’s why it is important to understand your EVP and ensure your HR programs do a good job of attracting, retaining and engaging your workforce.

Brian Kreissl is a product development manager with Thomson Reuters in Toronto. He looks after HR, payroll, OH&S, records retention and Triform. He can be reached at brian.kreissl@thomsonreuters.com or (416) 609-5886. For more information, visit https://store.thomsonreuters.ca/en-ca/home.