To make sure what it was promising aligned with what it could deliver, this organisation took a localised, employee-led approach.
When employers make a new hire, they want bang for their buck. But sometimes it gets forgotten that employees are also looking to see if the organisation is worth their labour; it’s a give-and-take relationship.
Employer branding plays a critical role in attracting great talent and the EVP is crucial to keeping them there. So you should rethink how you’re crafting them to make sure both are working in your favour.
EVP v Employer Branding
Before we dive in, it’s worth clarifying the difference between an EVP and employer branding. The former is an internal asset and used to communicate the value that an organisation provides to an employee for their services (compensation, benefits, culture and so on). Employer branding is a little different. If customer branding is the impression the public has of an organisation’s products and/or services, employer branding is about the public perception of what it’s like to work for it.
For example, a fashion company’s customer brand might be about its trendy and sustainably-made designs, while its employer brand is about the supportive, fun-loving environment of its workplaces.
While they’re separate things, the EVP and employer brand are very much connected. The EVP focuses on tangible benefits (rewards, career development, flexible hours etc.) which informs the employer brand (i.e ‘We value recognising hard work. We’re serious about offering a fulfilling career pathway and we care about the health and wellbeing of our people’).
The reason why there is confusion between the two is that what is set out in an EVP should ideally feed into employer branding. To complicate things even further, an EVP is sometimes specifically used in a recruitment drive (see case study below).
Case study: Localising your efforts
When it comes to an EVP, taking a one-size-fits-all approach to all employees can be a risk. Staff work in different parts of the business, perform different duties and get paid at different rates. Different departments in the business can even have different cultures. Will your payroll team want the same things as your sales team? More importantly, will they get the same treatment?
Considering perceptions of your employer brand will differ from person to person (it will be dependent on their own values), it makes sense that you’d take a localised approach to to something you can control, the EVP.
You don’t have to go out and write a separate EVP for every single employee – that would be absurd. But there are clever ways you can go about customising an EVP to suit particular candidates.
DSM, a nutrition, health and sustainable living company in the Netherlands, found it was struggling to attract job seekers to their company. Its previous approach was to use organisational-level messaging in its EVP, but this didn’t make them stand out from their competitors; the candidates they were trying to get in front of were ignoring their messages. They needed to shake things up and reasoned personalisation could be key.
The company shared its approach in a case study for Gartner.
Using their procurement team as a pilot group for their new approach, it first gave the staff on that team a say on what the EVP should contain. The idea was to give jobseekers an “unfiltered” and realistic impression of the business.
This takes the idea of an employee ambassador to a new level. Instead of having staff advocate for your business by reading pre-written organisational messaging about why it’s so great to work for your company (which is likely to be viewed cynically) DSM asked staff to prepare something in their own words.
Of course, you have to assume that an employer isn’t going to publish an employee comment like, “Egh, I guess it’s okay to work here. I wish I was paid more though and there’s a weird smell in the kitchen.” So it’s safe to say the employees’ thoughts were not entirely unfiltered, but having them use their own voices brings a level of authenticity.
Staff in the procurement team were given a day off to develop the EVP and the marketing around it. This included videos, taglines, ads (things to boost the employer branding) as well as the EVP itself. They were asked to answer questions like, ‘Why would someone join us and not a competitor?’ and ‘What makes us unique in the market?’ and to let their answers inform the content in their EVP.
“This agile approach meant the content wouldn’t be as polished as traditional recruitment marketing content, but when it went to market DSM found this only added to the authenticity and value of the messages for target talent,” the case study reads.
These staff were also involved in helping to define who they considered to be the target talent – those who would be receiving the EVP – by answering questions about the attributes that drive strong performance in the procurement team and what the desired persona should look like.
The localisation approach didn’t end here. While many recruiters might cast the net wide in the hopes of catching as many fish as possible, DSM utilised marketing technology to target 2,000 specific people across the globe.
From that group, DSM invited all interested parties into a talent community (it’s not clear what software/platform they used) that was essentially designed to prime and further assess suitability. It contained both internal DMS staff and external peers.
Information was posted in the community each month to give the potential recruits a taste of what life in the DMS procurement team looks like (insights most new recruits would normally only get a few weeks into the job).
Recruiters were also active in the community to keep tabs on where each potential recruit was at. By the time a vacancy became available, they had clearly labelled those ready to join the company.
In the six months that the pilot program was run, DMS received over 3,200 clicks on its targeted EVP, 208 of which converted into people joining the talent community.
Impressively, considering the content was targeted at just 2,000 people, DMS raked in 415,243 impressions on their employer branded videos and ads – mostly because the 2,000 employees shared them with their networks.
Six people joined the company within the six month period, and the time it took to hire was 38 days faster than normal (from 100 days to 62 days). DMS was also able to reduce use of an external recruiter by 17 per cent in just one quarter.
Another great tip to complement this approach, from Cielo Talent, is to pair a personalised recruitment drive with a targeted landing page on your website. As the article’s author suggests, “If a candidate first sees a localised message in a campaign or on social media, but is then greeted with a global careers page, they could lose interest.”
Next time you go to refresh your company’s calling card, keep in mind that it often helps to keep it personal.
Learning how to communicate your organisation’s message is critical. Ignition Training’s short course Communicating Effectively will provide your team with the methods and techniques to get your message across clearly.