Strategies to develop and communicate a compelling employee value proposition.
By Michael Switow
In the early 2000s, not long after Kenexa (now part of IBM) launched a development and recruiting centre in an office park in Hyderabad, India, a new building rose quickly nearby. As workers uncrated the sign, the then Kenexa COO Elliot Clark had a shock. One of the world’s largest, most resourceful technology companies was setting up shop.
Seeing the letters G-O-O-G-L-E on the ground, Clark thought, “We’re going to be recruiting engineers next door to Google.”
“What are we going to do?” one of his team members asked.
“We’re going to need a way bigger sign,” he replied.
Even though Kenexa was a NASDAQ-listed company and leader in the HR industry, it would need to rise to the challenge of competing with a popular, well-known brand.
Clark countered with a recruitment campaign: “Kenexa: Your quickest path to management and leadership.” It argued that talented engineers could join a big company and wait years for an opportunity that they could have at Kenexa in just a few quarters.
Clark, the now head of SharedXpertise and publisher of this magazine, reflects on the power of impression. “Perceptions happen,” he suggests, before quickly adding, “Well they really don’t. It’s up to us to manage them. Good talent acquisition today is as much about marketing as it is any other aspect of recruitment.”
In today’s market, this begs the question: What’s your employee value proposition (EVP)?
“Think about how you communicate what your brand and your business stand for,” explains PeopleScout Head of Client Delivery Stephen Abbott. “EVP is not just about bringing people into your business. It’s also: What does it mean to people who work for your company now? What is their messaging? How do they talk about the company?”
Abbott advises organisations to identify “key value proposition factors,” and then distil them into a succinct message that can be shared with candidates, employees, clients, and the public.
For the Tata Group, one of its core values is community engagement, and it was first articulated by the company’s founder over 150 years ago. “In a free enterprise, the community is not just a stakeholder, but in fact the very purpose of its existence,” Jamsetji Tata said. Tata’s quote is not simply a plaque on the wall or bullet point on the corporate website. It has become a part of the corporate giant’s DNA—a value that is part selling point to potential candidates and part mantra for employees like CSR Manager Patrick Jay Veril, who joined Tata Consultancy Services six months ago.
“TCS is not just about revenue,” Veril says. “It’s campaigning for you to be healthy and also give back to the community.” For example, one project, “Fit for Life,” encourages employees to log their fitness activities. TCS then “converts” these hours exercising into money for charitable donations.
At Richemont, a luxury goods company that owns more than a dozen brands including Cartier, Montblanc, Piaget, and Van Cleef & Arpels, fostering work-life balance is a priority. The company recently implemented flexible working hours and enables employees to work from home.
“It gives me more flexibility to do things that I want in the morning. It could be going to the gym or sorting out my house,” says Richemont Head of Talent Acquisition and Development Michelle Loong.
Since joining Richemont a little more than two years ago, Loong has used social media, industry events, and the recruitment process to promote the company’s EVP to a broader audience. Social media converts strangers into friends and friends into potential colleagues, partners, and clients. And her efforts have yielded fruit. In June, Richemont was recognised by HRO Today with a Most Admired Employer Brand award for APAC.
“I started with LinkedIn,” Loong says, noting that it was “easy access” since she already had personal and recruiter accounts. “I just started sharing a lot of the things that we do in the company—activities, team building, CSR—so people are aware of our culture. They see us having fun all the time. I can see that we aroused people’s curiosity and gained visibility and engagement.”
Recent posts on Loong’s personal LinkedIn include birthday parties, a breakfast meeting with interns, student outreach, congratulations to a promoted colleague, and a job posting, whilst the corporate page has videos showcasing employees and a post celebrating collaboration with another well-known brand, Alibaba.
In addition, Loong has developed new platforms to attract potential candidates. “My team was working very hard through the usual sourcing channels—job boards, career websites, employee referral, LinkedIn, agencies. We wanted to try something different so we created a ‘Retail Community,’” she says.
Once a quarter, Loong invites top talent from the retail industry for a networking night. Colleagues drink, build relationships, and share best practices. “We may not have roles necessarily for them right now, but they are potential talents for us in the future,” she explains. “It gives them a glimpse into our company and the sort of people who work here.”
And when candidates do apply for a position at Richemont, she wants to ensure they have a positive experience. She highlights three aspects of the candidate experience with her team:
- No one should have to wait long for an interview.
- Recruiters should spend time reviewing an applicant’s CV prior to meeting.
- Candidates should be given a reply in a timely manner.
“When you’ve done your own research on the candidate, they’ll know that you’ve put in the effort and time,” she says. As for follow-up, “Human beings just don’t like uncertainty. If you don’t think I’m the right candidate, just let me know.”