The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of a human-centric EVP that supports the overarching needs of the workforce.
By Simon Kent
Recruiting and retaining great talent has never been about one thing. Salary can be important for candidates, but so too can health and well-being support, discounts, and memberships afforded through employment, the social life around work, and the brand image of the business itself. According to Gartner HR research, companies increasingly need to take a holistic approach to what it means to be employed. Bundling these elements under the company’s employee value proposition (EVP), Gartner’s 2021 Benchmarking Survey found only 31% of HR leaders believe their current employees are actually satisfied with what they’re getting from work.
“Traditionally, organisations focus on employees as workers when they define their EVP,” says Carolina Valencia, vice president in the Gartner HR practice. “Instead, employers need to see their employees as people first and foremost.” Valencia shares additional research to support this: 82% of employees said it was important for their organisation to see them as a person, not just an employee, but only 45% of employees believed their organisation do this.
“(With) the diversity among the culture in the APAC region, employees predict that the human side of experience should be prioritised by fundamentally investing in values foreseen in the future, including support for mental health and lifestyle choices,” says Stacey Kane, product development lead for Easymerchant. “For instance, the increasing rate of work-related stress among APAC region employees leads to creating a more holistic approach among organisations through employee-focused programmes.”
Within these programmes, Kane lists parental leave policies and wellness initiatives as priorities, which will key into particular ‘pain points’ for employees in an individual and unique way. “Prioritising a balanced life and work experience, the mission of HR and employers in the APAC region is to enable the well-being of workforces across the entire region by ensuring lifecycle benefits among employees in education, programmes, and healthcare,” Kane concludes.
Lynne Hardman, CEO of international organisational consultancy Working Transitions, believes COVID-19 has brought forward the need for a more holistic approach: “The pandemic has made people think again about what they truly want from life and work and the huge rise in working from home has proven to many that it is possible to have a better balance.”
Interestingly, whilst some impacts of the pandemic may be apparent—less social contact, more stress through remote work, increased financial worries—there may be underlying issues that cannot be addressed simply through offering practical support. Hardman highlights behaviour, engagement, retention, and performance issues among these, noting that if left unaddressed, such issues could become embedded in the workforce for years, negatively impacting the EVP with consequences for recruitment and retention.
“As we all start to think about a what the future looks like at work,” she says. “Employers have a rare chance to re-set the psychological contract. Providing choice is important, but there should be recognition that often, when faced with choice, people need practical support and guidance to make the mindset shift that enables them to maximise their future opportunities and feel in control.”
Smitha Rao, HR director for APAC at HireRight, says Gartner’s research findings do not come as a surprise in part because of the impact of the pandemic. “It has become more important than ever to consider each team member as an individual, not just an employee, and support them and their unique needs during their time with your company,” she says.
HireRight’s own EVP revolves around their global HR strategy, which in turn is based on four pillars and the business’ “Core4Values.” The four pillars are:
- align; and
The “Core4Values” are made up of:
- a service-first mindset;
- grounded in respect;
- collaborative spirit; and
- sense of ownership.
“This helps us demonstrate a commitment to our employees, including their well-being, career development, compensation, benefits, retention, trust, and respect,” says Rao.
Drivers of EVP vary across the region. Aaron McEwan, VP of research and advisory for Gartner’s HR practice, shares that work-life balance is among the top two important EVP attributes in all regions except in China. In fact, it’s the number one driver in Australia and India as well as Malaysia, Indonesia, and The Philippines (see Figure 1).
“Organisations must be quicker to review their employee value proposition to ensure it’s in line with what the post-COVID workforce is seeking,” he explains. “Taking away remote work options would be a risky move for employers, as many employees believe they have demonstrated they can be trusted to work from home. Instead, provide compelling in-office ‘experiences’, real flexibility and genuine time off to keep your best talent.”
Dr. Prasad Medury, MD India, says Odgers Berndtson has also seen an increase in care and attention being paid to the EVP. “Recently, we have seen a number of corporate clients go the extra mile in terms of securing the health and safety of their teams and looking at EVP from a long-term view,” he says. Health and well-being initiatives introduced by employers, include counsellors for mental health support, health centres with provision extended across entire families, and so on.
However, Dr. Medury also notes that businesses are paying attention to the wider impact of their operation, keying this into employee sentiment too. “Corporate clients have focused on offering support, tangible and intangible, in reducing the carbon footprint to ensure a more sustainable environment for future generations,” he says.
Whilst the conscience of a business used to be encapsulated by its record on corporate social responsibility, it’s possible that the EVP could become a primary driving force for ensuring a business does good in the world. By closely reflecting and supporting the individual and holistic desires and priorities of their workforce, there may be further benefits yet for the wider world.