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HR Leadership Event - Defining your EVP

On the morning of the 5th of April, at the Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, our Annual HR Leadership Event took place where we discussed the concept of the Employee Value Proposition.

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Kicking around since the late 1990s, an EVP could be dismissed as the latest acronym in rotation, were it not for its ability to assist an organization in sharpening its strategy to attract and retain talent. A 'People Deal' that essentially characterizes an employer, differentiating it from its competition, we felt that analyzing the importance of an EVP would provoke a palpable interest for a wider group. We were right. 130 senior HR professionals joined us in the Lichfield Suite, eager to have their say, whilst also fervently awaiting the views of our panelists.

Our Panel included:

  • Mark Taylor - Head of HR,Topps Tiles
  • Carrie Barber - HR Director, Deloitte
  • Neil Cox - Head of Resourcing, Talent & Development, Wesleyan

In usual fashion, our CEO Albert Ellis took to the floor to contextually set the scene surrounding the importance of an EVP. He touched upon the implications of Brexit and Artificial Intelligence on the HR arena, before focusing more specifically on the digitalization of the commercial world and it's bearing on talent.

Albert discussed how unemployment is the Western World standing at an all-time low, a fastidious millennial mind-set (who will disdain work environments without a beanbag), as well as the seemingly unstoppable digital accessibility, has inevitably resulted in more choice for candidates than ever before. A critical tool in the war for talent, and a hidden gem which has been left unshaped, overlooked and underutilized, could a strong EVP be the blood diamond to scalable success?

Mark Taylor followed, with a background entrenched in the Retail sector, most prominently Matalan, the Cooperative and Topps Tiles, Mark promoted the importance of a metaphorical mirror when discussing EVP. With ambitious growth plans, a clear retention strategy and a need to tighten their direct resourcing strategy, Mark introduced an external agency to the company in order to articulate objective external and internal perceptions of the business. They collated business reports, conducted internal interviews, external surveys, and some serious social media snooping; this proved to be invaluable exercise to understand and evaluate their current EVP, before developing their future proposition.

Carrie Barber approached the topic from a wellbeing perspective, describing the imperative links between an EVP and Positive Psychology. As 50% of the UK currently visits the GP to address mental wellbeing and stress, Carrie likened EVP to an umbrella, with key experience principles (the spokes that prop the umbrella) that when used correctly had the ability to protect us from the unruly elements of work. These key experience principles included the ability to feel safe, capable, invigorated, connected and included in the workplace.

Following on from Carrie, Neil Cox noted the significance of an EVP's breadth; from the sustainability of an organization, to Leadership Development and Engagement. In encompassing the full connection that an employee has with a company, Neil discussed how the EVP is a stronger strategic framework than other engagement initiatives that are targeted upon just a few aspects of working at that particular organization. Whilst engagement initiatives can be anchors to the survey, they are almost exclusively based on the current workforces. The boardroom briefings include no perspective of those the company wants to hire, or those that it's lost. Due to its foundation in marketing, the EVP pays attention to the broader employer brand in a way that engagement work never has.

This correlated well with a provocative question posed in our Q & A session which addressed the management of social media. The arrival of Glassdoor, a company review website that reaches over 21 million people monthly, is an echo chamber for extremism, and has the potential to be hugely disruptive. The best candidates today are doing their homework when looking at prospective career opportunities; Glassdoor features reviews of employers and insight into employee experience, management capability and workplace environment. The importance of managing employer reputation is more important than ever.

A synonymous opinion of all three panelists was the importance of any EVP to act as an undercurrent as opposed to a maelstrom. Mark Taylor discussed how he wanted the employees to feel the messages, not read them just as Carrie described how an effective EVP 'umbrella' can be used to unconsciously protect employees from the perilous climate the workplace can experience. There is no miracle cast by invoking these three words, there is no hiding from the fact that an authentic proposition demands consistency and commitment. Yet it appears that EVP holds promise because of its undercurrent, its roots that spread across all aspects of the business, the responsibility that it puts on organizations, and because the demand for talent in so many areas is now so intense that the top table can now only ignore it at their peril.

On behalf of the Harvey Nash HR team, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that joined us for what proved to be a truly thought provoking event. If you need any advice or assistance with your HR recruitment, please get in touch with the team.


Pippa Hawker
T:0121 717 1900