An organisation’s values constitute the template for the standards and behaviours expected from directors and employees. The CIPD says that most employees recognise the significance of organisational values, with almost three-quarters (73%) stating that it is important for organisations to have defined values that govern employee behaviour. They also point out that all too often there tends to be a disconnect between employees’ expectations of organisational values, and how they are modelled and communicated through the organisation.
Their research found that in the private sector, most employees believed that the disconnect arises when the organisation puts profit ahead of organisational values. In the public sector, the most cited reason was a belief that there is one rule for senior managers and another for everyone else.
If an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is what employees gain in return for working at an organisation, then an effective EVP must align the whole work experience, from culture, mission, and values, to total rewards, through jobs and people. EVP describes your commitment to your employees.
Value and values
By identifying what employees value, an employer can evaluate how they are meeting the needs of employees and provide them with what they deserve, in exchange for the energy and commitment they put into the work they do. A robust EVP is about ensuring engaged leadership, meaningful work and career development, competitive remuneration and reward, a supportive environment and employee wellbeing.
In today’s work climate staff and prospective employees have options. By building the EVP around what employees value, the organisation extends those rewards to prospective employees in exchange for their talent, so the EVP needs to be credible, relevant and authentic.
Employees represent the employer brand to customers, clients, suppliers, community and other stakeholders. Those organisations which place values at the core of all they do tend to be at an advantage. Workplace values drive the attitudes and behaviours that make your team effective or otherwise. These values might include respecting others, keeping promises, taking personal accountability, or offering outstanding customer service. Strong values build a culture of trust and mutual respect within the team.
Establishing EVP requires a holistic approach and employees need to be involved in creating brand values and developing the brand narrative, it makes the whole process authentic. Authenticity is really what makes the difference. You can define and EVP, you can articulate organisational values, but putting up posters about values or sending round links to an EVP statement won’t take you far. Leading by example is the best lead you can give.
Great Place to Work research shows that a strong values-driven culture is critical to the success of high-performance organisations; those with a culture of strong values are more likely to have better financial results than their peers. Sadly, too often leaders fail to communicate with and involve staff, and are not sufficiently transparent on decision-making processes. Failure to build a sense of common purpose makes it difficult to achieve common goals.
A statement of EVP provides a framework within which all stakeholders can work together effectively toward the achievement of excellence. That’s just the start – you need to illustrate your stated values. What do they mean – not just words, but expected behaviours? If there is no buy-in from the senior leadership team as to the importance of values that will undermine engagement by not role modelling the desired behaviours.
Aligning EVP and values for an effective employment brand facilitates an enhanced talent pipeline that aids recruitment efforts – the best candidates want to work with and for organisations that align with their values.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution and the value of something as intangible as branding can be quite subjective but essential in terms of your ability to get the right people in the right place at the right time in a volatile marketplace. It’s worth the effort to get it right, not to settle for second best, to ensure your employer brand and EVP are attractive, authentic and aspirational.