It’s a common, everyday scenario; you’re a business leader with a soon-to-be vacant role. What you need is a talented person to fill this position (ideally yesterday please). You’re hoping to connect with a candidate that has the right career background and enough experience to really add something to your workforce; to help move your business in the right direction. Your ideal new employee is a smart, motivated person, who ‘gets’ your business mission, is on board with your organisational values, and who your employees will want to work alongside. This might sound simple enough, but can be a lot more challenging to find, especially in a candidate short market.

First step, research

What do talented job seekers like the one described above do when they are job hunting?  The answer is research. Finding out everything they can about their potential new employers, which may take the form of reviewing job advertisements, career sites, social media posts and business websites, or talking to the recruiter who is managing the vacancy. If a job seeker happens upon your organisation, or your job advertisement, what else will they find?  Can they easily imagine themselves working for your business? Does what they find, see, and read help answer the question, "why should I work for your company?”

Defining EVP

The thing candidates are looking for when they consider a potential employer, whether they are aware of it or not, is the Employee Value Proposition (EVP).  The EVP describes what working for Company X looks like to a potential employee; it describes what they can expect to get in exchange for what they give (their work). The remuneration is of course a big part of this, but as long as you’re paying a competitive rate or salary, then it’s much more than that. An EVP describes the benefits, perks, working life, reputation/brand presence, and the feel of working for your business. These factors can make your company more attractive to join and provide incentives to stay — although the EVP for attracting talent and retaining talent could be slightly different as well (but that's a blog for another day). EVP is a component of the employment brand— but it’s the more personal, specific, and inward-facing offering.

A tool for 2022

It’s become increasingly difficult for job seekers to differentiate one job opening from all the other great opportunities out there.  A strong EVP can help make your unique offering stand out in a crowd.  In a candidate short market, like we’re experiencing in New Zealand right now, a clear and compelling EVP is an essential tool for attracting, and retaining great employees.

EVP for SMEs

I’ve observed that sometimes, smaller to mid- sized organisations believe that EVP is not for them; that it’s a costly nice-to-have, used by big corporates and the larger players in the market. However, the reality is that organisations of all sizes and in all sectors should be thinking about their employee value proposition. No matter your budget or size, there are steps you can take to strengthen your EVP and communicate it well both internally, and to the market. In fact, a smaller organisation can often work their size to their advantage. It’s a quicker process to engage with your people and to uncover the components of your value proposition; and it is usually easier to make changes and adjustments to your messages.

If your business is currently struggling to find great candidates, and you want to find a way to distinguish your offering from others in the market, then consider putting some effort into defining and communicating your EVP. 

To begin the process, here are some key principles:

1. It’s not all or nothing

We always recommend taking your business through a thorough, business size-appropriate EVP development and implementation exercise — and we/The People Place can help you with this. But that’s not to say you can’t start things off and take action now.

Let’s say you are recruiting for a field engineer. Ask your team of engineers what it is they like about working in their team and for your business, and make sure you include this information in your job listing, and/or in the careers section of your website. Perhaps even film one willing team member; get them talking about their positive work experience, and share this video across your social media, with a link to your job advertisement. 

This simple example is actually EVP in action. The job seeker gets a real sense of what it’s like working with you, making it easier for them to align themselves with your business and imagine themselves in your job opportunity. On the flip side, it helps other candidates to see that it’s 'not the place for me’ and rule themselves out, thereby avoiding any future issues with poor culture fit.  

2. No one size fits all

Different employee groups within your business value different things, which means the value proposition for your team of developers should look different to the value proposition for your sales reps.  Of course, there will be some commonality — for example if your business has a modern, custom-fit out office in a central location with parking for all — then by all means include this as it has a fairly universal appeal.

However, for maximum benefit, avoid taking a one-size-fits-all approach when building and communicating your EVPs.

3. Reality beats fantasy

If you don’t have state-of-the-art offices, an in-house masseuse or Taco Tuesdays, can you even have an EVP?  Yes. It’s a common misconception that an EVP is a shiny advertising exercise that’s only for businesses that say they offer the best benefits or describe a perfect workplace.

 In fact, all businesses have an EVP, and the most effective EVPs are authentic. Your EVP needs to describe a reality that your organisation can live up to, in order to maximise the potential benefits of commitment and engagement. There’s no need to exaggerate a ‘clearly-defined leadership training pathway’ if that’s not what it’s like in your business.  Instead, identify the truly great things about your workplace, and tell your potential employees about them.

Your call to action

Spending the time, energy, and resources on developing and deploying EVPs across your business is a useful and effective goal that we strongly recommend. It doesn’t have to be overly complex or time consuming, and it can yield fantastic results.

However, how about a bit of experimentation right now?  I challenge you to make three small changes in the way you communicate your EVP, that may get you some quick wins in our challenging job market.

Questions to ask:
  1. What are the kinds of people that you want to hire?
  2. What matters to them? What do they value?
  3. Ask your people; what’s unique about working in our team/business?
  4. What do you enjoy about our work environment/working for our business?
Actions to consider:
  1. Review your business website and careers page with fresh eyes: does it show job seekers what it’s like working for your organisation?  Does it sound attractive and enticing?
  2. Review any active job advertisements: is there enough information about what the employee ‘gets’ when they join your business and why they should work for you? Focus your advertisements on attracting people to your business and the role rather than a lengthy list of responsibilities, which can be covered in the job description.
  3. Pick one role you expect to hire for in the near future, and brainstorm ideas about one additional feature or benefit you could add to that role, that would be attractive to your target audience. Make sure you communicate this.

Employee Value Proposition is a big topic at the moment as thousands of Kiwi businesses are finding it difficult to find the people they need. The People Place can help your business to stand out and attract the right candidates, by working with you to identify and strengthen your EVP.  Please do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how we can assist, you can phone us on +64 9 300 7224 or email