It's time to innovate EVP; actually, it may be long overdue.

Warning, this is a somewhat long article.


EVP, or Employment Value Proposition, is a powerful idea aimed to help companies articulate why talent should take note, or in EVP speak, be attracted, and if aligned, apply to join. But it comes from the consumer product side of the world, where things like price and positioning, along with a clear features, benefits and attributes set is definable. Careers are not products.

If you've been in TA or HR, or EB for a while, you're probably very familiar with the strategy. And maybe you're puzzled by it, questioning like I do, how is your value proposition helping candidates make better decisions or driving organizational goals forward in a measurable sense?


Taking it a level deeper, EVP should inform your employer brand (another concept borrowed from consumer product marketing) to help current employees engage (and stay engaged). Engagement nurtures culture, community, collaboration, innovation, problem-solving, employee experience —all the reasons to like and enjoy working at a company. If we get more profound, a spot-on value proposition should, in turn, help the business or organization grow and succeed, be it market share, new products, revenue, etc. As the enterprise grows, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, all that EVP performance should curve back and make the EVP even stronger. Sounds simple enough, no? However, it's far from simple in practice, and given the extensive challenges between candidates in their respective journeys and the experience of tangible (hold it in your hands and hearts) value from an EVP journey, I'd say we're long overdue for innovation.


If EVP (and EB) we're a tennis match between a candidate and an employer, in my work, I am the net, looking at one side, then the other, trying to analyze all the balls (I call these volleys candidate scorecards) going back and forth. The misalignments are substantial and often. I started at Bayard as its National Creative Director, founded its Employer Brand Practice in 2004, and began a data-driven, insights-hungry practice. EVP today is approached pretty much the same as it was back then. And that’s not good. I think we're using outdated models, borne from consumer product spaces that never perfectly fit, in short, re-listing values in a different form or that we wish were practiced in plain sight, and calling it a value proposition, like a consumer product might. 'Re-efforting' company 'values' as value propositions it's likely a significant source of why candidates and employees report how frustrating job search is. On the employee side, I offer it's the driving force behind engagement scores being consistently low. If EVP was working, candidate experience and employee engagement should be getting high marks across the board. They're not.


I don't believe EVP is a story to tell. There is a great need for authentic storytelling, but it is served best in other aspects of a total employer brand experience (part of a strategy stack). One of the most perfect value propositions I've come across is from the B2C side, "One tap to a ride." I probably don't even have to mention what business said that. It's not a story. It's an insight into a new transport model the world didn't know it wanted, let alone needs. Perfect for a consumer service. Imagine, for a second, that same business had an EVP that said, "one tap to a fulfilling and rewarding career." But they don't and can't. Employee experience is not a product or service. And it's not an experience that is easily defined. There are so many factors and nuances that go into our personal career scorecards. A deeper examination of value proposition should drive strategies that grow value, helping the business grow in its culture, community, innovation, problem-solving, DE&I, and more because that is what EVP should do. When EVP transcends the messaging of possible value (or values) and embodies the experience of career (or team, or project, or culture) value in all its forms, then alignments between job seekers, employees, and employers can reach their fuller potential. I developed EVX to help solve the ever-present and growing gap between the needs and wants of job seekers-employees (job seekers are future employees) and employers' needs and wants.


EVX is borne from the Talent side of the universe, not the product one. It unites the world views of the individual job seeker/employee and the enterprise. It does this by defining value through the lens of the experience of value. By its own design, it is authentic. It doesn't produce a slogan or generalized pillars as its output per se. It builds strategy stacks that have a high result of alignment to all the parties' goals. We can add messaging after we’ve built the strategy stack to serve the attraction, communications and expression goals authentically. By its nature, EVX can only be authentic because its heart is the experience of value, which can only come from authentic and genuine experiences.


What is EVX innovating from?

A great deal of EVP development follows Gartner's principles (formerly CEB) and their prescriptive value proposition model. It was a great innovation in its time. EVP was barely an idea, let alone a defacto strategy before that model. The challenge is every company in the world has opportunities, people, organization, work, and rewards. Even if you list all the things employees like through researching those areas, we haven't tapped into how those people experience the value of those areas. You can have an EVP pillar called "Inspiring Purpose," but how does that align with me, the job seeker, who hears the same message from every other organization I've explored in a job search, even in the same field? Is one inspired purpose better than the other? If so, how? EVX addresses the gaps between what an enterprise is most proud of in their attraction and engagement goals with the often very pragmatic goals of a job seeker. In the old EVP model, another round of EVP research has to layer on top of those that create Pillars and taglines to light up the experiences we value, which is what candidates care most about. We tend to call that round EB. In practice, this means we're often trying to develop two programs that can, and often do, undercut the other, or make one not much help. Something is not working.


If the EVP models of today were on point, shouldn't we see employee engagement high? Wouldn't candidate experience and journey be simple, even rewarding unto itself? If value proposition was accessible, wouldn't the struggles with diversity, equity, and inclusion be gone?


According to O.C. Tanner Institutes' most recent Global Culture report, a study of over 40,000 employees and leaders in over 20 countries shows EVP needs help.


In 2020 we saw:


91% decline in employee Net Promoter Score

57% increase in disengagement

42% increase in a tense workplace atmosphere

75% increase in feeling like the organization was underprepared


Trying to cut costs by scaling back employee recognition programs resulted in:

49% decrease in engagement

23% decrease in likelihood employees feel supported by the organization

Twice as much fear about Covid-19



EVX — Employment Value Experience


To build EVX, we need something more profound than candidate personas because they don't often aim to build models of the value of career experience. Career scorecards go far beyond fictional characters representing perfect employees because that data is not very helpful to candidates or employers. And in terms of messaging, it's almost guaranteed to build bias into it. In simpler terms, messaging value and experiencing value are not the same. Personas can provide entertaining backstories and sure sound good, but when we look deeper, we don't come away with the experience of value that aligns to the incredibly diverse audiences we're hoping to embrace. Candidate Scorecards are accurate measures of value derived from Four core regions. Financial, Practical, Experiential, and Emotional. If you're familiar with Maslow's Hierarchy, you can see the evolution.


EVX is not even an offer. I mentioned earlier; it's a strategy stack builder to create equilibrium between the wants, needs, and goals of candidates, employees, and employers. We can't offer integrity or purpose, but we can link how candidates & employees of organizations embody those principles and experience their value in meaningful and tangible ways.


Why four core regions?

After years of studying candidate and employee journeys, the four regions (FINANCIAL, PRACTICAL, EXPERIENTIAL & EMOTIONAL) distill career experience in ways that can be more accurately measured. They represent what we earn and are rewarded with, respect and value-share, are engaged and inspired by, and how we feel about it all. It was no simple task. They represent the experiences that matter. We all have career scorecards, whether we're job seekers or employees. We have a scorecard if we're leaders or just started, even if we own the company. We're all natural-born scorekeepers on our life experiences. Work represents a significant part of our time and contributes to our well-being on so many levels, and we keep tabs constantly, even if we don't call it our career scorecard. This conceptual model of value creation empowers EVX.


EVX is united with EB before activation because it is, in essence, a career coach, helping candidates and employers see and get real value from their exchanges and interactions, leading to better decisions, better alignments, and improved engagement. All of that helps an organization succeed in its growth goals. And it can't be anything other than authentic.


By studying employee experience relative to different career areas, we can keep score on the value of employment experiences to benchmark against internal or external factors (competition, the economy, locations, WFH, company cultures), typically against many criteria together. Every candidate/employee wants the best total rewards they can aim for, but they vary across many variables, like early career, specific career paths, geography, DE&I, and many others. The four EVX regions make the complex simple, but its power is quite formidable. The career scorecard is derived from social science research to build research protocols that illuminate the underlying influences, hopes, ambitions, experiences, and goal alignments to opportunities without bias. It's not about roles. It's about people's financial, practical, experiential, and emotional scoring systems.



If you're familiar with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, you can see the correlation. EVX removes unintended bias because it focuses on attributes we all share, regardless of background, gender, race, orientation, education access, or complex skills. We all care about our financial, practical, experiential, and emotional opportunities. We don't all have the same access to education, mentorship, or internships. People can be, and often are, shut out of opportunity, and in EVX, it does not exclude one type of person or another. It simply aligns goals, wants, hopes, aspirations, ambitions, and needs to opportunity, value, and objectives. Hiring more people isn't often a good goal. Engaging more people who are excited to help your organization thrive, in all different ways, is. Aiming at the types of people we think fit a "perfect employee" model is doomed to failure and increases bias. As an alignment-built model, EVX expresses the experiences of value for all peoples, regardless of any other factors.


The four regions become EVX's foundations, not pillars. Pillars imply permanence, and they should be anything but—evolving as scorecards change. But what matters is that they inherently anchor authenticity. When the strategies begin stacking, the experience of real value and the communication, attraction, and recruiting needs of the enterprise becomes clear and powerful, all in one model. Scorecards in EVX make activation high-performing from the start, like a synchronized swimming team changing course when needed. Change should be natural, not punishable. EVX responds to change because it is constantly changing.


Does it work?

It's early, but the client projects I've employed EVX are striking. The simplicity, accuracy, understanding, and insights it yields feel game-changing. And those projects span several of the hardest to recruit for in-demand talent areas. EVX goes head-on to the real-world challenges of value proposition in candidate-centric terms, anchored in authentic experiences of value, and proves to be precisely the strategy for the challenges we face now and into the future.


To learn more about EVX, send me a note.


© Matthew Gilbert, 20201