The importance of flexing your EVP

This blog has been written by Paula Simmons, an employer brand expert. Here Paula explains that in today’s complex talent landscape, the ability to flex your EVP has never been more important. 

In today’s complex talent landscape, the ability to flex your EVP has never been more important.

Traditionally, EVPs and employer brands were created to identify and articulate what it was like to work at an organisation – in an overarching, overall kind of way. The craft then evolved into understanding what that meant for different skill sets; flexing the brand to create professional personas. And all of this was done with the competition in mind – first of all direct industry sector competitors, and then broader competitors for talent (or comparators, as I called them). Employer brands had to stand out from the competition.

Of course that’s still the case. But what’s coming next? Or rather, how will things evolve (because change rarely happens in one go)? Well, here are my thoughts:

  • I think there will be a continued humanisation of the employee offer and therefore what EVPs and employer brands focus on. In an age of machines, this sounds a bit reverse sci-fi, but what this is really about is employers gaining an even deeper understanding of what existing and potential colleagues are engaged with outside of work as well as in it. That is, knowing what really matters to them and being relevant in that context.

….for example, I recently spent time focus grouping people working in a trade where the market assumes they’re most motivated by base salary.  As a result, a lot of poaching goes on. But the answer when I asked them what drew them to their current employer specifically? The pension and other benefits ranging from product discounts to death in service cover. These were people with young families, some of whom had relatively recently become conscious of responsibilities beyond themselves. Being able to plan for their and their families’ futures in the longer term had become more important than basic pay alone. Understanding this about their proposition enabled their employer to better reach out to their profile (and stand out from the competition) by promoting total reward.

  • It’s a tough market out there (when wasn’t it?) This means that where they aren’t already, EVPs and employer brands will need to be deployed right across the lifecycle as standard, to promote retention as well as recruitment.

….some of the most effective TA teams I’ve seen have forged early and strong partnerships with allied teams – culture, OD, reward, internal comms – to make sure that everyone in charge of key touchpoints and channels understands the proposition. That way, the organisation speaks with one voice as an employer and increases the chances that the promise that brings people in is followed through. This isn’t the approach with all organisations, and it’s likely that those still focused on building propositions mainly to hire are making life difficult for themselves, particularly when it comes to getting hard to recruit new starters to stay for the longer term.

  • If we’re talking about the full lifecycle, then the EVP and the brand it inspires needs to speak to, engage and motivate the key people responsible for delivering experience. That means hiring and line managers. Elements of the recruitment process and of the employee experience (e.g. learning) may become increasingly automated, but in the end people still buy – and work for – people. General employee advocacy matters, but it’s not just about the comms. As the groups that operate in the space where employer brand meets organisational culture, managers are perhaps the most important advocates of all. They need to understand the proposition and be coached to embody it (as well as having delivery of it wrapped into their performance reviews).


These are some of the evolutions I can see. If they materialise, then it follows that EVPs and the employer brands they inspire will need to be able to flex like never before. They’ll need to cater for different skill sets, different demographics, different generations, different life stages. People who want to work differently, and are perhaps more socially and environmentally aware than at any point in recent times. That means that employers will have to generate more, deeper insights from way more primary and secondary data that is both quantitative and qualitative.

Like consumer brand experience, the employer brand experience seems to be heading for ever greater personalisation. For some organisations, being ready for this may mean a wholesale review of their brands, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. For some it will be a matter of adjustment. Whatever the course, though, it seems there are interesting times ahead.


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Paula is the former head of Employer Brand and Communications Strategy at TMP. She has provided the strategic insight behind many award-winning employer brands and has worked across a range of sectors including retail, engineering/IT/software, construction/engineering, Financial Services, Professional Services, Central and Local Government, health and social care, pharmaceuticals, logistics and Higher Education.