HR talent professionals continue to search for a silver bullet to help attract and retain talent. The quest continues even though they know there is no silver bullet -- no one-size-fits-all solution that will suddenly swell the ranks of people wanting to work for and remain at their companies for the rest of their careers.

Employee value propositions (EVPs) were first introduced in the 1990s. Since then, the term has been closely associated with workforce planning initiatives and closely aligned with an employer's brand proposition.

While no cure-all, EVPs are back in style and showing surprising success and remarkable resilience when used effectively as part of an organization's talent acquisition and retainment strategy. Here's why:

1. EVPs Outline The Employer Offer
EVPs help employers and employees get on the same page. They facilitate communication. Oh brother, with all the modes of communication available to us today, social and otherwise, how often does basic communication still elude us? Is everyone suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder today or is it just me (that thinks so)? EVPs help bridge the communication gap between the employer's expectations and the employee's understanding of what she gets from the employee deal -- what she receives in return for the skills, capabilities and experience she brings to the organization. The EVP should be, by nature, a set of values that are employee-focused, which provide a holistic view of the total work experience and, also, why working at that particular organization is superior to working somewhere else.

2. EVPs Get Results
Sounds pretty basic, right? EVPs go beyond the basic salary and benefits and go further than a basic total rewards program. Many use glowing terms to describe the benefits of a well-positioned EVP, including increased attraction and retention of key talent, better prioritization of the HR agenda, a stronger people brand, reported re-engagement among a disenchanted workforce, and reduced hiring premiums. But it's important to note that the EVP only produces a win-win situation when the organization's EVP really matches and corresponds to what the employee values in his work. Then, and only then, can an employer count on receiving that elusive discretionary effort, where a motivated worker is willing to go the extra mile. (1)

That said, you'd be surprised at how many organizations fail to articulate a basic employee value proposition. The ones that do -- and do so well -- have reported fabulous results.

CBRE, the world's largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, was faced with unprecedented change in 2015, including the need to integrate thousands of employees into the business following two major acquisitions.

The global rollout of a newly-articulated employee value proposition became a rallying point for talent professionals to achieve the integration and ensure that employees were supported and there was zero impact at both a customer and commercial level. The HR team was briefed about the new EVP and communications were issued from the CEO to around 16,000 employees, introducing it to the business. The EVP helped deliver significant improvements, including 300,000 saved in recruitment costs at the management level and increased staff retention of 0% attrition at the management level and 0% attrition at management level and 4.5% at the operational level. (2)

3. EVPs Help Create Corporate Culture
Mitchell International is a San Diego-based technology supplier that provides software tools for everything from auto insurance claims to workers' compensation and pharmacy management. The demand for technical skill sets such as engineering is at an all-time high for the mid-size company of 1,400, who found themselves having to compete with larger Fortune 500 companies for the same talent.

They work hard at achieving a culture of transparency and trust through honest communication and feedback, and this encourages their employees to contribute ideas about improving the work they do. This resulted in the articulation of their employee value proposition, which is focused on career empowerment.

"Our leaders foster the professional development of their teams and facilitate opportunities they need to gain experience and grow their careers," Alex Sun, the company's CEO has said. This was reflected in the 70-year-old company's recent award as one of the best places to work in San Diego by a San Diego Union-Tribune survey, which was conducted in conjunction with Workplace Dynamics.

Mitchell used their EVP to help stem retention. This meant maintaining clear communication and transparency around performance and career goals while providing the development opportunities employees needed to achieve these goals. (3)

4. EVPs Connect Reputation with Reality
When it comes to attracting the right talent, an organization's reputation is paramount, especially these days with the transparency of user-generated content from former and current employees on sites like

A solid EVP can lead to stronger organizational performance, according to Society of Human Resource Management. In fact, says SHRM, 42 percent of high-performing organizations are more likely to have a formal EVP. The EVP spells out the organization's value to employees, which bears itself out in the ROI of added employee effort on the job.

The EVP is a fluid document and should be updated whenever new benefits are introduced. Some cornerstone elements of a successful EVP formulation may include the following, according to Trish McFarlane, CEO of H3 HR Advisors:

Rewards and benefits, including voluntary benefits, such as life insurance, critical-care insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance, accident insurance, pre-paid legal services, home and auto insurance, pet insurance and discounted health club membership.

McFarlane says organizations should be accurate and authentic when describing their culture. If you're known to be a hard-working culture and try to pass yourself off as fun-loving employees will see through the hype.

Other factors such real career development and learning opportunities are also important, as is the promotion of great leadership management styles and a congenial work environment, including flexible work arrangements, where applicable. These can go a long way toward attracting and retaining employees. (4)

What Are You Searching For?
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Victoria James
Victoria James Executive Search, Inc.
Email: [email protected]
Call: 203-750-8838

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Take a call on your cell phone during the interview. Say, "I can't talk now, I'm going into a tunnel -- a tunnel of hope!" Wink at the interviewer.


1. Employee Value Proposition Infosheet. Talentsmoothie, 2015. (Accessed Nov. 22, 2016):

2. Chetan: drafts new EVP and wins global talent award. Nov. 17, 2016 (Accessed Nov. 22, 2016)

3. Mitchell International (Best Place to Work) with great EVP. San Diego Union Tribune. Nov. 13, 2016 (Accessed Nov. 22, 2016):

4. What's Your "EVP" (Employee Value Proposition)? Spark. Aug. 20, 2016 (Accessed Nov. 22. 2016).  

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