After having successively talked in a general way about the candidate experience on a career site with a large part dedicated to the message delivered and the link between employer brand and employee experience, I could not avoid to bring up the subject of the Employee Value Proposition, or EVP.
The EVP : an HR benefits contract
What is the Employee Value Proposition? For “non HR” people who are not very familiar with it, it is the way in which the company commits to create value for the employee. A very polite way to talk about the list of all kinds of benefits a company offers to its employees.
You will find :
- The benefits
- The corporate culture
- Personal development and career management
- The work environment
It is interesting to note that depending on the sources and the companies its components are not the same. Or rather we find more or less the same things but not organized in the same way.
The fact that a company classifies remote working as a benefit and not as part of the work environment says a lot about…its culture, for example.
As for what one puts into the work environment…sometimes it goes as far as the managerial model and the organization of work, but very often these are rather vague generic concepts that do not engage too much. But not so long ago this was hardly mentioned or not at all, so there is real progress.
Are salaries and benefits an experience?
If the part concerning miscellaneous benefits and salaries is legitimate in an EVP, can it also be considered part of the Employee Experience? Some will find that yes, I won’t.
For the salary part I find it’s pretty obvious. One does not live a salary. One takes it. At the most, experience consists in what one does with it.
In addition, even if it evolves over time, the salary is a given. One already has one. Then if I take some studies, even when you get a raise, it only has a real impact in the first month it is paid. Then it’s a non-subject. In this logic, exceptional bonuses are more a matter of experience.
The salary is a bit like love in a relationship. When you take it for granted you fall into a routine and that’s where the problems begin. There is no love, there is only proof of love and this is what exceptional bonuses and bonuses correspond to, on condition that one knows that he has to do things to deserve them and that the other doesn’t forget to value the fact of giving the bonus.
As far as the advantages are concerned, we are still more in the field of an experiment, but this calls for some reflections.
The first one, as I said, is that thinking of flexible work or remote work as a benefit and not as a component of the work environment and a way of organizing work and production does not seem to me to be reassuring in terms of how the company thinks about work in 2020.
The second, once again, is to say to myself that an employee who places more importance on living his benefits than on living his work disturbs me a little. Both count in a logic of employee experience but there is still a sense of priorities to have.
Towards a true promise of employee experience
For my part, I would be of the opinion to separate the part that is for me exclusively related to the employee experience. Namely :
- The work environment, including the work model, the managerial model, the decision-making rules, the communication systems, the digital workplace, remote working, the level of autonomy, the way in which delegation and subsidiarity are organized.
- The way in which careers are built and progressed.
One is immediate experience in the job, the other is long-term experience in the company.
In any case, these subjects are far too absent from communication on the employer brand or at least not dealt with in sufficient depth.
Because what bothers me a little bit about the EVP is:
- That it is too much HR oriented and not enough operational and business. But it seems to get better with time.
- That in fact a “proposition” is mostly a promise. And everyone knows that promises only bind those who listen to them.
Precisely, let’s talk about the second point. Having an EVP and formulating it is one thing, but having it respected is another.
The side of salary, benefits etc. is generally so because it is legal, some things come from an agreement with the social partners…
For the rest, well, it depends. Management not so “agile”. Work not so flexible. Remote work only if your manager wants to. Respect for career paths as long as your manager pays attention to them and cares about the development of his staff.
This part of the EVP or a proposal of employee experience reminds us, as I said earlier, that communication is not a substitute for execution. It is not a question of blaming those who make the promise but those who do not execute it. Basically the message is “it’s that we try to be but depending on where you fall we guarantee nothing”. But from the company’s point of view, those who make the promise and those who could carry it out are not the same, they don’t talk to each other, and the very idea that they have to collaborate on this subject doesn’t even strike anyone’s mind.
For an employee, knowing how his work will be organized is anything but anecdotal. Management, directive or not. Agile or not. Collaboration and communication tools that may be new or old-fashioned. Delegation and/or subsidiarity really in place or not. Work tools really working remotely and work environment totally accessible remotely or not.
What are the essential elements of the deal between an employer and its employees?
For me it has essential and secondary things in the factors that make an employer and an employee decide at some point to go on a journey together.
Of course there is the salary dimension.
And then there are what I would call the essential qualities of each.
If an employee lies about their experience and qualifications he can expect to be fired fairly quickly as soon as the fraud is discovered. And sometimes even if he or she gives satisfaction: the initial lie will cast an indelible doubt on his honesty.
On the other hand, can one think that the content and organization of work is an essential quality of the company for which an employee joins it? In my opinion yes, and today more than ever. We are talking about what will condition 90% of his experience at work, but above all about things that will make him or her perform or not!
But when a company embellishes reality on essential points in the recruitment process, what recourse does the employee have? Resign or suffer. He has left a job, he has lost an opportunity, he has been deceived by action or omission and in the end he is still the one who pays the price.
It’s a situation where everyone loses. The company that will have to make a new recruitment or will have to deal with an unsatisfied employee on one side and the employee who will have to either find a job or take it on himself on the other side.
Towards an employee experience contract
The terms of the deal are therefore not fair, one being obliged to keep his promise and the other not. I’m not talking about legal remedies, although some might be able to, but simply employer branding and engagement.
Already as I said earlier, the employer brand of a company no longer boils down to what it tells, but to the confrontation between this discourse and the reality of the experience.
In this Harvard Business Review article you will see why many employee experience initiatives fail. One of the reasons is that they only raise employee expectations in sometimes unrealistic ways and do not actually materialize.
“Too many firms treat employee experience initiatives like a marketing campaign, issuing formal statements when they are introduced—an approach that can feel inauthentic and irrelevant.”
The important thing, should it be repeated, is not so much the promise as its coherence with reality.
Secondly, because an employee who finds exactly the opposite of what was promised to him will from the outset give less credit to his employer with the obvious impact this will have on his engagement. Perhaps he will even start to look elsewhere.
Therefore, the company should think of it more as a contract than as a proposal or a promise. It should feel more committed and ensure that it carries out its promise on a company-wide basis, or it should review its promise. Let it be seen as an act of commitment and not as an act of communication or a profession of faith that serves only to satisfy one’s ego. It is indeed very simple that the mirror reflects a beautiful image of yourself if it is you who are faking the image.
The difficult art of the company’s promise to the employee
The subject is highly complex because it mixes contradictory things.
- Some promises are binding, some are not.
- Soft” (HR benefits) and “hard” (how the work is organized)
- Explicit (what is said) and implicit (what the employee understands without taking the risk of misinterpreting it).
It might be time to bring back some clarity by having :
- A clear and precise discourse organized around two components: what concerns belonging to the company and what concerns working there. The soft and the hard. The HR and the operational.
- A more committed approach on the part of the company, which must ensure consistency between the discourse and reality. This is one of the interests of an employee experience department, or “People” or “People and Operations”…whatever the name, what matters is what it does.