Nothing clears up confusion about a concept like some well-applied jargon. So when I talk about synergistically leveraging core competencies for sustainable action-biased integration, we can all nod our heads in agreement (agreement that anyone who really talks like that should be banned from any social gathering of any species that gets around on two legs).
Now that the concept of the employer brand has embedded itself in the aspirations, if not actual strategies, of most organizations, the old jargon conundrum (which when preceded by the word “humdrum” becomes a level 5 tongue-twister) has reared its head. I’m talking about the ever-increasing use of EVP, and I don’t mean Executive Vice President.
Some call it the employment value proposition, others refer to it as the employee value proposition, but regardless, it is what the name implies – those aspects of the employment experience delivered by an organization that an employee would value. It is presented as reality, not aspiration, from strictly rational perspective. It does not seek to differentiate, but it does seek to align the delivery of attributes with the importance of attributes. Many organizations could have similar value propositions. As such, an EVP is not a positioning platform, per se, but provides the foundation for developing employer brand positioning.
So what is an employer brand positioning strategy? It resonates both rationally and emotionally. It is based in reality, but contains aspirational qualities as they relate to the audience. It is both relevant and differentiating, taking into account what the organization offers in context with what competitors say they offer. It can be a positioning essence – a few words that get to the heart of the positioning that are easy to remember. It could be a positioning statement – a descriptive paragraph that sets the direction for all marketing and advertising materials. It may contain personality attributes. It could have subset positioning that address market segments.
In 2006, the Corporate Leadership Council (CLC) outlined a core set of attributes that it recommended be part of all EVPs. That statement alone confirms that EVPs are by definition, non-differentiating, and therefore not the appropriate platform for positioning. In addition, the CLC identifies these seven attributes, but leaves it up to individual organizations to determine the degree to which it delivers against these attributes. Non-delivery of any of these warrants that they not be included into the EVP without corresponding change management to ensure sufficient delivery. Therefore, it is probable that most organizations would have an EVP that contains some, but not all of these attributes. This is especially true in the area of compensation, where few organizations deliver a level of compensation that employees feel represents fair value. Even if they did, the inclusion of compensation into a positioning platform must be carefully thought through as it puts the organization in a position where competing on price-point becomes part of the employer brand platform, the exact circumstance that brands are designed to mitigate.