That the pandemic has brought seismic shifts in the way employers and employees interact needs little context-setting. Their expectations changed, and so did their preferences and priorities. The good, the bad and the ugly of it have been discussed at length, even as the changes continue to evolve in the aftermath of the pandemic. Compounding these challenges are the growing turnover rates and ‘The Great Resignation’ that don’t seem to be abating yet. Even as organizations are grappling with the ‘unprecedented’ changes, the spotlight is shining bright on something that could transformationally rejig the job market dynamics for the better – Employee Value Proposition (EVP).
Until a couple of years ago (pre-pandemic times), conventional components like attractive compensation, paid vacation, and probably some office perks made up for the EVP. Enter the pandemic era, the perception of reward for work among employees evolved. Gone are the days when people just looked at work as a source of income and a transactional relationship with the employer. Now employees are seeking personal value and purpose at work. The realisation that there is more to work than just conventional benefits has dawned on the job market. Today, EVP is not an afterthought, but an integral part of holistic growth both for the employer and the employee. This presented the organisations with a unique opportunity to relook at their strategy for talent acquisition and retention, and engage with their employees to chart the new present. Even major companies including IT giants in India are now focusing on strengthening their EVP to control the high attrition rates.
But what are the tenets of a prudent EVP, one that is future-looking, reflecting reality and not entirely aspirational, and a combination of tangible and intangible components?
1. Reiterating focus on Work-Life Balance
According to a McKinsey and Company’s report, poor work-life balance figured among the top reasons for employees to leave an organisation. Surveys by various independent research agencies across the globe also indicate that work-life balance is among the top priorities of employees for continuing at a workplace. A simple way for employers to encourage this is by initiating a dialogue with their employees on their work-life balance needs. Flexitime (flexible work timings), encouraging employees to take time off, taking periodic stock of their mental wellbeing, and promoting health initiatives and fun and recreational activities would also be a great start. Good if this is engrained in the culture and is not looked at as a quick fix. Organizations that ensure a fair balance have a competitive edge in the market now as candidates prefer organizations with the right culture over just a big hike.
2. Fair Compensation
While an attractive salary is still a major part of fair compensation, a big fat paycheque is not the only component that employees are looking for. Other monetary and non-monetary benefits go a long way in retaining employees. Transparency and fairness are critical. Personalization of total rewards is something that is increasingly becoming common and companies too need to be open about it. It is important this is part of the annual or bi-annual review cycle and there is an external benchmarking done to ensure employees are getting the right value.
3. The choice to choose a flexible work arrangement
Remote/Work from home and hybrid work arrangements have become the new normal. Giving employees the autonomy to choose what works for them – since there is no one-size-fits-all scenario – would lead to not just high performance but a sense of fulfillment.
4. Charting out a growth trajectory
Employees are looking for avenues with career trajectories that are steep. Mckinsey’s Great Attrition research shows the absence of opportunities to learn new things or find their work interesting or challenging is the primary driver for employees quitting. The research also suggests that employee turnover is significantly less likely when employees have internal mobility. Employees desire recognition and development. Hence, finding ways to reward them for good work is an essential tenet.
5. All of this comes down to workplace culture
The fight for the talent we’ve been seeing over the last several months should be the wake-up call of sorts for organizations to rethink why conducive workplace culture is among the most crucial aspects. Companies have been showering unrealistic sops to acquire talent in the last year, but the employee turnover continues to be high, clearly indicating that there is a lot more than just the pay package. Workplace culture is equally important, if not more. A major pitfall could be the “business-as-usual” approach by the organization that lacks focus on the human elements. Treating employees as people and not workers will be a good first step towards building a people-first work environment. Fair treatment, support, team spirit and encouraging high moral and professional standards should be at the heart of organizational culture.
Gartner’s research shows that investing in developing and delivering EVP can effectively bring down annual employee turnover by 69%. An EVP shouldn’t just be confined to presentation decks or to marketing exercises but must be a sustained effort. A company’s EVP is what makes it stand out in the talent market. But to win the game, employers must realize that in the new and altered work world, the rules of the game have changed for good. Mere band-aid solutions (for tokenism) won’t work. Traditionally, EVP design and implementation may have been under the HR teams’ ambit, but it is prudent for the organizational leaders to champion it and lead by example to become the employer of choice. Remember: How you design and implement your EVP would be reflective of your company’s vision and values and a manifestation of your mission.
Note: Authored by Priya Sharma, CFO & Co-Founder, ZestMoney. The article was first published in People Matters online magazine on April 26, 2022.