Tag Archives: leadership

A deal’s a deal: Personalising your employee value proposition

How to improve retention by matching the expectations and promises set at the recruitment stage with the actual employee value proposition.

As the cost of sourcing talent increases and filling positions with the right staff gets harder, it is increasingly important that new recruits and existing employees feel that their company’s employment promise matches reality. Disenchanted employees will leave – and before they do, they tend to give less than their best work and often their dissatisfaction spreads to their co-workers.

What is EVP?
The employee value proposition (EVP) describes the ‘deal’ the employee gets in exchange for their effort, commitment and loyalty to the organization. This encompasses financial reward and benefits, learning and development opportunities, work content, quality of leadership and social and physical work environment.

When offered a new employment contract, most candidates will decide to sign on the basis of not only pay, but will also take into consideration other elements of the employee value proposition (EVP) that are particularly important to them. Some of these may be level of role, content of work, position, culture, team, line manager and/or training.

Based on their interview(s) and exposure to the company’s corporate brand, the candidate will develop certain employment expectations about ‘the deal’. On joining, the employee will experience the reality of that deal, comparing it to the initial promise and expectations raised.

We’re reminded of the scene in the film ‘Private Benjamin’, where Goldie Hawn is on the marching field with the drill sergeant and, with wide-eyed idealism, says that there must be some mistake – she joined the army with the condo and the private rooms! The reality of long marches in the heat did not quite match the recruitment promise.

If the promise is not anchored in reality, employees will leave
If the ‘deal gap’ is perceived as too large and unbridgeable, very few individuals will bother giving the organization their discretionary effort. They will, however, focus their efforts on looking for a new job, which they believe is more likely to deliver against its declared promises.

Most companies have written EVP documentation that lays out what rewards the employee can expect to receive for their time and effort. But it is clearly not enough if these are not widely understood, consistently applied and lived day–by-day, especially by the people the new employee will come in contact with most such as their line manager, HR business partners and team members.

There’s truth in the saying ‘people do not leave companies, they leave their managers’
Often the candidate’s line manager is not present at the interview stage and therefore has no idea what the candidate’s individual expectations are when they join. This means they may focus on the EVP elements that are important to them, not necessarily those important to the candidate.

For example, while a candidate will assume that their preference for international travel, stated at the interview phase, has been passed onto their new line manager, this isn’t always the case.

Line managers should explore new employee’s expectations and EVP priorities
It is surprising that few companies ask employees what is important for them before or on joining. Most employers will get candidates to fill in psychometric, English language and mathematical ability questionnaires, but fail to ask about an employee’s personal work preferences.

Yet, not all elements of the value proposition will be equally important to all employees. For example, ‘working in a team instead of alone’ and ‘doing interesting work’ may be more valuable for some than ‘taking advantage of regular health assessments’.

Knowing what made the company attractive to join in the first place will help the line manager and HR business partner better manage the expectations of the new joiner and ensure that the employee is exposed to the elements of the employment proposition that are most important to them.

Personalizing the value proposition seems like a lot of work… or is it?
Although you do not necessarily need to change your standard EVP, it is good practice to review it regularly and ensure it is consistently delivered and closely aligned to the corporate strategy and company values.

A key action is to clarify and communicate internally the main pillars or elements of your EVP, confirming those areas that are fixed and highlighting any that offer personalization.

Pay, for example, is usually a given and does not tend to change between pre-employment and the first few months of employment. Whereas, in addition to offering flexible benefits, other individualized EVP items might include job content, working patterns, learning and development prospects, social and community involvement opportunities and other culture-related components.

Explore with the candidate what matters to them personally by using a focused and short questionnaire. The line manager can then use this information to make sure that the employee takes full advantage of the EVP elements that are most important for them. For example, if teamwork is the highest on a candidate’s list, their line manager should ensure this individual gets to work with other people on a regular basis.

Of course, these preferences may change over time, so it is a good idea to check-in what elements of the EVP are important to employees on a regular basis. Even asking the question will demonstrate your desire to make the employment deal a fair and rewarding one – with the added pay-off of being able to retain and attract talent and ultimately improve business success.

Teneka Polite
Change Management Consultant – PA Consulting Group

Original Content: Bettina Pickering, Fiona Quarrie and Janet Windeatt from PA Consulting.


Empowering leaders to lead during change and transition

Managing change is more art than science because change deals fundamentally with peoples’ emotions.  Often, companies are reticent to engage in change management activities until all of the details about the change are known.  Leaders may do this for a variety of different reasons, but most commonly it’s because there is a level of comfort that comes with having most of the answers.  What’s harder is leading through change and transition when things are still a bit nebulous.

Take as an example a publicly traded company that was acquired.  Given the publicity around the deal, all employees were aware of the possibility and started formulating scenarios about what it would be like, feel like, etc.  However, it wasn’t until the deal went through that emotions kicked into high gear.  The questions that employees raised to their leaders were typical for this type of change, e.g. Will I still have a job? Will I need to relocate? What’s going to happen to our culture? What’s in it for me to stay?

When presented with these questions, and in the absence of detailed plans for what was going to happen next, most of the leaders shied away behind closed doors.  Employee frustration turned into employee impatience, especially for the high performers who didn’t feel the need to wait out the change process.  Employee retention became a huge problem; one which exposed the company to a high level of operational risk.  The company recognized what was happening and engaged us to create a series of workshops designed to address employee concerns by empowering their managers to be change leaders.

The workshops were kicked off while the company was largely still in the Endings phase and had three main objectives:

  1.  Share the change management approach
  2. Agree the role that each manager was going to play throughout the integration
  3. Create an action plan in response to the organizational issues resulting from the merger

We used a modified version of the William Bridges change curve (see below) to anchor everyone’s understanding of the change and where there might be a disconnect between individual contributors and managers.  We began by asking each manager to plot himself on the change curve.  We then had each manager plot their team on the change curve.  Over the course of the 15 workshops that we facilitated, it became clear that leaders were further along the change curve than their teams.  It also became clear that part of the challenge was that leaders were communicating from their vantage point, with better understanding and more clarity on the future direction of the company, while their teams were still in the “endings” phase, mourning the “loss” of their culture, ways of working and in many cases their colleagues.

We coached the leaders on the different roles that they would need to play as they and their teams moved along the change curve.  In the Endings phase, leaders were told they would need to listen, show empathy, and affirm the need to move forward.  During the Exploration phase, leaders would need to first educate their teams on the change and then engage them into the process once more details were known.  Finally, in the New Beginnings phase, the leader as a coach, would bring his team up the curve through further engagement and empowerment.

While the workshops did not provide pragmatists in the room with a checklist of things to do and say in response to the transitory period in which most people found themselves in, participants found value in having discussions with fellow managers about how their groups were feeling and learning of different ways to handle the uncertainty.  People also found great comfort in knowing that others were feeling the same way and were grateful for the fact that their leadership team had taken the time to organize these workshops to provide the forum for sharing the difficult emotions that arise during the merging of two companies.

The key to the success of these workshops were as follows:

  • We started at the top and cascaded the approach and the messages to ensure consistency
  • We empowered managers to create and execute action plans to effect the changes that could be effected
  • We created a feedback loop to ensure that leaders were aware of employee concerns and questions and used the feedback to guide future communications

Precillia Redmond
PA Consulting Group

Building trust in leadership

Lack of trust is undoubtedly a major barrier to business success. It undermines the critical relationships that enable sustained performance and exposes the business and its leadership to painful ongoing scrutiny, cynicism and challenge. Communication plays an essential role in rebuilding trust – but corporations no longer control the flow of news and opinion. In today’s business world, organizations find it hard to keep pace with multiple media delivering multiple messages, 24/7, and an ever-increasing range and number of stakeholders who want to have their say.

 With so much ‘noise’ and communications activity, many CEOs and senior leaders can struggle to get their messages across effectively or, at times, to hear what their stakeholders – whether customers, employees, suppliers, the media or other interested parties – might be telling them.

 If senior leaders fail to establish an effective dialogue with their diverse stakeholders, they risk appearing introspective and out of touch. Worse, failing to engage with them effectively may damage their organization, its reputation and/or its finances.

 As the stakeholder landscape becomes more complex and organizational boundaries are extended. How can leaders communicate and engage with such diverse and frequently remote groups?

 There is a solution: intimacy. The word might sound strange, but if the digital world of emails, text messaging and mobile communications creates distance in our communications, intimacy in leadership brings people closer together, enabling more effective communication.

Intimate leaders have authentic conversations. They use a lower tech approach to participate and engage in dialogue, express their own views and listen to the opinions of others. They are prepared to be challenged while pursuing deeper understanding and meaning. They are accessible and connected. And for all those reasons, they are best equipped to gain trust and lead their organizations through profound change.

 Teneka Polite

Change Management Consultant

PA Consulting Group

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