Keeping It Real with Your EVP

If employer brand is all about what people associate with working for your organization, the hub of your employer brand strategy is your organizational EVP – the employee value proposition. The “give and get” exchange between employees and employers sets YOUR BRAND IS WHAT PEOPLE SAY IT IS (4)the tone and provides you with a starting point as you begin to craft your employer brand strategy.

Your employee value proposition is the unique set of values and benefits that provide employees and prospective talent the impetus to work for you.  Your EVP encapsulates your identity as an employer – who you really are, as experienced by the people who make up the organization.

A strong EVP has four essential qualities:

True – First and foremost, your EVP must be based on the genuine employment experience. Make no assumptions here! Ask the tough questions and uncover current perceptions and associations of your organization within internal and external segments.

Distinct – If your EVP mirrors the employment offering at the competitor down the street, talent has no compelling reason to choose you. Differentiate and give them a reason! What is unique about your organization?

Credible – It’s critical to seek out proof points to validate your EVP. There can be some aspirational components to your EVP, as long as you are honest about where you are striving versus where the EVP truly lives today. Provide evidence!

Consistent – Your employer brand story and EVP need to be reflected at each touchpoint in the employee lifecycle.  The temperature and level of engagement within your organization may fluctuate in the short term, but your EVP remains consistent over time. While it is important to reassess the EVP during times of organizational change, the core EVP as experienced by employees should be consistent.

Work to develop and articulate the employee value proposition needs to center on uncovering information – as opposed to developing marketing materials. The EVP provides the foundational material that will feed employer brand messaging. Creative is developed AFTER the EVP is finalized. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

Developing your EVP really is the heavy lifting of employer brand strategy. Take a long view, stay true to who you are and reflect your unique organizational personality. An authentic EVP, validated by employees and well-positioned to external talent will drive employer brand results.


Getting to Why

A truly authentic and successful employer brand is based on more than return on investment. It’s clear that you need to have a strong business case for employer branding to gain support and buy-in from senior leadership and other key stakeholders, but that’s not enough. Your employer brand strategy needs to be rooted in your […]

How Strong is Your Employer Brand?

Developing a employer brand baseline is an important first step in your brand journey. Do you know how your organization is perceived by customers, employees and external talent today? It’s important to do the necessary research to find out before jumping into a significant branding initiative. You need be able to determine your goals and measure your results!

Blu Ivy Group offers a diagnostic tool to help organizations think through some of the key elements of their employer brand as it exists today. Their online quiz is brief and offers insights based on responses.

Take a few minutes to walk through the quiz to get a better sense of where you need to start with your employer brand strategy.

Employer Brand Quiz

#KEGGERFORLIFE – Employer Branding Done Well

There are a few Canadian organizations with established employer brands that stand out within their industry. Westjet is a clear trailblazer and Bombardier receives plenty of recognition as a great place to work as well. Since their early days in the 1970’s, The Keg Steakhouse + Bar has maintained a prominent reputation as a great place to work in the Canadian casual dining segment. How did they develop such an iconic employer brand? There are several key employer branding elements that they execute extremely well.

An authentic employer brand story

The Keg’s employer brand story is evident every time a guest pulls up a seat at the bar – it’s fun, it’s high energy and the action never stops. What’s truly unique about the employment experience at The Keg is that their brand story doesn’t end when the doors close at last call.

Life at The Keg is all about relationships. As an organization, there is high value placed on personal connection and that sentiment extends through all aspects of the business. Every night, servers banter with guests, grill cooks and bus boys share laughs to get through the dinner rush and bartenders welcome regulars with a familiar smile.

Joining The Keg means an opportunity to develop important life skills surrounded by great people. That employer brand promise has been consistently executed since day one.

Keg Tweet

Investment in corporate culture

An employer brand steeped in camaraderie doesn’t just happen without corporate commitment. Having a good time is a big part of the Keg experience, each and every day. The Keg invests in developing and supporting the culture they sport so proudly through staff events which set the bar in the hospitality industry.

The Keg knows how to throw a party, and they like to do so as often as possible. Keg Cup, where staff race to win the coveted trophy by day and perform surprisingly well-produced air bands by night, has become legendary in the business. The Keg Oscars where top performers are celebrated Hollywood style is another big affair that represents the value placed on employee contributions and corporate culture. Over the top corporate conferences send a clear message to the leadership team as to their value within the organization, consistently reinforcing the culture and all the amazing reasons to continue to choose The Keg as their career destination.

Just as importantly, Keg events are always balanced with personal acts of appreciation. Genuine thank-you’s and high fives are plentiful and regularly served up at the end of a busy shift.

Brand Ambassadors for Life

keggerforlifeWith a strong focus on training and development, The Keg has a reputation for promoting from within their ranks and staff members often move into roles as Managers. Retention is significantly higher than the industry average for both staff and management.

Ask anyone who has ever worked at The Keg and they’ll tell you, there is something special about the experience. Time spent serving in a Keg dining room is a defining period in their lives which they continue to identify with long after they have taken their last steak order.

The Keg recently launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #keggerforlife. Keggers have embraced the concept and are enthusiastically using it to share their Keg experiences. The campaign showcases the very best of The Keg’s employer brand and brings the culture to life online. Once a Kegger, always a Kegger!

Why Employer Branding Matters

The way we do business has changed. The corporate world is fully digitized and the speed and ease of communication has necessitated organizational transparency. Talent shortages are shifting the balance of power to candidates. The rate of change in business is unprecedented. It’s proving difficult to keep up.

In response, HR is being called upon to bring further measurable value to the income statement and traditional people strategies aren’t cutting it. Push strategies are no longer enough – we need to pull candidates and employees to us and hold them close.

Whether you know it or not, your company has an employer brand. There is an existing perception of what it’s like to work at your organization.  Are you actively managing your employer brand?

Real Business Impact through Employer Branding

In my last post, we explored what employer branding is all about. Thought provoking, sure, but does it really have any impact?  Why would your CEO care enough about employer branding to give you a budget?

There is plenty of evidence to support employer branding results:

Why Employer Branding Matters

  • Actively disengaged employers outnumber out number their engaged counterparts at a rate of 2:1. Canada and the US experienced the lowest engagement rates worldwide. 1
  • Organizations with higher levels of engagement experience significantly higher earnings per share compared with their competition.1
  • More engaged workers result in higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents.1
  • Only 34% of CEO’s feel that HR is well prepared for the challenges ahead.2
  • 93% recognize the need to change their strategies for talent, yet 61% haven’t taken the first step yet! 2
  • A company’s employer brand is twice as likely to drive job consideration as its company brand.3
  • Top employer brands perform three times better than their competitors. 4

Holistic employer branding, executing effectively, directly hits the bottom line from multiple angles. HR and executive leadership need to respond to the shifting demands of talent management to provide value to their organizations. Those who don’t prioritize their employer brand will find their organization outpaced by competitors in no time.

  1. Gallup, The State of the Global Workplace, 2012 
  2. PWC 17th Annual Global CEO Survey
  3. LinkedIn, Why Your Employer Brand Matters 2012
  4. Blu Ivy Group, 2014

Employer Branding Defined

When I find myself in conversation about my work, I inevitably end up explaining what employer branding is all about. The idea often sounds familiar, yet the concept is not widely accepted as having a precise definition. There are several thought leaders in employer branding today whose work influences the latest thinking on employer branding.  These experts can help provide us with context and better understanding.

eb defined (1)Simon Barrow, chairman of People in Business, is widely thought of as the founder of contemporary employer branding. He came to HR leadership from a successful career in advertising and went on to coin the term employer branding in a scholarly article co-authored with Tim Ambler in 1990. Their definition of employer branding was later published in the Journal of Brand Management in 1996.

In the 1996 published work, Ambler and Barrow define the Employer Brand as “the package of functional, economic, and psychological benefits provided by employment and identified with the employing company.” Barrow went on to co-author the first book on the subject of employer branding with Richard Mosley in 2005.

Global employer brand authority Brett Minchington, has a slightly different explanation. He says employer branding is “the image of your organization as a ‘great place to work’ in the mind of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, customers and other key stakeholders).” (Minchington, 2005 via Wikipedia)

Today’s employer branding is a multidisciplinary practice with direct alignment to overall business objectives. No longer the darling of HR or Talent acquisition team alone, executive leadership understands the impact of employer brand on the business as a whole and how a strong employer brand can return better financial outcomes for organizations .

Blu Ivy Group*, a Canadian boutique employer branding consultancy, expands on these foundations to include insight around why employer branding is a critical pursuit for business today. They explain employer branding as “a business strategy that aligns and engages talent, providing an emotional connection to business objectives. It combines best practices of HR, Recruitment, Marketing and Communications and consistently measures bottom line results.”

Employer branding is an innovative business strategy used to integrate your employee promise with your overall “reason for being” as an organization. Effective employer branding means more committed people, greater productivity, happier customers and a stronger income statement.

Stay tuned – in my next blog, I will further explore the business case for employer branding.


*Full disclosure – I am an employer branding strategist working with Blu Ivy Group.

Bite-Sized Employer Branding

If you’ve landed on my blog, you must be in search of current insights to help you make greater impact on your organization through employer branding. I’m so glad you found me!

Employer branding is such an exciting extension of conventional human resource practices. It connects the most innovative thinking around HR, Recruitment, Marketing and Communications to drive tangible business results. If you are new to the concept of employer branding, or simply want to cut through the clutter on the subject, I hope you’ll join in the conversation on Employer Branding Foundations.

Over the coming weeks, I will share my thoughts on how to get started with employer brand strategy in a straightforward and down to earth way. Each blog post will endeavour to be “bite-sized” – easy to absorb with actionable insights to take back to your workplace. I promise to keep the buzzwords and HR-speak to a minimum…but please feel free to call me out if I slip up!