How to enhance your employee value proposition

Undertake long term career management to engage and retain talent.

This month we continue considering more innovations from the market which extend beyond basic EVP (click here for part 1).

Career management

An authentic, inspiring employee experience is more than just a message or slogan. Progressive employers reinforce EVP throughout the employment lifecycle as an embedded part of their leadership, culture and human resource programmes. Organisations that can successfully link long-term career aspirations to available career paths are more effective in driving long-term engagement and retention.

The new thinking on career framework is that there is no “one” path, as it involves performance, competence and opportunity, with choice a key component. Comprehending the various paths an employer can offer is crucial in delivering choice, allowing employees to decide on the next step to achieve their career aspiration. An employee-centric career framework reflects the way people talk about their careers: “what I want to do and what I’ve done.” The company expresses career steps as experiences, rather than competencies. Career progression builds on previous experience and gaining new expertise rather than directly linking to hierarchy or role mobility.

Career Management: Traditional offerings

– On-the-job training, job shadowing, on-boarding;
– Special assignment: stretch, industry secondment, rotation, apprentice, intern, ambassador;
– Graduate programme, education funding, university partnership, corporate university;
– Senior management interaction, coaching, mentoring;
– Performance development, promotion, advancement, people development as a core skill, role design, career counselling, 1:1 meetings;
Classroom, online, virtual learning, peer training;
– Self-assessment;
– Technical, functional, leadership career path;
– Career outplacement, development fairs, journeys, marketplace; and
– Professional development, organisation membership, conferences, journals.

Career Management: Innovative offerings

– Buddying/peer coaching;
– Career explorer, an online portal or app that simulates potential career moves and what it might take to get there;
– Experiential profiles for destination jobs that replaces traditional competency frameworks with profiles that describe a career journey;
– On-and-off ramping programmes to maintain a connection with employees who take time off; and
– Pair programming so engineers, for example, can work together on a situation with a single screen.


Workplace and lifestyle is the EVP dimension that has driven the most innovative insights in recent years. The workplace is being reinvented, minimising the distinction between a casual home-like environment and the actual worksite. Providing exceptional on-site amenities and services, along with flexible work arrangements, encourages productivity. Unlike traditional plans that strive to advance employee wealth, lifestyle benefits – which consider demographics and their impact on the company – instead aim at advancing employees’ well-being at work or at home. Truly innovative insights in the workplace and lifestyle space tend to include a mind-set shift in approaching the employee-employer relationship. Rather than controlling and sometimes infantilising employees, innovative workplace and lifestyle insights tend to place the trust element at the centre of the relationship between employer and employee.

Employee-friendly workplace: Traditional offerings

– Flexible schedule, work from home, short Friday, summer hours;
– Pet-friendly office;
– State-of-the-art information and communication technology, ergonomic tools and workstation, computer choice, bring your own device;
– Idea board, games;
– Casual dress;
– Theme day;
– Room for prayer, lactation, smoking;
– Free fruit, snack, drink, or take-home dinner; and
– Free transportation, expense reimbursement, overtime transport, alternative transportation rewards.

Employee-friendly workplace: Innovative offerings

– Community garden;
– Compressed workweek;
– Design own workspace and exceptional office design;
– No Blackberry after office hours;
– On-site happy hour;
– On-site transportation; and
– Bring your own devices.

Holidays and leave: Traditional offerings

Public holiday and annual leave replacement, paid sabbatical leave, birthday leave, banking leave, and holiday encashment.

Holidays and leave: Innovative offerings

– Unlimited holidays; and
– Unlimited sick leave.

Engage/support family: Traditional offerings

– Wellness (exercise, relaxation, gym membership; discounted fitness equipment, products; corporate marathon sponsorship; health awareness programmes; flu shots; maternity and pre-/post-natal care; nap time);
– Professional advice (retirement, financial planning, legal);
– Employee assistance programme, childcare support, dependant care, adoption assistance, housecleaning help, summer camp and child activities;
– Relocation assistance; and
– Tuition discount.

Engage/support family: Innovative offerings

– Eco-home improvement; and
– Family care, compassionate, grandparent, and eldercare leave.

Other: Traditional offerings

– Celebrations (creative welcome package, festive gifts, or cash in festive season, monthly celebration of employees’ birthdays, congratulations for life events, farewell);
– Free/discounted company products and services, coupons, freebies, discount shopping;
– Club subscription;
– Social activities for singles, interest group or class;
– Emergency fund;
– Internet entitlement; and
– Corporate wardrobe.

Other: Innovative offerings

– Annual travel credit;
– Concierge services;
– Discretionary credit card;
– Free rental car; and
– Running tab.

Employee pride

Generating positive employee emotions – through building pride, affinity, and purpose – is a fairly recent concept, largely driven by US tech and start-up companies facing business-critical attraction and retention issues. There is usually a significant overlap between building employee pride practices and corporate social responsibility.

Generating positive employee emotions also largely contributes to building a company’s brand and reputation as an employer to help attract, motivate, and retain employees.

Employee pride: Traditional offerings

– Company celebration;
– Team building, retreat;
– Company/external award, accolade;
– Recognition letter;
– Employee stories;
– Idea board, online employee feedback;
– Employee/business resource group, network; and
– Charitable activity.

Employee pride: Innovative offerings

– Bring kids to work/family day;
– Co-worker recognition;
– Industry award and accolade;
– Influential speaker;
– Matching gift;
– Noncash reward (an “experience”) to reinforce the emotional impact of rewards;
– Paid volunteer time;
– Personal time, thinking time; and
– Talk-to-the-boss.

Best programme still needs the best communication

In designing the EVP, “a critical determinant of success is how the value proposition is experienced by employees through the organisation’s total reward strategy – and by that I mean not just pay and benefits, but also careers, work-life balance, and even the work environment itself,” explains Kate Bravery, Mercer Partner and Talent Management Practice Leader, Growth Markets. “Typically, companies emphasise one or another of these levers, but in doing so, fail to create stickiness with employees as they neglect to address the entire value proposition.” Bravery adds, “Great EVP design will have minimal impact if the communication tools do not meet the needs of today’s tech-savvy, busy workforce – these need to be easy to navigate, relevant, and interesting enough to visit more than once.” For many organisations, the total rewards portfolio comprises the largest single expenditure. “Yet, surprisingly, few human resource and finance leaders have full knowledge about their actual cost and the effectiveness of the overall total rewards portfolio and its component programmes at enhancing business and workforce performance,” according to Puneet Swani, Mercer Partner and Rewards Practice Leader Asia, Middle East, and Africa.

“The total rewards programme ensures efficient and affordable allocation of resources across the spectrum of rewards programmes, thus optimising their alignment with strategic business direction, cost constraints, and workforce needs in totality.” Swani adds, “It also acknowledges the interaction of various programme components and ensures that decisions related to one component do not have unintended consequences for others. Further, it provides comprehensive and consistent employee messaging to support the overall EVP and brand.”

“Attraction and retention are often the drivers for looking at EVP. But sometimes they lead to ‘me too’ thinking,” Bravery cautions, “as companies seek to adopt the next new thing or look for a quick solution. Taking a holistic view can reveal potential attraction and retention hot spots that might have the desired impact on groups who are critical to engage. With the rise of the experience generation,” adds Bravery, “we are seeing a shift towards careers and learning as essential parts of the EVP, especially in growth markets.” To create the most effective EVP, employers must recognise what attracts, retains, and engages their workforce.

Understanding generational needs can help the company achieve strategic goals through its engaged, productive workforce. But even the best-intentioned EVP, if it lacks clear communication, will not deliver on expected outcomes. Companies need to spread the good word about what they do, or risk an unsatisfied and unproductive workforce. The purpose behind any communication effort is to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time to elicit the desired action. Employers should leverage innovative ways of communicating and delivering benefits, for example, through online enrollment platforms, tools that test and track employee health, career apps, and campaigns to drive engagement. Employers have to sell the programme – all five components – to get employee buy-in so that employees believe in it, follow it, and know their responsibilities.

Proactive companies win the talent war

Attracting the right skilled individuals and keeping them engaged is a requirement for driving long-term organisational success. Mercer’s database of human resources policies and practices in the marketplace can help clients develop the best programme to enrich their EVP while achieving corporate goals. Taking the process a step further, Mercer’s Online Workforce Metrics Tool can support the EVP programme by measuring its effectiveness in terms of financial outlay, productivity, workforce cost, workforce structure and span of control, employee retention, and functional outsourcing. To fine tune the analysis, companies can view data by year, headcount size, industry sector, and more.

Anne-Magriet Schoeman is the Talent/Country Leader at Mercer Consulting (South Africa) Proprietary Limited,
Develop an Effective Retention Strategy to Enhance M&A Deal Success (Mercer POV).
Mercer Global Mobility Handbook, Volume 1.
Mercer’s Making Accountability Work: 4 Generations at Work.
Online Mercer Metrics Tools.

This article appeared in the August 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.

Click here for part 1.

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