Why Your Small Business Needs an EVP and 5 Steps to Build It

Elizabeth Schillo

If someone were to ask you right now, “What is your EVP?” Would you be able to answer them right away? Or would you have to stop and think about it? Or would you have no idea what they were talking about?

An EVP is short for “employee value proposition.” It’s the set of offerings a company promises its employees in return for contributing their time and talent. What do your employees love about working for your company? What makes working for your company unlike working anywhere else? What benefits – both tangible (health insurance, quarterly bonuses) and intangible (a good work-life balance, autonomy) – do you offer your employees? What does working for your company represent to the outside world? These are all questions that help shape your EVP. 

Why you need to define your employee value proposition. Your EVP is critical to attracting the candidates you need and communicating what makes your company a great place to work. It helps you stand apart from other businesses competing for talent and helps strengthen your employment brand. The process of defining your EVP will help you:

  • Re-engage current employees. In order to understand your current EVP and shape it, you have to first talk to your current employees and understand what they value. Enabling them to be a part of this process will not only help you understand their needs, it will empower them knowing that they are making an impact.
  • Refine your recruitment marketing message. Understanding what people love about working for your organization and what makes your company unique will inform the way you communicate with potential candidates moving forward.
  • Attract the right candidates. Sure, you want to attract top talent, but you also want to attract the talent who fit your culture. The more clearly you define and communicate your EVP, the more potential candidates will be able to identify if they are a good cultural fit.
  • Strengthen your business as a whole. According to a study by Towers Watson, companies that deliver a unique EVP — one that integrates total rewards and aligns with the business strategy — are five times more likely to report highly engaged employees and twice as likely to report higher financial performance than their peers.


Here are 5 steps to creating your employee value proposition.

Step 1: Look at the data. If you have any workforce data you’ve collected through the years – such as employee engagement surveys, performance or 360 reviews or exit interviews – start there. This type of data can provide insight into your employees’ level of satisfaction, their opinion of the company and any areas that may be a need improvement.

Step 2: Ask your employees. Who better to help you understand what you offer employees than your employees themselves? Whether through surveys, one-on-one meetings, roundtable discussions or focus groups, solicit honest feedback from your current employees to get a better understanding of your EVP. Some questions to ask include:

  • What made you want to work here?
  • What compels you to stay?
  • Which benefits do you use the most?
  • Which benefits do you wish we offered that we don’t?
  • What would you change about working here?
  • Would you recommend working here to others? Why or why not?

Step 3: Create alignment. Does what you think your EVP is (or want it to be) align with what your employees say it is? And does that match what’s important to your ideal candidate? If the answer to either or both of these questions is no, you need to re-assess the situation and figure out what needs to change in order for the perception (what you want your EVP to be) to match the reality (what your EVP actually is).

Step 4: Craft your message. Now it’s time to define your employee value proposition. Write it down. Put it in your employee handbook. Include it on the “About Us” section of your website. Your EVP is part of your employment brand. You should be able to articulate your EVP clearly and with confidence. Anyone visiting your career site or social media pages, getting email communication from your organization or otherwise interacting with your company should easily be able to find and understand what you offer employees that no one else does.

Step 5: Deliver on your promise. It’s not enough to simply create an EVP. You need to follow through on it and ensure you’re living it. Conduct regular surveys with employees to test the effectiveness of your it. Train your managers to understand the EVP and what they need to do to carry it out. (According to the same Towers Watson study mentioned earlier, the most effective companies “train their managers to help articulate the EVP and embed it in their culture.”)

Are you providing value to your employees? Check out What Employees Love About Working for Small Businesses


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