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Employer Value Propositions Are Brand Building Blocks

Most large and most attractive employers have created statements for recruiting strategy

A group of business people sitting around a table.

​What do 84 percent of the world's top 100 most attractive employers (as defined by college students) have in common? An employer value proposition.

This strategic statement defines how a company wants to be perceived by its employees. It embodies the company's values and ideals and is a fundamental step in defining an employer brand strategy for talent acquisition.

That's why many organizations around the globe have put in the work to create an employer value proposition, according to research conducted in early 2017 by Universum, a global employer branding and market research firm based in Stockholm, and DHI Group, Inc., a network of niche employment sites and recruiting services based in New York City.

"[An employer value proposition] provides current and future employees with clear reasons to choose and stay with an employer," said Richard Mosley, Universum's global vice president of strategy, based in London. "It conveys what employees can expect from an employer and what is expected of them in return."

The Universum survey of nearly 2,500 HR, marketing and talent acquisition managers from 50 countries found that the following companies have created employer value propositions:

  • 67 percent of large companies (10,000-plus employees).
  • 55 percent of medium-sized companies (1,000-9,999 employees).
  • 30 percent of small companies (fewer than 999 employees).

The technology, banking and accounting sectors have the most companies with employer value propositions. Challenging work, a friendly work environment and a commitment to diversity and inclusion are the top three attributes of employer value propositions in the United States.

[SHRM members-only HR Q&A: How can we develop an employer branding strategy?]

Half of employers who have yet to develop an employer value proposition plan to do so in the future.

"Let's face it: Employer branding is no longer innovation; it's a candidate expectation," said James Foley, global senior vice president of employer brand at Randstad Sourceright. "With that said, it's important to define your employer value proposition before creating the strategy you will use to translate that feeling to candidates, because you want to portray the most accurate representation of your company. When done correctly, you'll see the positive impact resonate across the bottom line in retention, offer acceptance rates and recruiting efforts."

Survey respondents said HR and recruitment are the primary owners of employer brand strategy and activities. "One of the biggest challenges in developing an employer brand is determining who is responsible for it," Foley said. "Most often, it should be led by the CEO and throughout all levels of the company. Still, making sure all parties, from HR to marketing and communications, understand their roles is essential to an effective employer brand strategy. Taking time to invest in internal and external stakeholder feedback will help to define the [employer value proposition] and make sure it stands out."

Mosley said large and medium-sized organizations face challenges with getting leaders' commitment to develop these propositions.

"While understanding of employer branding appears to have improved at senior levels, it is still often mistakenly perceived to be an exercise in presentation rather than a more deep-rooted assessment of the underlying employment offer and experience," he said.

The top challenge for the most attractive employers is cost, particularly with the current focus on investment in HR technology, he added. "For smaller organizations, the most common challenge, given more limited human resources, was simply finding the time."


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