Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Your EVP is also your RVP: Recruiting Value Proposition

Even though we call it the Employee Value Proposition, the EVP does double duty in recruiting top talent. How do you sell the best candidates on the big picture of choosing your company? How do you position your company as an employer of choice? An attractive EVP can help you land the best candidates and keep them. If strong enough, the EVP can even help lure employees to less desirable geographical locations or help overcome higher compensation packages from competitors.

The caveat is that whatever you promise needs to be real. If recruits find their experience as new hires to be wildly different from what the EVP claimed, they won’t stick around for long.

There are lots of right answers to the EVP question. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. So stick to what’s authentic about your company and attract talented people who will also be great fits. Here are a few thoughts on areas you might stress:

  1. Meaningful work and/or an inspiring vision: Sometimes the work itself is meaningful to a candidate. To engineers, that might mean being able to play a major role in developing new technology. To an interior designer in the hospitality industry, it could mean working on the launch of a boutique hotel. Other times, an inspiring vision is what creates the meaning, even for work that supports that vision indirectly. An ace accountant might prefer to work for a company with a vision of improving lives for children  than one with the vision of being the largest real estate investor in the strip center niche.
  2. Brand prestige or industry cachet: Think of this one as the cocktail party question: Where do you work? When an employee is asked that question, is the answer one that people recognize? If your company name happens to be a household word, that counts for something. So does being in an industry that’s getting a lot of buzz, like artificial intelligence, for instance. Claiming insider status can be a point of pride that’s valuable to the EVP.
  3. A culture of autonomy or teamwork: Recognize which style is more prevalent at your company and promote it as a strength. If employees consistently say the company feels like family and they value their experiences of working as a team, then that’s a strength to reflect in your EVP. On the other hand, if the company tends to run lean, maybe one benefit of that is employees having the autonomy to take on roles that might be beyond their job descriptions. There will always be pockets of both styles in any company, but be honest about which way your culture leans.
  4. Flexibility: Although a culture can provide flexibility in many different ways, most employees seem to value flexibility in terms of work accommodating their personal lives — whether that means being able to work from home when a child is sick or taking time out in the middle of the day to fit in a long run or fitness class. If your culture doesn’t support that sort of flexibility, look for other kinds. Is the culture flexible about allowing employees to make lateral moves into other departments or divisions? Is there flexibility in terms of a condensed work week? Do you offer unusual options and flexibility in your benefits?
  5. High stress/high rewards or laid back/life balance: An environment of high stress and long hours isn’t always a negative. Some people thrive in that environment, especially when they feel like they’re part of something big. Maybe your company is at the forefront of the Industrial Internet or a major player in Fashion Week or on the verge of finding the cure to cancer. On the other hand, maybe your culture is one where people put in a reasonable day at work and then get out the door on time to be with their families. Either way, that can be an appealing element of the culture described in your EVP.

How do you know what recruits will value about your EVP? Ask them. Don’t stop at doing focus groups and other research with existing employees. It’s easy enough to field questionnaires or focus groups with new hires from the past year or so. It’s worthwhile to explore the reasons they chose La-Z-Boy. Their answers might be different from the responses of employees who’ve been at the company for years.

Interested in developing or refining your EVP? Tribe can help.

 

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Flexibility Trumps Foosball: Employees Want Control Over Their Workdays

papiroIn companies working aggressively to recruit and retain employees (think Silicon Valley), you’ll find workplaces with a long list of perks. A break room fridge stocked with energy drinks is nothing without on-site chair massage, professional housecleaning services, and an employee concierge to pick up dry cleaning, groceries and run errands.

Yet the perk employees value most, according to McKinsey research and other studies, is flexibility in when and where they work, says Fast Company.

“A new study by career site FairyGodBoss shows that, after compensation, flexible hours trump every other factor when women are deciding on a job offer, regardless of their age or whether they have children. A recent study by McKinsey & Company finds that millennials of both genders are more likely to accept a job offer from a company that offers flexible work schedules.

“Yet what drives most company’s recruitment efforts is demonstrating that it’s a ‘cool’ or ‘fun’ place to work. Instead of investing in ways to innovate flexibility, many companies are still spending money on foosball tables, onsite yoga, and free food. ‘Flexibility will become the norm for employers who want to win the war on talent,’ says Joanna Barsh, director emerita for McKinsey & Company and author of Centered Leadership.

“Flexible work schedules don’t necessarily mean employees work from home every day. ‘Flexibility means I can control my time so I’m not stuck in meetings from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., I know what work I need to do, and you will trust me to get it done,” says Romy Newman, cofounder of FairyGodBoss.’

Employees value jobs that support them in a high quality of life, and that means more than a paycheck. Does the job accommodate their life or is their life compromised by the job? Do they have the flexibility to manage family responsibilities, whether that means kids or aging parents? Are they doing work that makes them excited to get up and come to work in the morning? In short, does the job make their life better?

All that being said, there’s nothing wrong with a chair massage. Relaxing those tense shoulder muscles can also make life better. As can foosball.

Interesting in improving your recruiting and retention? Tribe can help.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

The Middle-Aged Millennials: Recruiting and Retaining These Mid-Career Professionals

HiResMany Millennials are now more than a decade into their careers. Although the bookend birth years of the generation vary depending on the researcher and/or media outlet, 1980 to 1994 is the block we use at Tribe to define the Millennial generation. That means the first Millennials are now 36.

They’re no longer those fresh college grads expecting an entry-level CEO position. They’ve done stuff. They know things. They’ve maybe even learned how to manage others. They’re valuable employees, not just for their potential but for their experience.

Yet employers are still flummoxed by this generation. How to recruit them and how to retain them remain issues that companies struggle to solve. Now that they’re the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, employers can no longer reduce the issue to throwing up their hands and exclaiming, “These darn kids these days!”

They’re not kids anymore, and they’re not kidding around about what they have to offer. So what does your company have to offer them?

This is a good time to reexamine your employer brand and your employee value proposition. Since Millennial employees (as well as their older colleagues, come to think of it) have more job options than any of us did during the recession, it’s worth investing time and money into making your company more competitive in the talent market.

What’s good for Millennials is often good for other generations too. For instance, Millennials value flexibility in terms of when and where they work. So do many Gen X and Boomer employees, whether they’re dealing with growing kids or aging parents or just the desire for work to accommodate the demands of their personal lives.

However, the most important element of the EVP for Millennials is the work itself. Sure, they expect work-life balance and constant feedback and an ethical organization. They appreciate being able to bring their dogs to the office and having a break room fridge stocked with energy drinks.

But the reason they’re drawn to one organization over another, and the reason they will stay or go, is the work they’re getting to do. Are they being challenged with opportunities to grow their careers? Are they given responsibility to run some projects of their own? Are they able to collaborate with other talented people? Do they see the work they’re doing being recognized for contributing to the overall success of the company? And is the vision of this company something that makes them excited to get to work every day?

Interested in defining your employer brand or EVP? Tribe can help.

 

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Who wants what: Life stages and the EVP

The employee value proposition helps employees see beyond compensation and benefits to the larger picture. Although there are other elements of the EVP that attract top talent and keep your best employees in place, it’s safe to say all employees care about their pay and insurance.

Beyond that, many elements of the EVP will be different for each individual. Some people are looking for a company where they can enjoy a better work-life balance.  Other employees might secretly enjoy racking up air miles and staying in hotels all over the world. Some folks want to be able to wear T-shirts and flip flops to the office. Hourly workers in positions that don’t promise much career advancement might appreciate tuition assistance to get that college degree.

Although we can’t assume that diverse personalities will want the same things, people in certain life stages often want similar perks. New parents might particularly value the options of flex time or working from home. Those in the early stages of their careers will likely be looking for a company with a great deal of opportunity for growth. Although Gen Y employees often rank meaningful work high on their lists, that factor can also be a big deal to many Boomers.

The EVP provides answers to the employee’s question, “What’s in it for me?” It’s wise to remember, however, that the right answers will be different according to what any individual employee values most in life.

Ready to explore your employee value proposition? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

The most important element of the EVP and engagement: the work itself

One of the key questions Tribe asks when measuring employee engagement is, “How do you feel when you’re on your way to work?” With most companies, the answers are mixed. In organizations like foundations fighting social injustice or world poverty, we tend to see more excitement and passion than we might in some other industries like retail or manufacturing.

You might not expect people to love going to work in a paper mill or box factory. Yet that’s exactly what we’ve been hearing in recent weeks, through countless interviews for a manufacturing company’s internal magazine.

How is that possible? Why are employees ranging from engineers to salespeople to mill managers so excited about getting to work in the morning?

There are a couple of interesting factors that may be clues. This company places a premium on innovation. They have several active projects that involve collaboration and sharing expertise across disciplines and functions. And the leadership seems to give people the autonomy to create solutions without a ton of interference from the top.

Engineers are not usually an emotionally effusive group. And true, when these guys say things like, “It’s really exciting work,” they may be speaking in a fairly flat monotone. But when they describe the challenges and puzzles and the freedom they’re provided to figure them out, it’s clear they are highly engaged in what they do.

Across the course of these interviews, I’ve been reminded over and over of the most powerful source of high employee engagement. Regardless of anything a company can do to create a great work environment, offer work-life balance, rewards, recognition and even generous benefits and competitive salaries, the most important factor is the work itself. And there is nothing more engaging than loving the actual work that you do.

Interested in raising employee engagement in your company? Tribe can help.

 

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Claiming the company treats employees like family can backfire

Does leadership at your company like to say the place is one big family? Although that can help employees feel they’re cared for and supported, sooner or later, it becomes painfully obvious that the company is actually a business.

Let’s say the company is forced by market conditions to reduce head count. That’s a business decision. By and large, people understand that sometimes companies have to restructure to remain profitable.

But it’s not something that typically happens in a family. When times are tough, you don’t expect parents to sit everybody down and announce that a few of the kids will no longer have roles in the family. They’ll be put out on the street, because there’s just not room for them at the table.

The irony is that employee reaction to bad news will likely be much worse if they’ve been sold on the family myth. It’s easy to understand how they would feel misled. They’ve been encouraged to believe something that just isn’t true. There’s an inherent contradiction in the promise and reality.

The intent behind claiming the company treats people like family is a good one. It implies respect and kindness and commitment, all of which are good ways to treat employees. But setting expectations that decisions will be made as if there were familial ties rather than a business relationship is unkind.

Interested in a more meaningful articulation of your employer brand? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Aligning employees with company vision is especially important with Millennials

At Tribe, we like to say our highest goal is to help align employees with the vision of their company. People like to feel they’re part of something bigger, and they particularly like knowing that their day-to-day work contributes to the company’s overall success. And from a productivity perspective, there’s not much better than having everyone moving things ahead in the same direction every day.

With Millennials, this is even more important. A recent Deloitte study found that 60 percent of Millennials cite the company’s purpose as a reason for choosing to work for their current employer. If you look only at those Millennials who are most connected on social media, that number rises to 77 percent.

So how do you do that? The same study found that 75 percent of Millennials believe that companies are more focused on their own agendas than on the good of society. And of course, to stay in business, all companies necessarily must concern themselves with turning a profit.

The sweet spot is when a company manages to combine good business with doing good. Sustainability is a great example of this win-win scenario. As the company reduces energy usage, for instance, they’re cutting costs as well as benefiting the environment.

Those in Gen Z, the generation following Millennials, have an expectation of this win-win being relatively simple. In Tribe’s research, many of these young people mentioned in interview sessions that they expected to solve world problems their parents had not made much progress with. They cited their more global views and continuous improvement in technology as two advantages to finding those solutions.

As both Millennials and Gen Z fill more and more of our leadership positions, they’ll begin to mold the way their companies present themselves in the world. We’re likely to see a greater focus on company vision that serves the greater good in addtion to monetary business goals.  For them, this could be business as usual.

Interested in recruiting and retaining these new generations? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

What will Gen Z want in an employer brand?

If your company has found it difficult to attract and retain Millennials, get ready to work even harder to keep the attention of Generation Z. You’ll have to, because there will be fewer of these employees to go around.

In the workplace, Millennials have moved up and Generation Z is moving in. While many Millennials have worked their way into middle management, the oldest cohort of Gen Z, now aged 20, are holding down hourly jobs in retail, QSR and other industries that don’t require a college degree.

In fact, this generation isn’t convinced a college degree is the route to success. They’re more skeptical of the traditional career path, since they’ve seen their parents and older siblings suffer professional setbacks.

Growing up in the shadow of 9/11 and the Recession has made this group more cautious than Millennials. They’re likely to value employment in solid companies with proven staying power. They’ll care about benefits like healthcare and the 401K, and unlike most of their Millennial predecessors, they’ll actually contribute to their retirement accounts beginning early in their careers.

Like Millennials, Gen Z will also value work they find meaningful. They take a global perspective and care deeply about issues like sustainability, hunger, and disease. And they have great confidence in their ability to solve those world problems.

They use technology like the rest of us breathe air. These kids have never lived in a world without the Internet. They find technology fairly essential to making and building human connections, both one-on-one and in groups. It’s a given that they’ll expect to use the same technology at work as they do to communicate in their personal lives.

What else will Gen Z want? We’re hoping to find out, as Tribe’s annual employee research will focus this year on the new youngest generation. If you’ve seen our earlier research – on Millennials, Non-Desk Workers, and other topics relevant to large employers – stay tuned for results of the next study. And if you haven’t seen our white papers or research presentations, you can find them on this page of the Tribe website.

Interested in knowing more about how to make your employer brand more appealing? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

CX depends on EX: The link between Voice of Customer and Voice of Employee

To improve your CX, work on your EX. The employees are the ones delivering that customer experience, so it makes sense to check in with them to see how it’s going. Do they have the tools and processes in place to make customers happy? Are there issues that come up again and again as customer complaints? Maybe they are frustrated by their inability to solve customer problems because they’re not empowered to make the decisions that could make it right.

Just like the company depends on Voice of the Customer, it’s helpful to listen to the Voice of Employee. When Tribe begins work with a large company, we often find that the top layer of management is a little out of touch with the rank and file employees. This isn’t because they don’t care – far from it – but because they don’t rub shoulders with frontline employees on a regular basis.

In our Discovery phase of a strategic communications plan, we recommend talking with employees as well as management. In focus groups, one-on-one conversations or phone interviews, we ask employees about their experiences. What do they love about their jobs? What are the challenges? How does the typical day unfold for them? What’s the culture like, compared to other places they’ve worked?

Hearing about the employee experience can reveal easy fixes and larger challenges. Most importantly, it suggests and informs strategies for closing the gap between the desired culture and the current reality.

A stronger culture and a better EX lead naturally to more engaged employees and thus an improved CX. In a 2014 study by the Temkin Group, highly engaged employees were “more than three times likely to do something good for their employer, even if it’s not expected of them; almost three times as likely to make a recommendation about an improvement at work; more than 2.5 times as likely to stay late at work if something needs to be done; and more than two times as likely to help someone else at work.” Those are exactly the sort of things that lead to above-and-beyond service and improved customer experiences.

It’s a logical chain of events. If you listen to the VOE, and improve the EX, then you’re more likely to hear from the VOC that you’ve created a better CX.

Interested in learning from the voice of your company’s employees? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Gen Y employees and the pressure of finding one’s passion

Younger employees just entering the workforce are often preoccupied with finding their passion. Gen Y (not to mention Gen Z, which is right on their heels) has been told — by their parents, teachers and our culture in general — that this is what they should look for in a job.

But that’s a lot of pressure. Identifying one’s passion requires more self-knowledge than an entry-level employee might be expected to possess. It places a tremendous importance on choosing the exact right position. For some, this expectation can be paralyzing, or at the very least intimidating.

It also promotes what might be called belly button gazing. By definition, searching for one’s passion means focusing heavily on the self. Extreme self pre-occupation is probably not the best way to be happy, which would seem to be the whole point of finding one’s passion.

Instead, maybe we could encourage these younger employees to look for ways they can help. That puts a whole lot less pressure on finding a passion-filled job, and switches the emphasis to a willingness to be useful and a heart that’s open to opportunity.

The irony, of course, is that by looking for ways to help, one is apt to discover passion. By following the path that appears when one looks for a void to fill or a problem that needs solving, one can become fully engaged and find a personal passion exists where it might have been least expected. Accepting a job where one has the chance to be useful can lead unexpectedly to meaningful work.

Interested in engaging younger employees in your company? Tribe can help.