It’s been clear to us for some time that many organisations are facing an existential problem – the imperative to retain people and deploy skills effectively. And this is even true of those who have invested considerable time, money and effort in creating a powerful Employee Value Proposition (EVP) for their people. What is going wrong – and what can be done to improve matters?
In our opinion, HR leaders need to realise that a great EVP is only part – and not all – of the answer. An EVP, at its best, is a “DNA” code for why someone should work for a business. But without a career strategy in place alongside, it doesn’t persuade them to stay or show them how to develop. And an EVP cannot, in isolation, effectively align employees’ skills with business goals, nor develop future leaders, nor keep diverse talent on board.
There is, however, a great opportunity for organisations struggling with retention and development to position a careers strategy at the very centre of their EVP. HR can make a start by understanding what employees want – and what the business needs – to get the best from both.
What employees want
From the employee’s perspective, what they want from a career strategy is:
- A strategic approach that “shows up” in their daily experiences. This could be early information about new roles, projects or experiences, clear development feedback from their manager, or honest and broad-ranging conversations about their future. These daily conversations play a vital role in reinforcing their personal sense of direction.
- The tools and resources they need to take responsibility for their own development. Employees should be afforded every opportunity to self-manage their career. Examples of ways we can help them to do this is through career support for employees and leaders such as Be Bold, Career pulse, Career trails and Career inspirer.
Employees are looking for the career support their organisation offers – and delivers on its commitments. Only an intentional and sustained careers strategy can make the EVP a daily reality.
What employers need
HR leaders who already have a careers strategy in place know that it can reach into all parts of the organisation and impact on every stage of an employee’s development. Those yet to commit to a strategy, will be making a very significant decision: one which unleashes powerful forces aligning business and HR strategies. This is because a careers strategy helps to, amongst other things:
- Align employee skills with business goals. When employees are given opportunities to develop their own skills and interests, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated and productive. HR can then spend more time in aligning people to the future of the business – and less time recruiting to replace those they have lost.
- Identify and develop their future leaders. This ensures that the company has a strong pipeline of talent to lead the organisation in the future.
- Retain diverse talent. When companies have a career strategy in place, they can provide opportunities for employees from diverse backgrounds to stay and progress in their careers, in ways they may not be able to see in other organisations.
Finally, HR departments that enjoy both a strong EVP and a great careers strategy to bring it alive, will soon find themselves enjoying a virtuous circle. When employees see that their employer knows its own DNA, has a plan to invest in their development and provide opportunities for growth, they are more likely to advocate for the employer and consider broader career options at the organisation. What they then say, and do, can only strengthen and improve the EVP further. The prize for all employers is a rich one – the ability to bring both the EVP and skills to life.