If you’ve been a part of defining or redefining your organization’s employer brand value proposition (aka EVP, aka EBVP) you know how big of an undertaking it can be.
Brand audits. Executive interviews. Site visits. Focus groups. One-on-one team member interviews. Surveys. Team work sessions. Creative reviews. More team work sessions.
By the time the final EVP is unveiled, many employer brand teams feel a mix of elation and exhaustion. They’re excited to share their new employer brand messages with the world, and quite frankly, relieved to have a giant monkey off their backs.
And while their eagerness to cross the finish line is understandable, it’s precisely at this point in the process that we often see organizations skipping one of the most important steps in EVP creation: validation.
Many organizations skip the “validation” phase of EVP creation because it seems counterintuitive. You’ve already talked to current employees about their impressions of your employer brand. You’ve heard the good, bad, and the ugly. And if you’ve done your job well, you’ve taken their feedback, along with a long list of other inputs, and created an employer brand value prop that is meaningful, believable, differentiating and authentic.
All good, right? Not necessarily.
In our experience, creating EVP’s is equal parts art and science, and the question as you approach the finish line isn’t simply—have we talked to our employees about their perceptions of our employer brand—but rather—did we actually hear them?
What Employers Can Learn from Tropicana
The story of Tropicana’s 2009 redesign of their flagship orange juice packaging is legendary in the world of consumer branding, where Change State Co-Founder, Martin Predd, cut his teeth, and is instructive for employer branding teams, as well.
After a lengthy process no doubt involving many of the same steps referenced above (and more), Tropicana unveiled a new package to the world. They had talked to consumers about the new package designs, thought they had heard them, and proceeded to invest some $35 million in advertising to promote the new design.
Should have been a home run, right? After all, just like many employer branding teams, the folks at Tropicana had talked to their “customers” (for our purposes, “employees”), incorporated their feedback, and created a package that was modern and fresh while holding true to the brand’s legacy.
The only problem was, their most loyal fans didn’t agree. Customers started criticizing the new package design almost instantly on social media, and within 2 months, Tropicana’s sales had dropped by 20%. Sure, they had talked to their customers, but they went live with the new package without checking to be sure they actually heard them. In response to the backlash, Tropicana promptly reversed course, brought the old packaging back, and took a loss approaching $50 million for their trouble.
How EVP Validation and Employer Brand Monitoring Go Hand-in-Hand
While there’s generally never a bad time to begin monitoring your employer brand among employees, defining (or redefining) your EVP presents a unique opportunity to begin monitoring because the baseline survey can serve dual purposes – (1) Validate your EVP and associated creative before you go all-in and (2) Capture an important snapshot of your employer brand before the new EVP goes into effect.
Validating your EVP can be done indirectly or directly in a baseline employer brand health survey, and ideally both. Indirectly, we collect employee perceptions of your employer brand across a range of functional attributes (e.g., compensation, benefits, etc.) and softer “image” attributes (e.g., innovative, puts employees first, leader in industry, etc.).
For example, if your new EVP is all about work/life balance, and less than half of your employees agree this is an area where your organization excels, it might be a sign that you need to do some more work before your EVP is ready to go live. And if you do find that a majority of employees agree your company excels in work/life balance, you can proceed with confidence that you have an authentic EVP that is likely to attract talent that will thrive within your organization.
Even better, you’ll then have a stable baseline metric against which to benchmark future progress. Say you opted not to conduct a baseline survey before unveiling your new EVP, and 3 months later you conduct a survey and find 76% of your employees agree that your organization excels at work/life balance. Is 76% good?
Honestly, you wouldn’t know for sure. 76% is a C in primary school, so maybe it’s not that great. Then again, had you conducted a baseline survey before the EVP went live, and learned that your baseline rating on this same metric was 68%, with the average rating among your competitors a mere 59%, you’d have solid evidence that EVP is not only differentiating, but also increasing in authenticity over time.
More directly, we like to share the EVP with employees in the survey itself and ask for their specific feedback. In a nutshell, it’s an opportunity to ask: Hey, we think we heard you. How did we do?
Of course, the devil is in the details. In the context of a baseline employer brand health monitoring survey, it’s important to share the EVP in a way that makes sense to employees (we can help!) and to ensure that it’s at the end of the survey, after employees’ candid, uninfluenced perceptions have already been collected.
Want to learn more about how Change State can help validate your EVP? Contact us.