Compared to most industries, the gaming industry has very high employee turnover (as high as 75% among frontline employees in some clubs I know). Replacing an employee can cost anywhere from 30 percent to 60 percent of the employee’s annual salary. Businesses with high employee turnover have another undesirable consequence—significantly low levels of employee engagement, which negatively impacts customer satisfaction and overall organizational performance.
Despite so many employers making public pronouncements about how their employees are their most prized assets, engagement of employees within the gaming industry continues to remain bleak. One proven way to both reducing employee turnover and enhancing employee engagement is to have a well-thought out and clearly articulated Employee Value Proposition (EVP).
What Is EVP?
An EVP has been defined in several ways. For our purposes, we will view the EVP as a documented statement encapsulating essence of the exchange relationship between the employer and the employee. Typically, the EVP consists of one core statement (the EVP tagline) plus additional statements about what benefits your organization offers to employees, what you expect from employees in return, and—most importantly—what differentiates you as an employer. The EVP thus underscores key offerings provided by an organization in return for the skills, capabilities and experiences an employee brings to the employer. But not all EVPs out there are that comprehensive.
Probably, an example or two will drive home the point. Cosmetic maker L’Oreal’s EVP is, “Lead the future of Beauty. When you love your work and the people you work with, amazing things can happen.” Lottery.com, the online lottery operators has crafted this EVP, “We know that the world owes us nothing and that our incredible team is our biggest asset. We have a phenomenal culture and unparalleled drive, and each member of the team is carefully selected because they fit with our tribe and our vibe.” Shopify has crafted its EVP as, “We’re Shopify. Our mission is to make commerce better for everyone – but we’re not the workplace for everyone. We thrive on change, operate on trust, and leverage the diverse perspectives of people on our team in everything we do. We solve problems at a rapid pace. In short, we get shit done.”
Creating your EVP is easier said than done. The EVP design process should start out with asking a few key questions of the organization such as:
- How unique are the rewards we offer out people?
- What’s great about our management?
- How is our culture special?
- How do we uniquely impact society, our community, our planet?
When conceptualizing the EVP, it is very helpful to have a skilled facilitator work with 6-7 employees to uncover the organization’s unique offerings and clarify the EVP components. This EVP design team should be made up of the CEO, your Head of HR, Head of Marketing, a couple of middle managers in Operations and one or two frontline employees. The facilitator’s job is to shepherd the EVP design team through a maze of sometimes opposing attributes and arrive at an EVP that is inspirational, and one that is short enough to be remembered yet specific enough to make the organization-employee relationship crystal clear.
Having answered the four questions regarding the distinctiveness of employee rewards, management, culture, and societal impact, the organization needs to zero in on those positive attributes that current and future employees will readily and meaningfully relate to. This outcome is achieved by a free-flowing discussion among the EVP designed team, guided and moderated by the outside facilitator. The resulting EVP, a composite of the selected attributes, should then be assessed along five criteria—uniqueness, deliverability, sustainability, credibility, and alignment.
- Uniqueness: The content of the EVP should not be bland and generic, something that most organizations would claim to be.
- Deliverability: Can the organization deliver on the promises made to current and prospective employees?
- Sustainability: Is your EVP robust enough to withstand the test of time? The EVP should serve the organization well for at least 5-10 years.
- Credibility: Would current and prospective employees believe in the claims you make about your organization, its management, and its culture?
- Alignment: How congruent is your EVP with your organizational mission, culture, vision, values, and business strategy?
Once you are satisfied that the proposed EVP satisfies these five criteria, it should then be presented to some of your employees for comments and feedback. Do employees at different levels within the organization like the proposed EVP and believe in its authenticity? Do they find the EVP inspirational? If they had to do it all over again, would the proposed EVP motivate them to apply for a job with your organization? If necessary, the EVP should be modified based on collective employee feedback.
The two most frequently stated benefits of having an appropriate EVP are: (1) being able to attract the best possible talent for a particular job; and (2) the ability of the organization to retain a high proportion of currently serving productive employees.
But a solid EVP has other substantial benefits as well. According to research carried out by CEB Corporate Learning Council (2014), a strong EVP can result in: (1) 24-47% increase in employees recommending your workplace to family and friends; (2) 29% boost in commitment from new employees; and (3) Up to 50% reduction in payment of premiums to new hires.
Other research suggests that strong EVP plays a significant role in employee engagement and employees’ overall happiness. The 2017 Workforce Mindset Study by Alight Solutions reports that: (1) Employees who could describe their organization’s EVP are twice as likely to be engaged in their jobs; (2) Employees who find their EVP unique or special compared to that of other companies are three times more likely to be engaged; and (3) Employees who find their company’s EVP compelling are three times more likely to be engaged.
Besides such direct employee-related advantages, a strong EVP also results in a better customer experience, higher customer loyalty, and better overall corporate image of the organization. EVP provides employers with an essential roadmap and a compass for navigating their recruitment, performance appraisal, and employee reward and recognition initiatives.
Operationalizing the EVP
Once finalized, a great deal of effort is required to ensure that the EVP document does not sit idle on the HR shelf. To gain legitimacy, EVP design is followed by an extensive internal communications program targeted at current employees at all levels. It is vital that the EVP and its ethos are understood by all employees. Communication with employees should underscore the fact that the EVP has come from the very top; it is not an artifact of HR’s fanciful thinking.
To ensure adequate reach, the EVP should be widely promoted on all social media platforms as well as the organization’s own intranet. Employees need to understand the EVP’s logic and substance if they are going to buy into the EVP promise. The EVP needs to be a living document that current and future employees will be able to relate to. Many organizations find it helpful to convey the EVP’s essence through a short video to bring the EVP attributes to life. The video should be made available not only to employees but to the wider public as well. Frequent mention of the EVP in interactions with employees at all levels on the part of the senior management team will help to underscore its salience to all.
Most employees are looking for a workplace where they will grow as individuals, where there exists work-life balance, and where they believe they are making a positive contribution. When these and other important work motivations are enshrined in the EVP and made real to employees every single day through workplace policies, procedures, and practices, there is greater employee engagement. Engaged employees create a work environment that is safe, customer-centric, and highly productive. Yes, crafting a strong EVP takes time, effort, and imagination. Putting the EVP into practice is even more arduous in the early stages. However, when one considers the resultant rewards in terms of the caliber of employees a business attracts, the enhanced customer retention, the increase in employee morale, and the overall positive employer brand identity, these efforts are most certainly warranted.
By Sudhir H. Kalé, Ph.D.*