Last week I hosted another HR Leaders’ Forum. Delivered by Richard Frost from People Perform and the subject was “Brand and Employee Value Proposition” (EVP). Now, we all know that EVP is both a fascinating and significant subject, so much so that the Leaders’ Forum was considered one of our best. And this is why EVP is on a number of HR agenda in 2019 as we HR Professionals recognise the importance it holds for a business, especially given this rapidly changing market (Oh and by the way there’s no need to worry, I’m not going to mention the ‘B word’ in this article!)
Our event – like the others that preceded it – was attended by a number of HR Leaders and the dialogue, during and afterwards, prompted me to write this second blog. So, for the uninitiated, let’s start with a definition of EVP (and thanks Richard for this one – definitely the clearest we’ve found thus far!);
“…a set of associations and offerings provided by an organisation in return for the skills, capabilities and experiences an employee brings to the organisation”
(B Minchington 2010)
For anyone reading this who doesn’t already know what I do for a day job, a significant part of it is spent meeting lots of people every day who are either seeking a new job or are clients seeking a new employee. Increasingly, and over the course of the last year in particular, my team at Elite-HR and I are faced with ever-more challenging recruitment scenarios.
When it comes to attracting and retaining the highest-quality candidates, flexible working is really ‘up there’ as a priority for a number of employees. An example I’ve encountered was when we had a client offer our candidate an HR Manager role. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly at the initial offer stage from, let’s call them ‘Company A’. The candidate however, was at that point still attending other interviews and was subsequently offered another role with a different company, or ‘Company B’ naturally.
Now, both companies A and B offered broadly similar financial packages and on paper, our client (Company A) offered a far better overall proposition. BUT, this is where things started to get tricky! Company B suddenly suggested that the candidate would have the opportunity of working from home for one day per week. Company A were unable to offer a day working from home – due to valid operational reasons – so decided to raise the proposed salary by an additional £5k to ameliorate this. So, do you think this would have swayed the candidate to accept the offer from Company A? To be honest, we did. Yet it didn’t and the candidate decided to accept the offer from Company B and gain a day working from home instead of taking the money.
This may only be a single example but it appears that nowadays, people want flexible working so much more than ever before. Clearly it enables candidates to better manage competing priorities in their lives – and we all know that our lives have become more complex and hectic than ever before! So consequently, our working patterns need to reflect this shift in order to accommodate it all. I live in the hope that emerging generations entering employment will continue to help re-shape our working practices; and with real estate being expensive and technology improving all the time, that there will come a time when every employee will have the opportunity to flexibly work. Yet, as we all know, flexible working isn’t for everyone. There’s a great article called ‘Flexible workers feel the strain too’ in ‘Work’ magazine (issue 19) produced for CIPD members that explores this subject rather impressively.
So this leads me nicely into the issue of part-time working in HR. Having worked in the sector for 20 years now, I have watched how part-time HR roles are still not considered in our marketplace as the ‘norm’. When people come through the door and ask for a part-time HR role, we have to be brutally honest and tell them that they are very rare indeed and, if a role does come in, they are invariably of a lower level position. In our experience, high level part time HR roles tend to be ‘created’ upon a person’s return from an absence such as maternity leave. Often, staff returning after maternity can sometimes negotiate a flexible role – for example working four days per week – enabling them to continue working at the same level whilst managing the responsibilities of parenthood. This situation is aided by the business owners/leader already knowing the person and wanting them to remain in post. The pay-off for the business owner is that they get an HR professional who knows the business and often an individual who will still give the same output as before their maternity leave, just in four days! Clearly not all companies are this flexible and still consider it necessary for an employee to work full time to maintain their contribution.
So maybe you would think, that those of us in HR at least, would be championing part-time HR roles. I think most of us recognise it, but sometimes that’s because we are the ones who would choose such a role to fit in with our own personal circumstances. I sincerely hope that we get better at considering how HR roles can be undertaken more flexibly – and certainly outside of a full time working week. Wouldn’t it be great if WE became the enablers in providing high-quality, senior part time roles to better support our changing lives with families, both young and old?
In the end, this leads me back to the EVP. As I mentioned earlier, the subject of what we offer our teams and our prospective employees is vast and fascinating. What is clear to me is that employers need to recognise that one-size-does-not-fit-all today. It’s clear that if employers fail to make the changes necessary to attract (and retain) great talent, they are missing a critical opportunity. This may well result in the loss of great people, people who may be difficult to replace in an ever-shrinking candidate pool.
Jane Barry FCIPD – January 2019