Developing an employee value proposition (EVP) is more than simply defining a set of benefits and rewards that are part of the employee experience at your organization. Certainly, the benefits and rewards are part of the equation, but those details must be transformed from facts and data into compelling messages that can be delivered to current and prospective employees while also supporting the promise of the brand.
Our work to communicate the employee value proposition usually starts by creating a message architecture – an intuitive structure that builds context for how audiences can relate to your EVP. A message architecture should simplify and amplify. It synthesizes complex details into succinct and engaging messages that empower the communicators in your organization to create and deliver information that is consistent in content, tone, and style. The message architecture won’t answer every question or provide every detail, but it will set a contextual framework that can be used to deliver more specific information in other mediums.
Set Context in a Concise Positioning Phrase
When creating a message architecture, think in terms of a pyramid where you begin the communication at the top with the smallest, most concise bit of information that will set the context for everything that follows. At the top of the pyramid is the primary positioning phrase that draws people in to your communication. This phrase is most powerful when it’s as brief and simple. This is the “Just do it” of your message architecture. It’s the hook you want audiences to easily relate to and remember.
Supporting your positioning phrase in the next layer down is a positioning statement or paragraph. This is where you begin to expand upon your phrase by offering context and simple details. When communicating your EVP, this is a powerful place to connect with the promise of your brand, and express how employees contribute to fulfilling that promise.
Modify Messages for Specific Audiences or Geographies
Underneath the positioning paragraph is where you start communicating what employees get out of working for your organization. This layer usually contains multiple sub-messages that can be divvied up a number of different ways, depending on the structure and complexity of your organization. This layer could be organized into messages by department or function. For instance, you may position a message targeted at your sales team differently from how you would position it for operations or design. Or you could also consider geography. Global organizations may position their EVPs in several different ways to appeal to audiences in different parts of the world. We’ve also worked with organizations that choose to include layers focused on company culture and intangible benefits like work environment, work-life balance, and career development.
Each layer of your pyramid could contain messages targeted to current employees and slightly different messages to appeal to prospective employees. The structure and complexity of your pyramid will depend upon the structure and complexity of your organization. You may be able to communicate everything in three or four layers – or it may require additional layers if your organization is large, with multiple divisions, functions, and geographies. Throughout your message architecture, the content and context should always reflect back to your brand and underscore the promise you make to customers.
When your message architecture is complete, and you’re ready to use it to build communication deliverables for your EVP, always remember to start with the messages at the top and work your way down the pyramid. Begin with the positioning phrase and elements of the positioning paragraph to set context before you dive into content that pertains to lower levels of your architecture. Maintaining this discipline will ensure every communication contains the proper context that will help audiences understand and remember what you’re trying to convey. The message architecture isn’t meant to be used verbatim in every communication, but it can give you language that informs how you create other deliverables – it provides a common starting point that can be used many ways.
How has your organization crafted messages around your EVP? How have you articulated rewards and benefits in an engaging and memorable way?