Our most basic instinct is to share our stories. Debate our theories. Demonstrate our knowledge. And, every company tells a story whether they know it or not. So, the question becomes: Does a company own their story, or will they allow the marketplace to do it for them? The essence of every company’s story is expressed through its culture. A company’s culture is most effective when it can be reduced to its core – full of humanity, passion, and vitality. A message so filled with meaning that it speaks to future and current employees, regardless of their experience, position, or background. This message is guided by a North Star – an employer value proposition (EVP).
Corporate culture may take years to create, but with an EVP, it can be summed up in just a few words. A truly effective EVP can drive recruitment strategies, employee engagement, and even long-term business goals. An interview in Forbes magazine with CEO of MSLGROUP, Olivier Fleurot, talks about just how important a strong employee culture is:
“Business leaders need to make sure their employer brand is strong. That’s because Millennials respect organizations with clearly articulated visions, a strong purpose, shared values and clear career path options.”
Though Fleurot is speaking to his experience with Millennials, staff of all ages could be hobbled without a fully articulated EVP. In the vacuum created by the absence of a company’s cultural vision, employees will fill in the blanks for themselves. But, when employees’ disparate visions collide, it creates the kind of environment that makes businesses less effective.
*Not Just What You Say, But How You Say It*
A truly effective EVP should cut across generational boundaries to communicate a vision that speaks to every employee, regardless of age or experience. Though, maintaining culture is a reciprocal process, it’s up to senior management to constantly reinforce the character and passion of an EVP. Getting it right is essential. Well-known for the exemplary culture, CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, spoke to The New York Times about why he sold his first company, LinkExchange, to Microsoft in 1996:
“From the outside, it looked like it was a great acquisition, $265 million, but most people don’t know the real reason why we ended up selling the company. It was because the company culture just went completely downhill … I just dreaded getting out of bed in the morning and was hitting that snooze button over and over again.”
Zappos has since become the gold standard of corporate culture, even offering new hires $2,000 to quit if they don’t think they’re a good fit. Hsieh took a valuable lesson from his experiences at LinkExchange. If the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company can still dread coming to work, how can we expect front-line staff to be any different? Developing and sticking to an EVP can translate to more engagement and job satisfaction for all employees.
*From Front Office to the Front Line*
An EVP, regardless of its accuracy, only works in concert with an activation plan. Using the activation plan as the blueprint and the EVP as a foundation, teams can develop a strategy that more clearly defines a company’s culture, while developing the nuances that better explain their collective identity.
Activation through social responsibility programs, pro bono work, or employee giving programs breathes life into the EVP. This brand reputation can guide every facet of a business, empowering employees and improving the experience for consumers.
Corporate culture will always have an element of fluidity – full of factors beyond anyone’s control. But, when employees understand who they are together, companies are giving employees something bigger than themselves, a culture to believe in.
Does your company have difficulty articulating their culture? Are you struggling to find the right candidates for your company?