How Good Storytelling Can Help Guide Your EVP

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).

*Communicating Culture*

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?


What Does Google Autocomplete Say About Your Employer Brand & Recruitment Strategies?

As JWT INSIDE’s Search Engine Marketing Analyst, I’m going to go a little Google-nerd on you here, but bear with me. It’s relevant; I promise.

AEIR (Advanced Emotion Intelligence Research, a team of researchers, software engineers and business specialists that extract data regarding products, people and businesses) recently collected data on 100 brands using Google’s Suggest Queries API and autocompletion. In non-search terms, this research team searched for brand names plus the word “is” on Google to see what autocomplete options showed in the drop down. I included a screenshot of the autocomplete options I receive when I Google search “Apple is” for you, to give you an idea of how this works (keep in mind, AEIR took into consideration a number of other factors, too).

apple is screenshot

Then, AEIR created this lovely infographic to better explain the results they found. This infographic lays out the top 66 of the 100 brands researched and shows the top words associated with the autocompleted searches. Overall, 21% of these results associated the word “Evil” with the brands while 10% associated the phrase “the best.” (This probably shows that people with negative opinions are more likely to post something online about their experiences compared to those with positive feedback, but that’s a topic for another day.) But what do the Google autocomplete search results say about a company’s employer brand? Here are a few of the top brands with the autocompleted search terms that relate to employer branding and recruitment:

Amazon – “Hiring”
UPS – “Hiring”
Siemens – “A Good Company to Work For”
Citi – “Hiring”
Xerox – “A Horrible Place to Work”

Of these 66 brands, 5 show autocomplete search options related to hiring or whether a company is good or bad to work for (that’s about 8% of the brands – are you surprised by this number? I was!). This study shows that Amazon, UPS, and Citi have done a great job of creating awareness around their hiring needs and efforts. Siemens and Xerox likely have a lot of content online being indexed by Google from current or past employees in the form of company reviews, testimonials, and other feedback. This could be on channels like Glassdoor or Indeed, on social media like Twitter, or from other online content like blog posts and industry articles. However, this online content has proven positive for Siemens and negative for Xerox. Your employer branding efforts and recruitment advertising campaigns can portray your company culture and hiring needs all day long, but what your employees say online about your brand as an employer will undoubtedly affect how your brand is seen in the eyes of your candidates.



JWT INSIDE Responds to ‘PayPal Chief Reams Employees: Use Our App or Quit’

A recently published article“PayPal Chief Reams Employees: Use Our App or Quit,” really caught our eye here at JWT INSIDE. Just from the title, we could tell there was going to be an interesting story of passion for an employer and a potential internal challenge with employee engagement. Our first thought was: It sounds like PayPal’s CEO, David Marcus, could ask himself two big questions.

First, why aren’t our employees using the app? And second, are we hiring purpose-driven employees?

Answering these two questions could not only help improve the product in ways that may further encourage the use of the app internally and externally, but it would also support the discussion around hiring the right people to better the business overall.

Although, some may feel Marcus was a bit harsh. Expressing disappointment about employees’ participation with a major product launch shows his commitment and passion for the company, and really gives employees an insight into the human side of being a leader. Ultimately, using the app wasn’t the point, Marcus’s note to his employees was about joining the PayPal culture. An idea that we at JWT INSIDE whole-heartedly believe in – people join cultures, not companies.

A tough-love motivational speech to overcome lack of enthusiasm might have played well at a town hall, but missed the mark in the written word. It was fair of Marcus to acknowledge a growth opportunity and set expectations for his employees. The bigger issue is ensuring his company is hiring people who are passionate enough to be brand ambassadors. Ultimately, Marcus really squandered a chance to focus on their employer brand and use the EVP as a way to attract the type of people who want to download PayPal’s app – not made to feel guilty enough to do it.

In the words of Marcus, “We have much work to do to reach greatness. We’re not perfect by any stretch of imagination. But passion, and purpose will help us get there faster… A life devoid of purpose, and passion in what you do everyday is a waste of the precious time you have on this earth to make it better. Onward with passion, purpose, and gusto!”

We couldn’t agree more. After discussing with a number of INSIDErs, the consensus was unanimous – it’s key to have a defined EVP and a company culture that understands and believes in the business mission, no matter what the brand. We’d love to hear your thoughts, do you agree? As an employee, how would you react to a communication from your CEO like the one sent at PayPal?