As companies adjust to the economic, social, and health changes that COVID-19 has precipitated, we became curious. Would these changes compel companies to alter their EVP (Employee Value Proposition) to attract top talent?

The answer we found out in our July-August poll is yes.

An EVP is the company’s “promise.” It is the value an employer offers their workforce in exchange for employment, and answers “why work here” versus other options. And for the companies still toe-to-toe competing for top talent, our poll has found some swift EVP (A.K.A People Value Proposition) changes that have taken place in just the last few months for companies hoping to land their ideal candidates.

So! “How has your company’s EVP changed with the onset of COVID-19?” Our poll respondents who were responsible for hiring initiatives in their companies voted as follows:

 

#1. 73.4% of respondents have changed their EVP to include “Providing flexibility with remote work hours (accommodate parents, caregivers, different working styles, etc.).”

Talent today wants flexibility, period. And in an uncertain environment where anxiety is increasing for over 40% of parents and Canadians aged 18-34, companies who can provide flexibility as one of their top benefits will strengthen their EVP.

#2. 58.8% of respondent’s EVP’s changed to “Emphasize Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) and Belonging initiatives.”

With the news, social media, and influencers everywhere giving voice and hope to social justice, candidates are now giving greater voice to their D&I and Belonging needs. But a simple company website with a brochure-like description most likely won’t suffice for top candidates to take your D&I efforts seriously. Powerful EVPs today are action-oriented and “walk the walk.” Companies who are fortunate to have storytellers as employees, sharing actual experiences on the company website and across social media sites such as Glassdoor, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc., will signal greater authenticity to potential candidates. 

Technology platforms such as Weevr can also help spread a powerful message regarding your commitment to diversity and inclusion by sharing opportunities to a broader referral network of current and former employees, contractors, clients, located around the world. 

Note that if your company is consumer-focused, how your organization lives and practices D&I and Belonging with its customers will also affect talent attraction. Customer and Employee Value Proposition in many companies are beginning to merge into one single value proposition.

#3. 53%: “Promote work-life balance and wellness (so it isn’t a grind in exchange for remote work).”

The news and social media have again helped employees find a more robust voice – this time, it is with wellness. With Angus Reid reporting that half of Canadians (50%) are experiencing a “worsening of their mental health,” since COVID-19 began, asking for mental health support and work-life balance is losing its taboo status in many companies. Companies investing in Digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy solutions, Employee/Family Assistance Programs, Teletherapy, and flexible work schedules that accept elder, child, or self-care needs as a part of their EVP are becoming the preference of top talent.

Remote work is also not a privilege that talent wants to grind for and show “I am trustworthy” anymore. According to a recent global COVID-19 study by Cushman & Wakefield of 40,000 respondents, 90% of employees feel they are trusted to work remotely. A company that cultivates trust visibly with its employees will strengthen their EVP as well as morale and engagement. 

#4. 53% of EVPs now “Guarantee remote work for certain positions.”

With so much in flux for businesses adapting to rapid market changes, candidates are looking for certainty. Tied for third place in importance to a company’s competitive EVP is the guarantee of remote work – not just the “option” to work remotely. 

The number of employees working from home (WFH) has grown from 13% in 2018 to almost 40% by the end of March. And many employees want to stay remote (who were not already remotely based). In fact a recent IBM survey as quoted in Forbes, “found that of those employees currently working remotely, 80% indicate they would like to continue to work away from the office at least occasionally, while 58% would like this to be their primary way of working. Of those individuals who are now working remotely full-time, only 10% say they want to return to their workplace exclusively.” 

Note: Take care in adjusting compensation for remotely based workers based on location as it could negatively impact your EVP. It is a concept Facebook launched in May that may look to benefit only the company and not the employee.

#5. 35%: “Promoted company stability” as a new element added to their EVP (This includes revealing more about company financials or growth plans).

Over a third of respondents shared that candidates want assurances on company stability. Alex Zapesochny, CEO of Clerico Vision as quoted in FastCompany confirms that “It has now become important to not only explain why your company will continue to be well-financed but also explain why your long-term revenue prospects and business model will not be harmed, no matter how long it takes for life to go ‘back to normal.’”

Even if you are not a public company, cultivating a visible conversation in your branding that assures candidates that they are not stepping onto a sinking ship will help talent who is skittish about the size and stability of your company, trust in your EVP.

#6. 18%: Provide remote work stipends

While there have been many theories on why toilet paper was vanishing off the shelves, one possibility is that many employees weren’t working at the office anymore and had to buy it for themselves. Surprise! With the transference of this and other office costs (wifi etc.) to employees, many candidates are looking for a stipend to offset these new expenses.

While not all companies offer a stipend for remote workers, for some organizations, it is part of their competitive EVP. Some examples include:

  1. Webflow with 70% of their team remote around the globe
    • $250/month for remote workers
    • $200/month (for everyone) health and wellness stipend
    • $1,000/year (for everyone) continuous learning stipend
  2. Basecamp – an almost fully remote company:
    • $100/month coworking space stipend
    • $100/month fitness allowance
    • $100/month massage allowance
    • $1,000/year continuing education allowance
    • $1,000/year matching charitable gifts
  3. Buffer, a fully remote company:
    • $200/month for “Working Smarter” stipend for coffee shop working purchases
    • $500/teammate for home office set-up
    • $200/year for tech/office needs
    • Internet reimbursement stipend
    • $850/year continuous learning stipend. 

Summary

In this social, health, and economic environment, your EVP cannot help but morph as your business also morphs to survive and thrive. Regardless, it is essential to keep the top items that your talent values (such as the six items above) in your branding and communications. Interviewing your current workforce and compiling feedback from your candidates during and after interviews will refine which EVP items will suit your particular organization and role the best. 

In the meantime, remember to keep your EVP authentic, current, and build trust with your candidates by talking about the actions you have taken to support your employees, customers, and the world as we navigate the challenges and opportunities that COVID-19 presents.