Across our culture, communities and public life, Australia is living through a period of deteriorating trust. In some of our most venerable financial institutions, trust has been almost irreparably broken; trust in our political system has diminished through caustic public discourse; and trust in individuals once held in high esteem, is shattered.
However, the Edelman Trust Barometer for 2019 found that in this environment, individuals are now looking to their employers1 to fill this trust deficit. The findings suggest that this is the opportune time for Australian businesses to understand this need and take advantage of their employees’ desire and need for trust. But where do organisations start on their trust journey?
Great brands, and in turn great companies, start with people. Employees that buy into an organisation’s purpose and have the motivation to deliver on its brand promise with every interaction, drive success and synchronicity throughout an organisation. Today’s workforce is globalised and more mobile than ever with the mounting demand of flexible working options. Human capital is one of the biggest fixed costs companies face, making sourcing talent and retention of workers an important consideration in their bid for scale and growth.
So how do companies face up to this challenge of acquiring and retaining the right employees who fit in with their ethos and will champion their vision? The answer lies in an authentic and strong creation of trust, a positive two-way benefit transfer between employer and employee, as clarified and crystallised in an Employee Value Proposition (EVP)2.
An EVP summarises the wider vision of a business and defines the employee’s role in delivering against that vision. In its simplest form, an EVP defines where a business is going, what it requires from its employees to get there and what it will provide to them in return.
With fierce competition in the market place for the best people, and employees looking for organisations they can trust, rely on, and feel proud to work for, employers need to be perceived as more trustworthy than their competitors. A strong EVP that communicates trust will define what an organisation offers over its competitors and clearly outline the benefits which would attract prospective talent. Building long term, substantial and authentic trust can bring depth to a business beyond commercial outcomes.
Evaluating and identifying
If an organisation’s brand promise is to be truly delivered, businesses need employees to align to and buy in to their culture, vision and values. A strong EVP not only focusses on attracting talent, but also the right talent. A clearly defined EVP supports the qualifying of applicants by being crystal clear on values and expectations. It builds a criterion on which applicants can analyse whether they align to a company’s culture, vision and values, and gives HR teams a measure to easily evaluate each applicant against an agreed standard.
So why is trust between an employer and employee so critical? Long gone are the days of employee loyalty determined by length of tenure. Today’s employees are agile, flexible careerists, creating their own portfolio of roles, driven exclusively by their own choices. Employees are looking to businesses to help them reach their potential, and with so many employers to choose from, retaining the best and brightest talent can be a major hurdle for organisations. A strong EVP, focused on retention, empowers and aligns staff, making them feel in control, loyal and valued. It makes those within the organisation feel like they are moving forward in their career paths with an employer they can trust. Employees have made a proactive choice in their employer and an EVP that reinforces trust can do wonders for productivity and morale.
Establishing authenticity is critical in setting the baseline for EVP development. As we all know, actions speak far louder than words. Engaging employees across all levels, lengths of tenure, departments and functions is essential in understanding: who you are, what you stand for, why employees are drawn to your organisation and the unique benefits your organisation will deliver. By analysing, researching and understanding current employee perceptions of their organisation, employers can clarify and fine tune their messaging to achieve true employee (and employer) satisfaction. Ultimately, the best employers can clarify and hone their actions and their messaging and always measure current employee satisfaction against the true north of the EVP.
Everything communicates. Organisations have the power to transform the very human day-to-day interactions between themselves and their employees. When organisations have mastered an EVP and trust has become part of a company’s culture, they become known as valuing their employees, and prospective talent is drawn to them. Their existing employees are engaged and committed and believe that what they are doing, matters.
In short, a truly great company can be defined by the extent of trust built within their culture. You can feel this permeating through every level of an organisation, shaping the way employees interact and giving them a unified purpose. Trust is in decline and where we look for trust is rapidly changing. Organisations need to question their ongoing role in how trust can be delivered. The research is in and suggests employers have an increasing role and responsibility in rebuilding trust. For organisations who have an EVP as their guidance system, their rewards will be significant and ongoing.
Edelman Trust Barometer
Employee branding and Employer Value Proposition (EVP)