How to Build a Business Case for Your Employer Brand & EVP Project

As an HR and Talent Acquisition leader do you struggle to get buy-in from business leaders to invest in your employer brand?

If you’re like most of your industry peers, you already know you need a compelling and differentiated employee value proposition (EVP). You understand that you need to start investing in employer branding activities to attract, engage and retain talent. This is not new news.

In speaking with your peers from both large and small businesses over the past decade, they often tell me they have a hard time selling the story of employer branding in their organisation.

It can be seen as fluffy ‘Talent and Marketing stuff’. A nice to have. Therefore, EVP becomes one of those projects that’s continually put on the back burner – deprioritised for other urgent business as usual activities.

I get it. You’re stretched, your team is stretched, you don’t have a huge budget to start with and you’re stuck in the day to day grind of filling open reqs. The question to ask yourself is:

If we don’t step off the treadmill and actually work on our employer brand strategy, where will our organisation be in 12 months time in terms of our ability to compete to attract and retain critical talent?

Let’s get down to building the business case for investment

An EVP project is as much about influencing and engaging stakeholders as it is about creating your value proposition. And you want to make sure you’ve got the support of all the right people before you embark on the program.

Start by demonstrating how EVP is aligned to the goals of the business. I highly recommend sitting down and completing this exercise with your leaders and other key stakeholders to get everyone onto the same page.

  1. Articulate your Business Objective(s)
    Everything needs to be firmly anchored and aligned to the business strategy.
  2. What are your talent do you need to support you to achieve the Business Objectives
    And what are the implications for your hiring goals
  3. What Brand Challenges are in the way of us hitting these hiring goals
    What are the core issues for you? Do you have an awareness or misconception challenge?
  4. Therefore, what are our communications objectives?
    How do you need to use communication to bridge the challenges
  5. What are the risks of not hitting our talent/hiring goals
    Can you quantify this in dollar terms?

Here’s an example of what this exercise completed can look like. Take a look at this framework and see how you might adopt it to work for your organisation.

Business Goal: Provide a best in class online experience for customers to engage with our brand and products.

Talent Goal: Expand our developer team by 25 over the next 12 months.

Brand Challenge: Being a B2B brand, we are not on the radar of our target talent. There is a shortage of talent in this sector and we are competing against big brands for tech talent – Google, Microsoft, Airbnb, major banks and supermarkets as well as smaller, nimble startups

Communication Objective: Place ourselves at the heart of tech professionals in key locations, inspire and educate them about the possibilities of working for our company. To firstly raise brand awareness and to help talent understand that while we are not a Google, Amazon or Facebook working in a smaller developer team like ours means that they will gain a breadth of experience and exposure because of the wider scope that our tech roles have.

Risks of Not Hitting Hiring Goals: Failure to innovate and attract developer talent means we will lag behind our competitors resulting in significant reduction in profits of $xx

The business impact of employer brand, looking beyond recruitment

The above exercise focuses primarily on aligning talent attraction to business objectives and it’s a good starting point.

Yes it’s true. Your EVP is the strategic foundation of your recruitment messages and a strong employer brand will help you attract better quality talent and usually at a lower cost per hire over time.

However, sometimes it still doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to getting your executive team to support you to invest.

We also know that employees who work for companies that have a strong employer brand are generally more engaged and motivated. This means that your employees will be more productive and ultimately drive growth for your business. Additionally, engaged employees feel more valued in their roles and this leads to better advocacy for your brand.

Yet there’s a third aspect to EVP that is sometimes overlooked.

A robust EVP development process will likely uncover gaps the employment experience that you’re delivering or issues in the day-to-day operations of the business. These gaps can be critical to the performance of your business.

Here’s an example of what I mean. I recently completed an EVP development project for an organisation that had a highly collaborative culture – both within teams and cross functionally. On the surface this was seen as a positive aspect to the working environment and certainly made it a nice, open and friendly place to work. Somewhere that everyone could feel comfortable offering up their opinions in a safe environment. A big tick for their EVP messaging!

However, EVP research uncovered a disturbing downside to the collaborative nature of the workplace in that it was seen as a double-edged sword. Often-times there was confusion around which function had ultimate responsibility for decision making. There was a sense of over-collaboration. This was slowing down critical decision making and impacting their ability to be nimble and responsive to the market.

Armed with this knowledge, the business was now in an informed position to be able to make potential changes in structure and as well as deciding and communicating which teams were responsible for decision making, providing more clarity and ultimately enabling better speed to market.

Why you need to invest in your employer brand and EVP

When making a case for investment in EVP, be sure to help your stakeholders understand how EVP can help your business achieve these 3 things:

  1. Find creative and inspiring ways to bring your brand story to life so that you can attract better talent
  2. Engage, motivate and retain the talent that you already have which will drive business performance
  3. Provide you with the insights about gaps in the employment experience and issues in business operations so you can make operational changes that can lead to improvements in innovation, customer service, product development or a number of other areas

Therefore, if you’ve been talking about employer branding purely for recruitment purposes, then consider how you can broaden and elevate the conversation. Make a crystal clear link between the ability of the business to reach its goals and the strength of your employer brand. This will be a game changer for you.

And don’t forget that everything in employer branding is a constant cycle of education and engagement. Patience and persistence pays off!