SumTotal Blog

How to Use an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to Attract Top Talent

July 11, 2019 | by SumTotal Blog | 5 min read

In an era of skills shortages and low unemployment rates, the task of recruiting employees is getting more challenging. Plus potential employees have access to insight about a prospective company on an unprecedented scale. Glassdoor is a wonderful tool and a real boon to candidates wondering if they should take a job with one organization or another. While I am happy that such transparency means job seekers can make a more informed decision, I am also acutely aware of the pressure it now places on employers and often HR, in particular, to rethink just how the organization presents or markets itself to new potential employees.

The answer to how enterprises can effectively market themselves to job candidates lies in the concept of employee value proposition (EVP). Not to be confused with an employer value proposition, this EVP “refers to a combination of benefits and rewards that an organization offers to its employees in return for their work and skills… a strong EVP also includes intangible components such as culture, opportunities for personal and professional development, and more.”

With an EVP, employers create talent personas which cater to the specific roles they need to fill and highlight critical components of the job most attractive to these personas. Think of it like this, designers tend to be most interested in working with companies who have a strong sense of identity, brand and aesthetic, while engineers and programmers are more likely to favor companies that prize and highlight their commitment to innovation and cutting-edge technologies. Tailoring EVPs to specific roles and individuals helps organizations stand out in a big way.


According to Gartner, EVPs portray the value of working in an organization across five attributes:

  • Opportunity: Can I learn and grow here? Is the company growing?
  • People: Will I connect with my co-workers, manager, and can I see myself here? Do I have confidence in upper management?
  • Organization: Is the company socially responsible? Do I connect to the causes it promotes? Are the products or services from the company those I place value in?
  • Work: Will my new role facilitate a work-life balance?
  • Rewards: What sort of compensation is on offer? What is the salary, the health benefits package, and how much paid time-off is included


A 2018 poll of 12 Fortune 500 companies found that 59% of employers neglect to provide information on why employees would want to work for them. Ignoring your EVP is a lost opportunity for HR to attract and retain top-performing employees and build positive brand awareness and ambassadors. Highlighting the benefits offered is important, but framing the value and perks of your company through a lens of differentiation is the most powerful way to harness these traits. EVPs are not only about what an employer offers to its workforce; they are also about how these offerings make a company different from its competitors.


Leading HR research firm Mercer simplifies what it means to have a compelling EVP into three components: contractual, experiential and emotional.

Contractual rewards are basic salary and benefits like healthcare and PTO. Most companies phrase their EVP only in terms of these contractual rewards, and these are features that make your company competitive. While salary and benefits are essential, they’re the baseline for competitiveness in today’s world. Research shows that money isn’t your best stronghold against attrition. For every 10% rise in pay, employees are only 1.5% more likely to remain with their employer.

Tip: Make sure your salary and benefits are competitive in your market for each role. Be sure to consistently review your remuneration scales. The current competitive marketplace means changing salary benchmarks. Falling behind may leave your organization at a competitive disadvantage.

Experiential rewards are essentially to “reflect how employees experience their organizations, both in and outside of work.” Included under this category are wellness benefits, retirement savings, 401K plans and social interaction in the workplace. These are some of the benefits that can help differentiate your organization.

Tip: Make sure you deliver a robust set of non-traditional benefits. These include wellness benefits and other suggestions, such as parental leave.

Emotional rewards are the most meaningful, useful and powerful components of an EVP. These rewards characterize the actual level of engagement an employee feels to their employer and work. These are often intangible but are the things that make an employee feel as though their work is purposeful. Many times, organizations that excel in the emotional rewards, and therefore have the strongest EVPs, are socially oriented companies. It’s the social capital of employers like this that galvanizes a sense of fulfillment and purpose in work. Organizations who articulate their business objectives into a broader societal purpose tend to foster a heightened emotional connection between organization and employees.

Tip: While emotional rewards are tough to articulate, employees appreciate acknowledgment from managers and colleagues of a job well-done, which contributes to creating a culture where employees feel valued.

Leading global employers and HR departments are using the EVP to answer the all-important question, “how does the organization I work for, work for me?” If you have not established your EVP, attracting and hiring new talent will get even more difficult, and your oversight will be the competition’s gain.

Want to learn more about the strategic value of a clearly defined EVP? Read our recent whitepaper, The EVP is the New MVP.

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