So, You Want to Future-Proof Your Organization?

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New challenges need new thinking. Here are three things every organization needs to consider on behalf of their workforce.

By Adrienne Houghton, Head of Strategy, Iris

A quick look at the stats is enough to let us know—without a doubt—that we are at a bit of a reckoning. An astounding 48 million people quit their jobs in 2021. Another 8.6 million quit their jobs in the first two months of 2022 alone. And according to recent surveys, only 34% of the U.S. workforce is engaged at work.

We know we have a “people problem”—but people aren’t the problem. Finding a way to keep them, nourish them and encourage them, is the challenge. And it’s an increasingly important opportunity for any company seeking to future-proof themselves to face head-on—because after all, each company runs on people. Even if your organization has super high engagement surveys, I hate to break it to you, but they’re not telling you the full story. Percentages and scores can rarely convey what they need to.

Strategists typically spend their days “strategizing” for customers and consumers, but the most underserved consumer group at the moment might be employees. We have collectively entered a new world for branding, which we refer to as employer branding, and like it or not, the bar is set fairly low.

If you really stop to think about it, it’s been “all about the customer” for the last several decades. But then transference happened, and our collective expectations shifted, such that when we experience something and either enjoy or appreciate that experience, we expect similarly great experiences in other areas of our lives. For instance, getting groceries delivered to our doors in under an hour, or your DoorDash in 15 minutes or less leaves us feeling satisfied in more ways than one. But then we expect a comparably instant, seamless experience for everything else. We start wanting more, expecting more. Like, why can’t I work abroad or from an island somewhere, or why can’t I work flex hours?

When I hear questions like the above, it’s resoundingly clear to me that employees both want and expect to be treated like customers, too. Brands have well established customer value propositions, and now they need a compelling employee value proposition (EVP).

Because people are people—not workers. So how might we rebrand “work” to help it refuel people?

We see three specifics each organization needs to accomplish before starting or updating their employer branding and believe it’s imperative to take a step back now and consider what promises they are making or can make for their own workforce. What kind of company are you and what kind of company do you strive to be?

Simply put, an EVP is a phrase that answers the core question most talent has: What’s in it for me? When creating or updating your EVP, you must:

  • Define top talent. Who do you want to keep? The hardest part of employer branding efforts includes specifically defining who the EVP is written and intended for.
  • Be specific. You’re not writing an EVP to be for everyone. We already know that when you market everything to everyone, you stand for nothing to no one. Some companies have the brand power to do whatever they want. But they earned this through specificity. And so will you.
  • Keep it up! Continually keep up with the specificity of talent needs. People evolve, and organizations should too. Don’t be afraid to review, revisit and refresh.
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