As a tech company, it’s very easy to get caught up in the tech. It’s what you do, it’s what your people are passionate about, and it’s how your business is going to grow. Plus, it’s often what sets you apart from the crowd; your tech product is what excites you and motivates you, and it’s going to change the world. Therefore, it’s no surprise that many tech companies rely on their tech stack and product as the primary way to entice candidates. It becomes the company’s lifeblood, with their Employee Value Proposition revolving purely around their technical offering.
Of course, for a scaling tech business, the tech must play a role in your talent acquisition strategy. It’s going to excite candidates who are technically minded and suitable for the roles you’re looking for. But work is about so much more than tech.
Scaleups and startups cannot rely on tech alone to attract talent in the current competitive talent market. Recruitment is a human-centred business, and therefore you need to focus on the human elements of your business if you wish to attract talent. Candidates want to know more about how they will experience working with you. It’s not just about what they’re doing but the people they’ll be working with, the overall company culture and the atmosphere they’ll experience while at work.
What is an EVP?
One of the reasons that scaling tech businesses get EVPs wrong is that they don’t truly know what it is. EVPs are vital tools for talent acquisition but only if a company understands what they are and how they can be used effectively.
Yo ur EVP is an unwritten agreement between employers and employees so that workers know what to expect from a workplace. It outlines the culture, the motivations and the overall experience of working at a company. However, your EVP is not just a few words that will define your culture. It’s not a string of sentences or ideas that will make you seem unique and stand out to candidates, and it’s certainly not just a list of the software you use. You can’t just put posters up around the office showing your values and think that’s enough.
Your EVP is not that simple. It has to appeal to human beings from different backgrounds and experiences (if you want a diverse organisation). Your EVP must excite existing team members and entice new ones by creating an authentic picture of your company culture while also providing a purpose and exciting your employees. Finally, it must help you stand out in a competitive talent market without stating the obvious. Otherwise, tech talent won’t want to join you. To paraphrase Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, “A tech company that’s prioritising technology? Ground-breaking.”
So, what can you do to make your EVP human and ensure it appeals to actual people who both work for you already and want to in the future?
Make your EVP emotional
Much like human beings, companies have emotional drivers and factors. Just like when making friends with someone, you can form greater connections by playing on these intangible elements. Think about the emotional motivations you had for starting your business or joining it. Was it the culture? Was it the opportunities to learn? Or did you really resonate with the mission of the organisation? These are things that your EVP should celebrate.
Connect your teams on an emotional level, and they’ll be more driven to work with you and create the company culture you want. Teams will be more likely to stay with you as they share the same mindset, and this will influence your employer brand, making future tech recruitment much more manageable. As humans, we like to feel connected, and businesses can ensure this is present in the workplace by really focusing on those emotional drivers.
Remember your company is not one thing
No company is a single thing. It’s made up of different elements and aspects. Much like a person cannot be defined by one quality and are seen differently by others, your businesses cannot be pigeon-holed to be one entity. What you choose to talk about in your EVP should be varied if it’s going to reflect your business’s personality accurately. Your business may be a tech company, but that’s not all it is. Do you provide career development? Do you have a social aspect? Are you fast-paced and target driven? This will form your EVP, the things that make you unique on different levels. Your organisation is a complex machine with different elements that make it great. EVP development is about being selective in the unique aspects you celebrate to create the biggest overall picture of your organisation.
Remember, skip past the countless aspects of your company that don’t distinguish you from others or things expected within your industry, like a “highly regulated” bank. Instead, dig deep into your companies personality, just like you would if you were trying to explain your character to someone you’ve just met.
Your EVP should always evolve
Humans are constantly changing. We change our minds regularly; our tastes evolve, and the world we live in is moving rapidly. What we wanted a year ago may not be the same as it is today, and that’s not an issue. However, if your EVP becomes more human and appeals to candidates, you need to adopt a more agile and evolving nature. Having a static EVP will only set you back in the long run.
You can invest all the money in the world into researching your company and creating a standout EVP but, as candidate expectations continue to evolve, it’s going to be outdated very quickly. Creating an EVP and thinking the work stops there is a very old-fashioned way of thinking and will leave your business looking that way. Instead, you need to constantly monitor your EVP, talk to employees, and understand changes so that your business can adapt quickly. Only then will you stand a chance of continually attracting and retaining the best talent. A company stuck in the past will lose top players and struggle to attract new ones; then, you’ll be rolling out another massive EVP overhaul to remain relevant.
As startup and scaleup businesses, agility and versatility should be in your nature, therefore play to your strengths; ensure your EVP and culture mirror this.
Your EVP can have elements of aspiration
We’re not saying your EVP should be a work of fiction. Don’t pluck aspects of your business out of thin air and expect your employees to buy into it. That’s not going to fool anyone. An EVP should always be grounded in truth and accurately reflect your organisation as a whole; any discrepancies will be apparent and called out straight away. But just like a person, your EVP is allowed to have goals and aspirations. Think of your EVP as manifesting or a mantra. The more you say something, the more people within your organisation will believe it. If you tell yourself you’re a confident person over and over again. Eventually, this confidence will come. The intention to be something is there, and this determination eventually becomes who you are, so the same can apply to your business.
The pillars of your EVP are incredibly similar. They remind your teams about your motivations and intentions, ensuring that they echo across the business and aligning ideas. Over time, these aspirational elements will become your brand because your people believe them. First, it will influence actions across the whole team. Then it will become who you are. So, while you can’t make up these goals ultimately and be unrealistic, you can influence your EVP by including a bit of aspiration. Want to be the most innovative robotics company out there? Want to be a carbon-neutral employer? Say it enough, and your team will believe it and work towards it; future candidates will also believe it and eventually, you will be.