Luke Butler, managing director of Hastings People, makes the case that after a couple of years of unorthodox methods to attract talent, it’s time for businesses to once more shore up their Employee Value Proposition.

By Luke Butler

The last few years have been out of control on the talent front. The scarcity of talent, number of roles available and changing employee demands created an environment in which operators were forced to abandon principles relating to their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to attract staff through their doors.

This was exemplified by the scattergun way recruitment was conducted. Job ads were plastered across consumer-facing social media channels, interrupting the brand experience for guests. Multiple recruitment agencies were engaged on the same roles, meaning the small talent pool was bombarded with calls from multiple recruiters about the same job, diminishing its appeal. Finally, the urgency to hire resulted in rushed processes and a poor candidate experience.

From a retention perspective, most were too busy to invest the requisite amount of time into keeping their staff happy, which ultimately made them unhappy.

This was not done intentionally, it was a by-product of an incredibly challenging period in time, but broadly speaking the hospitality sector has lost is its focus on a singular EVP to attract and retain workers for the long term.

Think about your venue’s consumer-facing brand. Do you go out to market offering bargain basement deals to get any old patron through the door, or do you target your specific clientele who complement and enhance your brand?

Customers tend to choose venues that offer an appropriate representation of their own personal brand. Talent is exactly the same and you need not be a branding guru to understand that desperation is not exactly attractive.

The reality is that the hospitality sector through its desperate search for talent has damaged its reputation. The only way to rectify this is to change the way we operate.

The solution is the creation of a strong Employee Value Proposition.

Creating an EVP that reflects your business

Given the size and complexity of the industry, the development of a sector wide, universally appropriate EVP is not possible. No ‘one size fits all’ solution will solve this problem, though whether this is achievable has been a hot topic of discussion in many meetings I have attended.

It is up to each individual business to create, define, embed and communicate their EVP so that the sector as a whole can reap the benefits.

I can outline the top five things that talent is looking for in this market but I think I have done that enough in previous articles. Furthermore I think merely meeting the market expectations is not really what an EVP is about. If I can liken it to another operational element, EVP is the surprise and delight of your service cycle, not the act of service itself.

It is about the additional benefits associated with working in your business – both tangible and intangible. It is the cream on top which is more than great to have, highly effective and impactful. But if it’s left to chance, it could have a negative effect on your business.

Reward and recognition programs are great, but more often than not they are delivered infrequently, actually making staff feel less valued than they would have without them. These programs would also be considered a staple rather than special.

Defining your EVP can be pretty straight forward. Start with a meeting with senior leaders and other rising stars to bring them on the journey. Bullet point the things that are really important to you. Values, behaviours, outcomes and objectives all feed into the EVP as they will describe the activities and incentives you can offer.

Clarify the pillars on which your EVP is built, document the expected actions and their frequency, then brief your teams on what they can expect. Speak loudly and proudly about your EVP and share it on your social channels so people can see what you are doing.

You can draw inspiration from other brand marketing principles. Tell them what you will do. Do what you said you’d do, then show them what you’ve done.

Tell your new and existing staff what your EVP is. Do the work and properly execute it. Show your staff and the market what you have done. Tell, do, show.

Remember, creating an effective EVP is an ongoing process, not a set-and-forget initiative. Contradicting or failing to follow through on your EVP is dangerous.

We are still operating in an employment market where talent at all skill levels are afforded a choice of roles. If you cannot clearly communicate why an employee should choose your business over another, it will serve you well to figure that out.

For a little inspiration on this topic and others, I highly recommend reading Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara. It is incredible.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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