The growing prevalence of STEM-related job roles across a wide range of industries is not going unnoticed. As more employers seek to keep up with technological advances, they need the right talent to stay ahead of the game – and a solid Employee Value Proposition is integral to this.
The good news is that there has been a significant increase in the uptake of STEM subjects at both A-Level and degree courses. Exasol, an analytic database for big data insights, analysed the UCAS data from the past 5 years and found positive statistics when it comes to STEM. Overall, the percentage of young people studying STEM has increased by 8.9% over the last 5 years, and entries into A-level computing courses has more than doubled. The number of female students in computing courses has also increased by almost three times the amount in the past 5 years, with a slightly smaller jump in percentage across other STEM subjects from 42% to 43.4% in 2018.
Although all of this data is promising, Neil Owen, Director at Robert Half Technology UK, warns against complacency:
“The growth of digital subjects is not a greenlight to complacency. The war for talent is set to intensify as companies search for candidates that can combine technical aptitude with softer skills, as we shift to a digital future.”
In recent research, Robert Half found that 92% of HR directors in the UK are struggling to find the right skilled candidates for their roles and that a large number of STEM-related jobs remain unfilled as a result. They also found that almost half of businesses will be looking to create entirely new teams as a result of tech disruption, and over a third are actively seeking candidates from STEM-related fields.
With so much competition out there for the best candidates when it comes to STEM, employers need to be thinking critically not only about how they go about attracting candidates, but what they have to offer in the long term for the right STEM candidate. They need to be building the right Employee Value Proposition.
What is Employee Value Proposition?
In a nutshell, an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is defined as how employees – current or potential – perceive the value gained from working in a particular organisation. It’s more than just a company’s branding or the benefits employees get from employment. It’s what an organisation delivers internally and externally, to each and every one of its employees, at every single key touchpoint. It includes the attraction, the hiring, the onboarding process, the training and development, the day-to-day experience, and even when employees leave the company.
For employers keen to improve their engagement of STEM candidates, it’s crucial to make sure the right candidates are not only targeted but also have reason to be interested in working with the company for the long haul. Employers who get their Employee Value Proposition right have seen new hire retention go up by nearly 30%.
Gartner offers a clearer summary of what a potential Employee Value Proposition can be broken down into:
- Rewards – including salaries, employee benefits, office perks, annual leave, flexi-time etc.
- Work – this includes the day-to-day of workload, aligned interests with job role, office environment, work-life balance etc.
- Organisation – this incorporates a broader spectrum of the organisation’s goals, mission statement, values, products and services, corporate social responsibility etc.
- Opportunity – this focuses on the opportunities for career growth and promotion, personal and professional development, in-house training and development, opportunity to contribute professionally outside of the workplace etc.
- People – this includes the management structure, team structures, leadership communication, transparency and honesty across an organisation, alignment of personal and company goals etc.
Creating a strong Employee Value Proposition is a very unique process, as each company needs to ensure they create something that is based on them – it’s not a copy/paste exercise! What works for one company will not work for another. That being said, there are a few key general points to get right when designing a successful Employee Value Proposition.
5 ways to create a successful Employee Value Proposition
1. Get your current employee engagement right
Research by Gallup looking at employee engagement estimated that worldwide less than 13% of employees are actively engaged in their workplaces. Which is unsurprising; employees know what engagement programmes seek to achieve, and as a result often feel manipulated by how employers want to engage with them.
One of the most effective ways to build a successful Employee Value Proposition is to ensure your current employees are engaged and active ambassadors for working for you as an employer. Research from Insync found that there was a 24-47% increase in employees recommending their employer when they had a strong Employee Value Proposition.
Instead of running the standard annual employee engagement survey (the results of which usually never see the light of day on a localised employee level) think about how you can actively build and utilise engagement. Work with small teams to gain feedback and implement design thinking to improve challenges across the business. Get to know who the key players are in teams and utilise them in leading engagement initiatives. Most importantly, report back to employees across the business on feedback and surveys, and how these will be used to make the workplace more positive and constructive overall.
2. Offer a competitive benefits package
The research by Insync also found that almost half of customers say they are loyal to a brand because of employee attitude, and 70% of customer perception of a brand is created by their interaction with the people who work there. What this tells us is that when employees are happy in the work they do, they are more likely to act as brand ambassadors, not only driving customers to the business but potential candidates too. One of the ways to build this into your Employee Value Proposition is through a competitive benefits package.
Many businesses make the mistake of offering the low end of the salary bracket for roles, and then act surprised when employees exit for a higher salary elsewhere. Don’t set the bar low. Ensuring that salaries are competitive can save money in the long run as employees stay put.
But a benefits package is more than salary; it includes everything from individual employee benefits, annual leave, bonuses and incentives, flexi-time, community giving days and office well-being perks (free fruit, exercise classes etc). The key here is to create an Employee Value Proposition that strikes a balance between offering candidates a strong starting package, and a longer term package that motivates and rewards employees for their ongoing commitment to the company.
3. Think about the long-term career development for new STEM recruits
While it’s common knowledge that retaining good employees is vital for a successful business, many fail to acknowledge the role that long-term training and development play in retaining employees. This can be even more the case for STEM candidates who want to stay at the forefront of their industry, where they need to be continually invested in to develop their skills and knowledge. In a long-term research project commissioned by Middlesex University Institute for Work Based Learning, they surveyed 4300 employees and found that 74% felt that they weren’t achieving their full potential due to opportunities for training and development.
Further research compared the views of three generations of employees on job-related training and development. Unsurprisingly millennials had the most significant results, with 87% citing that access to career growth and professional development opportunities was a very important factor in their decision to stay or leave an employer.
In STEM areas, where the business needs to stay as current as possible, the delivery of comprehensive and consistent opportunities to develop is crucial when creating a strong Employee Value Proposition to attract STEM candidates.
4. Align organisational culture to nurture new developments
A study from Columbia University found that 90% of respondents felt that company culture was very important. 92% also reported that they felt improving the overall company culture would also improve the overall value the company had to offer to current and potential employees.
With disruptions across businesses and core business focus switching to how they can implement STEM and employ STEM candidates, it can leave existing teams feeling concerned about their role in the company. This comes down to wider company culture and how senior management communicates business changes to employees. The more transparent and honest management are, the more employees cite having trust in them and are more readily accepting of changes when they happen. With more businesses seeking to introduce new teams or create new roles within existing teams, ensuring that the wider company culture is aware of and accepting of these changes, is key for a successful Employee Value Proposition.
5. Don’t forget about the women
Women currently only make up 11% of professional engineers, and although this is a strong increase since 2016, there is still a lot of work to do and getting more women involved in STEM world needs to be a high priority.
STEM careers offer excellent prospects and career stability, and with such an unequal gender balance, young women are missing out on some of the most exciting career opportunities out there. STEM careers also utilise a wide range of skills including team-work, creativity, problem-solving and communication – skills that girls often excel at. When creating an Employee Value Proposition to attract STEM candidates, make sure to consider how inclusive this is of bringing female talent into the organisation. Think about how women are currently represented across the company overall, and what proactive steps can be taken to address any imbalance.
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A successful Employee Value Proposition needs to be carefully considered, researched and tailored for each organisation, especially if STEM roles are an entirely new part of the company as a whole. It’s worth spending some time thinking about the what, where and how of establishing communication channels for STEM candidates and ensuring your Employee Value Proposition is one that will speak to them.