EVP FTW: Capture Your Competitive Advantage in the New World of Recruitment (and Retention)

Posted By: Kim Ratcliff AASPA Blog,

In the ongoing pursuit of talent, organizations are constantly seeking ways to stand out from the crowd. One potent part of this process is the Employee Value Proposition (EVP). According to Mark Mortensen and Amy C. Edmondson’s Jan.–Feb. 2023 Harvard Business Review article, it includes these key elements:

  1. Material offerings

  2. Opportunities to develop and grow

  3. Connection and community

  4. Meaning and purpose

It’s like the value proposition for a product or service, but it puts the employee’s perspective at the very center. And it should focus on so much more than monetary rewards.

Understanding EVP

The best EVPs bring focus to employer brands. An effective EVP highlights a subset of the organization's Total Rewards—the comprehensive package of tangible and intangible benefits it offers to its workforce. This encompasses everything from compensation and benefits to professional development opportunities, work culture, and the overall employee experience. 

In crafting an EVP, organizations must identify what makes them an employer of choice. The best EVPs go one step deeper: They tailor their messaging to resonate with specific target personas within the talent pool.

Crafting Your EVP

The first step is taking a full view of your organization’s Total Rewards. Itemize all components that are included. 

Aon Hewitt’s model includes a good structure for building a checklist. They break down Total Rewards into five categories. Here are just a few examples of options you can highlight within each:

Physical Emotional Career Financial Social
  • Personalized health benefits (e.g., health reimbursement arrangements or stipends)

  • Fertility supports

  • Medical travel or telehealth

  • Mental health services

  • Walking paths

  • Gym membership

  • Mental health services

  • Mental health apps

  • Supportive supervisors


  • Presenting at conferences or other events with peers

  • Lateral movement across the org

  • Promotion opportunities

  • Floating holidays or flexible time off policies

  • Paid parental or caregiver leave

  • Flexible/broad bereavement leave policies

  • Flexible schedule or schedule that falls outside other work or family commitments

  • Childcare services or stipends

  • Adoption supports

  • Pet insurance

  • Tuition reimbursement or continuing ed assistance

  • Financial wellness programs

  • Mentorship

  • Supportive team culture

  • Community connections (internships, mentors)

  • Working in my own school community

  • Preference for place, whether urban, rural, or suburban community experience

Armed with all of the elements unique to their setting, organizations can develop a nuanced EVP. This must go beyond bland statements so that the EVP resonates with the diverse needs and aspirations of the workforce. 

Garland Independent School District in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex includes key elements of their Total Rewards and EVP online, highlighting features such as access to their natatorium and on-site clinics, both benefits for employees’ physical wellbeing.

Developing Personas

A crucial aspect of tailoring the EVP for prime time is understanding the various audiences within the talent pool. Personas can help with this. They are detailed profiles of specific employee segments, outlining their characteristics, attitudes, wants, and needs. Personas are not real people, but they can help you to reach real people that you want to hire (and keep).

By developing personas based on factors such as life stage, identity, values, and preferences, organizations can personalize their EVP to better align with the aspirations and motivations of different candidate groups. Use existing data and feedback from hiring managers and employees’ stay and exit interviews to inform your personas.

For example, what do paraprofessionals want in the new world of recruiting? Many districts are giving them an opportunity to engage in Grow Your Own programs—as well as highlighting the benefits of schedule flexibility across different schools. 

Looking at mid-career educators, highlighting the chance to mentor or engage in peer-to-peer support with colleagues can be a significant bonus that goes deeper than money. Another often-overlooked opportunity for in-career educator retention includes the chance to showcase best practices at conferences or other gatherings. For many educators, it is inspiring and meaningful for the district to support them as they share professional expertise with the field and make a wider impact.

You won’t use personas with the outside world, but you should use them as intelligence to help you market your district’s EVP. The next step is writing messaging to reach the right candidates. Begin with hard-to-staff positions as your highest priority.

Crafting Positioning Statements

Armed with a deep understanding of their EVP and target personas, organizations can craft compelling positioning statements that speak directly to the needs and desires of prospective employees.

 These statements should wrap around the three key questions candidates want to know: 

  1. Tell me about the position,

  2. Represent the organization, and

  3. What's in it for me? 

By highlighting the unique value proposition offered by the organization and how it aligns with the aspirations of the candidate, organizations can create a powerful narrative that sets them apart from competitors.

Testing and Refinement

Once the EVP and positioning statements are complete, it's essential to validate them with current stakeholders to ensure alignment and resonance. This involves conducting stay interviews, exit interviews, and gathering feedback from managers to fine-tune the messaging and ensure it accurately reflects the organization's culture and values.

Finally, organizations must leverage these insights to inform their communications and marketing strategies, using personas to tailor messaging and visuals that effectively communicate the Total Rewards package to potential, new, and ongoing employees.

Wrap It Up

In a competitive talent landscape, organizations must leverage every tool at their disposal to attract and retain top talent. The EVP serves as a powerful framework for crafting a compelling narrative that showcases an organization's unique offerings and resonates with the diverse needs of the workforce. 

By understanding the components of EVP, developing tailored personas, and crafting compelling positioning statements, organizations can gain a measurable advantage in attracting, hiring, and engaging top talent, ultimately driving success and growth in the ever-evolving marketplace.

Kim is a dynamic leader with 25+ years of experience in strategy for non-profit, public, and private organizations. She is vice president of engagement at Experience Management Institute, focusing on the people-centered engagement of clients and employees. Her priority is to enrich the overall experience of work by transformational moments. Kim’s areas of interest include organizational development, change leadership, data-driven insights, culture, and strategic marketing and communications. Kim Ratcliff, APR, pHCLE