Building Your Employer Brand to Build your Workforce
Written by Lauranne Beernaert, Sector Support Coordinator
An attractive employee value proposition
In our last article we looked into the current status of the aged care workforce and explained why we suggest for the sector to focus on workforce planning. During a recent webinar, the Government announced that 5,000 people had joined the workforce through the new Home Care Workforce Support Program in the last 3 months (see our summary here). Therefore, this article will be focused on how to build an attractive employee value proposition to maximise your chances to attract and retain the right staff, including volunteers.
What is an employee value proposition (EVP)?
It is the unique value that an organization offers to an employee, composed of monetary and non-monetary benefits, in return for the value (skills, experience, capabilities) they bring to the organization.
In other words, it is what makes a candidate choose to work in the Aged Care Sector, and particularly in your organisation. Therefore, it needs to be authentic and match with your employees’ current experience.
Interestingly, we did not find many examples of care organisations that have a comprehensive EVP.
It seems that most organisations spend a lot of energy explaining why older Australians should choose them, but do not make the same effort to explain why potential staff should join their organisations or the Sector.
For inspiration, check Australian Unity’s webpage that describes their culture, Just Better Care’s page that responds to the question ‘Why work with us’, or Kincare’s portal that presents their employee benefits and discusses why a career in Aged Care is worth it. Another example by Uniting emphasises their focus on Diversity & Inclusion when hiring new staff and volunteers
Compensation: the financial component of your EVP is often the first aspect that potential candidates look at. While most organisation will align their salaries with the applicable Award, we know that the current Award wages for aged care workers underestimate the true value of care work, including the level of skill and responsibility required. The Government has acknowledged this issue, which is currently considered by the Fair Work Commission. This is outside of our control, and in the meantime, organisations might need to find other ways to attract candidates, potentially from other industries, to come and join the Aged Care workforce. Additionally, if you are looking to hire volunteers to support your paid workforce, the non-monetary benefits you can offer will make a difference to applicants.
Benefits: this component relates to the benefits that come with the salary, and some of them are determined by government guidelines, such as personal and sick leave, or work-related allowances (e.g. laundry). However, other benefits can be added to these, such as salary packaging if you are in the not-for-profit sector, participation in employee mental health programs, childcare, and fitness facilities. Other ideas to add to your EVP might involve partnering with other businesses and agree on deals, such as half-prices at the local coffee shop or discounted gym passes. Be aware that if you are hiring staff on a casual basis, these benefits might be what convinces a person to join your organisation since they are not eligible for other benefits.
Career Path: this is another concern in the Sector, as there is currently no clear career pathway in aged care. However, nothing prevents you from designing one for your organisation. With the input of your current staff, think about what would a career in your organization look like? What role would someone be interested to take on after having worked for a few years as a personal care assistant? What new responsibilities and skills would the person require, and how can you accommodate these training needs? Many specialist organisations provide online trainings for free (e.g. ‘Dementia Discovery’ modules by Dementia Australia), and there are multiple online learning platforms (e.g. www.coursera.org) that offer a variety of courses for free/low cost.
Importantly, the role of supervision or mentorship of staff cannot be neglected, as we know that regular contacts with managers helps them feel supported, valued, and ultimately, happy.
Work Environment: this component refers to the physical space (if any) but also includes everything else that contributes to the overall ‘experience’ of working in your organisation. This includes working hours (flexible, considerate of other personal commitments), appropriate equipment and technology, and general vibe (open communication with team). Another simple way to build a good work environment is through an employee recognition program, which can be easily implemented via social media and/or internal platforms.
Culture: we keep going back to organisational culture in our articles but there is a reason for it. A positive culture has a double benefit: it is likely to be a good reason for a staff member to join/stay, and is likely to be associated with higher quality of care. In the context of the reforms towards a rights-based system, culture can also play a crucial role in instilling human rights values across all divisions of the organization. As a result, individual staff are likely to replicate these values with their clients. Win-win!
Did you know that a positive workplace/culture is the second most effective staff retention strategy? To read more, check our last article on Workforce Planning.
Starting point: the reasons your staff like working for you (or not)
Assessing your current EVP is the very first step in developing or reviewing your EVP. You need to know what makes your staff happy, fulfilled in their job and motivated. Similarly, it is useful to find out what are the things that they dislike and could be improved. This can be achieved through:
- Onboarding Surveys – a quick pulse survey for new staff within the first 3 months of employment. Things to ask include: why did they join your organisation, how has the organisation met their expectations set at the interview, feedback on the interview and onboarding process, and general feedback on supervision. Check this article by TalentLyft for examples of questions.
- Employee engagement and culture surveys – annual surveys for all staff that aggregates the sentiment of your culture. Read 20 examples of employee engagement questions and explanations on how to interpret benchmarks in this CultureAmp article.
- Exit Surveys – provides insights into why people leave, what they valued and any improvements to retain staff. This employee exit survey template by Honestly provides ideas of questions.
- Interviews with potential candidates can also be a good source of information (why did the person apply in the first place?).
Due to their size, small organisations might be able to collect higher quality data as they are more likely to have formed genuine relationships with every staff member, and when there is shared trust. Further employee feedback can be collected through:
- One-on-one meetings, formal or informal
- Focus groups
Once you have gained a good understanding of your current EVP against the above 5 components, it is time to (re)define your EVP. You might want to refer to your organisation’s purpose and values because they give an indication about what staff members should be striving for. Questions to reflect on could include:
- Hard skills (qualifications) versus soft skills (personal values and attitudes). What is more important when hiring new staff, what can/cannot be taught?
- What else is important? Languages spoken, diversity, etc.
- What type of person does the organisation want to attract? Graduates versus experienced worker. Think of the advantages/disadvantages of each.
- What other benefit/training opportunity are you able to offer? Do you need to work with your HR/Partnerships manager to establish new relationships with external organisations/businesses?
- Do you need to make changes to your organisational culture?
Once your EVP is defined, you will have to think about ways to communicate these with potential candidates. Check HESTA’s brochure ‘Be Inspired Everyday’ for ideas on how to communicate your EVP to the public. It is important that your EVP is reflected throughout the entire employment process – from your initial job posting, social media, contact with candidates, induction, internal communication with employees, and exit interviews.
Finally, it will be useful to evaluate the effectiveness of your new EVP. Do you see a change in the number and type of applications you have received? Are candidates more/less qualified than before, do applicants demonstrate that they have the attributes that previous applicants were lacking? Do candidates have a different profile than before (e.g. experience in another industry)? It might also be useful to use employee satisfaction surveys to measure the effectiveness of your EVP, and review it regularly to ensure it is as attractive as it can be.
Freshworks. (2021). What is an employee value proposition?. Retrieved from https://www.freshworks.com/hrms/recruitment-marketing/employee-value-proposition/.
Employee Hero. (2020). What is an employee value proposition (EVP) and why should you care?. Retrieved from https://employmenthero.com/blog/employee-value-proposition-evp/.
Smarp. (2020). Employee value proposition: the complete guide to building a great EVP. Retrieved from https://blog.smarp.com/6-steps-to-build-your-employees-value-proposition.