Do you know your Employee Value Proposition from your employer brand? Or your values and behaviours from your guiding principles? Do you have a well-articulated purpose, mission and vision? Does any of it really matter anyway?

We find there’s lots of confusion out there. Organisations think and talk really differently about these big picture things. We certainly don’t believe that all organisations need everything nailed down. We’ve worked with exceptional businesses that don’t have a written strategy, and where strong cultures need nothing more than to continue to be lived and breathed by the people who love the company they work for. But this is not the case every day.

In these uncertain and ever-changing times, most organisations need all the help they can get to provide a sense of clarity and purpose about who they are, what they stand for and what they do. People are looking for more meaning in their lives, they want what they do to matter. A clear position and joined-up narrative can help people understand how their everyday actions impact organisational outcomes and build a sense of community where everyone is pulling together to achieve the same thing. Having an authentic employee experience is going to become increasingly important.

We thought it might be helpful to share how we think about the various employee experience big picture levers…


Purpose – why we’re here

Explains why an organisation is here, what value it creates and what hole would be left without it. This is what we’re doing for someone or something else. It should be motivational, connecting with the heart as well as the head.

  • Starbucks:
    To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.
  • LinkedIn:
    To help people network professionally.

Some businesses have higher purposes, they look beyond profit to do some good in the world. The value they create benefits people and the planet in a meaningful way.


Mission – what business we’re in

Describes what business the organisation is in, both now and in the future. Typically, they cover the type of work delivered, to what standard, for what sort of customers and in which geographical region.

  • Ikea
    Offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.
  • Uber
    To bring transportation — for everyone, everywhere.


Vision – what we want to achieve

What the organisation hopes to be like in some years’ time. It takes the thinking beyond day-to-day activity in a clear, memorable way. If a vision is co-created, then people will understand their role in achieving it and be motivated to move towards it.

  • Starbucks
    To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.
  • Google
    To provide access to the world’s information in one click.


Strategy – the how

Sets out how a business is going to achieve its vision, mission and/or purpose. What plans and goals it needs to set. This is the most consistently understood and used big picture lever we see.

Someone once described strategy to me as the journey you take to get from where you are to where you want to be. This always struck a chord with me because of its simplicity and truth. It feels like a big word, but actually it’s a super practical tool. When we see strategy at its best it’s communicated in a way that helps people understand where their role fits into the bigger picture and provides proof points for what will happen when the company has reached its goals. It’s a tool that should be tailored and localised to increase relevance, so it can be used by teams to action plan and then plugged into the Performance Management system. Perfect.

Why not take a look at our GSK case study to see how we helped them introduce their new female CEO and launch her new strategy?


Values & behaviours – the who

Together these should describe the desired culture. How the organisation is when it’s at its best. Some organisations have both, lots don’t. There’s no right answer in our book.

Values are typically high level, light touch and broad. They capture what an organisation stands for and believes in. What they hold in highest esteem.

Behaviours are usually an organisation’s values in action.

We believe this (value)… so we do this (behaviour).

Values make an enormous difference if they are done in the right way. When they are co-created with the people that work for the business, tested until they feel right and brought to life in a way that reflects what they are. Authenticity is key.

At their very worst, values and behaviours are words that only live in posters – forced from the top down. At their best they can be a powerful lever in shifting culture – lived across the organisation, from the bottom up.

If you have values in place, we find a great point of reflection is to consider is how well they show up in your key employee experiences on the hire to retire journey. Do your people feel them throughout their time with you? If not, why not?


Guiding principles – a trendy alternative

A trendy alternative to values and behaviours… typically they’re used to bring to life an organisation’s philosophy in relation to its purpose. Collectively they set out how business gets done, the idea is for employees to use them to guide their decisions.

One of the best examples I’ve come across are Method’s guiding principles wonderfully articulated in their Humanifesto… take a read. It’s really worth it.


Founder’s story – why and how your business started

Most CEOs don’t set up a business just to make money, they set it up to follow a passion and make a difference in the world. If you have a great founder’s story then shout about it from the hills and make sure it stays relevant by evolving it along with your changing business context. It’s your organisation’s heritage and should set the foundation for its future. Use it to remind people about your core beliefs and drivers.

Patagonia and Tom’s Shoes have wonderful founder stories, great examples of companies that have a higher purpose at their very core. There’s also a rich founder’s story when Milton S. Hershey set up the Hershey Chocolate Company all those years ago. The values and principles that were his bedrock are still very present in their business today. Have a google if you’re interested to find out more.


Employee Value Proposition or EVP – the deal

Simply put, an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is the deal between an employer and an employee.

It’s the whole experience that an employee has at a company, in return for the skills, values and behaviours they offer. A great EVP defines the unique essence of working at an organisation.

Why not check out our award-winning EVP case study for Northwell health?


Employer brand – your position in the talent market

Relates to the external reputation and image of your company specifically as an employer. How you position yourself to active and passive candidates and other key stakeholders within talent attraction through your messaging, marketing, and advertising.

Your employer brand and EVP are interlinked. To minimise cost per hire and maximise quality and effectiveness, your EVP should lead your employer brand. Your external positioning must be authentic to your employment experience.


Internal brand – setting the communication standard

It sets out what great communication looks like within an organisation. It establishes a visual approach and tone of voice that is authentic to your culture and brand, in a way that resonates well with employees.


Have your say

If you’ve got this far then it’s more than likely that you are interested in the field of employee experience. So are we!

Why not take part in what will become an annual piece of global research exploring the latest trends and practices – Roundel 2020. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. Have your say here.

To thank you for taking part, you’ll get access to Roundel 2020 – a report that will be jam packed with data, thought analysis, key trends and recommendations. Our goal is to help employee experience professionals build the right business case and strategies to design and deliver unique employee experiences that will transform organisations for the better.