The complete guide to attracting and retaining talent

August 16th 2021 Talent Employee Communications
Kate Whitley-Gray - Profile image
By Kate Whitley-Gray
Client Services Director

Every organisation knows that attracting and retaining the best talent is vital for growing a business, improving performance, and effective succession planning. However, it can be the hardest thing to get right – and the most expensive in terms of time and money. 

Having a strong employer brand is vital for successful recruitment. In fact, a staggering 80% of HR leaders in the US say employer branding significantly impacts their ability to attract talent within a competitive landscape. On average, the top talent gets snapped up by recruiters within just 10 days.

Your employer brand isn’t just a shiny veneer that helps recruit talent to your organisation though, it needs to be lived, breathed and embedded within your company culture in order to ensure your best employees stay with you. It must be real, not aspirational - a mismatch between the recruitment 'premise and reality will only result in demotivation and attrition. Focusing on employee retention and happiness not only ensures smooth operations and maintains the morale of your team, but it also makes a huge difference to your profitability.

A CAP study found that the average costs to replace employees who leave are:

  • 16% of annual salary for those earning under $30,000 a year
  • 20% of annual salary for those earning $30,000-$50,000 a year
  • Up to 213% of annual salary for high-level executive positions earning over $100,000 per year

So, how do you ensure your employer brand not only stands out to prospective employees but also delivers on your promise to them? 

In this complete guide to attracting and retaining talent, we’ll look at the importance of developing an Employer Value Proposition (EVP), how to communicate it effectively and best practise. We also discuss why learning, development and career progression are vital for retention and how to map and communicate career pathways effectively.

Why a strong Employer Value Proposition (EVP) matters?

Think of your EVP as defining the essence of your company. It encompasses your values, culture, USPs and what you stand for as an organisation. A great EVP clearly lays out what your employees and customers can expect from you in a compelling way. In return, it communicates what you expect from them.

Another way of thinking about your EVP is a contract, or promise, between your employees and your business. It maps the ecosystem of how you engage, manage and develop your people including the support and recognition you offer them. The purpose of your EVP is to empower your people in their development and enable them to realise their potential.

When you clearly communicate and operate in a way that’s fully aligned to your EVP, you add value to your organisation in multiple ways:

  1. Attract the best talent. For the ideal candidates to find you in a competitive marketplace, an employer brand that stands out from the crowd and establishes your business as a destination workplace will put you to the top of the list. A recent report by LinkedIn found that 72% of recruiters agreed a company's brand had a significant impact on their ability to hire successfully.
  2. Retain your talent. A survey conducted in 2017 found that 90% of employees with a recognition programme aligned to their core values were more engaged at work. What’s more, by investing in your employer brand, employee turnover rates can be reduced by as much as 28%.
  3. Improve your business performance. A 2018 report from Gallup found companies that invested in competitive employee retention and engagement programmes delivered 21% higher profitability.

Read More: What Is An Employee Value Proposition And Why Is It Important?


What should you Include in your EVP?

When defining your EVP, undertake a thorough assessment of the core values and strengths of your organisation to identify what makes your organisation a compelling and desirable place to work.

There are five key best practice elements that make up a stand-out EVP:

  1. Financial rewards. This isn’t just salary, it also includes bonuses, commission, pensions, share options, and potential for overtime. It also might include charitable contributions you are making from your profits, or paid volunteering days. Increasingly, employees want their jobs to meet their philanthropic needs as well as their financial needs.
  2. Employment benefits. These are the tangible, value-adding, life-enhancing benefits that make up an employment package. This can include health insurance, gym memberships, cycle to work schemes, duvet days, birthday lie-ins, free fruit in the office, or early finishes on Fridays.
  3. Career development. This includes technical skills, leadership training, mentoring, career pathing and any other opportunities for your employees to grow within and outside of their role in the business. If for any reason you’re unable to offer salaries on a par with your competitors, offering a clear career development and growth plan is an effective way to improve overall employee retention and keep your best talent.
  4. Work environment. Employers who create a workplace in which employees thrive are the ones that stand out. Encouraging self-care, mental wellbeing and a healthy work-life balance are vital, as is creating an engaging, positive and motivating working environment. Gallup recently found that the statement "the organization cares about employees' wellbeing" is the number one ‘workplace want’ for both millennials and Gen Z.
  5. Company culture. Your company culture includes the way in which you embody your values, display your attitudes, and conduct your practices. It's the way your people feel about the work they do, how they perceive you, and what they're doing to help achieve the business vision.

Read More: How To Build An Employer Brand That Attracts The Right Talent 


Communicating your EVP to attract and retain employees

Increasingly, people want to work for organisations that align with their personal values. 

Glassdoor’s 2019 Mission and Culture Survey found that 79% of job seekers consider the mission and purpose of potential employers to be a priority.

In simplest terms, your EVP should answer the question: Why should a highly talented person choose to work with us? 

Breaking this down even further, here are some core questions your EVP answers:

  • What opportunities do you offer?
    • What is your approach to learning and development?
    • How much training and support will employees have access to?
    • Do you have a clear pathway for career progression?
  • What are your people like?
    • What characteristics are important in your team?
    • How will candidates know if they’re a good fit for the business?
    • What style of management do you promote?
  • What gives your organisation purpose?
    • Is your company socially and environmentally responsible?
    • What causes do you support and promote?
    • What positive impact do you want to make in the world?
  • What is your work ethic like?
    • What do you do to help facilitate a healthy work-life balance?
    • How do you proactively look after your people’s well-being at work?
  • What rewards are you offering?
    • Are your salaries competitive?
    • What is the value of the benefits package you offer?
    • How do these benefits directly add value to employees?
    • How much paid time off do employees get per year?

Using your EVP to attract talent

Effectively communicating your EVP through your recruitment strategy is the first step, but if your values and promises aren’t backed up by employee reviews and customer testimonials, this creates inconsistency that might confuse and put off potential candidates. Backing up your claims by enrolling your teams and loyal clients in your EVP and talent attraction will eradicate these issues.

Using your EVP to retain talent

Your internal communications strategy is just as important as your external communications. Every member of every team should fully understand and embody your EVP while at work. When new talent joins your organisation, you want to keep your recruitment promises – otherwise, your EVP is only doing half its job and won’t deliver lasting benefits.

Powerful, transparent internal communication is key for embedding your EVP within your organisation and shaping company culture. Companies with an effective, engaging internal communication strategy report 50% lower employee turnover than those without. 

Read More: Communicating Your EVP To Attract And Retain Employees 


Monitoring the success of your EVP

It’s not enough to define your EVP, communicate it and hope it does its job. The final piece of the puzzle is to regularly review your employee’s engagement with your EVP. Assess whether it’s doing its job of retaining talent by keeping your teams inspired, motivated, bought in and feeling like they’re progressing. 

Actionable ways that you can monitor the success of, continually improve upon and grow the impact of your EVP are:

1.  Regular employee surveys

Investing time to capture every employee's experience within the business allows you to determine whether there is a ‘gap’ between your EVP messaging and its experience. It’s important to speak to everyone, from your high-level executives to your interns in order to gain an accurate picture of how your employer brand is perceived and experienced across all levels of the company.

2.  Use the research to improve your communication strategy

When you’ve analysed and collated your survey results, compare what you say in your EVP with the employee experience. This gap analysis enables you to identify where your messaging may be falling short or be unclear, where you are not embodying your promises to your teams and the key areas that need improvement.

3.  Engage and empower your leaders

Engage with your organisational leaders regularly, supporting them to understand how to effectively communicate and embody your EVP. Address any barriers, concerns or questions they have. Empower your leaders with the confidence to explain and give context for all elements of the EVP and encourage them to inspire teams by sharing their personal stories. 

4.  Review, Reinforce, Reassess

Review the success of your EVP and internal communication by looking at metrics such as applicant acceptance rate, how long it takes to find a new hire, the quality of your hires, the number of employee referrals and overall retention rate. If you notice any of these metrics are lower than your targets, identify areas for improvement and address them with your teams.

Read More: How To Build An Employer Brand That Attracts The Right Talent 


How Learning and Development supports Talent retention

A clear, targeted and progressive learning and development programme is vital to attract, engage and retain high calibre employees and support them to meet their potential. 

Tailoring your development and learning programme to your employees’ needs and goals is just as crucial as ensuring it’s communicated effectively. If growth opportunities don’t meet an individual’s aspirations, they won’t feel motivated to engage.

A 2018 survey by Total Jobs found that 2 in 3 employees would leave their job due to lack of the right training and development opportunities. A culture of learning, therefore, isn’t just nice to have, it's vital for retaining talent. Furthermore, research by Harvard Business School found that learning and development not only supported employee retention, it also increased profit and sales. 

Once your learning and development strategy is agreed upon, our five key tactics for internally communicating these opportunities to your teams are:

  1. Develop an internal marketing strategy. Your employees are your internal marketplace, which means you need to invest in ‘selling’ the training and development programme and its benefits to them in the same way you would approach marketing your products or services externally.
  2. Make it personal. Communicate how your learning and development opportunities will meet your employees’ career goals and aspirations. Talk about the benefits in real terms which are relevant to them and their roles.
  3. Enrol your employees in the bigger picture. As well as talking about individual benefits, show your employees how their continued development benefits their colleagues and the organisation as a whole.
  4. Make it accessible and actionable. Ensure employees know how to pursue the opportunities you have on offer, that they feel confident in doing so, and that they can clearly identify when they’re ready to take advantage of them.
  5. Recruit your champions. Identify the most influential people from your leadership and management teams and support them to share their experiences and proactively share opportunities they’ve engaged in with their teams.

Read More: Learning & Development Strategies That Put Your People First 


Why a career pathway matters for Talent retention

A ‘career pathway’ charts the potential course of each employees’ growth, development and progression within your organisation. This might include different job titles they could hold, salary and bonus opportunities, and the required knowledge, hard skills and soft skills needed for each stage of progression.

To support successful employee retention, career path mapping is a two-way exchange:

  • Employers responsibility is to outline and ensure you are effectively communicating the advancement, career development or learning opportunities open to every member of your teams
  • Employees’ responsibility is then to work with HR or their line manager to identify the opportunities best suited to their skills, experiences, competencies, interests and preferences

There are four reasons why effective career pathing is important for talent retention:

  1. It communicates the value you place on committed employees and empowers those employees to succeed
  2. It demonstrates the varied opportunities you provide to employees within the business, allowing them to set goals and find roles that align with their evolving aspirations – making them more likely to stay with you for the long term
  3. It clearly communicates the expectations of both employee and employer on their career trajectory enabling you to carry out effective, fair performance reviews and avoiding the potential frustration of missed promotions and pay rises
  4. It serves as a litmus test for employees that aren’t bought in, engaged or committed to the business if they aren’t taking advantage of growth opportunities

As an employer, having a clear career path for talent also sets you up for effective succession planning in the future.

As with all elements of your EVP, career pathing is most effective when you take the time to listen and understand what each of your employees wants, and you develop an effective, tailored, benefit-led communications strategy that clearly outlines each stage of the potential career journey. 

Read More: Strategies For Communicating Career Pathing Effectively


In summary

Investing in a well-defined Employer Value Proposition (EVP) that outlines everything you offer as an employer – from your values and purpose, to your financial rewards and benefits, to your learning, development and career progression opportunities – is vital for setting you apart as a compelling place to work in a competitive marketplace.

As more and more businesses are willing to offer remote and flexible working in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, geographical barriers are dissolving and the talent pool available to you is opening up. This also means the competition for the top talent will likely increase.

To ensure you attract and retain the best talent, it’s not enough to have a brilliant offering – it has to be effectively communicated to potential employees at the recruitment stage, and be supported by a robust, engaging internal communications strategy that keeps your people enrolled in your EVP every day that they come to work. 

Learning and development opportunities mapped along a clear career path are vital for employee retention, to be effective devise a clear and concise communication plan that speaks to the individual, situates them in the bigger picture vision for the company, and makes them accessible and actionable. 

To leave you with one of the most compelling stats we’ve uncovered: according to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, a huge 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Now, that’s an incentive.


Looking for support with talent attraction and retention? That’s what we’re here for.

Get in touch with us and let’s have a conversation.

Kate Whitley-Gray - Profile image
By Kate Whitley-Gray
Client Services Director