How to Humanize Your Employee Value Proposition

October 5, 2021
Be Human: We view employees first and foremost as people – people with friends, families, personal challenges, priorities and goals. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to always put the personal experience first. We commit to amplifying all voices, and creating a work environment where everyone can bring their whole selves.

This is one of our three core values here at Brilliant Ink and a key building block of our company’s culture. We are people first and this mindset is grounded in everything we do. As we approach month 19 (!!!!) of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been reflecting on how a value like this is even more important now as our work and personal identities continue to blend.

Throughout the pandemic, many employees have seen the boundaries between work and life dissolve, and as a result – whether they want to or not! – are bringing more of their full selves to work. For lots of people, there is simply no escaping work – no office to commute to, no physical space in their home to decompress, no mental boundaries. We are truly seeing new sides of our coworkers and oftentimes are getting an unfiltered view into their lives.  

You would be hard -pressed to find someone who hasn’t had a child, spouse, or the occasional pet drop in on a Zoom call recently! Even seeing someone’s living space in the background – art on the walls, their furniture, kitchen spaces – makes us pause and remember that work is what we do, not who we are.  

Re-imagining the Traditional EVP  

The new world of work is changing the way employees view their needs and priorities. Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) capture the mix of characteristics and ways of working that set a company apart. It’s at the core of an employer’s brand – showcasing all the benefits, opportunities, and experiences one will gain from working there and answers one simple, yet incredibly important question for employees: “What’s in it for me?”

This question is still a foundational piece of any EVP. But given what we’ve experienced over the past 19 months, some say that the principles underlying traditional EVPs are simply outdated – focusing too much on the employee as a worker, rather than the employee as a whole human. Employers should broaden their lens and take a more human approach to EVPs – one that is holistic and recognizes that employees are not simply workers – they are people with interests, values, families, and goals – all of which influence who they are when they show up to work.  

In fact, according to Gartner’s 2021 EVP Employee Survey:

  • 82% of employees say it’s important that their employer sees them as more than a just worker
  • …however, only 45% believe that their organization actually sees them that way.1  

A Human Approach to EVPs  

Need some additional proof? Findings from the Gartner 2021 EVP Benchmarking Survey shows that only 23% of HR leaders believe most of their employees will remain with their current employer post pandemic and only 31% feel that their employees are satisfied with their current EVPs. In an effort to better align with employees’ current needs, Gartner has outlined a new approach to the EVP called “The Human Deal,” which encourages employers to design an EVP that focuses more on feelings than features.  

“Employees are people, not just workers; work is a subset of life, not separate from it; and value comes through feelings, not just features.”  

At its core, the human deal encompasses five core attributes – all of which are designed to elicit specific emotions from employees.  

1. Deeper Connections: "I Feel understood..."

This is all about ensuring that employees feel understood and encourages employers to build and personalize their connections by taking an interest in their employees’ lives and communities outside of work, while respecting and maintaining boundaries.  

2. Radical Flexibility: "I feel autonomous..."

Employees want to feel autonomous and have flexibility in all facets of work – not just when and where the work happens. They want choice when it comes to the people they work with, what projects they work on and how much they work. The key here is to find balance between productivity and providing choice.  

3. Personal Growth: "i feel valued..."

Work is much more than a paycheck. Employees want to feel valued and organizations that support both professional and personal growth standout in the crowd. Provide your employees with learning and skills development that compliments their interests and can be leveraged both in the workplace and in their personal lives.  

4. Holistic Well-Being: "I feel cared for..."

In addition to feeling valued, employees want to feel cared for by their employer. It is one thing for organizations to make health and wellness offerings available, but ensuring their employees use them is another story. Needs change and evolve over time and its critical for employers must keep a pulse on what employees are finding helpful and adjusting as needed.  

5. Shared Purpose: "i feel invested..."

Lastly, employees want to feel invested in their organizations. The 2021 EVP Employee Survey revealed that, over half (53%) of employees would like to see their companies take action on issues they are passionate about. However, this requires a delicate dance between taking action and making sure all perspectives are heard and represented.  


Thinking about creating an EVP or updating your existing one? Instead of focusing on the professional features and perks, consider shifting your focus to illuminating how those features make your people feel (and if you need help, we’re here for you!).  

By reframing the traditional EVP model to better complement the employee as a whole – their personal identity and life experience – you are in a much better position to support and provide meaningful opportunities and experiences for your employees. And as we navigate the future of work and a world post-pandemic (eventually), this is what your people will come to expect and look for as they continue riding the workforce waves.  

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest!

Sonia Segal-Smith

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