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  • Writer's pictureDennis Sullivan

ONE thing that can solve your two biggest challenges: Employee recruitment & retention

“Why should I come work for you?” I asked.

“We have good benefits,” the manager responded.

“Stop, stop, stop." I interrupted. "Just about every company offers benefits. Why should I come work for you – and not someone else?”

This is a very powerful question that led to some interesting insights at a recent roundtable discussion I hosted with business owners and managers. They were there to get answers to both recruit and retain employees – the most challenging issues facing small business owners today.

The solution isn’t found by adding a game room, tweaking your job ad or trying to change an entire generation’s attitude about work. The solution is found in what is often referred to as your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Just like you have a value proposition for prospects and customers that sets your brand apart from the competition, you should also have an EVP.

In the same way you have brand that conveys a message to buyers, you should have a 30-second employee pitch that creates excitement and gets others to want to become a part of your team. Your potential employees are in a “buyer’s market” right now. Author and TED Talk speaker, Simon Sinek, says it best: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

People buy WHY you do it; not what you do

Potential employees are NOT going to buy into the idea of working at a manufacturing plant, at a tech company, or at a retailer. They WILL buy into the idea of why you do it, and why they should follow you. They DO buy into the idea of:

  • Creating a new car of the future that will disrupt an entire industry (Tesla);

  • Developing creative solutions to the toughest challenges searching for stuff on the Internet (Google);

  • Inventing an entirely new way of selling and shipping products from A to Z faster and more reliably than any other business in history (Amazon).

Your EVP should attract those who will get inspired by why you do what you do. It’s the reason why companies like Tesla, Google and Amazon have more talented applicants than their competitors. Organizations that have a strong EVP, are more likely to hire better qualified candidates faster, retain their best employees and experience significant increases in employee performance, according to the academic research. This is critical when 45% of employees say they are likely to look for a new job outside their current organization in the next 12 months, according to a recent Society for Human Resource Management survey.

Organizations with a strong EVP also have more engaged employees. Highly engaged employees tend to outperform disengaged employees 20-30% and can lead to increased profitability and higher Returns on Assets, according to a 2019 article in the International Studies of Management & Organization.

Despite the evidence of just how powerful an EVP is for an organization, very few business owners and managers can give a compelling answer when asked, “Why should I come work for you?”

For small business owners, the answer often lies within you.

It’s your, “why.” It’s why you began the business in the first place. It’s why you get up every morning to come to work. It’s why you and your top people look forward to coming into work. It’s your passion. These are some of the responses from our roundtable discussion: To create something new; To solve challenges for your customers; To see a project come together; To be your own boss and manage your own time; To fix something that most can’t do themselves; To make a difference in the lives of others.

The key is to find others who will follow you in the pursuit of your passion -- and be attracted enough by your EVP to work with you.

4 steps to develop a recruitment & retention program

Determining your “why” is the first step to creating your Employee Value Proposition. Here are the next 4 steps to create a powerful recruitment and retention program:

  1. Create a list of the skills and traits you need in future employees based on your “Why.”

  2. Turn your job ad into a marketing promotion. Promote your “Why” in your job ad along with the skills and traits you need so others who have them will be excited as you are to apply them in your business.

  3. Use those skills and traits as the basis for your interview questions. Your job is to figure out whether the candidate you’re interviewing would be a good fit. Skills can be taught. But it’s often the traits that make most people successful in an organization.

  4. Lastly, ask yourself, “How are we living our ‘Why’ each day?” For example, one company in our roundtable is looking for people who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of others so we discussed how they can do more to help others who need it most in their community. Another manager mentioned he enjoys being his own boss and working independently, but misses the camaraderie of working in a team, so we discussed holding a company outing and doing ax throwing event (it really is a thing!)

Now imagine answering the question: “Why should I come work for you?” It might sound something like this…

“Great question. We’re looking for reliable, responsible people who want to be their own boss and can manage their own time. They should also understand that the customer always come first and should enjoy meeting new people in their own homes. We’re looking for people who enjoy working hard – and having fun. We’re all going out ax throwing next week! We have good benefits and even offer college tuition reimbursement to help you advance your career. Oh, and we all hate bugs. We just happen to be a pest management company. Interested?”

Now that is an EVP! Think they will get more people interested in applying for a job? And do you think more talented employees will stay as a result? Absolutely! An EVP is the one thing that can help solve your two biggest challenge right now!

For a FREE 30-Minute EVP Consultation, email me at Let’s see if we can develop a powerful pitch to help you recruit & retain more talented employees to help you grow.

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