HR leaders take HR Indaba 2022 attendees into a deep dive into EVP

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HR professionals identify work-life balance and job security as key to employee value proposition.

On 18 October 2022, HR leaders – or ‘game changers’ as one of the hosts put it – explored what true employee value proposition (EVP) means in a post-pandemic world and beyond.

The first panellist, Lutfiya Adam, director of HR and employability at Mancosa, started off with a brief overview of who Mancosa was in the greater Honoris United Universities group. “We are passionate about education and spreading knowledge, and making a difference in society and the lives of our students,” she said.

As far as EVP is concerned, Lutfiya said that keeping a strong talent pipeline has never been more important, in order to adjust to the new way of work.

“We had to retrain and attract the talent that fits in this new world of work and dive deep and gather insights about how our staff felt about the new working environment – this was a crucial starting point. In addition, our biggest task was to move our staff to a remote working or hybrid working situation, responding to the pandemic,” said Lutfiya.

Effective EVP strategies

According to Lutfiya, Mancosa has focused on six main focus areas for EVP including work-life balance, job security and intention to stay, organisational culture, career development, leadership, and remuneration and recognition.

“Through our climate surveys,” she said, “we have been able to get a sense of how our people felt about our new working models, with real-time feedback.

“Instead of merely responding, we decided to listen by way of climate surveys involving our people, to get a sense or feel of how they felt about the new way of work: not only that but also getting a sense of what worked for them in this regard (e.g., remote working/hybrid working model).

“Considering what the organisation offers compared to what the employees actually need is something worth considering.”

Lutfiya even shared some of the insights revealed from the climate survey that they conducted. “Money was actually a secondary issue: people were very quick to decline offers that didn’t meet their values or were in alignment with what they really required. It went beyond financial gain or the prospects of earning a good salary,” she said.

Job security reigns supreme

The survey also revealed that a significant number were concerned about security, stability and job security. “We had to consistently communicate in order to put these individuals' concerns at ease, especially through the unrest and riots in different parts of the country last year. All those external factors had a real impact on their sense of job security,” she said.

She continued to share other examples of EVP approaches that worked exceptionally well for their institution:

  1. Pan African higher education network: moving beyond borders as an institution committed to transforming lives through relevant education for lifetime success.
  2. Learning organisation: fostering a culture of learning, consistently upskilling and reskilling our employees, and 21st-century skills need to align with our learning organisation approach.
  3. Innovation, agility and collaboration: innovation assessments and graduation, as well as brainstorming ideas as a team, diversity and inclusion, and communication.
  4. Talent investment: consisting of a leadership pipeline and new layer of talent, opportunities for growth within your role, diverse talent was crucial, and recruiting based on this at from a talent acquisition perspective).
  5. Enterprise digital transformation: the ability for students to continue to learn online during the pandemic.

In addition to their EVP endeavours, Mancosa went as far as to introduce employee benefits such as domestic violence leave, birthday leave, bursaries, mentoring and coaching, and the most popular benefit of them all, flexible working options.

For Guy Chennells: GM and Head of Product; employee benefits at Discovery, maintaining Discovery’s brand reputation of being one of the most desirable organisations to work for meant they had to be very deliberate about how they hired people.

“We have been very intentional about how we recruit and have made sure that the people fit within our organisational culture,” Guy said.

“We have also invested heavily in our onboarding process, which at times could take a whole week to complete,” he continued. “Most people expect the onboarding process to be a waste of time, but to their surprise, they do gain a lot from the exercise – to properly articulate the Discovery values.”

According to Guy, Discovery also gives its people the opportunity to hold the insurer accountable to its values for those values and hold them to it. “We at times lose great people who fail to embrace our brand’s ethos or values, so a truly holistic approach to recruitment and value proposition is crucial.”

Jannie Malan, principal solution consultant at Workday, noted some interesting insights on EVP from a global perspective and said that they saw significant shifts in EVP trends as Workday moved into the EMEA region.

“We have relied heavily on technology and employee sentiment at our organisation and active listening – by asking questions on employee/team sentiments. Having employees in different locations being able to give the necessary feedback has been really beneficial and this is achieved through using technology or digital means,” he said.

Dr Jonathan Louw, CEO of Honoris United Universities, offered a CEO’s perspective on value propositions. He said that in the educational sector, the value proposition is a different ball game altogether. “Your factory is your people, and for us at Mancosa, that’s our students and staff,” he said.

“We have big ears and small mouths and put our listening skills to the test. Fortunately, no one sits in an ivory tower at Mancosa: we’re quite open. We view business as a concentric circle where I sit in the middle and rely on our people to inform me of some of the troubles and issues that our staff is experiencing, especially what they are often not open to discussing or sharing with senior management.

Insights from the Q&A

At the end of the session, the moderator opened up the floor for some questions for the panellists’ responses. The first question explored some of the challenges around access to funding for education and training, and how to get around this issue.

“All our students in our various institutions are employed within six months of completing their courses through a drive for employability. We have about 700 employer relations to gain insights into how our former students are doing. We are a private sector university, but there is access to funding opportunities through banks,” Dr Jonathan Louw responded.

“It’s all about measuring the competencies required and what will be required in order to complete tasks. Rely on engaging with employees to know exactly what is going on through exit interviews and alike, you also need to understand the business and own that seat at the table. Those nitty gritties all tie in with what we need to do with your people at your respect organisation,” Lutfiya concluded.

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