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You(r employees) already hold the key to enhancing your Employee Value Proposition

Editor’s note: To kick off 2021, we called on CEO of Employer Branding Australia Mark Puncher to give us his insight on how to improve retention in the changing landscape of employer branding. Here’s what he had to say:

OK. Hands up. Who was sorry to see the end of 2020? 



work-from-home-1OK, so we’re all hoping for a better 2021. From a people and culture perspective, however, it’s not just going to land in your lap. In fact, all the signs are that employee engagement and culture shaping will be even more complex this year. For me, though, the fundamentals are still the same – they’re just even more important. 

The central message? Your organisation’s success depends on having great people in the right roles, and feeling connected. Read that last bit again. Because it really matters. More on that later.  

Enhancing your Employee Value Proposition is a no-brainer for leaders looking to attract and retain motivated and successful employees. 

However, one thing many fail to understand is that the key to building an effective employer brand is to start with the perceptions and experiences within your organisation. When you understand why your current people choose to join, stay and perform, you know why others might follow their lead.

When you understand the challenges or frustrations your teams face, you know how to prepare new hires, so that they come in with their eyes open. And when your employees are inspired and empowered as advocates for your organisation? Well, all of that recruitment stuff gets a whole lot easier.  

Learn more about how to inspire your employees and create connections »      

Here are 5 ways to get started: 

1. Inspire your people on purpose and goals

leadershipThink about a time in your career when you really felt connected to the organisation you worked for – to what they were about and what they were trying to achieve. Now compare it to a time when you didn’t. Maybe their values didn’t align to yours. Maybe you couldn’t see a clear strategy. Maybe you just hated your boss. I bet the difference in your performance was like night and day. Even when we’re not happy, most of us will make the best of it… for a while. But it rarely lasts. 

If you want people to bring their best and smash their goals this year, make sure they understand:

  • Your company purpose and the goals you’re trying to achieve.
  • The overall plan to get there.
  • Their contribution – how will they help?  

Whether it’s a new hire or a lifer, you should then manage, recognise and reward them based on that contribution. When they win, you win. And vice versa.  

2. Revisit, refresh or re-energise your values - and make sure your people are involved

colorful-blocksIt’s likely a lot has changed for your business in the past 12 months. From the work people are doing, to how and where they’re doing it, it’s a different world. In times of change or challenge, values matter more than ever. 

I’ve always said values must be owned by your workforce. That’s never going to happen if they were created by your exec team on a retreat in between the financial reporting and the bungee jump. Oh and if your posters say ‘Accountability, Communication, Integrity and Customer-focussed,’ well, so do many others.  

The start of 2021 is a perfect time to revisit or re-energise your values – to get people inspired not just about what you’re trying to achieve but also how:

  • Ask your people what values and behaviours they care about – the ones they think matter most in the work they’re trying to do. 
  • Get some help to add some creative (but authentic!) articulation. 
  • Finally, embed your company values at key touch points across the employee life cycle and, of course, the candidate journey.  

3. Invest in your people leaders and managers – inspire, educate, expect!

As we face more uncertainty, and as we roll out more remote working, people managers have an even more important role to play.

Our direct manager is often the only regular representative of leadership we experience, so it’s important for employees to respect – and be respected by – whoever they report to.

If you want to create an open, supportive culture that attracts and retains good people, you’ve got to grab your managers! Inspire them on their people-first role, educate and support them to fulfil that role, and set clear expectations of them. If they’re struggling to lead, invest in helping them. If they refuse to lead, help them leave. 

If there’s one single leadership investment I’d recommend, it’s training in having difficult conversations. It blows my mind how often major people disasters stem from a manager who feels unable or unwilling to give feedback.

4. Showcase your values and your culture through people stories

writing-1How do you share information effectively? By telling stories. People don't really care about bullet point values, or a job ad full of your corporate spiel. They do care about your people and their journeys.

If you’re recruiting, share the story of someone in a similar role.

If you want to drive pride among your team, celebrate the impact of that team.

If you want your people to really ‘get’ your values, showcase the moments when people live and breathe them in their behaviours at work.

Find more inspiration for your culture journey »

Here are 3 ideas for catching and sharing stories that matter:

  • Use your internal communications channels to capture stories from the day to day. Encourage your people to share, and get internal or external help to turn a photo or a sound bite into great content.
  • Create a team of employee champions, and empower them as story catchers and sharers.
  • Standardise a couple of initiatives which generate content. For example, how about a DIY video from a team member every time you recruit for a role? A half-decent video will usually improve the effectiveness of your job ads. Or what about peer-to-peer ‘thank you’ postcards – whether digital or off-line, you’d be amazed how effective peer-to-peer recognition can be.  

5. Got cultural work to do? Own it.

A lot of people ask me how we handle ‘the negative stuff’ – the toxic team, the change fatigue, the legacy issues. My answer is always the same: own it and share the journey.

Remember that no company is perfect. Most are far from it. The organisations I want to work with are those that acknowledge the work in progress. As leaders or people specialists, our job is to embrace the bad as well as the good, and to be clear on what we’re doing to improve. So take a deep breath, square your shoulders and engage your people. Understand what’s holding them back – what’s making life harder than it needs to be. And then do something about it, ideally with your people involved.


Connected people perform better. Obviously.

Mark Puncher

Mark Puncher is a Dad, a CEO and a big fan of gin. He's spent much of the last 20 years with one hand in marketing, the other in talent attraction, and both feet in leadership. Mark lives and breathes employer branding and culture shaping. When he isn't doing that, his current hobbies include finger painting, 5am ballet and building dens. He also has strong beliefs about the importance of wine.

CEO of Employer Branding Australia

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