We already have the data we need to for our EVP, don't we? Yeah...Nah.

Inspired by insights from TQ’s recent Maturity Model report, some reflections on where over-simplification, mainly around data, can act as a handbrake for your EVP and Employer Brand.

In principle, the notion of defining an EVP is pretty straight forward. You just ask people why they joined and stayed at your company and not somewhere else, right? Yeah…nah.

Over the years I’ve become pretty obsessed with keeping things ‘simple’. But the reality is, to get there takes a rigour of thinking and practice, underpinned by the right data at the right time.

In recent months I’ve seen where over-simplification has bitten organisations in the behind, so let’s take a look at a few and I hope it helps others avoid a potential ‘simplicity fail’.    

1. Poor data > ill-informed decisions > hard to demonstrate value

TQ’s Talent Maturity Model, using data gathered from 2020-2022, indicates that a lack of access to quality data is continuing to hamper efforts in the space.

The highest scoring statement for Employer Branding dimension of the model shows that investment has moved into the space in the previous 2 years, mainly through access to skills.

  • Employer Branding has direct, or indirect, internal or external access to the specialist skills required to deliver Talent Engagement & Employer Branding services – 59%

However, the lowest scoring statements for the Employer Branding dimension shows the data handbrake in action.

  • Employer Branding is appropriately enabled (e.g. tech) to effectively capture and measure feedback on the performance of our Talent Engagement & Employer Brand initiatives – 38%
  • Ensures our Talent Engagement & Employer Brand can adapt and evolve to changing economic & business conditions (i.e. agile not static) – 45%            

As a result of working with inadequate data, whether it’s relying on data gathered for different reasons (engagement surveys) to build your EVP or measuring recruitment marketing campaign effectiveness – decisions can get simplified to the point that you’re driving with the handbrake on, or worse, without clear direction. Being hampered ultimately means it's near impossible to create and prove sustainable for many organisations.

What you can do    

  • Start at the end and work back – what metrics, data and insight will demonstrate value back to your organisation?  
  • Plot the data you need to capture at key stages - how will you capture, track and report these?    
  • Plan the processes, practices and tech you need to underpin your approach  
  • Make your case for investment based on your plan to demonstrate vale….then beg, borrow, buy and build what you need to.

2. “Our mainstream agency has ‘done the EVP’ as part of their brand re-fresh.”

I must caveat this by saying that my most recent experience with a renowned brand strategy agency was fantastic. However! The people dimension of the overall brand is often over-looked and over-simplified in these scenarios because data and insights aren’t gathered for the full gamut of the career experience. The most common mistake is to focus mainly on values and culture – this narrow lens leads to EVPs that lack depth, falling into the trap of cliché messaging. What do you mean, ‘make a difference’ has been done before?? From experience this is particularly acute for Australian business that are part of a global organisation, or larger enterprises.

I get it, regretfully – Employer Brand can be the poor relation. But rather than hitting the panic button, what can you do when you hear the EVP’s getting a refresh and it’s not by you and your team?

What you can do  

  • If you’re blindsided by this, it’s a signal that your relationship with Marketing is far too distant, work on that.    
  • Fight to get someone senior from your team on the steerco.  
  • Ask to vet the employee questions and research approach to ensure you get what you need from the process for your EVP - often you can add in dedicated questions or additional focus groups.    
  • Check the deliverables early – often it will be paper thin, so you can start to build a case for deeper analysis, like priority segmentation and the assets you will need to activate the EVP.  
  • Build your advocacy / employee circles so they are lined up to take the brand that’s given to you and configure it for your needs with your army of supporters.

3. Will your data help make you EVP more human. What does that even mean??

I think Gartner’s ‘human deal’ EVP framework is great (TQ's model is stronger I think, but that's for another post!). At its core, it’s simple of course, it’s about putting people first, and focusing on their wants, needs, motives, feelings. But the reality is that humans are not simple and nor is good EVP research. The famous quote from the Advertising master David Ogilvy still rings true today:

“the problem with market research is that people don’t think how they feel, they don’t say what they think and they don’t do what they say”

An example in our world would be the danger of using Employee Engagement data as the main building block for your EVP, since it falls into the trap of over-simplifying the data (and misusing the reason for gathering it) and the people that work with your organisation.

What you can do

If you ask people why they joined your business, you get typical answers (from a rational part of their brain) – money, career opportunities, purpose and so on.

But just as Ogilvy states, people don’t think how they (actually) feel. Without getting into the science behind it all, humans are basically way more fluid / erratic than these rational-led approaches.

A simple tip to guide your EVP research into a more ‘human’ dimension is to shift your questions from a ‘what’ focus to a ‘how’.


  • What are the benefits like here?

Becomes questions like...  

  • How do you feel about the company's approach to supporting your mental health?

This helps cut through some of the more rational responses, tapping into the emotions.

Whether you’re adapting your EVP from a Global Re-brand, or validating hypotheses you’ve started to build from engagement and exit survey data.. making your EVP more human at TQ means accessing the deeper, more meaningful and more human reasons people do what they do. That’s not easy, and not simple. But we all reap the benefits if we try and make sense of what’s complex. That’s what keeps it interesting right?

What are you doing to keep your EVP more Human, your data more meaningful and get more of a ‘yeh’ than a ‘nah’ overall?


About me: I run the Employer Brand and Experience Practice at TQSolutions. Our focus is on EVP Strategy and Employer Brand Advisory, working with Global and Local organisations using our proprietary tools and methodologies. These include our Employer Brand & Experience Maturity Model, human-first EVP research programmes, 5-Dimensional EVP Frameworks, EVP activation roadmaps, Advocacy and Employer Reputation Management.

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