Use of the term "Value Proposition" seems to have gone out of date in Human Resource circles, or at least I don't hear it mentioned anymore. Have you? Granted, catchy buzz phrases come and go with the seasons, or so it seems, but I had thought that the value proposition as a strategic compensation focus had roots. Perhaps the term has been replaced by a new phrase (same idea; new words). It can be hard to keep track.
I hope though, that compensation practitioners are not losing sight of the concept, because in my humble opinion this thinking should be the 11th commandment.
For those new to Compensation the original term (in HR speak) can be described as follows:
A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and acknowledged and a belief from the employee that value will be delivered and experienced. A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or employee perception, service or programs.
What the dictionary is saying is that if an employee values something, then a promise by their employer to provide that something is considered a worthwhile strategy.
The Value of "Something"
The trick is, what is that "something?" Because one size does not fit all.
We all want money. Cash is king and all of that. But pay by itself can be more of a psychological dissatisfier than most realize (remember Herzberg's Motivation Theory?). Because having what we consider the right amount of pay results in a neutral feeling , while anything less than the right amount is a perceived negative. And having more? Does that feeling even exist? So there is little upside for the employer to paying more if the goal is employee satisfaction.
However employees in their diversity want more than just money. They can appreciate and "value" more than the cash. It could be medical and / or other benefit coverage, low insurance premiums or deductibles, vacation time, free parking, discounted cafeteria food, liberal sick time, tuition reimbursement, even free coffee in the break room. The list is endless.
Anything that the employee considers a reward (that which is provided or made accessible to employees) as part of the working environment is a something that will be valued.
Employers take note: what employees value they can be motivated to attain or retain (not lose).
Using The Value Proposition
This is where the "cafeteria style" benefit plans originated; the view that, if the organization focuses on delivering that which the employees consider as having personal value the return benefits (improved morale, retention, engagement, productivity, etc.) will outweigh the cost of providing that value. And perhaps the cost doesn't have to be any greater than what was paid out before, just better focused.
I still remember the organization where my laundry was picked up and delivered to my office door. And where I could buy a dozen high quality long stem roses for my wife. The charge for these services was 100% paid by the employee, but the memory of having (and later losing) those conveniences lingers to this day. Especially with my wife!
Even considering the above merits it remains a common practice in some organizations to focus on delivering pay and pay alone; to treat employees as having one dimensional thinking and desires. Here are managers who think that by keeping their finger on the EASY button (just pay them more) all good things will come to the organization - without breaking a sweat.
Instead, all too often they find themselves burdened by unsustainable payroll growth, while still lacking the improved morale, retention, engagement, productivity, etc. that they had assumed would follow the pay cycle. They find little or no ROI for their simplistic knee jerk tactic of thinking that one answer (the easy one) solves all challenges.
Because they really aren't interested in providing all that the employees consider value. That road leads to more work (complexities, time consuming, myriad answers) than if they simply pressed a payroll button.
So perhaps, at least in some quarters, the Value Proposition hasn't disappeared after all, but is just ignored.
But not with your organization, right?
Chuck Csizmar CCP is founder and Principal of CMC Compensation Group, providing global compensation consulting services to a wide variety of industries and non-profit organizations. He is also associated with several HR Consulting firms as a contributing consultant. Chuck is a broad based subject matter expert with a specialty in international and expatriate compensation. He lives in Central Florida (near The Mouse) and enjoys growing fruit and managing (?) a clowder of cats.
Creative Commons image, "Value Dice," by Stuart Miles