We played twenty questions with Fernando Ortiz Ehmann, Chief Strategy Officer

From best practices to top tips, in this interview Fernando gives his perspective on all things EVP (Employee Value Proposition). 

Read the full interview to find out more:

What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?
There are so many, but if I could pick two I would say:

  • Be curious. I remember one of my first bosses criticised me for not walking around the office with paper and pen so that I could write down all the things I needed to jot down.
    20Q_Fernando_Icon 1


  • Be humble. There will always be smarter people around you. Saffron is a great example of that. There is nothing more counter-productive in our industry than the ego. Egos are toxic. Great work is done collaboratively.

    20Q_Fernando_Icon 2

 

What’s the most important thing you’d look for in a junior’s portfolio?
A balance of what I define as the poet and the engineer. Your ideas must be not only brilliant but also viable and relevant. 

The most amazing brand strategists I have encountered had exactly the right balance of research, rigour, analytical thinking but at the same time an amazing capability to think outside the box and find amazing inspiration.

Book recommendation: Branding inside out

 

20Q_Fernando_Book 1

 

 

Why is EVP important for brand strategy and identity at large?
Employee’s behaviour is one of the four holistic brand vectors alongside products/services, environments and communications. 

The “inward” facing side of companies have become more important as employees are a key aspect for the overall brand. EVP is the essence of it. Think about it as a double-sided coin. The outside facing one is the default brand itself, the flip side to it is the EVP.

 

 

What are the biggest motivators at Saffron?
At Saffron our purpose is “make brand work”. Brand is a tool, a means to an end, not the end itself. It is an extremely powerful management tool to achieve (mostly) business results. Thus, our main motivator is finding the best brand and experience solution that optimally addresses those needs. It does not have to be shiny or sparkling, it needs to work.

What is employer branding?
Optimally, positioning your brand towards your current and potential employees. In other words, deliver on the promise of the best possible company experience for those two audiences.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 3

 

 

What is the essence of a powerful brand?
A powerful brand is the one that brilliantly combines authenticity, relevance and differentiation and masterfully projects and delivers that brand experience along with everything that brand does from its products, stores, apps, comms, ATL, BTL… you name it.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 4

 

 

How do you define an effective EVP?
An effective EVP follows similar traditional branding exercises. It needs to be authentic to the organisation, relevant to its audiences (employees and talent) and last, but not least, differentiated from the competition. Further then, the EVP needs to be executed taking into consideration the organisation’s dynamics, processes and structures. Only then it will truly permeate across the organisation.

 

 

Within an EVP, how do you attract and retain top talent in a competitive market?
Similar to a previous question. It is making sure the EVP contains the right balance between “this is crucial to people” and “we can offer this”. Nothing worse than overpromising and under delivering. 

Also, EVPs often are too broad trying to solve everything but with that get diluted and fall into oblivion.

 

 

Why is EVP important in general?
The war for talent is raging everywhere and a strong EVP has proven a powerful strategy to improve talent retention and attraction KPIs.

 

20Q_Fernando_Illustration 1

 

 

Best advice for new Startup company / e rental scooter.
Why should anyone use your scooter and not the ones already around them? Spend the time, lots of time, to come to a compelling answer. Once you have found it, unleash hell with that idea and razor-sharp focus on that.

What are some key components of an EVP?
The same way we don’t do cookie/cutter brand platforms for our clients, EVP platforms must vary depending on the circumstances and dynamics of every organisation. 

Typical elements can be a narrative, an EVP core statement (in the form of a claim), values, key differentiators, reasons to believe, employee expectations and company’s commitments.

 

 

What are some good examples of EVP?
Over the course of the past months we have done fabulous EVP work with Sonae. The largest private employer in Portugal.

Read the full case study here

How to offer a balanced work and personal life?
That is a tough one for me as I admit I am not a good example, or so says my wife. 

Jokes aside, I think what helps is to find personal objectives, not just professional ones. I used to have a team member who always had a big important personal goal, be it buying a house or going on a vacation or completing a course, etc. Once one of those goals was accomplished he moved on to the next one. I admired him very much for filling his personal life and keeping his working hours at bay.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 7

 

 

How does an EVP affect HR policies?
Assuming that the EVP is the heart of employer branding it surely ought to strongly affect HR policies. An employer brand that co-exists with HR policies that are not aligned with its fundamentals is just useless. Actually, counterproductive as you are signalling to the employees that you do not put your money where your mouth is.

 

 

How do you make your EVP different from any other?
We ensure it is differentiated by conducting a rigorous and thorough competitive benchmark.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 6

 

 

How often do you need to reevaluate your EVP?
It depends on the needs and circumstances of each organisation. One thing is true, the interval in recent years has shortened up. It used to be more than 10 years, now you easily need to reevaluate and redo it at least every 5 years.

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 5

 

 

How do you measure the success of your EVP?
We measure it by defining relevant KPIs with the client. These often revolve around retention and recruiting measurements and KPIs contained in engagement surveys. We use existing KPIs or we create new ones. Also, we sometimes develop EVP-specific activation KPIs that measure the success of execution and implementation.

 

 

Is the EVP different from the value proposition to your customers?
Yes, it is different but it needs to derive from your brand’s value proposition which also includes the one to your customers. It all needs to be interlinked. What is lived from the inside can be better projected to the outside. 

I will never forget an Apple store window ad campaign simply showing Apple employees. Apple was not selling iPhones they showcased the smiley faces of their employees dressed in their shiny blue t-shirts. So, the value proposition of “community” was common to both employees and customers.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 8

 

 

What are some tactics to implement your EVP?

  • Develop well-thought EVP implementation guidelines, especially for large decentralised organisations in which the core central team needs to heavily rely on the cooperation of divisional, national or local teams to make it a reality.
  • Develop an impactful overarching creative concept to launch and activate it.
  • Measure the progress: Develop strong and actionable KPIs.
  • Be realistic as to implementation expectations: timelines, reach, etc. Always have in mind the organisation’s culture, dynamics and circumstances.

 

Who should be leading an EVP project?
Ideally, a core team with someone from the Brand team and the HR team. Always both, two in a box.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Illustration 2

 

 

 

We hope you enjoyed playing 20 questions with Fernando. If you’d like to discuss your EVP strategy, get in touch.

 

Download our report to understand how to develop an EVP that reflects not only the needs of your company, but those in the workforce.

Sign up to the waiting list here

We played twenty questions with Fernando Ortiz Ehmann, Chief Strategy Officer

From best practices to top tips, in this interview Fernando gives his perspective on all things EVP (Employee Value Proposition). 

Read the full interview to find out more:

What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?
There are so many, but if I could pick two I would say:

  • Be curious. I remember one of my first bosses criticised me for not walking around the office with paper and pen so that I could write down all the things I needed to jot down.
    20Q_Fernando_Icon 1


  • Be humble. There will always be smarter people around you. Saffron is a great example of that. There is nothing more counter-productive in our industry than the ego. Egos are toxic. Great work is done collaboratively.

    20Q_Fernando_Icon 2

 

What’s the most important thing you’d look for in a junior’s portfolio?
A balance of what I define as the poet and the engineer. Your ideas must be not only brilliant but also viable and relevant. 

The most amazing brand strategists I have encountered had exactly the right balance of research, rigour, analytical thinking but at the same time an amazing capability to think outside the box and find amazing inspiration.

Book recommendation: Branding inside out

 

20Q_Fernando_Book 1

 

 

Why is EVP important for brand strategy and identity at large?
Employee’s behaviour is one of the four holistic brand vectors alongside products/services, environments and communications. 

The “inward” facing side of companies have become more important as employees are a key aspect for the overall brand. EVP is the essence of it. Think about it as a double-sided coin. The outside facing one is the default brand itself, the flip side to it is the EVP.

 

 

What are the biggest motivators at Saffron?
At Saffron our purpose is “make brand work”. Brand is a tool, a means to an end, not the end itself. It is an extremely powerful management tool to achieve (mostly) business results. Thus, our main motivator is finding the best brand and experience solution that optimally addresses those needs. It does not have to be shiny or sparkling, it needs to work.

What is employer branding?
Optimally, positioning your brand towards your current and potential employees. In other words, deliver on the promise of the best possible company experience for those two audiences.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 3

 

 

What is the essence of a powerful brand?
A powerful brand is the one that brilliantly combines authenticity, relevance and differentiation and masterfully projects and delivers that brand experience along with everything that brand does from its products, stores, apps, comms, ATL, BTL… you name it.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 4

 

 

How do you define an effective EVP?
An effective EVP follows similar traditional branding exercises. It needs to be authentic to the organisation, relevant to its audiences (employees and talent) and last, but not least, differentiated from the competition. Further then, the EVP needs to be executed taking into consideration the organisation’s dynamics, processes and structures. Only then it will truly permeate across the organisation.

 

 

Within an EVP, how do you attract and retain top talent in a competitive market?
Similar to a previous question. It is making sure the EVP contains the right balance between “this is crucial to people” and “we can offer this”. Nothing worse than overpromising and under delivering. 

Also, EVPs often are too broad trying to solve everything but with that get diluted and fall into oblivion.

 

 

Why is EVP important in general?
The war for talent is raging everywhere and a strong EVP has proven a powerful strategy to improve talent retention and attraction KPIs.

 

20Q_Fernando_Illustration 1

 

 

Best advice for new Startup company / e rental scooter.
Why should anyone use your scooter and not the ones already around them? Spend the time, lots of time, to come to a compelling answer. Once you have found it, unleash hell with that idea and razor-sharp focus on that.

What are some key components of an EVP?
The same way we don’t do cookie/cutter brand platforms for our clients, EVP platforms must vary depending on the circumstances and dynamics of every organisation. 

Typical elements can be a narrative, an EVP core statement (in the form of a claim), values, key differentiators, reasons to believe, employee expectations and company’s commitments.

 

 

What are some good examples of EVP?
Over the course of the past months we have done fabulous EVP work with Sonae. The largest private employer in Portugal.

Read the full case study here

How to offer a balanced work and personal life?
That is a tough one for me as I admit I am not a good example, or so says my wife. 

Jokes aside, I think what helps is to find personal objectives, not just professional ones. I used to have a team member who always had a big important personal goal, be it buying a house or going on a vacation or completing a course, etc. Once one of those goals was accomplished he moved on to the next one. I admired him very much for filling his personal life and keeping his working hours at bay.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 7

 

 

How does an EVP affect HR policies?
Assuming that the EVP is the heart of employer branding it surely ought to strongly affect HR policies. An employer brand that co-exists with HR policies that are not aligned with its fundamentals is just useless. Actually, counterproductive as you are signalling to the employees that you do not put your money where your mouth is.

 

 

How do you make your EVP different from any other?
We ensure it is differentiated by conducting a rigorous and thorough competitive benchmark.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 6

 

 

How often do you need to reevaluate your EVP?
It depends on the needs and circumstances of each organisation. One thing is true, the interval in recent years has shortened up. It used to be more than 10 years, now you easily need to reevaluate and redo it at least every 5 years.

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 5

 

 

How do you measure the success of your EVP?
We measure it by defining relevant KPIs with the client. These often revolve around retention and recruiting measurements and KPIs contained in engagement surveys. We use existing KPIs or we create new ones. Also, we sometimes develop EVP-specific activation KPIs that measure the success of execution and implementation.

 

 

Is the EVP different from the value proposition to your customers?
Yes, it is different but it needs to derive from your brand’s value proposition which also includes the one to your customers. It all needs to be interlinked. What is lived from the inside can be better projected to the outside. 

I will never forget an Apple store window ad campaign simply showing Apple employees. Apple was not selling iPhones they showcased the smiley faces of their employees dressed in their shiny blue t-shirts. So, the value proposition of “community” was common to both employees and customers.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Icon 8

 

 

What are some tactics to implement your EVP?

  • Develop well-thought EVP implementation guidelines, especially for large decentralised organisations in which the core central team needs to heavily rely on the cooperation of divisional, national or local teams to make it a reality.
  • Develop an impactful overarching creative concept to launch and activate it.
  • Measure the progress: Develop strong and actionable KPIs.
  • Be realistic as to implementation expectations: timelines, reach, etc. Always have in mind the organisation’s culture, dynamics and circumstances.

 

Who should be leading an EVP project?
Ideally, a core team with someone from the Brand team and the HR team. Always both, two in a box.

 

 

20Q_Fernando_Illustration 2

 

 

 

We hope you enjoyed playing 20 questions with Fernando. If you’d like to discuss your EVP strategy, get in touch.

 

Download our report to understand how to develop an EVP that reflects not only the needs of your company, but those in the workforce.

Sign up to the waiting list here

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