I was recently invited to New York to speak at the Drones & Robotics Summit 2022. As part of the lightning talk round, I delivered a presentation on ‘How to create an employee value proposition’ for start-ups and early-stage ventures in the robotics industry, and how this is essential for attracting employees from bigger companies in a competitive talent market.
I have helped to scale start up teams with a combined funding of over $1bn so far. Two of these teams have IPO’d recently and four of them are now graduating their C rounds. Throughout my time working with these fantastic organizations, I’ve come across several challenges they all face…

What challenges do start-ups face attracting employees?

Hiring in today’s market isn’t easy and hiring the best-in-class talent is even harder. Everyone is looking for A-Players – those high performing and experienced employees are crucial to the success of a business. As a start-up, your business is far from a household name, and that’s fine! But if your startup doesn’t have a reputation yet, it’s incredibly hard to attract talent to work for you. It’s also a risk for a candidate (in a market where candidates are in short supply) to join a company they have never heard of and that is in the early stages of growth. And, as much as we don’t like to admit it, reputation plays a huge part in a candidate’s decision to join a company. From their perspective their next move could make or break their career.

As well as no established brand to fall back on, you can’t compete with the big tech companies on salary and benefits, and you aren’t the only horse in the race. So, what are your next steps? It all starts with the Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

What is an EVP?

To put it simply, it’s what an employer offers an employee. Your EVP should provide a definitive and compelling answer to the question: Why should a highly talented individual choose to work with you? Having a strong EVP is a fundamental base for talent attraction; It could be the difference in why top talent chooses to work for you over your direct competitors or big tech.
So, how do you establish your EVP?

1. Identify your target audience – who are the people you need it to speak to?

2. Define you story – create a compelling narrative and get people invested into your journey.

3. Establish your financial rewards, your overall compensation system and conduct salary benchmarking to make sure it is a competitive offer.

4. Employment benefits – Do you have a competitive benefits package?

5. Career progression – What progression and development plans are you offering?

6. Work environment – Are you creating a place where your employees want to stay?

7. Company culture – How do we tie our DNA together to create something we can be proud of?

8. And finally… produce a plan to communicate your EVP effectively!

Prior to this talk, I asked many of the founders I work with the same question…. How did you manage to get talent onboard? An overwhelming majority of the responses found that people increasingly care more about the mission and the exciting journey that the company is going on long term, which puts you at an advantage against the larger companies who cannot communicate their long-term strategy as effectively or personally because of the layers within the business – companies at start-up level are getting information straight from the ‘horse’s mouth’ and it is delivered with passion and transparency.

I encourage every founder and founding team to think of your EVP as a strategic tool for attracting the brightest and best robotics talent to your scaling business rather than as a cost implication. Your journey, your values and your company culture are going to be what sets you aside from the rest. Getting this right early on will ensure you bring the right talent onboard, who are invested in the company just as much as you are invested in them and will also ensure you keep the talent you worked so hard to get.