3 Tips for Creating a Powerful Employee Value Proposition from a Recruiting Leader at NBCUniversal

June 21, 2018

NBCUniversal and its storied brands get over a million job applications per year. That's a lot of options for its recruiting team. But the truth is, the company still faces challenges when it comes to attracting talent in non-creative fields, like finance and tech.

“We have to compete with organizations beyond just media,” says Michelle Hord-White, NBCUniversal’s VP of Talent Acquisition and Campus Programs. “If you’re [working] in traditional creative realms, of course our brands are places where you desire to work. However, if you work in finance, HR, or the technology space, there’s a much, much broader range of competitors.”

Since joining the talent acquisition team, Michelle has worked hard to attract candidates in those exact areas by selling not just the brand, but their employee experience—and in particular, by defining and refining NBCUniversal’s employee value proposition (EVP).

“The EVP is really your brand promise,” says Michelle. “It’s who we say we are as an employer.” And a strong EVP sends a unique and compelling message to candidates about the experience your company can offer them—which is hugely important for attracting, engaging, and retaining talent.

In the latest episode of Talent on Tap, Michelle sat down with Brendan Browne, LinkedIn’s VP of Global Talent Acquisition, to chat about her talent acquisition journey at NBCUniversal.

Building on that conversation, here are Michelle’s three major takeaways when it comes to developing an authentic EVP—a message that empowers your organization’s leaders, while also speaking to what makes your company unique.

1. Your EVP should be inspirational—not aspirational—and tell the story of who you truly are

For Michelle and her team, the most important factor for NBCUniversal’s EVP was to speak to the experiences their employees were already having in an authentic, compelling way.

“[Your EVP] has to be inspirational, not aspirational,” says Michelle. “It shouldn’t be a goal. It should be an experience that we can talk to candidates about, and 100 days after they get there, they can confirm.”

In other words, even though her talent acquisition (TA) team has goals for the organization’s culture, their value proposition had to reflect a true story about where the company currently is. To ensure that it did, Michelle’s team went around asking questions of existing employees at all of its brands and levels, and even brought in an outside consultant to get a sense of how people felt about working there.

After talking with employees and leaders at NBCUniversal, Michelle and her team settled on “here you can” as their EVP message—an empowering, bold statement that tells the story of who they truly are as a company.

“You want to have continuity between what [the] team is telling candidates externally, and internally, what’s happening from an employee engagement standpoint,” adds Michelle.

2. Make sure your EVP is empowering, but make it flexible enough for customization

Beyond being authentic, your EVP needs to be empowering—and for a large umbrella company like NBCUniversal, it also needs to be tailored for every brand and line of business in its portfolio.

“You want to make sure it’s something… that everyone can embrace and make their own,” says Michelle. “Make sure it’s elastic enough that people can customize it.”

Part of the appeal of “here you can” is that it works on its own as a broad statement about their culture—but it can also be applied in different ways to the many brands within NBCUniversal, including its wide variety of TV and film divisions.

“We landed on something that is empowering for each of the brands—something they can take the attributes of their brand and plug in and make it distinctly theirs,” says Michelle.

Of course, you don’t have to have different brands within your company for Michelle’s advice to apply. Whether it’s about making it resonate with every employee or every team, a great EVP should always be flexible and relatable across the entire company.

3. “Walk the walk” by setting a great example with your talent acquisition team’s internal culture

Because culture begins at home, Michelle knew that she couldn’t go around touting her company’s EVP if the TA team she was helping to lead wasn’t living it. Otherwise, how could their recruiters sell it to candidates?

“Before we had an EVP, I wanted to make sure we had a culture at home,” says Michelle. “One of the most important things as TA professionals is to be an ambassador for those great brands. If we’re not creating this culture at NBCUniversal, how can I expect someone to get on the phone and sell it to someone else?”

After joining the team, Michelle focused on people leadership and creating a great employee experience for TA employees. That included building development forums that meet across levels and breaking down silos in the organization. These steps helped the team feel more confident when it came time to spread their EVP message.

“You have to make sure that your talent acquisition team, as a leader, is also having a fantastic employee experience,” says Michelle.

Final thoughts

While Michelle is quick to point out that NBCUniversal’s culture wasn’t created by any one person, she also makes it clear that cultural changes can happen quite quickly once your team buys in.

“In one calendar year… our talent acquisition teams employee engagement numbers went up dramatically,” says Michelle. “Culture doesn’t have to take 10 years. If you draw a line in the sand and get everyone to agree that this is who we are, you can turn things around pretty quickly.”  

*Image from NBCUniversal

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