unlock the power of human connections: embrace RVP to deliver a stronger talent culture.

March 28, 2023 Francesca Campalani

Three people sit in an office setting. One is in a handing chair looking at her cell phone, while two others talk together, smiling.

| 6 min read |

"Panta rhei," or “everything flows," Heraclitus would say.

Anaxogore would reinforce the concept by vehemently asserting that "nothing is born or perishes, but already existing things combine and then separate again.”

And this is exactly what is going to happen to the employer value proposition (EVP). It will change but, at the same time, it will not perish — just recombine and transform. Transform into what? In my opinion, it will become a relationship value proposition (RVP).

why and how?

Well first of all, an EVP is only for employees and long gone are the days that companies can create a relationship just with permanent people. What about contractors? Freelancers? Third-party vendors and statement of work (SOW)? They all become, for short or long periods, part of teams. Your cloud of talent extends well beyond your employees.

However, employees are still considered more important just because an employer might feel they own their permanent people. That word, "permanent," is where the bias, the blind spot, lies. Permanent people are not permanently with you, but for some time. In a way, they can be considered long-term contractors. And rising attrition is our biggest evidence: no one owns anyone anymore.

Second, within an EVP, the value proposition is owned by the employer, who broadcasts it to their employees. In my opinion, this is a dated paradigm that is very ineffective. In fact, all people working for and with a company (including leadership) are in a mutual relationship with a constant exchange of ideas, interactions and value added.

Communication is a two-way process and so is decision-making. If you take away voice and choice from your people, you will pay for it. Disengagement, attrition and poor performance are just a few examples of the price history will serve you with.

Third, talent is as critical as your customers, hence building a healthy relationship is critical. There is no difference between the people who buy and the people who craft what is bought. It is one system, and if you break the virtuous circle, soon you will lose clients as well. Of course, there are regions and companies that have found a way to treat people poorly and still sell, but wait until Gen Z takes over. Their expectations are high, and those companies will be done.

how do you build an RVP? 

The whole ecosystem of talent is built on the relationship among people within a culture, or brand; hence why we focus on identity more than on an exchange of behaviors. An EVP summarizes the answers to the question: what is in it for me, if I do this for you? It is a binary system where two players (the employer and the employee) try to benefit from each other by signing a deal across intellectual, emotional and hygiene factors.

An RVP is a relationship and, as in all relationships, it is multidimensional, evolves and means different things for different people. This is why it is also the real solution to the lack of diversity at work. Relationships are, in fact, dynamic. They concentrate on common beliefs and individual traits. They see people, they embrace differences, they nurture freedom within win-win ecosystems.

People work in different ways and in different types of relationships with their companies. The industry revolution paradigm has left the chat and been replaced by the Relationship Revolution where we are all connected, all part of the system and more than the sum of our individual beings. This is not HR anymore, this is not EVP, this is People eXperience and RVP.

enter service design to build an RVP

The term “service design” was coined by Lynn Shostack in the 80s. Shostack says organizations need to develop an understanding of how behind-the-scenes processes, people and artifacts interact with each other.

And it is the same for the People eXperiences. Experience is not longer a sum of fragmented stages and states united by a deal. Today companies need to design an overall interaction model (relationship) from senses to intellect, from "hi" to hire to retire, across all talent segments — including their contingent workforces — as a business imperative.

Talent are not users: they are main characters within a dynamic relationship. They feel, smell, touch, hear and influence the experience through all their senses and the fuzzy context-dependent cognitive/emotional system of their brains.

In service design the front office/stage is a consequence of, and an interaction with, the back-office/backstage. Everything needs to be in constant and perfect communication and intent. Nothing can be disconnected, and the end result is pure value for a business who becomes more resilient, more innovative, more diverse, more impactful. More human.

RVP: an example

Let’s invent a company. This company is called ACME, a globally established consultancy tech firm. ACME has an EVP that is built around the concept of "growing together" and an EVP that leverages the concept of "imagine growth."

What should we expect to experience if we join ACME as permanent employees?

  • an organized job taxonomy that embraces reality beyond business units
  • a selection process that adds value to us beyond an offer
  • an onboarding process that allows us to start and add value immediately
  • rewards, benefits and a bonus that are linked to the impact we make and the growth of the company
  • a transparent talent management methodology and process designed around the concepts of expansion, development and collaboration
  • a clear, but flexible, career path and mobility plan
  • a learning and development (L&D) offering that develops our skills, strengths and capabilities while we contribute to the growth of the company
  • strong innovation across ways of working, technology and data

What do we expect to experience if we join ACME as a freelancer, contract or SOW? Possibly nothing. That is a party we have not been invited to.

Let’s now imagine ACME wants to evolve its EVP into an RVP that is "equitable progress" (the grown-up relationship version of growing together). Its talent brand could then be designed around a "for the ingenious" concept, because only people with imagination, resourcefulness and direction can create a company where everyone wins when each of us win. This is a win-win scenario that will impact society and our communities too.

What should we expect to experience at ACME as employees, contractors, freelancers, third party vendors, etc. under this RVP?

  • An agile but flexible talent-plan includes all talent and evergreen jobs that need to be done.
  • Every person is represented and supported, regardless of their way of interacting with the company.
  • Everything the EVP offers is enhanced and adapted by the kind of relationship the company builds with each segment (talent brand). For example: ways of working (permanent full time, permanent part time, remote, in the office, contractors, freelancers, SOW, etc.), job families (tech, finance, data science, etc.), heterodoxical groups (dominants and non), locations and culture, personality and goals (e.g. introverts).
  • An equitable People eXperience is designed and measured around ingenuity, progress (whatever that means for individuals) and justice, where people are the creators of their own experiences. Think of it like one solid and blossoming tree with many branches: people (all talent, not just employees) can explore their own adventure and path as long as it benefits others.
  • Rewards are built around win-win scenarios where collaboration, equity and innovation are rewarded. How you achieve a goal is as important as the goal itself.
  • Leadership salaries and bonuses are linked to people serenity, engagement, satisfaction and contributions — healthy relationships are rewarded.
  • There is fluidity between groups and segments: I have a voice and a choice that might change depending on external and internal motivators.

ACME's EVP focuses on employees and sets a framework and policies for people to access. But ACME's RVP focuses on all people and ways of working, creating a playground where people can find their own game as long as they respect some fundamental meta-rules linked to brand, identity and purpose.

why would you want an RVP?

  • Your talent cloud is everyone, whatever ways they work with you.
  • It follows your workforce model: whatever shape your talent takes, it is designed for all.
  • It increases diversity, equity and inclusion at work, as it is made to be segmented and to build relationships with all individuals.
  • It increases your agility and fosters innovation within a very flexible talent model.
  • It is a fit for total talent or, even better, fluid talent, which Gen Z will understand.

With the rise of the gig economy, increasing need for talent and a diverse workforce, the concept of EVP will evolve into a RVP that goes beyond and focuses on the overall relationship between an organization and its talent.

RVPs ideally will consider the multidimensional and dynamic relationships at work, nurturing freedom and growth to not just become more resilient, innovative, diverse and impactful, but also more human. This will help companies create a healthy talent culture that fosters positive relationships.

want to learn more? listen to this podcast.

beyond expectations: creating impact and resilience through exceptional people experience.

about the author

Francesca Campalani

As the global head of Innovation and eXperience within Talent Advisory and Randstad Enterprise, Francesca Campalani is a creative thought leader with more than 25 years of experience in innovation, branding, talent and customer experience, human potential and culture.

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