By Juan Pablo Gonzalez

The 39th annual “WorldatWork 2012-2013 Salary Budget Survey” just reported that U.S. employers view the near term economic situation with uncertainty and won’t be making significant changes to their salary budgets.

We’re witnessing what I call the “follow-on” effect at more clients these days. Upward career mobility is harder to come by, limiting financial rewards such as promotions and salary increases, and developmental rewards including learning and career advancement opportunities. And like you I haven’t heard of too many employers expecting to see the cost of health care benefits going down any time soon.

Those data points start to frame the macroeconomic context within which employees consider the deal they’re struck with their employers. The employee value proposition (EVP) a company provides to attract, retain and motivate the talent they need to execute strategy has to be aligned within the current business context.

I’m not saying you have to change your EVP every few years. But it is important to monitor the forces – strategy, customers, competition, suppliers, technology, industry shifts and economic trends – that can make your EVP irrelevant, excessively expensive, and even undermine your ability to execute.

Booz Allen Hamilton’s experience offers a great example of a company that is working hard to ensure the alignment of its Employee Value Proposition with current economic realities. The company’s Chairman and CEO Ralph Schrader explained in a recent speech why: “Culture is more important than ever – and maintaining and evolving our culture is harder today.”

In January 2012, the company made a series of difficult cost-cutting decisions, including reducing the size of the company’s headquarters, and promoting telecommuting. While those decisions delivered some benefits, Schrader told his audience at the Northern Virginia Technology Council said that “having employees further apart, hoteling staff to better utilize our facilities, and supporting the growing interest in telework – makes it harder to connect and inculturate, especially new people. In hindsight, we initially focused too much on the facilities and technology requirements for hoteling, and not enough on the people and cultural dimensions at our center.”

He continued: “Booz Allen has a very collaborative, team-oriented way of working, and our most effective means of developing people is through an apprentice model. So, we have to pay a lot more attention to helping managers and staff connect, collaborate, learn, and grow in a distributed environment. We’re working hard on that. Recognizing that it is inherently more stressful to work in times of lean budgets and slower growth – we are redoubling efforts to connect with our people at all levels.”

This willingness to analyze and respond to changes in the environment is essential for Booz Allen to maintain its leadership position in the hyper-competitive government consulting industry. We commend them for their effort,

For some other examples of organizations that have kept their EVP relevant, take a look at the workspan article, Refocusing Rewards When the Economy is a Blur.

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