Dirk Beveridge

By Dirk Beveridge

Rethink Your Employee Value Proposition: A Modern Approach to Employee Engagement in Distribution. Nearly 90% of distribution leaders believe we must reimagine our traditional employee value proposition (EVP) going forward.

Those are the results from our soon-to-be-released Future of Distribution research.

When it comes to our workforce, it’s clear we are in the midst of change – one that includes shifting demographics and evolving values. A collision of external forces brought on by the pandemic, internal forces on how we run our businesses, and people forces that compel us to take a closer look at humanity.

“The Great Redefinition” has led to EVERYTHING being redefined:

  • How customers buy
  • The needs of employees
  • How we market our business
  • How we communicate with one another
  • Technology adoption and integration
  • How, when and where we work

It’s why organizations that want to remain relevant must pay close attention to the changing needs of their people and the market.

Margie Rodino, Chief Culture Officer at Robert Weed Corp gets it.

“You have to meet the people where they are.”

I met Margie on last year’s We Supply America tour and we talked about the drastic shift in how people want to work. “There are fewer individuals in the workforce. Less people want to work the way Baby Boomers worked. Fewer people want to work in the environment of ‘my whole life is this job.’

“We’ve heard over the years so much talk about work-life balance. That is so important. But what are you doing about it? What is the actual strategy?”  

It’s true. Now is the time to put ideas into action.

While many businesses consider ways to meet employees’ evolving needs, some say not much has changed. The Great Redefinition suggests we must think beyond the traditional.

Rethinking employee value in distribution couldn’t come at a better time.

But what is an employee value proposition?

It’s what an employer promises employees — it’s a total employment experience, more than a paycheck.

By reframing how we think about employee value, distributors can create the kind of culture and environment that attracts and retains top talent.

For starters, human resources must be elevated to the executive level. The C-suite must empower HR departments to become more than just administrative and compliance machines. They must become an integral part of your business, and then empowered to strategically bring the programs, systems and tools to the organization that fulfill the greater purpose of the business for:

  • Efficiency and Empathy
  • Regulations and Relationships
  • Process and Purpose
  • Metrics and Morale

We must change the terms we use when talking about the workforce. About 56% of distribution leaders agree that outdated and potentially damaging views of employees as mere assets, capital or resources must change. Using financial terms to describe people is dehumanizing and simply unappealing to the younger generation we must attract.

The truth is, the workforce has changed and will continue to change.

What do we do about it?

5 Ways to Reimagine the Distributor’s Employee Value Proposition

Amidst the Top 10 HR trends facing distributors, leadership has been asked to pivot from a purely profit-generating role to a service role — one where leaders develop their people both personally and professionally. But how?  

While traditional distributors have focused on benefits packages such as pay and benefits, the most innovative distributors are taking a more strategic approach by offering better technology, remote work, flexible scheduling, personal development opportunities and other benefits that help employees thrive in their work and personal lives.

Here are five other elements to consider when reimagining your Employee Value Proposition:

No. 1: Be Open to Rethinking How Work is Designed
Workplaces are evolving, and so should the way we approach work. Think about new ways to structure roles, responsibilities and schedules that can help employees thrive both professionally and personally.

For example, the 9-5 schedule may no longer work for many employees with kids. Where once employers would say, “Figure it out,” now employees are saying, “YOU figure it out.”

No. 2: Material Offerings
Reconsider the monetary and material offerings presented to employees. This includes everything from competitive compensation and benefits to perks like remote work, flexible scheduling and professional development opportunities. (Robert Weed gave their employees the day off after the Super Bowl.)

No. 3: Development and Growth
Employees want to feel like they are growing and advancing in their careers. Offer training and development opportunities that align with your employees’ career aspirations. But then think beyond just professional skills, and provide opportunities to grow personally. It’s about developing the human to thrive in all facets of their lives.

No. 4: Connection and Community
Creating a sense of belonging and community is key to employee engagement and retention. Foster a culture of collaboration, inclusion and communication throughout the company and hierarchy.

Town halls, like those hosted regularly by ProSource Supply, are one way to ensure employees’ voices are heard.

No. 5: Meaning and Purpose
Employees want to feel like they are making a difference in the world. Communicate your company’s values and mission and show how employees contribute to something bigger than themselves.

“It’s about building a culture around what it takes for every employee to feel good about the work they are doing and the contributions they are making,” Margie says.

Putting Humanity in Action — This Distributor Walks the Walk

When the leaders at plumbing distributor ProSource Supply were watching their employees suffer from burnout because of the pandemic, they realized something had to change.

What these bold risk-takers decided on was to raise wages by $300,000 and remove overtime. One driver at ProSource had been putting in an extra 25 hours per week to make ends meet. Do you know what happened when the company made this massive shift?

Preston, the distributor’s logistics manager, put it this way: “I learned a lot in that decade in the military about taking care of people. In the military, you’re responsible for those people, not only from 9 to 5 but from every hour in between. Their health and their well-being.”

The company was unaware before they made the decision, but they were on the verge of losing their longest-tenured, most valuable drivers. The increase in salary without having to undertake more and more overtime (while also raising and caring for triplets at home) made the driver break down in tears.

“We didn’t realize we were getting ready to lose this driver because he couldn’t afford to work here anymore. Now, we’ve changed his whole story,” CEO Drew Roberts told me. “When someone works with us, I want to make sure we can feed their family, and they don’t have to have another job to make ends meet.”

Putting action behind those words was not an easy decision for the leaders at ProSource.

But that bold action resulted in success — improved retention rates and overall enhancement of their workers’ lives. What could be better than that?

In the upcoming UnleashWD HR Summit, we’ll discuss the ways businesses can create a compelling employee value proposition that attracts and retains top talent.

Dirk Beveridge is the founder of UnleashWD, Executive Producer at We Supply America, President of the Beveridge Consulting Group and Champion for the noble calling of distribution for over 36 years. His one-of-a-kind perspective on the future of wholesale distribution has guided his mission to advance the growth, relevance and transformation of the industry, helping distributors thrive. Learn more about Dirk’s mission to help distributors excel in this demanding HR environment with the first-ever UnleashWD Human Resources Summit. Or download his research-backed Top 10 Human Resources Trends in Distribution.


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