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Building a global Employee Value Proposition in a hybrid world

Andy Macdonald

By Andy Macdonald, Chief People Officer at IOP Publishing

Like many global businesses, IOP Publishing is facing multiple challenges ranging from market dynamics, skills shortages, and the lingering effects of Covid to geopolitical tensions. The academic publishing sector, which exists to ensure trust in and access to research that advances global knowledge, is changing fundamentally, with the drive to make research more openly available, the rise of fraudulent research and new ways that content is consumed.  We are facing a turbulent and uncertain future.

The changes we have needed to make across our organisation have been far-reaching – physically and practically, as well as culturally and behaviorally. We know that our people are pivotal to our ability to overcome these challenges and that they will play a fundamental role in helping us to achieve our performance and transformation goals in a meaningful and sustainable way.

To do this, we needed to bring people together under a shared and clearly articulated Employee Value Proposition (EVP). We needed our people to pivot and embrace a new set of values and behaviors fit for the future.

We knew this was not going to be easy, with our main offices in the UK, US and China and many other staff members based in numerous other countries around the world. We had to find a way to break down any barriers (real or perceived), celebrate differences and unite everyone with a shared understanding of where we were trying to get to and their role in helping us to get there.

A global approach to hybrid working

With many of our people working remotely and coming into an office just one day a week, we wanted to give them reasons to come together more often. We consulted and collaborated to come up with a global approach to hybrid working which each office and team could nuance as appropriate. We are proud of the way that we have embedded this through a charter which clearly sets out:

  • Where and when we work together
  • How we use our workspace
  • How we work together as teams
  • How we collaborate locally and globally

We also developed hybrid working principles (not rules), meeting-free Fridays (which we try very hard to stick to) and moments that matter (to enable people to celebrate the one day a year that is most special to them).

Our largest office is in Bristol, UK, where we employ around 390 people. We have reduced our office space and totally reimagined it to create a collaborative and sociable environment, where just 25% is occupied by desks. Most of the space is now set up for meetings and interactions, private and open, including a boardroom, informal meeting rooms, lounge areas, café and even a bar!

By creating an environment that is more than just a place of work, we have encouraged people to come in, reconnect and spend time together – professionally as well as socially.

How does workplace experience play into an Employee Value Proposition?

Getting our working environment and workplace experience right is a crucial part of developing our EVP – but what about the values that underpin it?

Our business success starts and ends with our people. We realised that we did not have a highly visible, clearly articulated story about who we are, what we do and why we do it. We were not able to give people a compelling reason to join us and stay with us for the long term. This was key to attracting the new and different skills and behavior's we needed to achieve our performance and transformation goals – and enable our existing workforce to become more resilient, agile, and adaptable.

We established an EVP steering group and collaborated extensively with stakeholders across the business. This included:

  • A close look at our business model, our proposition, and our brand materials
  • Employee feedback to understand what leavers and joiners were saying
  • Competitor analysis
  • 12 focus groups
  • Leadership 1-2-1s

Our discovery phase provided us with a huge amount of data which we then brought in an external, independent agency to help us make sense of. Once we understood what the data was telling us, we were able to design and wordsmith our story. Crucially, we then tested it to make sure that what we had built resonated in all our locations and transcended diverse cultures and felt inclusive and representative for most of our people.

Fortunately, we were pushing against an open door at IOP Publishing. We thought exceptionally long and hard about the story that we wanted to tell, using the data we had gathered from individuals and teams, leavers, and new starters, to make our case, provide the rationale and inform the narrative.

Make Science Better, Together

We are immensely proud to have launched our EVP ‘Make Science Better, together’ which tells our story in a way that feels truly representative of IOP Publishing and reflects the journey we are on and our aspirations for the future.

Over the next two years, we will be working hard to bring it all to life, focusing on areas such as performance management, our ways of working, our contractual terms and conditions, our core values and behaviors, inclusivity, recognition and reward, and recruitment.

About the author

Andy Macdonald is Chief People Officer at IOP Publishing – a society-owned scientific publisher, providing impact, recognition, and value for the scientific community. As the publishing arm of the Institute of Physics, 100% of our profit goes towards public and scientific good.

Andy is a fellow of the CIPD, with 30 years of experience. His career has spanned HR leadership roles across several sectors internationally, including financial services, telecoms, technology, and medical services in both private and not-for-profit organisations.

Andy joined IOP Publishing in January 2023. He was previously Group HR Director at Jisc, where he led its first people strategy with a specific focus on a programme looking at ‘the future of work’. Andy also led the development of a ‘One Jisc Culture’, founded on powerful guiding principles which are shaping the organisation’s identity.

Andy was a guest speaker at Allen Associates HR Hub where he gave a presentation on the developing a global Employee Value Proposition in a hybrid world. View Andy’s presentation, find out more about our HR Hub and sign up for our monthly free events.