Using design thinking to create our new employer proposition

Since Miele X was founded in 2020, our employer value proposition, or EVP, has focused on growing a digital hub to support an iconic global brand. In 2023, after three years of growth, it was time to update our EVP to reflect a more established organisation. We caught up with Matea Fogec Canovai, External Communications Manager, and Raquel Remondo Gomez, External Communications Specialist, to find out how they took an unusual, but highly effective, approach to create a new employer proposition.

The process of creating an EVP from scratch was a completely new experience for Raquel. “But when Matea started explaining it, I got really excited,” she explains. “For me, an EVP is the reason why someone would want to work at Miele X or why they are proud of working here. It’s Miele X's promise to our colleagues in return for their commitment and hard work.”

Matea agrees, adding that, as well as showing what makes a company a great place to work, for her an EVP is also something aspirational. “It’s about what a business is now, but also what it could be and what it will offer to anyone who wants to join.” But she emphasises that it also needs to be truthful. “It has to hold a mirror up to the company and show their true colours. So, when we were working on the EVP, we wanted to show the good parts of Miele X, but also those that maybe aren’t perfect.”

She outlines why 2023 was the right time to look at the company’s EVP again. “In 2020, we were recruiting and building Miele X. But, by 2023, it wasn’t about creating the fundaments of Miele X any more. It was about helping the business to thrive as a digital hub, accelerating digital growth across the Miele Group.” She recognises that the original EVP still has some relevance, because the company was continuing to develop some elements of its mission. “But we have a lot of things in place now, so it was more about perfecting the EVP, accelerating it, and moving it forward.”

Creating an EVP ‘hackathon’

Once they’d decided to redevelop the EVP, the next step was to determine how they would approach it. Matea explains that she wanted an approach that reflected the Miele X culture. “One of the fantastic things about working here is that we’re very keen on innovating. Agility is a big part of our culture. When we solve problems, we don't look at the usual processes, but at the best and most efficient ones.”

One element that stood out for her was that when Miele X faces a challenge, it creates a big brainstorming session and involves people from different parts of the business. “In the tech world, they're called hackathons, which were originally designed to help developers focus and write code quickly. In time, they progressed into sessions where people just worked on different designs and solutions.”

She’d taken part in hackathons in the past, and seen how they successfully brought people from different teams and walks of life together in a fun environment that produced great results. “I’d seen that they create a lot of synergy. They’re great opportunities to connect and build meaningful relationships while you're working on effective solutions. So, I thought that we could update our EVP in a way that really felt like Miele X. It was all about innovating and co-creating together.”

Making it work

She explains that rather than creating a full hackathon, which can take days, they decided to run a design thinking workshop over four hours. But this still took a lot of preparation. “We worked with an external facilitator to create the workshop – that was where most of the planning took place. And after the workshop, we partnered with our employer branding agency to turn the output into clear, concise messaging.”

Raquel says the whole approach felt truly innovative. “It felt like a good fit for a digital hub like Miele X. I monitored the workshop, so I was able to see how people were responding to it.” She says what stood out for her was how the participants collaborated so well. “We had people from every single Miele X team. They just formed groups, no questions asked, and started working on the creative assignments together. You could see that they all brought their unique strengths to the table. And they were so dedicated – it was inspiring.” She adds that they really enjoyed the experience, too. “They all seemed very energised. We got many compliments about the set-up and the process.”

She explains how they planned the day down to the smallest detail. “We wanted the energy levels to stay high throughout the workshop, so we made sure there were plenty of rest breaks.” They even thought about the food they provided. “I arranged for a really healthy lunch. It was all lactose-free and gluten-free, to ensure we had no glucose spikes and everyone would hold their energy.”

Output based in reality

Matea says that they got everything out of the workshop they hoped for - and more. The groups produced experiential and emotional insights into what it means to work for Miele X, narrowed these down and then created their own versions of a new EVP. But she says the most important aspect of the output was that it felt authentic. “All of their propositions were rooted in our reality and culture, and all of them were connected. So, you could see a clear thread that we could use.”

She says they’ve already shared some of the cultural insights with HR. And she believes some messages wouldn’t have emerged if they’d taken a more traditional approach. “These connected propositions showed us what the expectation of an average Miele X employee is. And I think that’s very important. Usually, you hold a focus group, an agency develops a creative proposal based on the data and then the executive teams make significant changes to that proposal. With this approach, the proposition has already been approved and mandated by our employees. So, we need to stick to the promise that makes sense for them.”

Honing the message

Raquel explains that after the workshop, they had the words and ideas, so they gave all the outputs to their employer branding partner to fine-tune the messaging. Matea points out that the agency had also taken part in the workshop. “I think there was considerable value in having the agency in the room with us. They really lived the Miele X culture for a day and got to see how our people think and work together.”

Once the agency had refined the messaging, Raquel says they made sure to keep all the workshop participants in the loop, by presenting the final results back to them. They both believe it was important for the participants to be the first ones to see what they’d created. In particular, Matea explains that, with her colleagues behind it, she felt an even bigger sense of responsibility than usual. “It will be the platform for a lot of our internal and external communication, so we have to be sure it’s the right message.”

Taking it forward

She says the end result is an EVP document that the company can use to inform all decisions around employer branding and communication. “The next step is to encompass different parts of the value proposition and its pillars in our internal and external communication strategies, on our website, LinkedIn or any other channel.”

Then, she adds, they need to look at the campaign content, based around the new core EVP message: ‘Moving Digital at Miele Forward. Together.’ “Now that we have all these wonderful words, we can create key messages and assets, and measure their effect on external and internal audiences.”

Both Raquel and Matea are convinced that the approach they took made the experience more enjoyable for them. “It was one of our highlights of the past year,” says Raquel. “I think the planning and thought that went into it and making sure the participants knew what was expected of them helped. And on the day itself, everyone was so motivated, engaged and honest. That’s how we produced a realistic EVP.”

For Matea, using this new, agile approach to creating an EVP showed how they can create ideas and concepts fast, which means they can also update the EVP quickly if they need to. But she adds, the next big step is to make sure it reaches the right audiences, both inside and outside the business. “We want everyone to feel it in the same way we did during that workshop.”

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