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job interview | accountingweb | New Employee Value Proposition (EVP) Sets the Bar for Talent Attraction and Retention

New tool sets the bar for talent retention


Phil Ellerby of Northern Accountants explains to Kayleigh Graham why a well-crafted employee value proposition is a powerful tool for shaping the future of accounting firms.

2nd Oct 2023
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Phil Ellerby (below), founder and CEO of Northern Accountants, explains the impact of their groundbreaking employee value proposition.

Phil Ellerby

Can you elaborate on what led Northern Accountants to develop its employee value proposition (EVP) and the significance it holds for you as a business?

We have always been a very team-centric business and as we have grown and developed, the ability to bring in talent that are able to improve the business and fit our culture has been crucial. Over the past year we have started to feel that recruiting was becoming more difficult with the effects of a shrinking labour market and new trends in working practices taking hold. With people being the critical element in our plans to grow the business, it became obvious we needed a strategic plan aimed at ensuring we retained our top talent and also differentiated us in the candidate market so we were able to improve our recruitment performance. It was from this strategic approach that the EVP was born.

How did you go about identifying the key components of your EVP and ensuring it resonates with both current and potential team members?

Northern Accountants has always had a team, fun, reward ethos as part of the way the business operates. Introducing our values in 2019 and weaving them through everything we do was another important step forward. Initially the EVP started as a list of everything we currently did, plus a list of every conceivable (and realistic) benefit we could think of. From here we then did a costing exercise before going through the list as a management team and deciding which elements we were committed to delivering or giving the maximum benefit. Once we had the list pulled together, it was important to be able to create pillars for each element to sit under in order to be able to structure the EVP document. As we created the document, we decided that we wanted the EVP to be a journey for potential candidates so we started with the five pillars and what we provide, we talked about culture, how we work with clients, and our roles, before finally finishing with what we are looking for to join our team and how to get in touch.

Can you share any specific examples of initiatives or programmes under each pillar?

Each pillar tries to have a personal and professional element to it. Examples are as follows.

  • TeamNA: half-year business reviews and team building events
  • WorkNA: latest tech and clothing allowance
  • You NA: on-site physios and private health care
  • GrowNA: personal development coach and training academy
  • FlexNA: flexible approach to working and 2pm finish on Fridays.

Could you share some insights on how the EVP aligns with Northern Accountants’ broader business strategy and goals?

Ultimately our goal is to grow the business and be recognised as an industry leader in what we do and for this we need an exceptional team. The EVP is aimed solely at attracting and retaining top talent and if we achieve this, we will achieve our goals. By attracting the best possible people, it means our quality levels, our relationships, the service we offer, our delivery performance, will all push the boundaries of what is expected in the industry and ultimately create an exceptional client experience. So to answer your question, they are intrinsically linked.

What steps do you plan to take to ensure that the EVP is not only a set of promises, but also something that is consistently delivered  in the day-to-day operations of the company?

Simply, the EVP events are all set in our calendars 12 months in advance so all the key events are planned. This also means that we ensure all of the team are available so they can plan their calendars accordingly. We also review the EVP as part of our monthly board meeting as we are aware that this will change and develop as the business develops and as trends in the workplace change. 

How do you envision the EVP influencing the perception of Northern Accountants within the industry and among potential recruits?

I think if early feedback is anything to go by, then the answer to this is “A Lot”. This is a multifaceted strategic approach that focuses on social media exposure, local talent and industry connections. Our marketing has a very specific tone of voice, aimed at getting our culture and personality across. The EVP just enhances what we are able to talk about as well as providing a fully branded product that we are able to split down into individual elements and talk about. By doing this well, being consistent with our messages, providing insights into how we do things, as well as a small degree of “Authority” posts, I believe that our brand will grow from strength to strength.

Finally, could you provide any advice or recommendations for other accounting firms looking to develop their own EVP to enhance talent attraction and retention?

My first piece of advice would be to understand what culture you want to achieve, what your personality is, and what are the components of an EVP that work for you and are achievable. I would treat the flow of the EVP as a story that you can dictate – there are all sorts of structures and formats. I am really happy with ours but every business is different so yes, be creative, but make sure it is something you are able to sustain. Also, know what you want to do with it, the EVP is a major asset and should be used effectively and not just be a fancy brochure.

I think it’s fair to say Northern Accountants’ EVP is more than a strategy, it’s a commitment to excellence, an ode to their team, and a beacon for future talent. This innovative approach sets a new standard for the industry, proving that a well-crafted EVP isn’t just a promise, but a powerful tool for shaping the future of accounting firms.

Replies (1)

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paddle steamer
02nd Oct 2023 16:49

Surprised financially astute employees are not more LSD focused on:

Employer pension contributions

These would be my USPs re staff retention. (Whilst no bonuses the Civil Service and Local Authorities certainly cover the first and last of the three)

As an employee I must be pretty financially mercenary as all I want my employer to do is "Show me the Money"

Give me early Fridays etc, that is fine, but first ensure you are beating the opposition with the financial offer, the real substance, before distributing the trinkets.

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