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What Makes A ‘Best Employer’ Company, Best? – The Six Critical Factors Revealed.

by Anne-Marie Orrock

For a start they have been through a rigorous process against a long list of competing companies to attain short list status. They are then judged against the short list and, if the best, they win an award.  It sounds simple, however most importantly it is the consistent focus on six key areas of talent management that has gained short listed ‘best employers’ top position in the business field.

Whilst there are many ‘Best Employer’ forums and awards in the business community, perhaps the best recognised amongst the HR community is the annual Aon Hewitt Best Employer Awards. The following factors are curated from the Aon Hewitt Best Employer Insight Report for 2013.

1. Engagement & Culture Drive Business Strategy.

Best employer companies connect the business strategy to engagement improvement programs. From there business priorities are determined.

2. People Leadership Capability = Core Competency.

The difference with best employers is that leadership capability is King. Best employers skill and support their leaders with keeping people motivated, focused and building their staff’s core competencies.

3. Line Management Buy Into Top Business Strategy.

The business strategy is not just the domain of top line executives. Middle management is connected, and deeply involved in top line business strategy so they understand how to drive and keep their teams activity and focus aligned to it. The Aon Hewitt Best Employer Insight Report for 2013 showed that 84% of best employer managers are provided with adequate support to confidently communicate the organisation’s vision and strategies to their team.

4. A Tailored Approach To Engagement.

Best employers understand that there are differing engagement levers for differing workforce segments. Instead of a ‘one size fits all’ approach, best employers understand what keeps their critical core work talent engaged, and adapts their overall engagement strategy tailoring it to their different segments.

5. Leaders Are Held Accountable For Driving Engagement.

In order to achieve sustainable high engagement, the manager mindset at Best Employers is to take full responsibility for engagement outcomes. Clear expectations are set for leadership around engagement levels. Best employers invest in their leaders and make them accountable for team performance. Leadership teams are recognised and rewarded against their accountability levels. Aon Hewitt ‘Best Employer’ 2013 Insights Report showed the 100% of best employers measured leadership performance with employee engagement metrics, opposed to only 64% of other organisations doing so.

6. Create A Compelling and Differentiated Employer Brand.

Many companies do this, but what is different with best employers? They permeate it consistently throughout the entire organisation. Through all people programs, policies, and the employee lifecycle. According to the Aon Hewitt Insights Report, 83% of best employers have a clear, explicit, employer brand that employees are engaged with and recognise, compared to 39% of other organisations.

Whilst these factors all make logical sense in order to gain better quality throughout an organisation, at the end of the day what really makes them the best employers is an absolute, committed, authentic, passion and unwavering focus on their people. They invest  time, money and resources into the best people strategies as the number 1 driver for the organisation. From the top down. Their CEO’s get it. Their leadership get it. Without these factors all other strategies are feeble at best. Faking it just doesn’t make it.

Anne-Marie Orrock is a leading Human Resources expert helping companies raise the level of  sophistication of their HR practice and strategy through her consulting organisation Corporate Canary HR. Anne-Marie is regularly sought out for expert comment in the media on human  resources, recruitment, leadership, and has featured in BOSS Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald,  HR Monthly, HRD Magazine, Management Today, Dynamic Business, ELLE, Cosmopolitain, CLEO,  Marie Claire, NETT#, My Business, Sun Herald. She is a consultant writer for online sites including School Hours and contributing author to the book, ‘Mind Your Own Business’ published by Mithra  Publishing, in June 2012 in the United Kingdom. Anne-Marie has worked with a range of companies to develop their HR strategy including blue chip organisations such as ANZ Bank, NZI Insurance, Deutsche Bank, 3M, Symantec, PeopleSoft, Citrix Systems, Ella Bache, and NASDAQ.