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5 Habits of the Best Employers

It's not about the foosball table. It's not about the wheat-free, organic blueberry muffins for breakfast. It's not about the yoga-mat-at-your desk policy. And, it is definitely not all about money.

So, what habits help Best Employers create a workplace that people are proud to be a part of? How do they engage employees and let them drive better business outcomes? What is the secret sauce that makes Aon Best Employers?

Employees will tell you. Best Employers believe that employees hold the answers. They have a strategy to listen to employees regularly, measure their engagement with the company, and understand what needs to improve. Most especially, they have the discipline and vision to act on what they hear. This is what separates the best from the rest.

Here are 5 Habits Aon Best Employers practice:

1. Select for Culture Fit.

Best Employers know their organization's culture. They work hard to attract and keep people who "fit" and are more likely to be engaged. With a precise picture of critical success factors, they can identify and coach—or transition out quickly—employees who don't align with their culture and values.

Among the Platinum Best Employers, over 70 percent of employees believe their organization attracts, keeps and promotes the people needed to be successful in the future. If you look at the average Canadian organization, the level of confidence employees have in the quality of talent being attracted, retained, and promoted drops to about 50 percent. If half of your employees feel you don't have the right talent, are they right or are they the ones who are misaligned?

2. Truly Value and Appreciate Individuals.

Best Employers make a habit and a science of expressing meaningful appreciation for employees. They demonstrate how much people are valued for the contributions they make to company success.

At Best Employer organizations, employees know their opinions and contributions matter. Among Platinum Best Employers almost three-quarters of employees believe their opinion counts, compared to an average of a little over 60 percent. Similarly, almost 70 percent of Platinum Best Employer employees are favourable on recognition compared to an average of slightly over 50 percent.

3. Build Engaging Leaders.

Leaders play a critical role in building and sustaining high employee engagement as a strategy to drive success. Best Employers identify and develop leaders who can show employees a future that energizes them. They stay grounded and help employees and managers negotiate fast changing business and economic environments.

Trust and confidence in leadership is a hallmark of Aon Best Employers. At Platinum employers, people are much more likely to believe their leaders are open and honest in communication (79% versus a Canadian average of 64%) and act in alignment with company values (82% versus 67%).

4. Remove Productivity Barriers.

It's tough out there, and the pressure to stay competitive is constant. Best Employers care about making it easy for employees to get things accomplished. They provide tools, technology and process so people can get their work done efficiently and effectively. They also equip leaders to move road blocks out of the way for their teams.

Almost three-quarters of employees at Platinum Best Employers believe that they have the tools, technology and other resources needed to be productive in their day-to-day work. At a typical organization, less than 60 percent of employees would agree. Think about that for a moment. 40 percent of your employees may feel they are not equipped to be productive.

5. Listen Up and Act.

One in six (15%) employees in the average organization is disengaged. Platinum Best Employers have less than half that number. A mass of disengaged employees will keep you from getting things done, hurt customer relationships, and can have a negative, amplifying effect on other employees. If you don't know what disengagement looks like in your organization, you should.

What's on the minds of your employees? A habit of conducting one-on-one conversations, focus groups, surveys, and polls will help you find out. Technology is making 'continuous employee listening' a reality and is appealing to today's in-the-moment world where employees—especially the digital generations—expect to share their thoughts frequently. Collecting ongoing feedback, via mobile for example, integrated with other performance metrics allows for quick response to changing business challenges.

All Best Employers act on their employee engagement survey results and report back to employees what's been done in response to their feedback. The research is clear, organizations that create a culture of engagement see stronger business performance including customer satisfaction, sales, operating margins and shareholder value.


The Aon Best Employers study is conducted around the globe with thousands of employers and millions of employee engagement data points. Compared to average organizations, Best Employers drive 4 percentage points more operating profit, have 33 percent lower staff turnover and achieve 6 percentage points more sales growth.

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