What you win when you don’t win the Aon Best Employer Award


Awards are perceived as a proof of great performance. Therefore, the whole concept of pleasure and pride in winning an award or disappointment in not winning one holds strong. Ironically, however, an award that isn’t followed by a strategic and stringent process isn’t worth winning and one that does come with a structured process is a no-loss if not won, as it leaves every contender with great learning, reflections and ideas for improvement. As the saying goes, ‘It’s not the destination, but the journey that matters more.’

The Best Employer Study by Aon is also one such journey that allows the companies undertaking it, come out successful in their own ways, whether or not they end up winning an award. The Aon Best Employer Study, as the name suggests, is not just an award but a reflective journey that the participating companies undergo. Started about two decades ago, it has been adding immense value to corporates, with several past participant companies sharing how it helped them tremendously in their organisational journey and personal growth, and assisted them to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how the talent ecosystem works.

The Study is all about how or what can truly add value to an organisation rather than vainly hyping accolades of events, awards, ceremonies and social-media celebrations. Ashish Ambasta, practice leader-culture and engagement, Aon, tells us that being a consulting firm, the study for them is not primarily a business opportunity, but a unique way of gaining an in-depth understanding of what makes businesses tick, and what makes them better than their competitors.

“It is essential for Aon to possess an understanding of how people and their strategies are aligned to business goals and the benefits that result from these alignments. It is an investment opportunity that helps us get a better grip of the nuances of employees’ experience at their place of work,” he explains. That is why, Aon has been running the initiative for the past so many years and continues to do so as it believes that the companies aspiring to be featured in the list should continue to lead change, comply with best practices, keep innovating, and work towards aligning their people goals with organisational strategies.

To register your company for the Aon Best Employers Study, click here.

What makes taking the journey a victory in itself?

It is how the study has been designed— on the three broad principles of employee experience, organisational intent and design— that makes it a learning and transformational journey for participating organisations.

In order to gauge intent, the study looks at the mindset of business leaders with respect to the people aspect of their business. That makes the first element of intent.

The second principle – design – is about the processes and systems meant to give employees a great experience at the workplace and their alignment with the intent of the leaders and their mindsets. Ambasta believes that the impact of all of these on people when they come to work is really critical. Now, to ascertain and assess the same, employee experience is measured through employee surveys. It is interesting to note that three more elements come into the picture at this point.

One – How is the company ready to respond to the challenges that the external environment is throwing at them? This basically tends to measure if the company is agile enough through several elements.

Two – How much collaboration is taking place? What is your structure? Is it flat or has it got layers?

Three – What are the innovation dimensions in place? What is the diversity inclusion of thoughts? Do you encourage people in your organisation to come forward with ideas? Do your employees feel empowered to come forward and challenge the status quo?

All these elements in combination unveil the agility factor of an organisation. Another element that may be measured for differentiation is around the leadership and managerial index. “‘Best Employers’ need to consistently show that the leaders and managers in their organisation are able to offer these ‘Moments of Truth’ to their employees regularly,” Ambasta opines.

Then, there’s significant focus on talent such that the organisation understands and acknowledges how much or what it plans for its employees as much as about how its employees perceive the company. Are there any plans for growth and development for the employees to be better professionals? Are there means of recognition and reward that excite the employees to come to work and give their best? Is the associated evaluation process fair?

Ashish Ambasta

“‘Best Employers’ need to consistently show that the leaders and managers in their organisation are able to offer these ‘Moments of Truth’ to their employees regularly,” Ashish Ambasta,practice leader-culture and engagement, Aon.

Finding strong credible answers to these questions itself is half the battle won. The three principles and the entire audit process wrapped around it, make organisations reflect on their ideologies, cultural elements, business objectives and purpose alignment with their people initiatives. This, in turn, provides them a real picture of where they lead and which areas they lag.

How participating is more than winning

All of these aforementioned elements together make up employee experience and help identify the unique differentiators that can make an organisation, one among Aon’s ‘Best Employers’.

It is the strength and fairness of the evaluation process that ensure that the winners are well-deserving. They also ensure that the others take away a better understanding of how they can improve. Ambasta says, “To find out the ‘Best Employers’, there is an audit-based robust evaluation process that helps Aon identify the best.”

He shares that as part of the process, leadership teams are interviewed, and the various parameters are checked. This data is then passed on to an independent jury panel comprising eminent names in the business fraternity, who then make their decision basis only the scores achieved on the designated parameters – without having knowledge of the organisation’s identity.

The whole idea behind the study is to identify whether or not people practices are aligned to business strategies. As a testament to the process used by Aon, companies who did not get featured in the winner lists in the past, have stated that the rigorous process that they undertook to qualify alone was a worthy experience. It highlighted some key elements that helped them understand the gaps in their existing processes and practices, putting them in a better position to improvise and win in the coming years. This way it’s a win-win for all!

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