Australia’s Top Employers

Move over, Google – constructions product provider Hilti is the top employer in the country based on human resources consulting firm Aon Hewitt’s new Best Employers in Australia and New Zealand report, which surveyed over 124,000 employees in more than 200 companies.

Best Employers outperform other organisations in both productivity and financial performance. Research concludes that organisations with high engagement are 78% more productive and 40% more profitable than those with lower engagement.

Outsourcing sales and management group Aegis, beverages company Frucor and multi-millionaire Andrew Abercrombie’s point-of-sale finance giant FlexiGroup have also been named as some of the country’s best places to work.

The InterContinental hotels group and Johnson & Johnson Medical also made the top list.

Aon Hewitt chief executive of talent and rewards, Tim Powell, says this year’s survey showed employees now expect their companies to provide more for them – and many are delivering.

“For the first time in a decade, 2010 saw more organisations with declining employee engagement than those with improving engagement,” he says.

“The drivers that used to attract and retain talent – relationships with co-workers, relationships with customers and work/life balance – have now become standard expectations within the majority of organisations.”

Such benefits have been used by employers over the past year or so to keep workers on staff during the upcoming skills shortage. As unemployment drops, workers have become more confident in seeking new opportunities, and business owners are more willing to pay more to get talented staff.

But the new survey found the top companies on the list contained some common features – senior leaders are judged as more effective, they prioritise their teams to ensure problems are solved effectively and are much clearer about how pay and rewards are structured.

The study showed that fewer than half of senior leaders are viewed as effective, but 72% of employees in the Best Employers list see “strong evidence of effective leadership”. This includes proper time management, and the ability to determine which employees are best suited to which roles.

The study also found that managers within the best employers list don’t necessarily have more time available or even more qualifications, but they are able to motivate their teams.

The survey also found 67% of employees in the Best Employers list believe their company delivers on its promises it makes to staff, with 65% saying their leaders communicate and explain the vision of the company, compared to just 40% of workers in other industries.

It also found companies in the best employers list are “clearer about how pay and rewards are determined and the ‘what’s in it for me’ factor in striving beyond the usual expectations”.

Powell says the survey shows these companies pay close attention to their employees’ performance, and are able to align them with the company’s goals whenever they move off track.

“This year’s Aon Hewitt Best Employer research demonstrates that accountability for engagement improvement and effective execution makes all the difference,” he says.

This approach is reflected in the comments of several executives from the top employers.

Merck Serono managing director David Garmon-Jones says “a lot of HR initiatives are not expensive – listening and giving people choices. It is a false economy to mess with people”.

Ben Dixon, managing director of Millward Brown, also said there needs to be a “clear balance between business financials and business investment”.

Employees need to know what the company goals are and feel part of achieving them. The ability to keep employees satisfied with their jobs (and therefore motivated) gives them the opportunity to experience achievement.”

“They need to celebrate and be rewarded when things go well and understand how they impacted that result. Consistency from the senior leadership team in message and management approach ties into all of this.”

Jan Pacas, Hilti general manager, also said the best employees are those “who are motivated to perform beyond just their usual duties“.

Powell explains these companies top others because of their ability to motivate staff.

“The difference is that their senior leaders have taken accountability for the engagement of their people, and persisted over time in taking action for improvement.”

The country’s top employers are:

  • Hilti
  • Aegis
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Australian and New Zealand
  • Flexirent Capital
  • Frucor
  • InterContinental
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Merck Sorono
  • Millward Brown

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