WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work
October 16, 2018
Aron Ain puts his considerable experience building a values-based corporate culture, and top place to work, into his new book.
Aron Ain took over as CEO of Kronos in 2005. Two years later, they took the company private. It was a move, he says, that "would free us to focus on our longer-term vision" and free him up to focus more time on "core parts" of the business, specifically on the core part of it—its people.
They had just gone public in 1992, and established a global presence, expanding to Australia, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, and expanding revenues to $500 million annually. But he thought they could do better. And he thought they could do better by doing better for their people, by turning it from a place that people seemed to like to work to a place people loved to work. Ain felt that, if they could attract and retain the best talent, they could grow revenues to $1 billion and enter new international markets.
So, they elevated their HR function—their chief people officer—to the executive committee, and got to work. They actually branded their culture WorkInspired, from which the book takes its title. "We called our culture WorkInspired," writes Ain, "because we think of our company as a partnership built on inspiration: we provide an inspiring place to work, and we ask that employees perform their work tasks in an inspired way as well." That may not sound like the most inspiring language, but he's not blowing smoke—he's building competencies in his people. And the most important place to do that is in those often seen as the least inspired members of a company—the people who manage other people, middle management.
I believe it is a privilege to manage people, and I also know that people might join an organization for its reputation or the compensation they receive, but they often leave it because of their managers. We've instituted a manager training program and delivered the curricula to all of our people managers. We've also created a new metric of manager effectiveness and begun to track managers' improvement efforts across the organization.
As I've long believed, boosting engagement and building a strong culture isn't just a matter of policies and procedures. It's about behavior. Most importantly, it's about how leaders behave, starting with me.
It has worked. Remaining mindful of his responsibility as the company "culture's chief caretaker, promoter, and voice," Ain has led Kronos to dramatically increase its employee engagement and retention numbers, and numerous accolades. The Boston Globe named Kronos the top large employer in Massachusetts, and the company has been names a "Top Place to Work" in Australia, Canada, China, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It was named by one of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For this year. Ain himself has been named Glassdoor's Highest Rated CEO multiple times, and won many other awards for his leadership. And, of course, business is booming. The focus on "people strategy" has proved to be the best business strategy.
You can learn how he and Kronos have pulled together and pulled it all off over the past decade in WorkInspired.
We have 20 copies available.