As organisations struggle to attract, engage and retain the best talent, Aon Hewitt’s Best Employers study shows there are four critical success factors to achieve a committed and productive workforce that delivers strong business results:

* A high level of employee engagement;

* A compelling employer brand;

* Effective leadership; and

* A high-performance culture.

The Best Employers research highlighted that high employee engagement not only delivers greater shareholder value, but also reduces staff turnover and improves customer satisfaction. The research also showed that:

* Best employers achieved double the growth in profit levels compared to other organisations;

* Best employers achieved 20 percentage points higher employee engagement levels than others; and

* Best employers had lower employee turnover levels and internally promoted a significantly higher percentage of all employees, particularly their managers.

Aon Hewitt began the Best Employers research in Asia in 2001 to:

* Provide insights into how organisations can create real competitive advantage through their people;

* Help organisations identify action areas to advance their journey to high performance; and

* Identify a list of best employers in Asia and to learn from their innovative people practices.

In the most recent Aon Hewitt Best Employers Singapore study, conducted last year, three key themes about best employers emerged:

They have a clear vision and compelling employee promise

Best employers continuously inspire and meet the changing needs and expectations of employees as they progress through their careers.

They have effective leaders who deliver on their commitments, as well as managers who provide clear direction on the skills and knowledge needed for future success, identifying new opportunities to develop their teams.

FedEx Express (Aon Hewitt Best Employer 2011): FedEx is founded on the People-Service-Profit (PSP) philosophy that is based on the belief that if the company takes care of its people, its people will take care of its customers, and hence take care of its profit.

Guided by the PSP philosophy, FedEx has developed a comprehensive set of practices and policies that are focused on fostering a strong people-first culture and providing a platform for its employees to excel and grow.

They instil a performance-driven culture

Best employers place higher performance as an integral part of their day-to-day activities. All employees in the organisation drive continuous improvement, while managers sustain this culture by working towards stretch goals and providing valuable performance based feedback and coaching.

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore (Aon Hewitt Best Employer Singapore 2011): The Ritz-Carlton applies the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, to nurture and maximise talent to the benefit of each individual and the company. Ritz-Carlton also fosters a work environment where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced, and individual aspirations are fulfilled.

They drive “real” accountability and trust

Best employers encourage employees to take ownership for their actions. Leaders effectively “own” the development of their people and continuously empower, trust and support their employees to make decisions.

Aon Hewitt’s global research indicates that to improve employee engagement, business leaders, managers and human resources should work together to:

* Connect with employees: Communicate and promote their organisation’s reputation at every opportunity. A highly engaged workforce is a real competitive advantage. Employees want to work for companies that manage performance in a strategical way, and that are known as good organisations to work for.

* Create a culture of engagement through leadership: Leaders in best employers are serious about employee engagement, about having a positive impact on employees’ motivation to say great things about their company, to stay involved, and to go above and beyond.

There is a “culture of engagement” that is created through multiple levers, including communication programmes, ongoing engagement measurements, a holistic process to improve engagement, and holding leaders accountable for engagement results. In organisations that are not best employers, the leaders see employee engagement as the responsibility of the HR department.

* Recognise people’s efforts and performance: Employers must realise that employees appreciate and are motivated by recognition. Simple feedback from a manager for doing a good job goes a long way. This type of recognition does not carry a cost and is important to employees.