Kronos CEO reveals key to positive workplace culture

Kronos CEO reveals key to positive workplace culture

When Kronos first started out they employed a small team of engineers and worked out of an old ironworks building in Massachusetts. How times have changed!

Now the workforce management multi-national has over 5,100 employees working from technology centres all over the world.

However, whilst Kronos has grown technological advances, such as social media, have given today’s employees various platforms to share disgruntlements, misgivings or disagreements with their employers.

Although not all workers do so, instances of publicly-shared dissent are eagerly snapped up by the media. Employee-employer fallouts make for great headlines.

On top of this, today’s employers find themselves inhabiting an environment where employees are hyper-aware of their perceived worth – with instant access to information about what other companies can offer – making it almost an impossible job to keep all employees happy, all of the time.

Which makes it more commendable that Aron Ain, CEO and Co-Founder of Kronos, has a 96% approval rating on employer-rating system Glassdoor – an anonymous, voluntary ranking system on which employees can assess, honestly, how they believe their company treats them.

Amongst Glassdoor’s highest-ranked executives, with whom Ain shares his heady-ranking position, are Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. All employer’s renown for their employee-minded ethos, which means Ain must be doing something right: so, what is it?

With Kronos employee engagement levels at well-over 80 per cent, Aron explains that maintaining a positive organisational culture is central to ensuring his employees feel motivated and appreciated.

“Creating an environment where people feel they are really part of our strategy and our objectives [means] people really understand what we’re trying to do. We really put a premium on having a culture that is thoughtful and caring and direct and inclusive, we have both the cultures and the values reflect those dimensions.

90% of the Kronos workforce – who Ain refers to as Kronites – feel proud working for the workforce management giant; for this, Aron emphasises the importance of accountable line-managers and a superstar HR team.

“We hold our 750 people managers in the company accountable to make sure they understand that the impact that they can have on people who work in their team is dramatic. If you have managers who are deeply effective, you can have a communication plan that keeps people aligned and then you can have engaged employees.”

Profiled in The New York Times, Aron is used to sharing his ideas on leadership, management and best-practise: “I am completely transparent. I tell people what’s going on, whether there are really good things going on or areas where we are struggling.

“Transparency means mixing it up with people, I start with actively communicating. I do a regular Vlog every couple of weeks. I set up my iPad and do three to five minutes of what’s on my mind. If there are issues going on in the world that we think are impacting our employees, we talk about those. We want to be supportive of each other.”

Growing a company from a $518.7 million annual revenue to over $1.2billion takes dedication but, surprisingly, Ain doesn’t expect his workforce to put Kronos first.

“We tell people all the time that if the most important thing in their life is working for Kronos than they’ve got their priorities mixed up. The most important thing in their life is their family. I do want it [Kronos] to be important to them but to be the most important thing, that’s just silly.”

Into his 12th year as CEO, and his 38th year working for Kronos, who started off selling time clocks, Ain has seen many staff members pass through his doors, which has given him a unique perspective on changing workforce and recruitment vogues.

“Recruitment is more of an art than a science. I just speak for myself, I sit and have a casual conversation with the people (candidates) as I consider myself a keeper of the culture. I ask people what’s important in their lives. I will ask them about their families and their work life balance.

“It’s an imperfect system, I’m not saying I’ve always hired perfect but the more you do it the more you get better at it.”

Those that do get through Ain’s singular recruitment process, will find themselves at what Forbes deemed America’s Best Employer and what the Boston Globe named the Top Place to Work.

Ain says: “I communicate to our employees on a regular basis that I trust them. We have an open vacation policy, in the countries that it is permitted by law, which means [our employees] can take as much vacation as they want.

“Since we have gone to the open vacation policy, people have taken more paid time off and it has resulted in the best year we have ever had as a company.

 “We don’t just encourage a work life balance, we demand a work-life balance.”

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