Aon, a leading global professional services firm, understands the importance of the employee experience and engagement. Kelly Smoots, Aon’s Talent Manager for Performance, Careers, and Engagement, and Elten Choi, the company’s Senior Human Resources Specialist, recently discussed how they helped launch a career pathing program with Fuel50 during last Fall’s FuelX Career Experience Conference in New York.
Aon’s Career Development Challenge
According to Kelly Smoots, Aon is a global professional services firm “operating across a number of fields including risk, re-insurance, retirement, health, and now heavily getting into data and analytics. We have 50,000 employees globally, in over 120 different countries, and we were born out of the loss of acquisitions and continue to do that. That’s kind of how we become Aon, which is one in Gaelic.”
Here was the challenge that Aon was trying to tackle, as Kelly described it:
“We were trying to collaborate across functions and come up with this really holistic view of what it means to attract people, select people, develop people, retain people, and keep that cycle going. That’s kind of who we want to be, and what we’ve done over the last six years is that we’ve done engagement surveys, which I’m sure most large companies do. One of the things that stood out to us was among the engagement surveys, because career development has been at the top. It’s been one of the Top 5 priorities for the last six years, and finally we said, “What are we going to do about it?
That was the impetus for us going out and seeking something like Fuel50. But as we’ve continued on our journey, I think that there are things … that really do make Fuel50 that holistic solution. So that’s kind of what we’re learning as we go through this.”
What Aon was looking for was a way to improve their employee development program, and, to make better and more targeted career profiles the centerpiece of that effort. As Kelly put it:
“Another key piece that was the driving force behind Fuel50 were these conversations around development — managers talking to their colleagues around ‘how do you develop?, what do you need?, how do I help get you there?’ Really, it’s all about that manager relationship. And like everybody else, we say colleagues own their own development, that it’s really up to you. But we also need to enable managers to help colleagues along that journey, to help them get there and to say that, “Yes, I want you to develop. As your manager, I’m invested in you.“
With employees scattered around the globe, Aon had an advantage that many other companies don’t. That is, they could run a pilot program where it made the most sense and would yield the greatest value and insight. According to Kelly Smoots, that’s why her team decided to leverage what was going on with their workforce Down Under. She said:
“Aon Australia had done a ton of work around career profiles, so they already had career profiles for everyone in the system, along with job descriptions … They’re the ideal, but they also have a very large resource team. They’ve got 18 HR people and we’ve got three. They had this idealistic view of what you would see when you go into Fuel50. We had some scattered profiles, so we tried to generalize it just a little bit by allowing HR to login and choose what their career profile was. You choose whatever resonates most with you. We also led with the caveat that not everything would be exactly like what your job is, but it would be close enough.
The business resource groups were scattered, and it was 500 people. … We decided to just see how they do with the kind of assessment piece, self-assessment and networking. And we just did away with career profiles in general for that group.”
In the End, a Career Pathing Experience with Positive Impact
So, how did the pilot program turn out? According to Kelly, the results were incredibly positive and encouraging.
“As a result of that initial experience, which lasted for six months throughout 2018, we had a 4% engagement increase for Aon HR globally, and a 5% engagement increase for Australia. And within those numbers, across some of the specific questions around career development, those increased a lot. Aon offers great career opportunities to high performers, and that category went up 14 points in Australia.
We had some really good metrics to back up the first pilot. In addition, HR loved it, of course, because we got to see the analytics on the back end and everybody was like, “Oh my God, we’re going to have so much data for these businesses!” And, they got really excited about it. That’s kind of what led into where we are now, which is launching our second group now.”
Aon’s Kelly Smoots is happy with the results. She summarized Fuel50 like this: “In order to build the business case, it really comes down to numbers, especially for our leaders. So, that was very important.”