With so many award ceremonies taking place, Tom Washington investigates the true value of winning an award to HR and their organisations
The National Work-Life Balance Awards
were announced this week, while earlier in
the month Hewitt Associates recognised
Australia and New Zealand’s ‘Best of the
Best’ employers and April sees the
inaugural Best Haircut in HR Awards.
OK, the last one is made up, but with seemingly
endless awards ceremonies attached to every
conceivable field of business, do they really hold
gravitas, or are the events simply a public relations
Tim Powell, Managing Director of Hewitt
Associates, argued the value of such awards lies in
the process, not just the outcome. “The process [of
entering the competition] provides an opportunity to
reinforce and analyse how they are driving
engagement and performance. But there is a risk
that if the market is saturated with too many awards
they’ll become disposable and the value may
become less that it is now.”
Microsoft Australia was one of the three
companies named in Hewitt’s ‘Best of the Best’
category and the IT firm has also picked up a 2009
Diversity@Work award for the employment and
inclusion of women in leadership.
Microsoft’s human resources director, Rose
Clements said the IT giant sees industry awards as
great importance for its external brand and chooses
which competitions it enters with great care. “We
have targeted those that have meaning and
credibility and that are aligned with our business
strategy. Microsoft people are proud to work here
and the awards mean their families and the outside
world can share that pride,” she explained.
Express Data was another winner at Hewitt’s
ceremony. The IT logistics firm’s people and culture
manager Molly Baker said that by entering awards
she is able to benchmark its policies against other
employers, while also ensuring it is fulfilling its
“There is no point being a great soccer team if
you don’t go and play against other teams,” she
said. “We think we do an awesome job but awards
allow us to audit ourselves against our competitors.
Winning is just a bonus.”
Baker added that the most valuable awards are those with rigorous surveys
of the entrants, but said others with less stringent criteria could end up devaluing
For HR professionals, the need to attract and retain talent can be boosted by
industry awards. For example, if an organisation claims to be family friendly,
winning an award for being a good employer for working mothers boosts
confidence for new hires looking for such arrangements.
Last week Alcoa of Australia was recognised as an Employer of Choice for
Women by the Federal Government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the
Workplace Agency for the ninth year in a row.
Director of talent, learning and development at Alcoa, Jann Kinsela said: “We
believe we have a far greater chance of attracting the people who will be the
best fit for the organisation, and who are best place to deliver bottom line results
by offering arrangements that suit working mums – and dads too for that matter.”
There are of course awards aimed at celebrating individual success. Rhonda
Brighton, Luxottica’s senior vice president of HR, Asia Pacific and Africa, was
awarded the 2009 Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year 2009, proving
that HR can mix it with the best of them.
Perhaps for the more cynical of you, awards such as this not only recognise
fantastic personal achievements, but also serve to boost an individual’s profile in
the industry for career-enhancing reasons, either internally or otherwise.
Nele Vandersmissen, senior consultant at Hays HR, said that they are in
essence self-promotion as people often have to nominate themselves, but that
doesn’t mean they are putting themselves in the shop window. “Many of clients
have won lots of awards and have remained with the same company. Winning
awards certainly boosts profiles. It shows they are passionate about what they
do,” she said.