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HR Tech 2019: A deep dive with an HR tech influencer

Kronos' Aron Ain shared what his company does to retain great people.
By: | October 3, 2019 • 3 min read
Top 100 Influencer Aron Ain and HR Tech conference chair Steve Boese (photo courtesy of Laura Parry)

During the year running up to HR Tech 2019, we’ve been featuring insights from our Top 100 HR Tech Influencers—the most widely recognized and respected experts and thought leaders in the HR technology space. On Day 3 of the conference, program chair Steve Boese sat down with another HR tech influencer—Kronos CEO Aron Ain—to do a deep dive into how HR can use tech tools to boost employee retention and engagement.

Kronos, a talent management vendor, makes frequent appearances on “best places to work” lists, including Fortune‘s Best Companies to Work For. During his Q&A with Boese, Ain discussed how his company uses HR technology to help it attract and retain the best people.

In response to a question from Boese on “what really matters in HR tech today,” Ain explained that most companies do a “pretty good job of recruiting great people.” The problem, he said, is that they’re not doing such a good job of retaining them.

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“Great people have a lot of choices, and if the environment isn’t engaging they’ll leave,” said Ain. “HR has to be leaders in driving this world of better engagement.”

Ain said Kronos uses HR technology in a number of ways to drive engagement.

“We’re deeply focused on over-communicating,” he said, adding that Kronos plans to hire a total of 1,500 people this year. “We focus on listening deeply to our people. We do surveys twice a year and get a 90% response rate. We hold managers accountable. I record a video blog every couple of weeks where I talk about what’s going on in the company.”

Another key element at Kronos is “trust,” said Ain, author of the book Work Inspired.

“I believe trust is the glue that holds not only personal relationships but personal relationships together,” he said.

At Kronos, the company shows its trust in employees in a number of ways, including through its open-ended vacation policy.

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“At first I thought I’d be the only one in the office,” said Ain with a laugh. “But a year after we introduced the policy, we had the best year ever in terms of results along with the highest engagement and retention rates we’ve ever had. And yes, people did take more time off.”

At Kronos, managers are encouraged to place trust in their people. “If a manager says ‘No, they have to earn my trust,’ then I ask them ‘Well, didn’t you trust them when you hired them? Try trusting them when you hire them.'”

In response to Boese’s question about a tech trend that has the most potential to impact an organization, Ain said tools that help managers be better are key.

“People would rather have a crappy job and work for a great manager than have a great job and work for a crappy manager,” he said. “People leave organizations because of who they work for. We’re working with our managers to help them understand what it means to be a great manager. I think it’s one of the most important issues today.”

Andrew R. McIlvaine is senior editor at Human Resource Executive®. A Penn State graduate, Andy also spent two years in the U.S. Army prior to attending college and attained the rank of sergeant while serving in the Army Reserves. He can be reached at [email protected]

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