Training Top 125 Best Practice: Aon plc’s Accelerate Program
Like other large organizations, Aon plc—a global professional services firm providing a range of risk, retirement, and health solutions—has a multigenerational workforce, and that creates different challenges when it comes to developing, engaging, and retaining colleagues. One challenge the company found was that employees in their first two to three years of employment who joined Aon from university, through apprenticeships, or were general hires often were less engaged and more likely to move to another company looking for career progression and further development.
To offer more development opportunities and enhance career progression, Aon created the Accelerate program, which now is part of its Signature Program suite and targets colleagues in the individual contributor career stage.
The four-month program kicked off in April 2018 and has been piloted with three cohorts in India, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa), and North America, with a total of 113 colleagues taking part.
The program is a blend of virtual Webinars, self-study, action learning challenges, in-person sessions, and networking. The overall theme is “Leading Aon United” and asks participants to reflect on how they can become better growers, connectors, and storytellers and what it means for them to lead Aon United. During the global Webinars and in-person sessions, the group also hears from executives and senior leaders on their perspectives. Throughout the program, Aon utilizes a mobile app to share updates, prework, and self-study challenges with the participants. Aon also challenges learners to network with each other and share stories and reflections using the company’s internal Yammer site dedicated to the program. This has enabled the company to be less email-centric and allows participants to access information and complete self-study at a time that suits them.
Aon purposefully chose a short four-month timeframe for the program to keep people motivated and engaged. This enabled the company to run three one-hour virtual Webinars to introduce topics and some theory and follow up with action learning tasks and challenges to reinforce the learning. The Webinars focused on Leading Aon United and Learning Agility. The Learning Agility session focused on the different ways participants could think about their own learning in a fast-paced, ever-changing world to keep themselves relevant and prepared.
The close of the program came with a two-and-a-half-day in-person session in each region. A key focus of this session was around creative thinking—a first for any Signature Program. Given that innovation is a key competency for leaders at Aon, the company wanted its aspiring leaders to begin thinking differently at an early career stage. The company partnered with an internal team that supports Aon businesses to think more creatively when working with clients, and delivered a one-day session focused on the principles of design thinking. The session took the participants through several steps to analyze a “wicked problem”; define personas impacted by the issue; come up with creative ideas to solve the problem; and finally tell an engaging, impactful story to show how the solution helps resolve the problem and produces a positive impact on the defined persona. Other sessions included how participants can build confidence, especially when working in teams, and how to craft and write their own career plan. There also was a panel where business leaders shared their Aon stories, as well as an interactive and reflective session on how to craft and tell their Aon story.
Attendees ranked this program a 5.27 out of 7 for the training’s impact on improved performance/productivity, with a 56.33 percent performance improvement. Application of knowledge/skills learned to the job was 5.59 out of 7. Accelerate has contributed a half-a-million-dollar benefit to the firm.