ARAMARK: Talent Management at its Finest

ARAMARK is one of the country’s most well-run, talent-driven companies – and they are proof that talent management, when done well, is one of the most important business strategies a company can embrace.


ARAMARK is an amazing 250,000 person global company which provides facilities management and food service for many of the nation’s national parks, prisons, universities, sportingAramarkarenas, schools, business and industry. Talk about a talent-driven business! Aramark employs more than 220,000 hourly employees in service-related jobs – and must train and develop tens of thousands of line managers and mid-level leaders to manage its workforce.  

The company operates through a customer-driven service culture: employees are organized into account teams which service large clients and they focus heavily on doing “whatever the customer needs to achieve their desired outcomes.”  And best of all, ARAMARK was rated the #1 Most Admired company in 2008 by Fortune Magazine readers.

Talent Management at its Finest

I recently spoke with the Senior Vice-President of Organizational Development for Aramark North America (he will be speaking at IMPACT 2009®, our upcoming research conference – come hear the story) and he described his last year building an integrated talent management, planning, and measurement process.

Let me give you a few hints about “talent management at its finest” and encourage you to come to IMPACT to hear the rest:

  • ARAMARK has an employee capability model which enables the company to measure and monitor skill levels in all major accounts and business units at the individual and first line manager level.
  • The company uses this information, coupled with data about turnover, succession, and talent migration to identify leadership gaps and succession gaps in each business unit and each major account on a continuous basis.
  • The VP of OD established a set of human capital measures which are used by every major account executive and business owner to plan their business from quarter to quarter.   These measures include things like engagement, turnover, leadership readiness, and skills capability.
  • Once identifying these measures, the HR organization built an integrated Talent Dashboard which captures this data on a continuous basis.   To do this the company did not need to install any new HR software, but rather just used existing business intelligence tools to aggregate and consolidate data which was already being collected but wasnt being used.
  • The president of ARAMARK North America and other members of the leadership team regularly review human capital data by business unit and account to ensure they meet business objectives.  

This process is the envy of most clients we meet.  It represents many best practices:  it is simple, it is very business-relevant (they do not try to measure and manage things which don’t drive client satisfaction), it is integrated into the business planning process (the Talent Dashboard is used in all business planning meetings), and it is scalable.

How did the VP of OD pull this off?  This individual is a very savvy, business-focused HR executive with deep levels of experience in HR, L&D, and HR technology.  But most importantly, the goal given to him by the President and SVP of HR for ARAMARK North America, was to create a state of organizational readiness.

How well does it work?  

Talent Management at ARAMARK has made the company truly an “enduring organization.”  The company has only seen a slight business downturn from the recession and is actively hiring and upgrading its workforce to take advantage of the many people around the country looking for work.

Join more than 300 of your peers and hear  all about Aramark at IMPACT 2009: The Business of Talent® in St. Petersburg Florida – April 14-16 2009.