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Crain’s Excellence in HR Awards recognizes Northeast Ohio's outstanding human resources executives and teams. Often operating behind the scenes, sometimes boxed into stereotypes about pizza parties and paperwork, HR professionals are actually the nerve centers of their businesses – taking care of its people, controlling costs, keeping the business in compliance and helping achieve its strategic goals.

All information submitted as part of this application is considered on the record. We reserve the right to publish any information provided if an applicant is selected for an award.

Awards available in nine categories:

Overall Excellence: HR executive / Team of the Year: How did you/your team drive business results or achieve its goals in 2018? The strongest applications will be specific, detailed and include clear metrics of success.

Compensation and Benefits: Are you offering an innovative, unusual or insanely competitive benefits package for your employees? Or maybe you've been masterful at negotiating compensation packages in tough situations (i.e. with unions) or controlling the rising costs of benefits that have challenged most businesses in recent years. Either way, we're looking for a story about how your excellence in compensation and benefits has driven business success.

HR Innovator: How has out-of-the-box thinking benefited your workforce and organization’s bottom line? Possibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Fluidity: Did you help a talented member of your team reinvent their role within your organization? Have you reorganized to get beyond traditional workplace hierarchies or incorporated fluid or need-based teams? Is your culture flexible, collaborative and results-oriented? 
  • Flexibility: How is your company adapting to the new realities of the "gig economy," changing demographics in the workforce, and the way we work today?
  • Technology: How has your HR team introduced or made use of new technology to improve the business? Explain your innovation and why it worked.

Employee Experience: Culture eats strategy for breakfast — but culture alone doesn't cut it anymore. Excellent HR leaders recognize the importance of the complete employee experience. Tell us about how you improved a crucial aspect of the employee experience or overhauled your entire approach to experience design in a way that made a measurable difference to employee engagement, retention, and/or overall business performance.

Diversity & Inclusion: Have you shown measurable improvement not only in the diversity of your workforce but in how your employees feel like an included and valued part of the team and are encouraged to bring their whole selves to work? We will be looking for HR professionals/teams who have successfully made the business case to the company's top executives for investing in diversity and inclusion.

Rising Star: This award recognizes up-and-coming HR professionals with less than 10 years of experience. Rising stars have the combination of achievements, industry and community involvement that demonstrate the potential required to lead the next generation of human resources professionals. 

Talent Award: This award will honor those who have taken ownership of the talent problem and developed innovative solutions for meeting a company's talent needs. Possible areas of focus include, but are not limited to:

  • Recruitment and retention: How has your company attracted top talent from outside of the organization into key leadership roles? Just as importantly, what initiatives are in place to focus on keeping employees in place?  
  • Leadership development and effectiveness: How have you tailored your organization's leadership development strategy to the needs of the business? We will be looking for new ways of thinking about grooming the next generation of leaders in your company — and for proof that your leadership development approach has been effective.

"Accidental" HR Leader: It’s not always the C-Suite HR exec or team that makes a lasting impact on the employee experience. The “Accidental” HR Leader is a manager working outside of the traditional HR role who shows innovation as it relates to workforce management and employee engagement. Leaders or owners at companies without designated HR teams or leaders are among those encouraged to submit their achievements.

Employee Advocacy: Beyond the world of benefits, compensation and employee engagement, it is the HR leader’s role to drive humanity into the business. Who are your HR professionals who have gone above and beyond in advocating for employees, whether it was for an individual facing a personal crisis or for a group of employees needing accommodations or other services. 

The deadline to nominate is Tuesday, May 28. Visit this preview to get a glimpse of the application. 


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Content provided may be published by Crain’s Cleveland Business. By completing this form, you agree to Crain’s use of the provided information in print, online and at the awards event.

Diversity will be taken into consideration when selecting honorees, including as it relates to the businesses and industries represented, as well as geography, age, race, culture, gender and experience.