Brandeis International Business School

Trusting your way to the top

Perlmutter Award recipient Aron J. Ain has made a good workplace central to his company’s growth strategy

Aron J. Ain winner of the Perlmutter Award for Excellence in Global Business Leadership

Aron J. Ain earned the Perlmutter Award for Excellence in Global Business Leadership for his success in developing a nationally-recognized workplace.

For Aron J. Ain, being successful starts with a strong foundation of trust. It’s hard to argue with his results.

Over the past year — and in the middle of a pandemic — the CEO and chairman of UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) led the company through the merger of Ultimate Software and Kronos. UKG is now a $3 billion company with 13,000 employees worldwide and a widely known reputation as a great place to work. 

“I believe that trust is the magic glue that holds together personal and professional relationships,” said Ain. “I start my relationships with trust. It’s the opposite of the way other people approach it. You don’t have to earn my trust, you un-earn my trust.”

On April 7, Ain received the 2021 Perlmutter Award for Excellence in Global Business Leadership in recognition of his visionary approach to leadership and workplace management. The award ceremony was sponsored by the office of Brandeis University President Ron Liebowitz.

The Perlmutter Award recognizes leaders whose careers in business, finance, government and related fields embody the values promoted by Brandeis International Business School’s Perlmutter Institute for Global Business Leadership, which seeks to develop 21st century global leaders as socially responsible individuals. 

Ain’s outlook has played a major role in shaping the culture at UKG, which specializes in workforce and human capital management systems. The company, now with dual headquarters in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Weston, Florida, is ranked #2 on Forbes’ 2021 list of America’s Best Large Employers and #6 on Fortune’s 2021 list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

During the Perlmutter Award ceremony, Ain emphasized his mantra that people join organizations for the organization, but leave because of managers.

“We want to hire the best people, and other people want to hire the best people. But guess what? Great people have choices,” said Ain. “So you need to have a great place to work.”

He maintained that trusting relationships can happen not only at small startups, but at large corporations too.

Ain shared the example of liberalizing Kronos’ paid time-off policy. Looking for ways to fill a mounting number of open positions, Ain asked his human resources department to brainstorm ways to attract and keep talent. They came back with a proposal to allow an open time-off policy.

“I thought at first, ‘My gosh, I’ll be the only one here!’” Ain chuckled.

But his staff convinced him, and in 2016, Kronos established the policy. “We instituted that policy and our turnover went down and recruiting was so much easier,” he said. “It couldn’t have worked without trust.”

Kronos was founded by Ain’s brother in 1977. Ain started working there shortly after college, eventually replacing his brother as CEO in 2005. Now more than 50,000 organizations in 150-plus countries use UKG solutions.

Ain is also the author of “WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work.”

“Aron Ain truly cares about and trusts his people,” said Kathryn Graddy, dean of the International Business School. “I learned this firsthand from one of our graduates, who works at Kronos and credits Aron with empowering her to advance her career while raising a young family. I also read ‘WorkInspired’ and its message has helped the International Business School thrive during the pandemic.”