For 15 years, the Association for Talent Development has been honoring organizations that use talent development as a strategic business tool to get results. The BEST Award winners, past and present, include small and large private, public, and nonprofit organizations from around the world.

This prestigious annual award recognizes organizations that demonstrate enterprise-wide success as a result of employee talent development. The 40 award winners for 2017 demonstrate that they are:

  • Building talent
  • Enterprise-wide
  • Strategically driving a
  • Talent development culture and delivers results.

“These 40 organizations are solving business challenges through talent development practices, and they are doing it in innovative ways,” said Tony Bingham, ATD President and CEO. “Senior leaders in these organizations understand the critical strategic role learning has, and they are committed to investing in the growth and development of their people.”

For instance, taking the top spot this year is Western Union. Josh Craver, WU's former vice president of talent management, credits adaptability for keeping the communications firm going for 160 years. To better serve its market, the Colorado-based company is shifting the mindset of employees and developing a new operating model that drives a more customer-­centric, high-performing culture among every ­employee.

Called the WU WAY, it is being ­introduced in stages with support from WU's learning and talent organization. Its launch was accompanied by a vigorous orientation program for people managers—Leadership in Action (LIA)—that engages the organization's top leaders to embrace and model the culture with the people they lead.

LIA's initial rollout delivered more than 200 training sessions to 85 percent of the company's people managers. The company's top 100 leaders were asked to personally champion the change by facilitating informal learning circles with six to eight company leaders once a month, which helped create management buy-in and ensure cost-effective delivery. Participants in the leader-as-teacher initiative included President and CEO Hikmet Ersek, who endorses talent development as a competitive advantage.

This viewpoint concurs with Valvoline Instant Oil Change, the 2017 BEST Award winner in the number 2 spot. In fact, Valvoline's efficient and comprehensive talent development program helps employees move quickly up the career ladder. For example, although employees are responsible for their own career growth, Valvoline's talent development team designed and implemented a certification program that ensures employees are fully equipped with the knowledge and skills to do their jobs, and also flags them as being ready for promotion.

Entry-level employees typically start in the technician or customer service adviser role, and then progress to senior technician, assistant manager, and then service center manager. New hires undergo training that results in certification, a title change, and a pay raise within 60 days, followed by another raise within 120 days. Every Valvoline employee becomes certified, with the overwhelming majority (98 percent) being certified on time.

These are just two of the 40 BEST stories profiled in the October 2017 issue of TD magazine. The complete 2017 rankings are:

  1. Western Union, Englewood, Colorado 
    2. Valvoline Instant Oil Change, A Business of Valvoline, Lexington, Kentucky 
    3. Hitachi Data Systems, Santa Clara, California 
    4. Turkcell İletisim Hizmetleri A.Ş., Istanbul, Turkey 
    5. IBM, Armonk, New York 
    6. Florida Blue, Jacksonville, Florida 
    7. Tata Consultancy Services, Mumbai, India 
    8. Infosys BPO, Bangalore, India 
    9. The Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong 
    10. ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd., Mumbai, India 
    11. OptumRx, Eden Prarie, Minnesota 
    12. Fatima Fertilizer Company Limited, Sadiqbad, Pakistan 
    13. Moneris, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 
    14. Signature Consultants, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 
    15. Genpact, Delhi, India 
    16. Miami Children’s Health System, Miami, Florida 
    17. Emirates NBD, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 
    18. NTPC Ltd., New Delhi, India 
    19. U.S. Security Associates, Inc., Roswell, Georgia 
    20. ITU AbsorbTech, New Berlin, Wisconsin 
    21. University Health System, San Antonio, Texas 
    22. Hayat Varlık Yönetim A.Ş., Istanbul, Turkey 
    23. Ryan LLC, Dallas, Texas 
    24. Lupin Limited, Mumbai, India 
    25. JTH Group, Hong Kong 
    26. Persistent Systems Ltd., Pune, India 
    27. Busey, Champaign, Illinois 
    28. Verizon, New York, New York 
    29. Apple Federal Credit Union, Fairfax, Virginia 
    30. G4S Secure Solutions (USA), Jupiter, Florida 
    31. N2 Publishing, Wilmington, North Carolina 
    32. HireRight LLC, Irvine, California 
    33. United Services Automobile Association (USAA), San Antonio, Texas 
    34. Haier Group, Qingdao, China 
    35. Aditya Birla Capital Limited, Mumbai, India 
    36. iProspect, New York, New York 
    37. Cigna Corporation, Bloomfield, Connecticut 
    38. Cathay United Bank Co. Ltd., Taipei, Taiwan

    Details about the 2018 program will be available in January 2018.