There are 170 higher education institutions in the UK, employing about 340,000 staff with a total salary bill of £9 billion, writes Claire Sanders.
The Times Higher wants to celebrate good people management in its awards.
The Employer of the Year Award is open to all higher education institutions and aims to reward those that have developed innovative initiatives that support, inform or develop employees.
The judges will be looking for examples of exciting induction programmes and imaginative training programmes or mentoring projects for staff.
Universities entering for the award will have to show a commitment to equal opportunities.
Jocelyn Prudence, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association and one of the judges, said: "This is a particularly exciting period for higher education employers, given that we have reached agreement on an innovative pay framework."
Although unions are frustrated with the slow implementation of the framework, they point to exciting developments at Leeds, Manchester and the Open universities and at the School of Pharmacy, London.
Ms Prudence said: "There is a big push at the moment to tackle equality on all fronts - on race, gender, disability and on age."
Rita Donaghy, chairwoman of the Arbitration and Conciliation Service and the second judge, said: "This event is a marvellous opportunity to sing the praises of those universities that practise good employment relations."
The third judge is Chris Kaufman, joint-chairman of the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff and national secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union.