11 Examples of Outstanding Employee Engagement Experiences
Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, understood the long-term benefits of employee engagement when he said:
"There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization's overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow.
It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it."
Employee engagement is one of the most crucial aspects of any organization. It's an essential factor to consider when running a successful business. It's necessary to retain workers, improve company culture, and increase productivity. Gallup defines employee engagement as the way employees feel and behave on the job: they are involved in what they do and enjoy their work.
With the fierce competition in today's job market, businesses are looking for new ways to stay ahead. One way to achieve this is by listening to your employees about what they want. We know that happy and engaged employees are more productive, more creative, and more innovative.
The benefits are clear, but what strategies can be used to create employee engagement? To give you an in-depth understanding, we'll take you through case studies of 11 notable companies with great employee engagement examples, followed by ideas on how to engage remote employees, as well as practical employee engagement activities.
Read on for some inspirational employee engagement examples!
❓ What is employee engagement?
According to recent research by Zenefits, 63.3% of American companies with over 50-500 employees said that it's harder to retain valuable staff members than recruit new ones.
Gone are the days when businesses could count on the notion that their loyal employees would be with them forever. With the "war for talent," today's workforce doesn't just look at the benefits your company offers. They also consider variables such as your company's values and personal development opportunities.
So, what does this mean for companies looking to engage their employees?
If you want to stay at the top of your game and increase employee retention levels, you'll need to develop an effective employee engagement action plan.
Employee engagement refers to the mental and emotional connection employees feel towards their job, colleagues, and the organizations they work for. Most importantly, employee engagement reflects the actions of an organization. Employees value when they can express themselves, share their opinions, voice their concerns and make suggestions because they take pride in their work and believe it's just as crucial to the business's success as any other part.
❗️ Why does employee engagement matter?
Low employee engagement is expensive! Businesses lose $4,129 on average every time they hire a new employee, and it costs them about $986 to onboard a new hire. This means low employee engagement can cost your business over $5,000 every time an employee leaves your organization, not to mention the costs of losing an experienced employee.
🏢 11 Inspiring examples of companies with great employee engagement practices
We've searched high and low to bring you some of the very best examples of companies getting employee engagement right. Here are our top picks and why we included them in this list.
Hyatt chose a different approach when it came to hospitality industry standards. In an industry rife with obsessing over perfection, Hyatt chose the unconventional route by mainly prioritizing emotional connections and empathy with clients over perfection.
In a Fortune interview, Hyatt's CEO, Mark Hoplamazian said that "the key to Hyatt's success is making sure we are connected with what our guests and colleagues are experiencing, and then designing their experience so that it's fulfilling for them."
Instead of using a script when talking to guests, Hyatt's employees are free to be their true selves during guest interactions. The impact of this is that it creates a genuine and authentic customer experience and encourages employees to be authentic, sincere, and transparent and to empathize with guests.
The company not only leverages empathy to create an excellent customer experience for its guests, but they also use it to create an excellent employee experience too. For example, its housekeeping flextime program allows housekeepers to leave if they complete their tasks on time or clean additional rooms to make more money. Also, its family assistance leave offers a minimum of eight weeks of paid leave to primary caregivers.
As the only restaurant listed on Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2018, The Cheesecake Factory knows what it's doing. In fact, they've been on this list every year since 2014.
The company's dedication to employee engagement doesn't stop in front of its restaurants. CEO David Overton says that training and recognition are high on the priority list within The Cheesecake Factory because employees who feel appreciated tend to give better service, which improves customer satisfaction and further increases The Cheesecake Factory's reputation.
Therefore, it' not surprising that David has a 93% approval rating among employees. In addition, the Cheesecake Factory recognizes its frontline associates' outstanding performance through its employee recognition program, Wow Stories Initiative —which circulates stories of excellent service throughout the company, boosting morale and spreading best practices.
While DreamWorks Animation employees are provided with certain perks like free refreshments, paid opportunities to decorate their workspaces. Company parties after big projects are completed, one of the things they appreciate the most is that at such events, employees are encouraged to show off any personal projects or artwork that may be related to what's been worked on for the company.
This really helps boost the creativity of others in a way that makes both employees and those attending these types of gatherings feel more than just a part of their jobs.
Placing importance on the ideas, opinions, and creativity of those who work for you lets everyone feel like they are genuinely at stake in your company and, in doing so, creates a sense of true teamwork and cooperation.
Southwest Airlines is a company that has mastered employee engagement. They have had extremely high scores in their NPS for the past 10 years. They have built a team full of enthusiastic people who are passionate about their vision and brand and want to contribute in any way they possibly can.
They've created a positive work environment for everyone who works for them. One of the ways that they demonstrate that is by allowing certain workers to decide over aspects of their job, from designing their uniforms in each department to giving them autonomy over their work-life and career. And customers have noticed this because their employees are genuinely happy and excited about where they spend most of their time each day –at their jobs!
The company provides a platform for people to stay inspired and continue doing things differently. The viral video of one flight attendant rapping the safety information shows the kind of attitude the company has towards keeping things fun and unique, and it shows employees that they are appreciated.
Southwest Airlines former CEO Herb Kelleher rightly pointed out competitors cannot replicate or copy the level of employee engagement that Southwest Airlines upholds -the company's foundation rests solely on mutual respect and a sense of understanding.
"They can buy all the material things. The things they can't buy are dedication, devotion, loyalty – the feeling that employees are participating in a crusade!"
Yousician is a Finnish interactive and educational music service designed to help people learn and play musical instruments. In July 2014, Yousician took its entire team to Saarenmaa, Estonia, for some team bonding and to spend time discussing how to improve its product.
Suddenly, the company's leadership dawned that they could work anywhere as long as they had their computers. Therefore, when the company discovered their office in Helsinki would undergo a one-month renovation, they decided to get creative.
With offices in Finland being expensive enough for them to book a month's space, CEO Christoph Thür rented an entire villa in Greece and flew the whole team, alongside their families, to work for a month.
They all lived and worked together, had evening jam sessions, pool parties, and turned what might have been touted to be a nightmare into a memorable experience for their employees and their families.
Heard of Gong? Whether you live in the U.S or Israel or not, you've probably heard of this company sales leaders are currently raving about. Renowned for enabling revenue teams to reach their full potential by unveiling customer reality, the company is also known for offering an excellent employee engagement experience.
93% of employees at Gong say it is a great place to work compared to 59% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company. It's no surprise that Gong has been named a Great Place to Work in the competitive San Francisco Bay Area market repeatedly for over two years and is also the winner of the 2022 Glassdoor Employees' Choice Award for U.S. small and medium companies.
Up to 95% of Intuit's employees believe this financial services giant is a great place to work. This is compared to 59% of employees on average across U.S. companies. These numbers didn't happen overnight - through the years, as a result of their continued hard work and commitment, Intuit has earned that positive reputation!
For example, Intuit regularly sets diversity and inclusion goals. They hold multiple courses and training sessions for staff to support these, including the Leading Inclusively e-learning course. Also, Intuit understands that pay equity is essential for keeping their company running effectively and critical for employee engagement – a principle it takes seriously.
Primarily by regularly analyzing pay equity to ensure that everyone, regardless of gender or race, is all being paid what they properly deserve.
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, GitHub is a code-hosting platform that allows developers around the world to work on projects together. The company has become renowned for hosting millions of tasks and helping people fix bugs or contribute new code to existing ones.
GitHub believes in empowering its people to create opportunities and take advantage of them. To ensure that its employees have access to the support and resources they need, GitHub offers unconscious-bias training, awareness on privilege, and allyship programs.
Also, the company's leadership sets and tracks goals regarding inclusion efforts such as hiring, retention, and promotional plans with underrepresented communities, specifically racial and ethnic minorities in technical and management roles and women in management roles.
Want to get paid to go on vacation? This Denver-based tech company is making it happen. Full Contact pays its employees $7500 if they're going off the grid while on vacation. The catch? This perk is unlocked only if employees can prove that they're completely off the grid during their time off by not checking work emails, texts, or calls; and absolutely no work of any kind. If it appears that an employee has not been completely disconnected from their duties while on vacation, then the employee would be asked to pay back the $7500 in total.
This paid vacation costs the company over $1 million/yearly, according to Bart Lorang, founder and chief executive of FullContact. But according to him, it's worth it.
The idea behind these paid vacations is to ensure workers feel less pressure to take care of everything themselves and build trust by acknowledging that they still can trust their colleagues while they go away on leave.
The company encourages its employees to share photos from their travel adventures.
Patagonia, a clothing company based in California, believes in various ways to build a positive work culture and drive employee engagement. For example, the company offers an in-house child care solution for parents who need it and surf time for employees who want to take advantage of good wave conditions when they are thriving.
Patagonia's founder, Yvon Chouinard, believes that the key to an engaged workforce is "to hire the people whom you trust, people who are passionate about their jobs, and let them do their jobs, and they will get things done." In addition, autonomy gives employees more responsibility for critical areas of their job, creating a better environment to work in.
Starbucks needs no introduction. As the world's largest coffeehouse chain, Starbucks is an excellent example of a brand that understands the value its employees bring to the business in more ways than one.
For example, each barista is trained to make exceptional beverages and create a welcoming environment for their customers. As a result, the company has done an excellent job of establishing a warm and inviting atmosphere at many of its locations worldwide. This same positive energy is reflected in the company's culture.
At Starbucks, every employee knows they are valued members of the team.
But, Starbucks didn't achieve this feat overnight.
Since day one, they've focused on putting employee-friendly policies in place.
For example, they support their staff by offering tuition assistance to get involved in online or university programs. (This is one of the great approaches to restaurant training courses.)
Another perk of working for Starbucks is that employees are allowed to own company stock thanks to the "Bean Stock" program after a certain period of time.
Also, the organizational structure at Starbucks is unique in its way. For example, managers refer to their team members as "partners" instead of "employees." This initiative drives employee engagement and makes the partners feel very motivated and inspired to do their job well and stay with the organization for a long time.
❌ 5 Mistakes that can destroy employee engagement
Employee engagement isn't just a buzzword or a currently trending HR topic. People-first companies know that employee engagement impacts employee performance as well as employee retention.
Here are some practices that could destroy employee engagement at your company.
Lack of vision
"The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet."
- Theodore M. Hesburgh
Employees want to see in an organization's vision, mission, and values. When an organization or a department doesn't have a vision, that means the company has no direction, and employees either work outside of what the company requires or wait for instructions on the next steps.
If you want your employees to feel empowered and increase employee engagement, create your company's vision and mission and share it with them.
Not having an employee engagement action plan
It's one thing to tell employees about your company's proposed employee engagement activities, and it's another thing not to do anything about it.
Creating an employee engagement action plan starts with setting up a planning committee and brainstorming strategies to achieve them. Also, employee engagement doesn't only apply to existing employees but also new hires.
For example, an employee engagement action plan could start with a seamless onboarding process for a new hire to implement connection programs and encourage a cycle of continuous development for both new and current employees.
Forcing employees to look happy and engaged
"The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don't feel valued, neither will your customers." Sybil F. Stershic
Forcing your employees to look happy and engaged won't last for long. So instead of forcing employees to look happy and engaged, you can create a positive work environment that aligns with your employees' needs and provide the right work-life balance for them to thrive.
Constantly changing policies/initiatives
Constantly changing initiatives will only lead to confusion, disconnection, and a lack of productivity and engagement on your employees. Instead of constantly changing policies on a whim, determine the impact of the policy on the overall health and company growth and communicate it to both employees and clients months before its actual implementation.
Not solving or understanding the root problem of employee disengagement
Attempting to "fix the problem" without fixing the real issue won't boost employment employee engagement for long. For example, many companies feel that offering office perks like ping pong tables, free lunch, and free coffee would boost employee engagement. However, the major problem could be a lack of flexibility, a problem with a particular manager, or a lack of work-life balance.
💡 7 Practical ways to keep employees engaged
Any company, including yours, can ramp up its employee engagement levels. We've come to a conclusion - companies that keep their employees engaged, productive and happy have some similarities:
- They leverage employee enablement: They understand that while employee engagement drives productivity, employee enablement provides their employees with resources and tools to measure up accordingly. A company that enables its employees shifts its paradigm from "here's what I have for you to do good work" to "what do YOU need to be the best in your work?"
- They offer job enrichment: Long gone are the days employees worked in a specific role with the same routine until retirement. Today's employees want challenging tasks, offering a break from their everyday routines. Job enrichment gives your employees more independence, freedom, and responsibility, ultimately boosting their employee engagement levels.
- They develop and maintain a culture of constant learning that increases employee engagement and retention rates, encourages out-of-the-box thinking, and gives their companies a competitive edge.
- They recognize and appreciate their employees.
- They keep remote employees engaged by communicating and keeping them updated on projects, goals, team progress, and company news.
- They organize team activities, including virtual employee engagement, to ensure their remorse workers aren't left out.
- They practice inclusivity with their employees and in all facets of their organization, including integrating remote hires into their culture, teams, and processes.
The best way to increase employee engagement is to start with the basics. First, consider what you can do to improve the aspects of your company that are most important to employees. Then, see how you can tie those efforts into the bigger picture of what your company needs to do to be successful.
Our connection programs are designed to create meaningful relationships among your employees. As a result, you can be assured that your employees will build stronger relationships with us, become more productive, improve the quality of their work, and build better work and customer relationships.
Get in touch with our experts to build an engaging workforce at your organization!
[Read next: What is Employee Enablement and how to embrace it?]