This article was last updated on February 12, 2024
Employee engagement is becoming a strategic priority for most managers and senior leadership. In general, employee engagement measures the extent to which employees are committed to and enthusiastic about their work. It’s also a good predictor of employee retention, productivity, and performance. As a result, it’s becoming a strategic priority for most managers and senior leadership.
What Is Employee Engagement?
Although there’s no one definition for employee engagement, it often involves three key elements:
- Employees feel valued by their organization
- Employees are motivated by their job
- Employees are fully invested in the success of the company
Why Does Employee Engagement Matter?
Companies striving to stay at the top of the game and win the “war for talents” must embrace the philosophy of employee engagement. Today, employees are looking for more than just good pay. A 2018 study revealed that 60% of workers would take a pay cut to work in their ideal organization. With the cost of replacing an employee estimated at twice their current salary, the need to keep your workers happy has never been more evident.
Employee engagement is the new competitive advantage since companies with well-engaged employees are outperforming their competitors. According to a recent study, 69% of employees would work more diligently if their efforts were better recognized or appreciated by their bosses. Companies with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable than their peers.
In general, employee engagement’s benefits can be summarized in three key areas:
- Employee engagement is a good indicator of employee retention. The more engaged your employees are, the less likely they are to leave for another job.
- Employee engagement can help organizations attract and retain talent. Organizations with high employee engagement scores tend to be more attractive to job candidates than those with low scores because they’re seen as having better work environments and cultures.
- Employee engagement can improve productivity, customer service, and brand image (among other things). Employees who feel valued and respected at work tend to perform better than their peers who don’t enjoy their jobs. This leads to increased efficiency among staff members and improved customer service levels since happier employees will have an easier time putting others at ease during interactions with clients, customers, patients, or whomever else the organization does business.
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Top 15 Companies Setting New Standards For Employee Engagement In 2024
Managing an empowered and productive workforce is the foundation of a successful technology company like Google. As a leader in the technology industry, Google has done tremendously well in promoting its employees’ well-being and professional growth. Google is one of the best places to work because the company believes that happy employees produce better results. Here are some of the strategies the company uses to keep its team of top talents sustainably engaged:
- Flexibility and innovative culture: Google pays great attention to individual employees’ needs for personal growth. The company’s 80/20 rule enables employees to take charge of their learning path, keeping them engaged, excited about their job, and satisfied. Through the “Innovation Time-Out Policy,” Google employees can spend up to 20% of their time learning new skills or doing things that inspire them.
- Comprehensive benefits: Google understands that keeping your employees appreciated and happy takes more than competitive salaries. Google offers hybrid car subsidies, free dental and health checkups, on-site physicians, and death benefits to deceased parents. In 2006, the company introduced the infamous employee stock option plan, which was the first of its kind in the industry.
- Open communication: Google represents the best example of how crucial vertical communication is in an organization. Innovations like Gmail, AdSense, and Google News originated because of Google’s unique way of listening and communicating with employees. Senior leadership at Google uses FixIts to communicate with teams and get solutions to problems every 24 hours.
- Focus on wellness: Google’s wellness program includes on-site yoga classes and massage therapy.
Mastercard, a multinational financial services company, has more than 100,000 employees worldwide. It’s not easy to keep everyone engaged when you have so many people in different locations and roles. Its success can be attributed to shrewd employee engagement and wellness programs. Mastercard cannot connect and power an inclusive digital economy without an empowered and innovative talent pool. The company has built its culture entirely on workforce agility. Mastercard’s employee engagement strategy can be summarized by:
- Creating a learning environment: Employee development is integral to the organization’s performance. The progressive employee engagement programs ensure that workers have the resources and support to learn new skills in the industry. Employees are given development cards to outline the paths they need to follow for a successful career.
- Forward-looking employee development: Mastercard’s talent management program always looks to make its employees future-ready. In this ever-changing digital economy, Mastercard ensures that its employees are equipped with relevant skills for today and the future. Through its AI garage, the company evaluates the skills needed by its employees and uses this information for reskilling and upskilling.
- Holistic perks: Mastercard has embraced the importance of work-life balance. The company offers various programs to support the financial, emotional, and medical safety of all employees and their families. The company policy is, “when you feel well, you live well – personally and professionally.” Mastercard offers new parent leave and financial support for adoption and childbirth.
3. Cisco Systems
Cisco is a leading cybersecurity and networking company that owes its success to a vibrant and high-performing workforce. This multinational tech giant has an elaborate strategy to engage employees from all departments and regions. Here are some of the drivers of employee engagement at Cisco:
- Employee recognition and empowerment: Recognizing employees’ efforts or good performance is critical to Cisco’s employee engagement strategy. The Employee Recognition Initiative focuses on not just professional accomplishments but also achievements in other areas of life. These awards can either come from colleagues or peer organizations.
- Direct access to Cisco executives: Cisco has a series of programs that facilitates communication and employee feedback. For example, birthday chats allow top executives like the Chairperson and the CEO to spend at least one special day with employees and answer their questions. Platforms that enable employees to voice their concerns increase employee engagement and, thus, productivity.
- Innovation and career development framework: Giving employees an avenue to explore their innovation is a key driver of employee engagement. Cisco’s Center allows employees to unveil their product ideas or build on a colleague’s idea. The best ideas are implemented through the talent development plan.
Rakuten is a multinational retail giant with more than 70 businesses ranging from online to offline businesses like banking and travel. With more than 28,000 employees across all businesses, Rakuten has perfected the use of software to track and support employee well-being. Rakuten uses Empuls to recognize and reward performance, get employee feedback, and create a general sense of connectedness. Here is how Rakuten strives to empower its employees:
- Exclusive perks and incentives: Rakuten understands that managing so many businesses under the same umbrella requires significant employee involvement in the company. Ideally, promoting well-being is the ultimate way to ensure employees are engaged. The company offers corporate sports club and gym memberships to create a sense of connectedness in its company culture. The company provides other financial benefits like relocation support.
- Stock option plan: Rakuten uses employee engagement software to identify and reward good performances. Part of the benefits is the stock option plan, which seeks to give employees a chance to own company shares. With employees owning shares, their success is tied to the company’s success, which boosts morale.
- Employee support and development programs: Rakuten has established a culture that minimizes the “set-up to fail syndrome” by investing in talent development. The company supports its employees’ personal development and maximizes their strengths. Encouraging employees to acquire technical skills that add to their strengths increase employee engagement.
Salesforce’s employee engagement strategy relies on technology and data to evaluate and strengthens the connection between employees, managers, and the organization. Salesforce inculcates its values like trust, customer success, innovation, and quality in its employees in the following ways:
- Robust onboarding programs: Salesforce implements its employee engagement strategies from the recruitment stage. All new hires are in a yearlong marketing group for proper training before officially working. Upon completion of the training, recruits are assigned a work buddy to help with learning and productivity.
- Focus on employee wellness and work-life balance: The company values a healthy workforce and ensures they contribute to their employees’ personal development. It has a wellness reimbursement program that offers employees $100 every month for activities like concerts, gym classes, and nutritional therapy. The wellness programs have proven to add immensely to employees’ welfare.
- Balance of technology and human interaction: To promote connection and build relationships within the organization, Salesforce has carefully chosen to automate certain things and leave out others. This strategy allows the management to interact with their employees and know them well. For managers, building personal relationships, listening, and giving feedback will undeniably improve employee engagement.
As the leading consumer electronics company, Apple has created new standards for employee engagement. The company has an elaborate strategy to promote good employee relations and increase productivity. Apple has continuously transformed various structural units to better their investment in human capital and the participation of individual team members in team development. In order to inculcate the organizational vision and boost morale in its workforce, HR strategies of Apple emphasize on:
- A fandom culture: Apple has created a culture where the employees are the company’s biggest fans and, thus, the brand ambassadors. The company promotes the usage of its products among the employees by giving up to 25% discounts to its employees. Giving out products for free or at good discounts and allowing employees to enjoy the benefits of apple products increases their commitment to the company.
- Great employee experiences: Most of Apple’s innovative designs and trend-setting products have resulted from the culture of allowing employees to explore. Apple promotes employee engagement by encouraging them to create better designs than they have seen. This tradition creates flexibility and great experience among the workforce.
- Competitive benefits and compensation: In addition to the usual salaries, Apple has rolled up some of the best perks and incentives for its employees. The company offers free stock shares to all employees with grants of up to $2,000. All these unique benefits make the employee feel part of the company, promoting employee engagement in their work.
7. Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is one of the top companies setting new standards for employee engagement in 2023, according to Forbes. As one of the largest healthcare providers globally, Kaiser Permanente acknowledges the contribution of staff morale and enthusiasm to the success of an organization. The organization demonstrates its commitment to a healthier and well-engaged workforce in various ways:
- Investing in emotional and mental health: Kaiser Permanente has invested much in research and employee resilience programs to address wellness issues and overall employee productivity. The company’s wellness initiatives, healthy eating, cessation, and resilience training programs improve employees’ commitment to their jobs. Special awards are given out throughout the year recognizing those who make significant contributions toward improving workplace wellness culture within the organization.
- Elite perks: Kaiser Permanente has various programs that promote and support a good work-life balance. Employees enjoy various health insurance packages in addition to vacations, holidays, and sick leave to rejuvenate.
- Team building and community engagement: Corporate social responsibility is a core value at Kaiser Permanente. The company organizes and supports social responsibility both inside and outside the workplace. In addition to the weekly community outreach programs, employees have quarterly outreach programs to interact away from the office environment.
Like many tech giants, Microsoft considers employee engagement an incredible tool for promoting shared values and securing long-term success. Microsoft has been voted one of the best places to work several times over the last decade. Here are some of the drivers of Microsoft’s employee engagement:
- Efficient employee feedback system: Microsoft engages its employees through the AskHR software. This system facilitates a smooth interaction with the management, thus giving them insights into the need of the workforce.
- Team-building and networking opportunities: Microsoft has many team-building activities during which employees connect and share. The company uses these opportunities to strengthen the values and objectives of the company in its workforce.
- Professional development: Microsoft has committed to creating a pool of highly skilled workforce through training and coaching. The company supports employees who are willing to grow by learning new skills. Creating opportunities to learn increase employee engagement.
9. Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM)
SHRM is an organization that educates HR professionals on effective workforce management strategies. Given the nature of its business, SHRM has to lead by example and treat its employees better. The company understands the importance of engaging employees and has incorporated the following programs:
- Recognizing and rewarding good performance: As an HR training organization, the company understands the importance of appreciating your employees. SHRM uses technology to track, manage and reward good performance in the organization.
- Strategic compensation: SHRM encourages employees to put more effort and passion into their roles through competency-based pay and pay-for-performance. Morale is boosted when an employee’s reward is tied to their effort. On top of this, the company provides sufficient resources to help its employees succeed.
- Employee autonomy and authority: Employees learn more when they take responsibility. SHRM ensures an adequate level of autonomy in every role to help employees take more responsibility for their actions.
Employee engagement is crucial in technology companies because it creates a vibrant and creative workforce. Nvidia is one of the leading manufacturers of graphic processing units and computer chips. On the global stage, the company is setting standards of employee engagement through strategic measures like:
- Collaborative work environment: Nvidia promotes teamwork and team building to enhance participation. Nvidia organizes community outreach and team-building events to foster excellent working relationships. The collective mindset eliminates the struggle and unhealthy competition, which may hinder productivity.
- Encouraging innovation: Creativity and innovation is key to the success of all technology companies, and Nvidia is not alien to that fact. The company has created productive environments for its workforce to explore their creative mindset with adequate autonomy.
Spotify stands as a giant in the music streaming industry with a user base exceeding 550 million listeners and a library upwards of 100 million songs and five million podcasts. Beyond its expansive selection of audio content, Spotify also shines in the realm of employee engagement. Here’s how Spotify excels at keeping its workforce driven and connected:
- Self-leadership: Spotify encourages employees to steer their career development, instilling a sense of ownership and promoting personal growth.
- Encouraging innovation: Spotify recognizes that innovation involves challenging the conventional. The company cultivates a culture in which taking risks and learning from failure is valued, encouraging boldness, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking among employees.
- Promoting sincerity and collaboration: Employees see themselves as part of a larger “band” where each member plays an essential role in the audio experience for users. The company prioritizes transparency and collective effort through open communication and feedback, building a cohesive team.
Honorable Mentions: Four Organizations Reinventing Employee Engagement
12. Warby Parker
Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa, cofounders of Warby Parker, created a training and onboarding approach that both teaches and builds strong interpersonal connections. They prioritized developing a culture that supports direct, honest, and open communication, which resulted in a company-wide emphasis on effective communication and employee engagement.
To keep employees motivated, new-employee onboarding and training is handled by team members at all levels at Warby Parker. Individual department members lead new workers through everyday responsibilities, processes, and duties, while executives discuss the company’s vision and values. This allows each new worker to meet colleagues from all over the organization and promotes the concept of tightly knit teams.
From the start, Warby Parker uses a variety of tactics to build peer-to-peer connections among team members. Balloons with the words “Nice to meet you!” are placed on the desk of each recruit to alert the rest of the staff that they should go out of their way and say hello. They also conduct quarterly 360-degree reviews for every employee, providing an opportunity for their colleagues to speak openly about their experiences. When these kinds of talks are encouraged, each team member learns more about themselves and teams can more easily grow together.
Adobe has had a culture of innovation for nearly 40 years, and it’s no secret that its culture has been integral to the company’s growth. The company’s mission is to “connect content and data and introduce new technologies that democratize creativity, shape the next generation of storytelling, and inspire entirely new categories of business” and Adobe’s employees are encouraged to be creative in their work every day.
An individual employee’s creativity can significantly impact how their team operates, which is why Adobe encourages each employee to share ideas with other company members. This helps innovative ideas reach a large audience quickly, regardless of whether they come from an executive or someone lower down on the totem pole.
No wonder Adobe was recognized as one of the best workplaces for innovators for the fourth year in a row!
Patagonia’s mission is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Employees are guided by this mission in all aspects of their work.
Patagonia also provides a slew of appealing employee benefits to keep teams engaged, including flexible work hours, an onsite staff café, and free yoga lessons. Yet, the company’s onsite childcare center may be the most significant perk. Employees are welcome to visit their children during lunch breaks or to tuck them in for sleep. Nursing mothers are even notified if their infants need to eat by the daycare.
Wellable, an employee wellness technology and services provider, empowers organizations to create impactful wellness programs for a healthier, happier workforce. Wellable not only offers engaging solutions for companies but also practices what it preaches and embodies our wellness principles through several initiatives:
- Quarterly team-building series: Throughout the year, Wellable organizes team-building events like trivia nights, cocktail/mocktail classes, paint sessions, and pretzel-making classes. These activities build team communication and collaboration, strengthening the work culture.
- Thursday wind-downs: Every Thursday, Wellable dedicates the last hour of work to social activities and team bonding, fostering a sense of community, encouraging informal connections, and breaking down hierarchical barriers.
- Culture committee: This committee is dedicated to championing a culture of well-being and strategizing ways to ensure team members feel valued, heard, and engaged. This ongoing effort can boost job satisfaction, loyalty, and a sense of belonging among employees.
- Annual company retreat: This retreat allows employees to connect, celebrate achievements, and align on common objectives in a relaxed setting. This strengthens interpersonal relationships and team spirit while reinforcing a collective commitment to the company’s mission.
- Half-day summer Fridays: Optional long weekends during the summer allow employees to enjoy additional leisure time, leading to a refreshed and more energized workforce.
- Transparency and open communication: Wellable conducts “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) sessions, biweekly all-hands meetings, and discussions on financial earnings, aligning employees with the company’s direction and boosting their engagement.
- Holistic benefits: Wellable offers comprehensive benefits, including a wellness program, 401(k) plans, and educational stipends, ensuring employees have the resources to support their holistic health and well-being.
How To Show Your Employees Appreciation
Showing your employees appreciation can boost morale, increase performance, and promote loyalty. Numerous studies have shown that recognizing your employees’ hard work or efforts improves confidence, leads to better performance, and strengthens the company culture through employee engagement.
Employee appreciation entails a plethora of rewarding or morale-boosting gestures like sending thank you messages, providing financial support, and other incentives. As a manager, you can include the following in your HR strategies as ways to express your gratitude to the employees:
- Celebrate work anniversaries
- Provide monetary bonuses
- Invest in work-life balance by offering extra time off
- Send birthday gifts and anniversary gifts to your employees
- Organize annual parties like Christmas for your employees
- Promote your employees based on merit
- Encourage family activities outside the team building events
In this increasingly dynamic work environment, the importance of employee engagement in the efficiency and productivity of a company cannot be overstated. Many executives are shifting focus to issues like work-life balance, employee well-being, and promoting innovation. Most importantly, employees develop a deep connection with an organization if their efforts are recognized and appreciated. Employee engagement strategies should be conceptualized to show employees that their company values them as people, not production machines.
There is no doubt that the companies in this list are setting new standards for employee engagement. These companies aren’t just talking about employee engagement—they’re actually doing it! Their commitment to creating a culture of collaboration, trust, transparency, and innovation is evident in everything they do.
From creating innovative wellness programs that improve productivity while reducing stress levels among employees to developing more diverse leadership teams who value diversity as an asset rather than a liability, these companies are doing what it takes to create great cultures that attract top talent while also driving profitability and growth.