There are many reasons why employee engagement is important. But not every company gets it right. Some companies, however, are revered for the way they keep employees engaged and passionate about their work.
We share with you 5 of the best organizations with the most engaged staff who go the extra mile, and share the strategies and practices that keep them at the top of the employee engagement game.
Each year, this software firm offers their employees $7,500 to take a “paid paid” vacation: they literally pay them to go on holiday anywhere they like. The only rules? You actually have to go somewhere, and can’t do any work or answer work related calls or messages. They stand by the idea that employees who actually go on vacation without dealing with anything work related return in a better state to work, fully ready and committed to push towards the company aims, also returning with a different, fresh outlook.
These “paid paid” vacations also supposedly eliminate the issue of people thinking they’re the only one who can solve a problem: once people return from their holiday relaxed and find things running smoothly, they will feel less pressure to handle everything themselves and develop a heightened sense of trust for their co-workers
If it’s not quite in your budget to be giving out large amounts of holiday cash, it’s always possible to instead let people take a couple of extra days paid leave, or a long weekend once in awhile, where they can also leave their work responsibilities behind and really get away. People will appreciate their hard work being recognised and be glad at the chance to disconnect from their responsibilities even for a short time.
SouthWest Airlines is a company revered for their employee engagement practices: it’s well recognised that they’re great to work for. With employee engagement levels having remained high over the years, they have a team full of committed, enthusiastic people who are passionate about the company’s vision and values and willing to help the company continue their success. They’ve set the bar high; from allowing existing employees from various departments to design their own uniform, giving them autonomy over aspects of their work life they’d never normally get a say in, to becoming a glowing example of customer service due to their collective of happy, committed employees.
The company allowed employees from any department to apply to collaborate on new uniform designs, with results really reflecting personality and company culture in a way that wouldn’t have been achieved had employees not been given a say. Employees were responsive to this, describing it as an “unforgettable experience”. The company encourages employees to stay inspired to do things differently. The viral video of one flight attendant rapping the safety information goes to show the kind of attitude the company has towards keeping things fun and unique, creating a great experience for customers and employees alike, and giving a great company image. Recognising those employees who really go the extra mile is another key factor of Southwest’s engagement practices: each week the CEO gives a “shout out”, publicly praising employees who have gone above and beyond at work, and there’s also a monthly recognition in Southwest’s magazine, featuring an employee who shined that month.
This kind of recognition keeps employees aware that they’re valued, and that their hard work and commitment to the company doesn’t go unnoticed. Providing praise is just as important as constructive feedback: people love to feel appreciated, and motivated to continue going that extra mile.
As the company founder points out, competitors can’t simply adopt the levels of engagement and commitment found in the company: it takes a special kind of employee and company culture.
This legal record management company established a simpler, smaller way to show employees that their hard work is valued. Their Appreciation Board is a glass picture frame which employees can write a note on with a marker and present to someone they want to show appreciation to. Whoever receives the board is free to keep it on display on their desk until they are ready to pass it on to someone else, with each achievement also being posted on the company Facebook page to increase visibility outside of the team.
Ideas like this are great: they’re not only simple to implement, and won’t disturb daily workflow, but they build a real-time feedback culture, encouraging people to give positive feedback and show appreciation for their peers and co-workers.
One way this U.K based Hardware company keeps their employee engagement levels up is by keeping an open, honest company culture. Every two weeks employees are given the opportunity to provide feedback without rules or guidelines to their managers. They are encouraged to give feedback on everything: how things are going, how they think things are managed, how the company interacts with customers, and ideas for improvement. Among other initiatives, one outcome of this is the implementation of a new customer card, which speeds up the in-store process, identifying customers and allowing them to make quicker purchases. Like many other initiatives now in place, this would never have come to fruition had the employees not been asked for their input.
Having this kind of regular, 360-degree feedback in place not only means things don’t get overlooked as often, it keeps the conversation going and ensures a company culture where people really feel as if they make a difference; that they’re more than just their role, and really benefit the company as a whole.
Although employees at Dreamworks Animation are provided with perks such as free refreshments, paid opportunity to decorate workspaces and company parties after big projects are completed, a practice they really appreciate is that at such parties and events they are encouraged to share their personal work and projects amongst their co-workers. This opens up an appreciation of non-work related projects, boosts creativity, and makes employees feel that they are more than just the work they do for the company.
With other companies like Google also giving employees the time to work on and pitch their own projects, this is a great way to really tell your employees that you not only trust them, but really value their input and creativity, keeping people feeling both in control and passionate about their work.
Whilst it may not be feasible for your company to provide huge amounts of money for “paid paid” holidays, or assign large percentages of time to personal projects, these organizations definitely show the value of integrating employee engagement into daily company culture, and a lot can be learned from their practices. Even in the form of small daily changes that keep people in the knowledge that they’re contributing to the company. Implementing great employee engagement practices is a sure-fire way to improve company culture, and have a team full of happy, productive and passionate people!
Photo by Javier Molina