CONNECTIONS

An Edelman perspective on making meaningful employee
connections that deepen engagement, build trust
and accelerate business performance

LEARNING FROM THE BEST

Three Employee Engagement Lessons from the 100 Best Companies to Work For
By Alissa Schepisi, Vice President, Employee Engagement
Employees clamor to work for them. Other companies long to be them. They are absolutely crushing it when it
comes to organizational trust, job satisfaction and corporate culture. They are the 100 Best Companies to Work
For, and they can teach you a thing or two about employee engagement.
Compiled jointly by Fortune and Great Place to Work Institute, the yearly list is the ultimate prize for U.S.
companies pursuing employer of choice status. Each company’s recipe for success is unique, but we’ve
observed some common themes. Here’s a look at what the 2016 Best Companies do well – and what others can
learn from them.
Some tips as you think about how to set the right tone
from employees’ first day on the job:

1. Set the right tone from the start.
Research from the Wynhurst Group indicates 4 percent
of new employees leave a job after a disastrous first
day, and 22 percent of staff turnovers occur in the first
45 days of employment. It’s clear that a successful
onboarding program for new employees is a make-orbreak engagement factor.
While some companies view onboarding as the time to
sign forms, review policies and give office tours, great
companies make onboarding an immersive cultural
experience that lays the foundation for long-term
engagement.

Don’t underestimate the significance of your
onboarding program. Invest time and resources
accordingly. While HR typically administers such
programs, involve voices and ideas from all parts of
your organization.

Focus on both the big and small aspects of
company culture – signs, symbols and language
can matter just as much as mission, vision and
values.

Back away from the PowerPoint lectures.
Gamification can make onboarding fun, immersive
and educational.

New hires at Accenture (No. 84 on this year’s list) learn
the ropes in part by playing "Sky Journey," a mobile
game in which players manage and operate a virtual
business. Navy Federal Credit Union (No. 44) also takes
an immersive approach with a military experience
module designed to create awareness of and
empathy for the challenges faced by their members.

2. Ask employees what matters to them.
Then provide it.

Great onboarding also helps newbies learn the
language and symbols that positively reinforce their
company’s culture. New employees at upscale custom
home builder David Weekley Homes (No. 17) attend
“Weekley 101” to learn Weekley-isms (“it’s not a master
bedroom – it’s an owner's retreat!”). Workday (No. 31)
gives new hires a pair of red socks to wear on the last
day of the quarter, per company tradition.

The best companies don’t follow trends – they follow
their employees and, in doing so, ensure the services
they offer enhance employees’ quality of life.

Having great benefits is a prerequisite for achieving
employer of choice status, but the way companies
select the perks they offer can be significantly more
important than the perks themselves.

© 2016 Edelman

Before Genentech (No. 11) broke ground on a new
68,000 square-foot employee center, it surveyed
employees to ensure the facility included features
that were meaningful. As a result, it will feature a
farmers market, urgent care clinic and career
development hub. Intuit (No. 34) surveyed
employees who are working parents to find out
which benefits matter most to them, and when
parents said they wanted more time off, Intuit
promptly increased paid parental leave from two to
eight weeks.
Employees at Boston Consulting Group* (No. 3) were
struggling with the number-one challenge for
employees in the consulting industry: burnout. To
address the issue, BCG partnered with a Harvard
Business School professor to create a program that
combines conventional work-life balance efforts with
attempts to rethink work processes that make the
work itself more meaningful. Employees see this move
as proof the organization really cares about making
their lives more manageable, and it has led to a 74
percent increase in reported intentions to stay at the
consultancy for the long term.
Slalom (No. 100), another consulting firm, addressed
burnout by issuing a “no unwanted travel policy,”
where teams service local clients and receive
support as needed from the 17-office network in the
U.S. To ensure burnout-busting efforts are working, the
consultancy has also instituted a Meaningful Work
Index employees complete weekly so their manager
can quickly identify and address problem areas.
Some things to consider when designing a benefits
program employees will love:

Get to know the challenges your employees face
and offer benefits that remove those barriers.
Cool perks may grab headlines, but the best
benefits help employees solve problems.
If you don’t know, ask. Don’t be afraid to survey
employees to learn which benefits are most
meaningful to them.
Benefits design is not a one-and-done activity.
Your employees’ lives are constantly changing –
the benefits you offer should change as well.
Institute a regular check-in mechanism to ensure
your benefits program evolves to meet your
employees’ needs.

3. Make giving as fulfilling as receiving.

Organizations on the Best Companies list create CSR
programs that are so valued by employees that
participation is a reward instead of an obligation.
When KPMG (No. 43) held a storytelling competition
encouraging employees to highlight the positive
impact of the firm’s work, the reward for offices with
the highest participation rates was $20,000 – to donate
to charity. GoDaddy (No. 95) doles out $1,000 bonuses
to employees who donate more than 30 hours a year
to a single charity.
Even small-dollar donations can make a big
engagement impact. Veterans United Home Loans,
(No. 30) sends all new hires $10 before their first day
and, as a way of introducing themselves, asks them to
share how they used their money to enhance
someone else's life (another great onboarding idea!)
One new employee went to Goodwill and placed a
dollar in each of her favorite books along with a note
that read: "Great choice; this one is on me."
Quicken
Loans
(No.
5)
took
a
somewhat
unconventional approach to strengthening their local
community – they relocated 8,000 employees to a $2.2
billion space in downtown Detroit specifically to
contribute to the city’s economic revitalization. They
also helped in more traditional ways: In addition to
sponsoring a local light rail line, they created the Live
Detroit program to provide employees financial
incentives for renting or buying a home downtown.
Some things to consider when engaging employees in
corporate philanthropy:

Consider reallocating a portion of your incentive
budget for a high-impact volunteer activity.

After a community giving effort or event, initiate a
storytelling campaign so employees can share what
the experience meant to them.

Put your money where your office is – focus your
philanthropic efforts on the communities where
employees live and work.

Great companies are more than the sum of their parts.
There is no single blueprint or checklist to follow in order
to achieve off-the-charts engagement and every
company needs to create their own “secret sauce.”
But you can start by bringing your culture to life through
thoughtful onboarding, employee-centric benefits and
creating meaningful ways for employees to give back.
*Edelman client

About Us

The Kelly Global Workforce Index reports 31 percent
of employees view corporate social responsibility and
Edelman Employee Engagement helps organizations
philanthropy as one of the most important factors of
accelerate business performance, delivered by highly
an employer’s reputation. Thus it comes as no
engaged and trusted employees. For more
surprise that there has been a significant shift away
information, visit us at ee.edelman.com or follow us on
from a “check the box by writing a check”
Twitter at @EdelmanEE.
approach to corporate philanthropy.
© 2016 Edelman

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