Employee Engagement: 10 Companies That Do It Right

By: Marcus Varner | July 15, 2016 (Edited July 7, 2017)

employee engagement

Employee engagement isn't doing too hot. Not at most companies, anyway.

According to the most recent Gallup poll on employee engagement, only 13% consider themselves actually engaged at their jobs-which is described as being "involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace." Those other 87% present a huge risk to their companies, constantly undermining their teams' success, whether consciously or subconsciously.

This subversion inevitably turns into a bad experience for customers like me and you. Products turn inferior. Customer service stinks. Nothing improves.

On the other hand, companies where employee engagement is high tend to deliver stellar customer experiences (see my recent post "Employee Engagement: 5 Reasons Companies Need to Take It Seriously").

So which companies fall into this category, where, according to Gallup, 64% of employees on average are engaged in their work and more likely to give you a top-notch customer experience?

While certainly not an exhaustive list, here are 10 companies that have distinguished themselves for creating highly engaged employees and delighting customers:

1. Nationwide Insurance

employee engagement

Apparently, this insurance giant is not just on the side of their customers, but on that of their employees as well. Gallup named this company among their 2015 Gallup Great Workplace Award winners, which recognizes companies with exceptionally high rates of employee engagement. Nationwide is also recognized as a 2016 Great Place to Work, with:

  • 95% of employees praising their work atmosphere
  • 94% saying they have great bosses
  • 89% proud to tell others they work at Nationwide

2. REI

employee engagement

Few companies are as in touch with their customers as camping and outdoors supplier REI is (see their Black Friday #optoutside campaign). But they also go to great pains to keep in touch with the needs of their employees via social media and online "company campfires," where anyone in the company talk openly about company issues, large and small. In return for being heard, employees reciprocate enthusiastically, with 89% calling REI a great place to work.

3. CarMax

employee engagement

At this auto dealer, 91% are proud to tell others where they work and feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments. Ninety-five percent praise the challenging atmosphere and the quality of company communication, and 93% express satisfaction about how their company allows them to give back to their community. Perhaps this is why named CarMax also among their 2015 Gallup Great Workplace Award winners.

4. Quicken Loans

employee engagement

Headquartered in recession-ravaged Detroit, this company has made a mission of helping the city recover. This mission has provided a focal point for all company employees, many of whom have had their own lives turned around by being hired at Quicken. Reports also find that Quicken is uncommonly generous with benefits and perks, motivated by a belief that "by highly supporting their people they'll instinctively do the same for customers."

5. Mars, Inc

employee engagement

Another 2015 Gallup Great Workplace Award winners, this candy company has figured out the recipe for getting employees invested in their organization. According Great Place to Work, 96% of Mars employees have great pride in their company, 94% laud the company's rewards and atmosphere, and 92% agree that employees at Mars are given a lot of responsibility.

6. Google

employee engagement

Google has been hailed for its deliberate culture of transparency, which encourages employees to not only take a significant part of each week (20% to be exact) for projects outside their normal work functions, but to seek out and build collaboration with people in other departments and divisions. Of course, the company's perks and benefits-free unlimited food, free massages and haircuts, etc.-are legendary. This leads to some of highest ratings of any company on Best Place to Work:

  • 95% say employees are willing to give extra to get the job done right
  • 95% feel they're given the tools and resources they need to get their job done
  • 98% express great pride in their company

7. Charles Schwab

employee engagement

Employee engagement is not the product of only better corporate communication or more lavish perks. This 2015 Gallup Great Workplace Award winner starts with the innate talents and strengths of its employees.

"Across Schwab, we're committed to building an engaging work environment," says Beth Feringa, Managing Director of Organization Development at the company. "We know that everyone has something that they naturally do well. These things, we're able to take them and repeat them. When we take a strengths=based approach, we incorporate those talents with skills and capabilities and information, and those talents become our strengths."

8. American Express

employee engagement

In the battle to generate greater employee engagement, this credit card company takes a fairly straightforward approach: tying ratings, pay, and bonuses to the performance and behavior of each individual employee. This approach seems to pay off. Ninety percent of employees appreciate the responsibility placed on them, according to Great Place to Work, and 86% consider their workplace "great."

9. Intermountain Healthcare

employee engagement

By increasing the quality and frequency of communication and getting individual employees involved in decision-making, this Utah-based health network has gained a reputation for strong employee engagement. Nurses, for instance, are recruited to join strategic committees throughout the organization, including their Engagement Council. Through this program, they're also trained to become what Intermountain Healthcare calls "core leaders," and then promoted into management positions. Programs like these have super-charged their customer service and earned them a spot among the 2015 Gallup Great Workplace Award winner list.

10. Hyatt

employee engagement

Last, but certainly not least, on our list is this well-known hotel chain which is known for its high employee retention and long tenures-both of which are usually unheard-of in the hotel industry. What is their secret? A focus on employee development programs-for example, employees are trained to listen carefully to the problems of other employees and guest and come up with their own solutions rather than rely on scripts-and promoting from within. Great Place to Work stats speak to the effectiveness of these programs:

  • 94% feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments
  • 95% feel they have great bosses and great communication
  • 94% are proud to tell others they work at Hyatt

Forty companies total were awarded the 2015 Gallup Great Workplace Award. You can see the full list here.

Numerous companies have been recognized as Great Places to Work. To see if your favorite companies are one of them, click here.

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Written by Marcus Varner

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