Recruiting stellar employees is the first step, retaining and keeping them engaged at work are challenges companies perpetually face throughout the employee lifecycle. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all guide to employee engagement. Each company, job and individual employee is not only different but constantly evolving.
Rather than try to create a guide broad enough to be all encompassing, we asked 20 different companies some questions about employee engagement and how to get it right. A few of them even have an employee engagement expert on staff, so take some notes and identify areas where you can take their experiences and apply them to your own employee engagement strategy.
Apto is a real estate software company that built a cloud-based CRM and deal management platform for the commercial real estate industry. We asked Angela Tucci, Apto’s Chief Executive Officer:
What's the one piece of advice you wish you'd heard 20 years ago?
“The most profound and transformative moments in my life have been defined by the quality of my relationships and experiences I've had — not the titles I've held. Human connection is fundamental but oftentimes ignored, as illustrated by the poor employee engagement scores across corporate America.
"I wish 20 years ago someone asked me to think more about the way I showed up every day for those in my life, personally and professionally, and encouraged me to think about how I wanted to truly change the world and impact those around me.”
Centerfield is a big data software that helps marketing and sales teams better target top customer personas. We asked Gena Romano, Centerfield’s Director of Human Resources:
What processes or technologies does the company use to make sure employees are heard?
“We use a third-party company to manage anonymous surveys sent to employees in each department. These surveys gauge employees satisfaction with managers, new processes or projects. We also have a robust, three-month leadership training program that focuses on how managers can be strong leaders, create a safe environment for feedback and provide clear goals for tracking. This training prepares our managers to be well equipped in ensuring our employees are heard.”
edX is a non-profit open-source company that provides online courses offered by universities from around the globe. We asked Jessica Burchill, edX’s Chief Happiness Officer:
How have you kept your culture while scaling?
“Building a consistent culture starts with the hiring process. First and foremost we look for employees that are a great culture fit by tying our values and competencies into the interview process. Once they’re in the door, we continue to listen to what our employees have to say, where they continue to define our culture. We also provide several types of employee engagement and recognition programs, such as Spot Awards.
"These are an opportunity for employees to recognize their colleagues for going above and beyond with a personal note and gift card. Although scaling up events can pose a challenge for growing companies that are trying to keep budgets in check, we think it’s important to continue to invest in traditions that have always been a part of edX culture. A popular one is our annual, family-friendly, Halloween party. Employees bring their families in for a donut-eating contest, costume contest, parade and more!”
Envoy Global is an HR and legal tech platform that supports immigration services with its enterprise immigration management platform. We asked Lindsay Dagiantis, Envoy Global’s VP of Human Resources:
How do employees help shape Envoy’s perks and benefits?
“Our employees have a big impact on what we select for our benefits. My team is constantly vetting new features and vendors, but it also constantly looks for feedback from employees either in one-on-ones, small group settings, or during our employee engagement surveys throughout the year. At the end of the day, we want to provide an opportunity to help employees learn about how various benefits can work for them, while also finding the best offerings that match our company culture and values.
"Our goal is to create holistic offerings for the different stages our employees go through — whether that is our paid parental leave policy, gym memberships, extremely competitive health plans, health reimbursement accounts, sabbaticals or a PTO day. Envoy’s benefits are designed to address the needs our employees have throughout their careers, and beyond.”
Fundera is a fintech company that offers small businesses financial solutions. We asked Meredith Wood, Fundera’s VP of Content:
How does Fundera’s culture encourage employees to act on their ideas?
“We've found it has to permeate the whole culture, and employees need to see that they’re truly being heard. From our engineering team's '20 percent time' to work on projects of their own choosing to a bi-annual employee engagement survey that provides an opportunity to suggest changes to our workplace, we're always encouraging new ideas. We host annual hackathons that have led to new product rollouts, and have even had a company-wide contest for employees to present a new business idea to our board.”
Harry’s is a consumer packaged goods company that’s well known for their high quality razors. We asked Rachel Peck, Harry’s Chief of Staff:
What opportunities do employees have to influence company culture?
“There are tons of both formal and informal ways that employees influence culture every day at Harry's. Feedback is an important part of our culture, so our people team runs a robust employee engagement survey twice per year, which gives everyone on the team a chance to offer their most candid and anonymous feedback, suggestions and ideas.”
LogicManager is an enterprise risk management software that supports enterprise businesses to improve business performance and maintain their reputations. We asked Steven Minsky, LogicManager’s CEO:
What do you look for in candidates?
“A great company culture is more than free food and happy hours, although we have those, too! I believe it is important to focus on employee engagement, career development and innovation.
"I’m involved in the hiring process at all levels of our organization and I firmly believe a dynamic and impactful company culture is worth fighting for every day. We are successful in attracting the best talent due to our company culture and our emphasis on professional development. We're committed to empowering all team members to own their ideas and see them through.”
MatchCraft is an AdTech software agency that partners with resellers and digital agencies to help SMB companies manage, automate and scale. We asked MatchCraft’s Head of People and Culture, Nicole Webb and their People and Culture Manager, Alisa Redgrift:
Can you identify a change driven by employee feedback?
“We used survey feedback to determine that the majority of our employees wanted to bring their dogs to work. The data from this survey also determined which days of the week Matchcraft would allow these pets on site.
"We also host brainstorming sessions to ensure that all of our employees' opinions and suggestions are heard. In the past, Matchcraft’s team building activities, such as quarterly recesses, happy hours and holiday parties, have been chosen by the employees through such feedback channels.”
OneSpan is a cybersecurity company that helps keep personal identities, personal devices and transactions safe and secure. We asked Tracy McCarthy, OneSpan’s Chief Human Resources Officer:
How do you build and maintain a strong culture?
“We really believe that finding time to connect with each other is an important part of building a world-class organization. We take the time to do this, whether it be a happy hour, a new hire onboarding class in one of our international locations or through daily conversations in one of our common spaces.”
Pax8 is a cloud-based platform that provides billing, automation and sales support for Managed Service Providers to service SMBs. We asked Susan Mitnick, Pax8’s VP of Pax8 University:
Where do you see Pax8U in the future, and how will you get there?
“The key is employee engagement. I believe in engaging employees through professional development. By providing opportunities for employees at all levels to actively participate in working groups to identify the root cause of issues and develop solutions they are not only proud of but take ownership of, we will be able to move further, faster.”
Placester is a real estate marketing platform that helps companies automate distribution with performance tracking. We asked Fred Townes, Placester’s COO about the company's perks and benefits package in relation to employee engagement:
“At Placester we put our employees first and are continually focused on providing a comprehensive benefits and perks package to encourage engagement, wellness and work-life balance. In addition to unlimited paid time off and flexibility around remote work when needed, we have quarterly outings, weekly happy hours, and breakfast every Friday as we believe the little things go a long way when it comes to culture.
"At Placester, we know that employee engagement is about a connection between impactful work and wellness, so we think creatively about what employees need. Recently, we have brought in nutritionists and held flu shot clinics. However, by far our most appreciated benefit is our generous early stage equity package. We want our employees to find purpose in their work and giving them a stake in our success is paramount to not only driving engagement but also in demonstrating to our team that we know our greatest asset is our people and we value the work they do.”
Rise Interactive is a digital marketing agency that specializes in media, analytics and customer experience to help companies improve ad buys. We asked Scott Conine, Rise Interactive’s COO:
What processes or technologies does Rise Interactive use to make sure employees are heard?
“We use Glint to conduct weekly and quarterly engagement surveys. All employees were invited to review our last quarterly survey results at an employee engagement workshop. Employees discussed the lowest performing “positive” rated questions from the survey and shared ways to address and improve those areas. Feedback is also gathered through stay interviews, held with employees with tenure over 18 months, and exit interviews.
"This data is reported to our executive leadership team and managers for review and discussion. The results and action plans are shared during our quarterly all hands meetings.”
Smart is an AdTech marketing agency that offers customer growth support by managing and optimizing revenue potential. We asked Emilio Javier, Smart’s Senior Human Resources Manager:
What does fostering relationships between leadership and employees bring to the team?
“Employee engagement, productivity and retention are all benefits. Trust is a foundational element in any relationship and employees must trust their leadership to thrive. But it’s really a two-way street because that trust ensures we get some of our best inputs and ideas from employees. You only get this if leadership is visible, consistently engaged with their teams, and transparent in their communications.”
StackCommerce is an eCommerce platform that helps publishers and brands drive sales. We asked Kerry Milazzo, StackCommerce’s Employee Engagement Director:
How do StackCommerce teams get closer outside of work?
“StackCommerce fosters friendships by offering a variety of events in the office and outside of the office. Each year, we spend four days on a cruise, we go to a Dodger game, we host a company Olympics, anniversary party and annual holiday party. We also provide financial support to team leads so they can take their team out for a night on the town.
"Some team outings have included going away for a weekend, attending a Kendrick Lamar concert, going to a Lakers Game and checking out the Magic Castle. All of these events help Stackers get closer because they are held outside the office and allow each employee the opportunity to learn more about their coworkers on a personal level.”
Tenfold offers communication solutions through automation and integration with top sales platforms. We asked Fallon Haardt, Tenfold’s People Operations Manager:
What’s the most underrated (but awesome) perk?
“Our employees are very involved in creating our company culture, and we prioritize employee engagement with regular team luncheons and team building events. We also have unlimited PTO, which never hurts. Often, companies will dictate what the culture of the company is and not live up to those values.
"At Tenfold, our employees across the company participate in our culture committee team meetings and help to drive Tenfold’s culture as we grow. While we are still committed to our core values, we realize that a true culture has to grow organically by the people involved in the company, based upon what they feel is important, which leads to more communication and contribution from the teams.”
Tumblr is a popular content sharing platform for blogs, photos, quotes, links, music and video. We asked Megan Leet, Tumblr’s Head of Office Experience and Events:
How do you retain a startup culture despite having grown so quickly?
“As Tumblr quickly grew over the years, we continued to focus on a mix of recruiting, employee engagement and office experiences to retain our startup culture. We look for smart, creative, humble and passionate people who embody the Tumblr spirit when recruiting talent, and the company facilitates activities to build camaraderie across teams, including hack days and gaming and movie nights.”
Velocity EHS is a cloud-based EHS (environment, health and safety) software that helps companies reach and manage their EHS goals. We asked Molly Thompson, Velocity EHS’s Employee Engagement Specialist:
How are new hires set up for success?
“We believe retention begins with recruitment, so it’s essential for us to find candidates who are not only a good fit for the role but also our growth culture. We invest heavily in our onboarding program as well, with most new hires going through six to 12 months of training, dependent on job function and market.”
Wpromote is a digital agency that helps small and large companies grow their business through search marketing, social and email. We asked Lizzie Maher, Wpromote’s Recruiter for the People Operations team:
Can you identify a change driven by employee feedback?
“One of the best ways that we can show our employees that their feedback is not only being heard but also implemented is through a TinyPulse dashboard called “Wall of Wins.” Here, the employees can read about the various suggestions their colleagues have submitted and learn about how management incorporated them into our workplace environment.
"Recently, a colleague of mine suggested that due to our company’s rapid growth, it would be beneficial to raise the per-person budget for team events. The feedback was well received by upper management, and they increased our budget by 150 percent.”
Yotpo is an eCommerce company that creates marketing products to help brands boost trust, increase sales, better understand their customers and leverage insights. We asked Shira Flesh, Yotpo’s Talent Acquisition Specialist:
What opportunities do employees have to influence company culture?
“At the start of the year, we conducted an employee engagement survey to further understand how every Yotpo-ee feels about the company, culture and their individual position. Directly applying these results, we launched multiple initiatives in 2018. As a people-first company, we want to ensure our team is being heard. Exposure to our CEO Tomer Tagrin was important to many, and Tomer now leads monthly cross-functional sessions to discuss topics such as Yotpo’s future, our vision, product updates and everything in between.
"Another voiced desire was for professional development — outside of immediate job responsibilities — to be offered. We have since invited all members of the team to participate in company-wide trainings in Allyship and Embracing Weaknesses, with additional trainings being offered each quarter in various topics.”
Zoom Video Communications
Zoom Video Communications is a digital video and audio communication platform that helps enterprise companies streamline video communications. We asked Steve Snyder, Zoom’s Account Executive Team Lead:
We understand your company has a group called the happiness crew. What does that entail?
“The happiness crew maintains the company culture at each location through events, celebrations, community involvement and volunteering. These activities not only help maintain our culture as we grow; they also keep employees connected and feeling appreciated. My role in the happiness crew is to coordinate the volunteer events so all Denver employees have access to regular opportunities to volunteer in our community.”