There is no one way to increase employee engagement, but most HR professionals would agree that creating a healthy company culture is a good place to start. Employees at Google, SAS and Boston Consulting Group would also agree. All three companies topped this year’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. Each company can teach us a lesson about the influence of a strong company culture on employee engagement.
Google – Google’s employee perks have become famous. The company’s headquarters is a collection of buildings that look more like a college campus than a corporate office. The campus features a wave pool, indoor gym and game rooms. But the most important part of Google’s culture is its encouragement of new ideas. The company looks to all engineers, not just those at the senior level, for innovative ideas. Engineers are encouraged to propose ideas constantly, no matter how wild they may seem. All engineers are allowed to spend 20 percent of their time working on their own projects.
Key lesson # 1: Create a culture that encourages employees to propose their own ideas.
How this contributes to engagement: Employees are the most engaged when they care about the projects they work on. Every job has tasks that are not always fun or glamorous. Employees tolerate these tasks so they can have the opportunity to work on assignments that interest them. If employees do not ever get to work on interesting projects, they have nothing to look forward to and no motivation to do their best work. Allowing employees to work on projects that they initiated sends the message that you value their contributions and gives you peace of mind that they are working hard.
Boston Consulting Group (BCG)–Boston Consulting Group cannot boast wave pools and game rooms, but the company is known for creating a company culture based on its unmatched opportunities for professional development. BCG prides itself on providing employees with constant feedback and regular performance reviews. Senior management routinely suggests training programs for associates to help them improve. Employees are encouraged to ask questions. Senior managers work closely with junior consultants. This easy access to experienced professionals makes BCG a great place to learn and network.
Key lesson # 2: Provide constant feedback and training opportunities for your employees.
How this contributes to employee engagement: Feedback and training are important components of employee engagement. Employees that feel equipped to handle their job duties will be more engaged in their work. Feedback provides employees an opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Feedback also sends employees the signal that the company is concerned with their professional development. Employees are much more likely to work hard for a company that cares about them.
SAS – SAS regularly tops best companies to work for lists because of its desirable company culture. The company provides on-site massages, a hair salon and a health center for employees at its corporate office. There is no monitoring of sick days and most employees work an average of 35 hours a week. CEO Jim Goodnight sums up the company culture best: “My chief assets drive out the gate every day, my job is to make sure they come back.”
Key lesson # 3: Trust and take care of your employees and they will trust and take care of you.
How this contributes to employee engagement: SAS executives do not simply tell their employees that they trust them, they show it. While most companies monitor sick days and require employees to call in, SAS executives trust that their employees will be honest. Employees at SAS can also work on a flexible schedule. No one cares whether they show up at 8 or 11 every morning as long as they get their work done. SAS policies free their employees from worrying about trivial matters like sick days or the stress of being five minutes late. Less stressed employees are more engaged in their work.
The successes of Google, Boston Consulting Group and SAS show us that engaged employees will work harder for their companies than unengaged employees. The foundation of creating a culture of employee engagement is the company culture. Every company cannot provide wave pools or on site massages, nor does every company need to. The key to creating a culture that engages your employees is about identifying what works for your company and, most importantly, your employees.