The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) report “Employee Engagement and Commitment” opens with a quote from Jack (former GE CEO) and Suzy Welch: “Employee engagement first. No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the firm’s mission and understand how to achieve it. That’s why you need to take the measure of employee engagement at least once a year through anonymous surveys in which people feel completely safe to speak their minds.” That’s what Fortune Magazine does when reviewing companies for its annual list of “100 Best Companies to Work For,” survey employees and analyze company practices and policies. The companies on the 2014 list work hard to maintain the employee engagement that is the key to their business growth and profitability.

As the list proves, companies don’t have to be big international businesses with thousands of employees and deep pockets to make employee engagement a core business practice that hits the bottom line. Seven of the companies on the 2014 list have less than 1,400 employees. Their employee engagement ideas work for their businesses and their employees by increasing profits and cementing employee loyalty and satisfaction.

Arnold & Porter LLP

Washington D.C. international law firm Arnold & Porter LLP is on Fortune Magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2014 for the tenth time. With just under 1,400 employees and in business since 1946, this well-established law firm’s employee engagement ideas include encouraging lawyers to spend up to 15 percent of their time on pro bono work and balance work/life issues. The firm helps them do that by regularly updating employees on the status of the firm’s current pro bono efforts, providing certified on-site child care, offering reduced-hours schedules with benefits, and giving generous leave of absence options. Fortune’s employee surveyshowed the majority of Arnold & Porter’s employees feel management cares about them, are competent and provide good leadership, and have created a friendly work environment.

Credit Acceptance

Credit Acceptance’s employee engagement ideas and design have a foundation in its core business model, the idea that everyone deserves a second chance to improve their credit and be able to buy an automobile. They work with car dealers to help them offer auto financing to people with problem credit, enabling many people to buy reliable vehicles they need for work and rebuild their credit. This purpose is a source of pride for Credit Acceptance’s 1,304 employees who feel they are providing a service and helping people in need. Additionally, the company was selected for Fortune’s 2014 list because of a warm and friendly work environment, culture of appreciation, and respect for employees. The company’s “Great Place to Work Committee” plans fun bonding events. Their management philosophy embraces coaching rather than discipline and supports respectful attendance and leave policies. The employees trust management and feel they care about them.

Bingham McCutchen

Boston’s Bingham McCutchen is one of the largest law firms in the United States with 1,286 employees and has been on Fortune’s list 10 years in a row. The firm is noted for its employee engagement through a commitment to pro bono legal work, many community service projects, and their work to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. They take pride in their inclusive workplace and culture of giving back to the community. The company culture is infused with respect and appreciation for employees at all levels and a belief in work/life balance that is backed by an on-site gym and cafeteria, emergency back-up child care, and in-home care for sick kids or elders. They also offer telecommuting, non-traditional schedules, and reduced-hours schedules with benefits.

Baker Donelson

Another law firm on the list is Baker Donelson with headquarters in Tennessee, offices in 19 states, and 1,247 employees. It’s made the list five years in a row, moving up in rank each year for employee engagement through a fun and caring work environment, open communication processes, and work/life balance provisions. Some of the firm’s employee engagement ideas include Recess at Work days once a month for game play like dodge ball and tag, many celebrations of special events and parties, regular communication with 10-minute daily docket meetings, and flexible scheduling, telecommuting support, and sabbatical programs.

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Nugget Market

Nugget Market is a Sacramento, California grocery chain with 1,151 employees. The company culture includes a culture of appreciation and respect, along with fun and teamwork. The Stille family owns and operates the business and believes in treating employees with respect and support. They have implemented many employee engagement ideas and work hard to make Nugget Market a fun place to work by sending baggers to Las Vegas for the National Bag-Off Championships, planning unique year-end parties, and sending employees to paid events like whitewater rafting to build loyalty and teamwork. The company, founded in 1926, takes pride in never having a layoff.


Hilcorp doesn’t believe that money is not as important to employees as other factors at work. The Texas oil and gas company provides incredible bonuses and buy-ins, brand new cars and $100,000 incentives, and builds fun into the work day. It has paid off in unique loyalty and partnership with employees. Their open-book management approach and ambitious goals tie employees in to Hilcorp’s growth goals. The work environment is infused with over-the-top incentives that contribute to the culture of ownership. Hilcorp practice of sharing company profits with the employees has resulted in fierce loyalty and excitement at work, and has enabled the company to double in size in 2011, with plans to double again by 2015.

David Weekley Homes

Houston residential contractor David Weekley homes makes its 1,052 employees proud they work there with honest and ethical management, a team environment, and a welcoming, friendly work atmosphere. Employees are called team members, and meetings are supportive rather than critical.  The company’s other employee engagement ideas include incorporating spirituality into the company culture. They provide a spiritually supportive environment with a company-paid chaplain program and company prayer circles. Management encourages giving back to the community and employees have participated in building for Habitat for Humanity and helping a women’s shelter. The company’s founder, David Weekley, a “man of faith,” provides ethical leadership and fosters a culture of integrity that employees trust and appreciate.

Gallup analysis shows employee engagement ideas that are implemented well and provided consistently directly relate to company earnings and have a big effect on the bottom line. There doesn’t have to be a big budget for employee engagement, just some big ideas.


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