A new year, a new list. The latest one to catch our eye is the 2019 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. It’s the country’s largest ongoing annual workforce study, representing the thoughts of more than 3.4 million employees.
Often times these lists create division rather than inspiration. How can smaller companies compete with the employee experiences created by massive well-known brands with astronomical budgets? In many ways, they can’t. Outrageous perks, generous benefits, and over-the-top office spaces cost money that only a fraction of businesses can afford.
That said, the employee experience is so much more than free lunches and Instagram-worthy work spaces. Think: how employees interact, the impact of the company mission on culture, and the opportunities employees have to grow and develop.
Bottom line: the employee experience is created by the way a company manages, engages, and develops its team.
And the employee experience matters – more so than perks and benefits: 76% of Millennials say professional development is one of the most important elements of company culture. For Generation Z, it is the number one reason they accept a job.
So, how do the best companies to work for stack up? We took a look at the list’s top three companies and investigated how seriously they take performance management and employee engagement. (Spoiler alert: they take it VERY seriously, and rightfully so.)
#1 Hilton’s commitment to its mission
What stands out about the hotel giant is the way the executive team lives and breathes the company mission: “To be the most hospitable company in the world—by creating heartfelt experiences for Guests, meaningful opportunities for team members, high value for Owners and a positive impact in our Communities.”
With a “hospitality for all” mindset, Hilton has created a culture where all employees, regardless of role or level, are treated like guests. Hilton identified five key behaviors of leaders within this “For All” mindset. They include:
- Building trust with all employees regardless of position
- Using goals to reinforce the company mission and meaningfully connect employees to it
- Encouraging a growth mindset through development
- Using recognition to celebrate both individual and team wins
- Creating and strengthening employee relationships and connections
#2 Salesforce sets up managers for success
The runner up on this year’s list, Salesforce has certainly made a name for itself with its long list of perks and an undeniable “cool” factor. These help attract the brightest college grads across technology and other fields.
With youth comes inexperience, but Salesforce smartly created a program to help its young employees transition into managers. A few years ago the company rolled out a new program to help speed the learning curve. It created a set of criteria to be a great leader, and through a variety of leadership training programs, helps managers identify their strengths and weaknesses in order to improve.
The investment in the program benefits not only the new managers, but all employees who then report to them. It’s a win-win for all.
#3 Wegmans puts employees at the top
Wegmans puts its commitment to employees front and center, right there in the middle of the company philosophy:
“At Wegmans, we believe that good people, working toward a common goal, can accomplish anything they set out to do. In this spirit, we set our goal to be the very best at serving the needs of our customers. Every action we take should be made with this in mind. We also believe that we can achieve our goal only if we fulfill the needs of our own people. To our CUSTOMERS and our PEOPLE we pledge continuous improvement, and we make the commitment: Every day you get our best.”
While the company puts its employees first, the result is a serious case study in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Wegmans ranked second in the 2018 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient Rankings overall, and ranked first in workplace environment.
But if you think the grocery chain only shows employees love with expensive perks and benefits, think again. Instead Wegmans invested $50 million in employee development, focuses on things like training programs and scholarships.
Yes, cool perks can bring candidates in the door. But they don’t do much to create sticky work environments that drive engagement and loyalty over time. That’s possible only by focusing on making employees feel welcomed and valued through the way they’re managed and developed.