How Fortune 500 Companies Engage Their Employees

Looking for some tried and tested ideas to engage your employees? Learn how some of the most successful businesses around the world build employee engagement.


Looking for some tried and tested ideas to engage your employees? Learn how some of the most successful businesses around the world build employee engagement.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business with just a few colleagues or a multinational organization with thousands – employee engagement is always an important part of what makes your team successful.

Of course, the larger your team gets, the harder it can be to engage employees on an individual basis. If you have thousands of coworkers working in different offices around the world, then it becomes much more difficult to sit down with them on a regular basis and get their thoughts about how the company is operating.

So how do the big Fortune 500 companies keep employees engaged?


Five Companies Doing Employee Engagement Right

1. Accenture

Accenture is one of the driving forces behind HR consulting and technology, so it makes sense that they would know a thing or two about employee engagement.

What does Accenture do to engage employees?

One thing that sets Accenture apart is that they give staff ownership over the team building and engagement programs that they run. For example, each year they put on an Accenture Eurosoccer Tournament with over 400 of their employees. The HR department is not in charge of this program – instead, each office is able to independently make use of the budget available, come up with their own team selections, and collaborate to make the event a success. On LinkedIn, Accenture H&PS Innovation Lead John Mannion writes that this type of inclusiveness shows how much they “truly believe in employee engagement.”

Another thing that sets Accenture apart is how their managers provide feedback – or more literally, how they don’t. In 2015, CEO Pierre Nanterme announced that they were doing away with traditional performance reviews and moving towards more immediate feedback models instead. The move has been widely praised by HR experts, and is said to be another key to their employee engagement success.

“People want to know on an ongoing basis, am I doing [this] right? Am I moving in the right direction? Do you think I’m progressing? Nobody’s going to wait for an annual cycle to get that feedback. Now it’s all about instant performance management.”

- Pierre Nanterme, CEO, Accenture

2. FIS (Fidelity National Information Services)

Fidelity National Information Services, better known as the abbreviation FIS, is an international provider of financial services and has over 55,000 employees located around the world.

What does FIS do to engage employees?

About a decade ago, FIS realized that recognition was the missing piece of their employee engagement puzzle. The organization has offices all around the world, and for a long time they struggled with offering rewards and recognition across these global borders.

Eventually, the FIS leadership team developed a recognition strategy with the help of O.C. Tanner. Together, they created a digital platform for giving kudos called “FIS is You.” It allowed employees to send virtual notes of appreciation and graphics to other colleagues who helped them out, even if they weren’t in the same physical office. These would be displayed on a digital corkboard that would reflect all of the great work they had recently done.

The result? Michael Oates, Chief Human Resources Officer at FIS, says that shared messages of appreciation increased by 61%, which in turn helped to improve their levels of employee engagement.

“They appreciate it, there’s no doubt they appreciate it. Being consistent, recognizing what our employees do for us, recognizing that they truly make a difference…That’s what the employees want to hear. That’s what they want to know.”

- Frank Martire, Former CEO, FIS

3. Microsoft

Kathleen Hogan, EVP of Human Resources at Microsoft, says that there has been a cultural transformation at Microsoft in recent years. Technology has enabled their leadership team to connect with over 110,000 employees at scale that simply wasn’t possible before, which has helped to improve their engagement levels.

For example, Kathleen says one of their strategies was to change company meetings so they could be more interactive, and less one-sided. Whereas before they would have all-hands meetings in which the leadership team would talk “at” employees, they now have “hackathons” in which diverse teams can take the floor and talk about they think is important.

At the same time, Microsoft also engages different departments the old-school way – with regular employee morale events. These celebrations are an important part of their strategy for rewarding and engaging colleagues, and include activities like scavenger hunts, campus parties, and team building activities like Charity Bike Buildathon.

“Excellent planning! The day ran smoothly and all of the Outback Team Building & Training staff were friendly. There was no down time…It was exciting and engaging all the way through. Excellent! 10/10!”

- Bee Johnson, Executive Business Administrator, Microsoft

4. Salesforce

Salesforce is a cloud computing company that, according to Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For 2018, has one of the most engaged workplaces in the world. In fact, it’s actually ranked number one on the list!

What does Salesforce do to engage employees?

According to Edweena Stratton, VP of Employee Success, it all starts with Salesforce’s onboarding process. Every new employee is flown to headquarters so they can attend a “boot camp” and get immersed in the company culture. By having every employee go through the same onboarding experience, the Salesforce team ensures that everyone starts out on the right foot.

Next, they encourage personal development for each employee by facilitating internal mentorship programs, quarterly career fairs, and regular skill development sessions. Each individual also develops their own “V2MOM” plan, which outlines their vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measures for success. Edweena says that these plans make responsibilities more transparent, and helps to align employees with the vision outlined by the executive team.

At the end of the day though, Edweena says that the number one driver of engagement is their company culture itself. Salesforce was built around the Hawaiian spirit of Ohana, which means “family,” and they try to treat every member of their team with that same kind of equality and respect.

“Equality drives every aspect of our talent selection, acquisition and retention strategy – it ensures we are building a diverse and talented workforce and while at the same time, building a workplace where people can be their true authentic selves.”

- Edweena Stratton, VP of Employee Success, Salesforce APAC

5. Southwest Airlines

Working for an airline can be demanding with long hours, stressful situations, and frustrated flyers. That’s why it can be surprising when you board a flight with an organization like Southwest Airlines and discover the flight attendants to be genuinely enthusiastic about their work.

What does Southwest Airlines do to engage employees?

At Southwest Airlines, the secret to success lies in the freedom they give employees. If you have a unique idea that you want to try, then you’re encouraged to run with it. Everyone is treated as an individual, and given the independence to go above and beyond in their role.

For example, you can watch some of the funny flight attendant videos that have gone viral over the years. Employees at Southwest are encouraged to be genuine and show their personalities, which helps to make their work environment a more engaging place.

The leadership team approaches business decisions in a very similar way, which was the case in 2014 when Southwest Airlines needed to update all of their crew uniforms. Rather than working with an outside designer, Entrepreneur Magazine reports that Southwest decided to put out an open call to employees for their concepts. Over the course of 19 months, selected team members then collaborated to design a more fashion-forward and functional uniform.

Now, Southwest Airlines has one of the highest employee engagement ratings in the industry, and they are ranked number one in customer satisfaction for low-cost carriers.

 Download Your Free 25-Page Guide to Improving Employee Engagement

Are you looking for more ideas to get your team engaged? Learn how to use proven strategies, tools, and resources by downloading A Manager’s Guide to Improving Employee Engagement. If you need further support, book a free consultation with one of our Employee Engagement Consultants for personalized recommendations and advice.



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