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The Rules of Engagement – Best Practices for Creating and Sustaining a Culture of High Employee Engagement

November 6, 2018 • Tal Valler

In case you missed it, employee engagement is kind of a big deal lately. In fact, it has been gaining traction for quite some time now, and leaders across all industries are re-shaping the future of the workforce. 

companies commonly target and emphasize five elements in order to boost employee engagement: driving meaningful work, an encouraging management mentality, recognizing achievement, investing in employee growth, and finally, building inspiration (for a more detailed look at this issue, click here). Successful companies within different industries and cultures tap these elements regularly. Here are some examples of best-practices and concepts that help transform company culture through employee engagement.


Recognizing Achievement

A culture of achievement recognition is formed by extending the chance to feel appreciated to everyone. This is not achieved by simply rewarding top-performers and celebrating major achievements. A best-practice for recognition is to create mechanisms that will make it easy to celebrate small wins and recognize even daily successes.

Zappos is a great example for this. To make recognizing achievements easy and fun, the online shoe and clothing retailer created its own money- Zappos Dollars, or Zollars. These coins and bills are earned or granted by one employee to another as a token of peer-appreciation. Zollars can be donated to charities, used to redeem movie tickets, and are accepted in the company internal store – “The Zollar store”.

The Zapponian who awards the Zollars to a peer has to fill out the recipient’s name along with the reason of why he or she are chose the recipient, making the recognition meaningful. That is a whole new level of peer appreciation!


Encouraging Management

Encouraging management entails not keeping employees in limbo. Engaged employees know what is expected of them, where they are going and how to get there. In fact , according to a recent study, over 31% of newly hired employees churn within the first 6 months, stating they do not understand what is required from them as the cause. Clearly defined goals, complemented by coaching that equips employees with the skills to achieve them is essential for engagement.

Companies that do this well provide employees and managers with processes and frameworks that serve as a space for continuous dialogues regarding performance-goals and feedback. A great example for this is Adobe. In 2014 Adobe initiated its Check-ins process. Instead of annual reviews, managers and employees engage in regular sessions to review progression, provide feedback and offer coaching. The process includes setting clear expectations regarding goals for the period, while providing ongoing feedback, ideally as real-time as possible, to drive behavioral change and relevant coaching. The results were substantial; voluntary turnover decreased by 30%, in addition to a sharp growth in employees’ likelihood to recommend Adobe as a great place to work.

Meaningful Work

Creating and fostering a sense of autonomy and empowerment within your employees is no easy feat. Helping them see the bigger-picture and their value as part of a bigger team that adds real and tangible value can sometimes be a big challenge. However, it is one that, at times, can be addressed with small gestures. A good example of a an organization putting this concept into practice is John Lewis. In this high-end UK retailer, employees are referred to as partners. Management involves their partners in business decisions and solutions, empowering them to create an amazing customer-experience. It’s no surprise that for several years now John Lewis has been at the top of the charts as the place Brits are proudest to work for.

Another great practice for showing employees the big-picture is through team goals and challenges. These processes will entail employees gaining points for achieving performance benchmarks, such as how quickly they resolve client issues, or how many customers they serve. These points are tallied into a team scoreboard; teams that hit company benchmarks are celebrated in company news-bulletins and win prizes. By doing so, each employee can see in vivid colors how they contribute to their team performance and to their company’s overall success.


Investing in Growth

Providing employees with ample opportunities to learn and improve their performance, grow their skills, share knowledge and prepare for career development is key to sustaining an engaged- workforce. One way to do this is by developing a culture of continuous learning, complete with the tools to support it. This would mean adopting technology that allows employees access to learning anywhere, anytime, and encourages them to quickly refresh knowledge and improve their skills based on their needs and goals.

Pixar’s University is a great example for a company that does this well. Pixar offers employees training and cross-training for their roles and beyond. Employees can access the courses as needed for work, but are also encouraged to seek out professional training from different disciplines and topics extending beyond business. Ed Catmull, Pixar’s president says “Pixar University helps reinforce the mindset that we’re all learning and it’s fun to learn together”.



Creating a feeling of connectedness to one’s company, a sense of vested-interest with its mission-statement and to its leadership is the holy grail of engagement. The main tool for driving inspiration is communication; direct communication between senior management and employees of all levels and sharing inspiring stories of success from the field.

Southwest Airlines, which can be used as an example for each of the above, really sets the bar high when it comes to inspiring its workforce. In their own words, “We exist to connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”. this mission-statement inspires each and every one of their 43,000 employees to go the extra-mile. Southwest’s CEO, Gary Kelly, gives a personal “shout out” every week to one employee who stood out and went above-and-beyond to provide exceptional customer service. The airline’s magazine- Spirit, features a monthly story showcasing an employee who transcended the company’s (exceptionally-high) standard of customer service. Lastly, as part of its efforts to inspire its workforce, Southwest produces internal corporate videos. Masterfully produced, these videos are filled with real examples that help employees understand how they can take an active part in achieving the company’s vision, and show them how it looks and feels when done right.

So, there you have them; the essential best practices for creating and sustaining a culture of employee engagement.

Now, all that is left is to implement them. 

Good luck!! 

About Gameffective

Gameffective is an Employee Centric Performance Management Platform – the “fitness tracker” for the Connected Workforce of the Future.  Gameffective empowers employees to boost their work performance through hyper personalised goals, real time tracking and data-driven feedback and coaching. Deployed with the world’s leading organizations Gameffective helps managers drive up employee value day by day. To find out how Gameffective can help transform your organization go to or book a live demo. 

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