3 Reasons Google and Other Fortune 500 Companies Have Great Workplace Cultures

It is no coincidence that many of the most profitable companies in the world also have the happiest, most engaged employees and the most positive workplace cultures. Google, Starbucks, Whole Foods Market and Aflac top the list of the eighteen best Fortune 500 companies to work for in part due to a dedication to making their workplaces great ones.

How did these large corporations create such an amazing workplace culture? What can we learn from them?

George Bradt, Contributor for Forbes, isolated three things that these eighteen companies all seem to do extremely well to make their employees loyal and happy.

They Clearly Demonstrate Their Appreciation for Employees

A quick display of appreciation can go a long way. It doesn’t even have to cost a penny or take more than two minutes of your time. The ways that you can show appreciation for your team are quite diverse.

There is the unconventional. Google gives out 100,000 hours worth of free massages to employees over a one-year period. Then there’s the free. The vice chair of NetApp calls 10-20 employees a day to tell them that they are doing a good job.

Other companies such as Qualcomm hold internal tech conferences to foster a sharing of knowledge and ideas. Administering safety bonuses, personalizing notes, booking special luncheons, recognizing and supporting diversity, offering low-cost insurance for part-time employees and setting up health and wellness centers are other interesting ways that companies say “we appreciate you!”

Takeaway: Showing appreciation for your employees can take a wide variety of forms and fit into any budget. Consistency is the key with appreciation programs.

They Give Employees Access to Leadership and Information

The tie between being a good place to work and consistent employee appreciation is quite logical, but this next theme might not be as obvious. Bradt finds that granting employees open access to senior leadership and company information is the second most common way that companies make their employees happy.

John Richels of Devon Energy said he gives his employees time with senior executives as often as possible. Whole Foods empowers employees in very unique ways. Employees have the option to vote on new hires, take field trips to visit suppliers and even view the salary of every employee in the company!

CarMax CEO Tom Folliard is known for mingling at town hall meetings and steak cookouts. CHWM Hill CEO Lee McIntire takes it to a new level. He posts his personal development plan on the company intranet!

Takeaway: Break down the barriers and allow communication to flow freely in your organization. Your executives should be accessible and open to suggestions from all levels. Transparency can also be important for companies that pride themselves on their integrity.

They Reward Employees for Their Achievements

Rewarding employees for their achievements is something that should always be a priority. At EOG, every employee is given stock. Not only is the stock a nice reward, but it is also a way to give an employee more reason to care about the success of the company. Their stock has risen 500% in the past decade, so it appears to be working.

Starbucks gives benefits and stock options to all employees who work at least twenty hours per week. The company culture emphasizes how it is possible for all employees to move up the ladder.

Other companies give their top performing employees travel incentives, merchandise and gift cards.

Takeaway: Employees who are rewarded and have a stake in the success of the company will typically perform at higher levels.

Is your company doing a particularly good job in any of these three areas? Feel free to share other ways your company has been successful in showing appreciation, granting access and rewarding your employees by commenting below. Also, please feel free to send me an email at khewkin@jnrcorp.com for more suggestions or to sign up for our newsletter.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin


JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “google_logo” by keso s is licensed under CC By 2.0

Interested in an All-Inclusive Trip for Two to Tahiti?

Who isn’t? Unfortunately, when incentive program budgets get cut many immediately opt for a slimmed-down communication campaign. Your fabulous trip to Tahiti becomes your best-kept secret, and you don’t see the desired behaviors or increase in performance from your participants.

Here is a simple, two-step Cliffs Notes guide to communication and incentive program success:

  1. Fund it
  2. Have a Strategy

In order to have a killer communication strategy, start with the basics:

What is your objective? Define the desired outcome for the entire incentive program, and what series of smaller objectives do you have to achieve for this goal. What elements of your communication will create program awareness, inspire performance and deliver program information?

Who is your audience? Identify your target audience and the characteristics that are relevant to this particular group. These characteristics include demographics, personality traits, attitude, values and if available, behavior to past communications.

What is the message? The success of an incentive program has direct relation to the perception of the program’s value. Expectancy theories of motivation and achievement hold that the effort exerted in pursuit of a reward is directly related to the value of the reward offered for that performance. Communicate that value by staying relevant to your audience and highlighting benefits that are important to them. Our words, tonal quality, creativity, brevity —all the thousands of symbols that we use, intentionally and unintentionally—are perceived and translated according to our audience’s perceptions, shaped by age, gender, culture, intelligence, and the experiences unique to every individual.

What are your channels? Identify which communication tools will trigger a response from your audience.  Your audience’s age, gender, education and culture have also shaped the way they learn, respond and communication to different communication channels. Do you need to integrate online and offline, personal touches, and how many times do you need to reach this audience to breakthrough?

Are you measuring? Evaluating analytics and the audience’s response to different mediums of communication and making proper adjustments is key to connecting and maximizing their engagement.

Give your incentive program a chance to thrive. Fund it, understand what your audience needs and expects, and adapt your messages accordingly to enhance the likelihood of achieving your program goals.

For further reading on communication campaigns, click here.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kelly Woolsey


JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Incorporate Nature In Your Employee Incentive Programs

How often do we take time out of our busy lives to stop and smell the roses?  We move through each day trying to meet our business deadlines, taxiing the kids around, striving to get everything checked off on our To Do lists. And yet, do many of us schedule time to step away from our routines, to slow down and appreciate all that surrounds us, including the beauty of nature?

As an employer, you can reward your employees a chance to relax and revitalize while getting in touch with nature through an incentive travel program.  To develop each reward program, JNR targets the specific audience of travelers and creates a corporate incentive program that is customized to their tastes.  Our experienced planners research the destination’s majestic natural landmarks, the exotic wildlife to be seen, and the amazing adventures available in the great outdoors.  Incentive travel program itineraries can include an array of activities and locales so that participants can experience each region’s unique surroundings and have fun while doing it. Depending on your selected destination, participants can discover the thrill of zip-lining through a Costa Rican rainforest canopy, embarking on a photo safari in South Africa, kayaking past Alaskan glaciers, hiking to a hidden Hawaiian waterfall for a refreshing dip, or basking in the sunshine on a private beach in Mexico.

Employee incentive travel programs provide top achievers with a chance to unwind and recharge. By choosing a travel program that incorporates the outdoors, companies recognize the need for employees to take a break from their usual four-walled “habitat”, while also encouraging an appreciation of the environment and nature, in all of its splendor.  To discover more about developing a scenic incentive travel experience for your employees, please contact JNR Incorporated at http://www.jnrcorp.com.


Liz Hennessey-Brine

Senior Desktop Publisher

The Millennials Have Arrived, and We Deserve Employee Recognition

Are there any sweeter employee rewards than all-inclusive travel programs?  As a passionate marketer and a proud member of the Millennials Generation, I cannot imagine anything better.  We are a wholly unique collection of young professionals that value employee recognition more than any before us. My generation has experienced incredible shifts in technology, entertainment, business, and politics, all of which is captured in an excellent advertisement from Internet Explorer.

There are several important things to know about Millennials.  For starters, we actually outnumber Baby Boomers.  Despite the feverish efforts of marketers to prepare for the impending “silver tsunami”, there are 3 million more Millennials than Baby Boomers today, and we will outnumber Boomers by 22 million in 2030.

We love technology.  Facebook launched during my junior year of high school.  YouTube entered our lives in my freshman year of college.  Our phones have transformed from clunky bricks to ultra-powerful, endlessly useful communication hubs.  TVs are Smart.  Refrigerators are Smart.  Watches are Smart.  If businesses want to capture our rapidly decreasing attention spans, digital mastery must be a top priority.

The only thing smarter than our phones is us!  According to a Pew Study for PGAV Destinations, 54% of Millennials have at least some education.  Who can blame us?  Depending on who you talk to, human knowledge doubles every 2-5 years, and is exponentially increasing.

What does all of this mean for businesses aiming to increase productivity or reward performance within our unique segment?  Businesses need to take a page from the late Rodney Dangerfield and give us some respect!  We are tech-savvy, intellectually capable, and there are plenty of us.  In return for outstanding efforts, what better way to reward employees than with travel programs and incentive rewards that are tailor-made to fit our needs?

JNR Incorporated offers both travel programs and incentive rewards programs that are customized for each individual audience.  Travel destinations include exotic countries such as Peru, Bali, South Africa, etc. that offer amazing learning opportunities that can only be discovered firsthand.  Easy-to-navigate websites and mobile apps provide the savvy traveler with effortless ways to stay connected.

Entitlement awards are not what Millennials deserve, nor what we expect.  Incentive travel programs and prepaid MasterCard® Reward Cards must be earned through outstanding effort and by propelling your business forward.  We know this.  We understand this.  We simply ask that businesses recognize our unique segment and target employee rewards to our unique needs.

For more information visit our website at www.jnrcorp.com

Brandon Learish

Marketing, JNR Incorporated





Employee Incentives: A Key to Improving Employee Happiness?

Jaquelyn Smith of Forbes gives us some food for thought on the most effective ways to increase “employee happiness” in a recent article entitled, “The Companies With The Biggest Jumps In Employee Happiness.” Smith outlines the 50 companies that have done the best job in making their employees more satisfied from 2011-2012 measured via a “Bliss Index” rating. Google is at the top of the list (no surprise) along with other corporate giants such as Coca Cola and McDonald’s, but the primary purpose was to investigate how these companies are achieving this goal. “First-rate employee incentives” appear to be one of the major keys.

Incentive programs are suggested to be one of the top factors in achieving greater happiness as personified by Google, who offers many out of the box incentives, such as free haircuts, on-site doctors and even death benefits. These incentives may be out of your budget, but smaller scale, noncash incentives, such as prepaid debit cards may be a strong option. These prepaid cards allow you to choose a specific retail spending outlet that matches your employees’ preferences, or a prepaid MasterCard® Reward Card to let them have the freedom to spend their dollars wherever they choose. Branded cards with your company logo also add a nice touch. Work-life balance was also a major factor, and there’s no better way to address this than to award a winners’ choice travel incentive program, if budget allows, where your winning employees can choose a romantic retreat or family getaway to meet their preference.

Want your company to top a similar list in 2013? It’s time to get creative with your employee incentives programs, or to get one in place if your business is lagging behind.

Kristopher Hewkin

Strategic Marketing Manager, JNR Incorporated