The Fortune 50: What Great Small Companies Do to Engage Employees and Create Sustainable Cultures

netapp_logoFortune magazine in its most recent edition names the top 50 best companies to work for in America, and all of them have under a thousand employees (a great majority have under 500). Despite their relatively small size, these companies like Studer Group and Etsy are some of the most influential brands that are leading the way in consulting, online retail, and technology. I have combed through the list to find some of the best practices these companies follow to attract, recognize and engage the modern workforce. It is my hope that the list can provide some helpful ideas for managers pressed for time or short on ideas for recognition and reward. 


  • New hires at Granite Properties are paired with a tenured employee who provides tours of the company’s facilities and introductions to employees.
  • Atlassian provides a travel voucher for new employees to take a vacation before starting the new job.


  • 4imprint has a laid back culture of dress, with even the president wearing blue jeans and a tshirt to work.
  • Once per month, Infusionsoft provides employees a catered lunch and a release from work at 2:30 pm. 
  • Employees at West Monroe Partners create their own titles that describe the purpose of their work. (i.e., a receptionist is “Queen of First Impressions”).
  • Dunnhumby USA conducts twice yearly Innovation Fridays to allow employees to suggest better workplace practices.
  • LeasePlanUSA’s Fun at Work Committee plans entertaining events for play such as miniature golf, Ping-Pong tournaments, and turkey bowling.
  • The CEO of Pinnacle Financial Partners invites all employees to a book club at his house where they review current business books together.
  • City of Rancho Cordova, California allows staff to have input, or make, strategic decisions for the City.
  • Staffers at The Clymb stop their work to do planks at least once per day or more.
  • Staff meetings at AnswerLab begin with yoga or stretching, and end with outdoor exercises. Small meetings are walk and talk.
  • Executives at Kahler Stater hold monthly breakfast gatherings for staff where they share coffee and discuss a chosen TED talk.
  • Sage Rutty hosts an annual chili cook-off to benefit breast cancer research.
  • Decision Lens takes it employees on field trips to places like an aircraft carrier to see how teams work.
  • Three times a year, Daxko invites employees to take a two week break to form new teams and develop ideas.
  • Staff at Assurance Agency were invited to complete a 5K, and everyone who completed it earned a 2% salary bonus and $600 in cash.


  • Talent Plus conducts career investment discussions with managers instead of performance reviews.
  • Smart decisions by employees at Radio Flyer are awarded with gift cards, and job excellence is recognized at lunch with a senior manager.


  • Ruby Receptionists rewards a five-year milestone with a five-week paid sabbatical.
  • rewards tenure with vacation packages. Ten years is awarded with a week in the Bahamas.


  • Enged provides a “Dream manager” who helps employees plan personal and professional goals, from home buying, to finance to careers.
  • Audio gear company Cirrus Logic provides employees with VIP tickets to South by Southwest in Austin.
  • Eileen Fisher gives the same percentage increase to all employees instead of raises tied to performance, and profit sharing is divided evenly.
  • AgileThought sporadically flies family members to be with employees who travel extensively.
  • Customink provides two meals to the staff per week, and snacks.
  • Clif Bar incentivizes employees to purchase hybrid or electric cars with a $6,500 subsidy.
  • Acuity has no cap on tuition reimbursement for job-related classes. Staff can compete for one of 130 plots in a community garden.
  • Return Path gives stretch bonuses for taking on extra projects.
  • Hagerty allows employees to collect points for outstanding work and redeem them for gift cards.
  • Delta Resources allows unused time off to be paid out as a lump sum at the end of the year.
  • Capsco insists that everyone take a two-week vacation per year, with a bonus of $1,000 for taking 10 consecutive days.
  • Integrated Project Management pays 100% of health care premiums for employees and dependents, and a bonus of $5,000 for employee referrals.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

  • Studer Group employees receive $75 on their birthday, and children of employees under 18 receive $25 on their birthdays.
One Response to “The Fortune 50: What Great Small Companies Do to Engage Employees and Create Sustainable Cultures”
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