WorkplaceDynamics: How Top Workplaces Drive Employee Engagement

CIO VendorDoug Claffey, CEO & Co-Founder Making the world a better place to work together

In 2017, far too many organizations still operate a management model designed for the industrial-era workplace. Such a hierarchical, process-heavy, top-down approach fails to tap into employee creativity, autonomy, and commitment. And yet, it is precisely these attributes that give an organization a competitive advantage in today’s fast-paced business environment.

But not all organizations are behind the times. Many progressive firms—led by forward-thinking entrepreneurs—have already unleashed the potential of their employees, creating workplace cultures that tap into the capabilities of today’s knowledgeable workers.

On a mission to make the world a better place to work together, CEO Doug Claffey founded WorkplaceDynamics in 2006. A former rocket scientist and McKinsey consultant, he understands how objective research data informs leadership practices.

Since then, WorkplaceDynamics has surveyed well over 14 million employees from more than 39,000 organizations across the United States to capture, study, and share best practices. In a campaign that stretches from the east coast to the west, the firm works with 46 of the nation’s most prestigious media partners— including The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and The Boston Globe—to recognize the nation’s Top Workplaces based solely on employee survey results.

WorkplaceDynamics’ research shows that Top Workplaces are great talent magnets. And that’s not all. Comparing survey results with financial results, their study indicates Top Workplaces also outperform their peers—as measured on stock valuation—by an average of 30 percent.

Today, business leaders who want reliable insights and expert guidance to help them improve the organizational health of their work culture trust WorkplaceDynamics.

“Too many companies are still under the misguided perception that Top Workplaces programs are about cool perks like free yoga classes, company-paid trips to Las Vegas, and bring-your-dog-to-work day,” Claffey says. “When in reality, what distinguishes a Top Workplace from an underperforming one is a fundamental difference in philosophy as to what drives success. Top Workplaces put the employee at the center of things, and they focus on creating the right environment to unleash potential and inspire performance. At WorkplaceDynamics, we provide the tools that enable and support that shift.”

A New Integrated Toolkit: The Engagement Platform

In the HR Tech space, new tools have emerged outside the classic monolithic HRMSs.

Our technology builds on ten years of Top Workplaces research to help organizations build great cultures that achieve amazing results


They are designed to support and enable a new approach for inspiring talent inside the organization, integrating employee feedback, collaboration, coaching, and performance to provide an employee-centric solution for building a powerful culture.

As a leading provider in this arena, WorkplaceDynamics develops SaaS engagement applications that efficiently measure employee metrics. Their solutions help executive teams build strong working relationships with and among their employees. WorkplaceDynamics’ tech-based suite also helps organizations take steps to improve workplace culture, from more effective collaboration to employee recognition, performance management, and other factors vital to success.

Improvement Starts with Actionable Metrics and Data Collection

Frontline employees are closest to your clients, which means they’re in the best position to identify emerging issues early on. It’s vital for leaders to give employees a voice—and then use that input to eliminate barriers to better performance. WorkplaceDynamics’ Workplace Survey is a smart and reliable employee engagement survey that provides a clear line of sight and actionable data.

“Our focus is very much on helping executives spot issues and determine the best approaches to address them within the organization,” Claffey says. “Our data analysis and visualization tools help them to make sense of the data quickly and easily. For those senior leaders who want to dig deeper into the survey results, the tool also allows them to do their own exploration. Year-over-year analysis, for example, provides excellent insights.”

Because WorkplaceDynamics has surveyed over 14 million employees at more than 39,000 companies, their database allows organizations to compare results to robust benchmarks.

One example comes from a financial services firm on the west coast. Despite posting decent financial results, one division’s leader was known for being a tough manager and a bad cultural fit. Yet, the senior management team had always accepted the friction and turnover this manager was creating. After they saw the survey results, leaders were compelled to take action. “It became clear to us from the employee feedback that our failure to act was having much greater impact than the low engagement in that division alone,” remarked the company’s CEO. “It was impacting other teams, and employees thought that we [the executives] were not living by our core values of teamwork and integrity.” The organization stepped in and hired a private coach to help the manager address some blind spots. Employees noticed the difference. Retention improved, and the firm was able to sustain their financial results.
This new management philosophy, supported by WorkplaceDynamics’ tools, has an impact beyond for-profit companies. Many schools and nonprofits have also benefitted. Consider this insight from Vince Payne, the director of public relations at the Hamilton School District in Columbus, Ohio. “Over the past three years, we have attracted outstanding educators and filled vacancies quicker than ever because the pools of applicants have learned that we are one of the area’s top places to work.”

The Importance of Continuous Listening

While the annual survey is a powerful tool, many of today’s organizations want to go beyond a yearly audit. They’re looking to build a year-round approach. Workplace Pulse, which can operate alone or in tandem with the Workplace Survey, enables management teams to solicit employee feedback on a continuous (typically bi-weekly) basis.

Administrators can access feedback that screens responder details. This protects employee privacy; the pulse survey promises selective anonymity.

“We have found this approach to be the most efficient at encouraging genuine candid feedback, but also allowing senior executives in the organization to engage in a dialogue with staff through the platform,” Claffey says. “Because we act as the man-in-the-middle, we can ensure anonymity for employees. That said, it’s really interesting to see how often an employee will start by providing anonymous information, but then choose to reveal themselves when they find out senior management is truly listening and taking that employee’s feedback to heart.”

To understand the impact of listening to employees, consider this example: A media company in the traditional radio business was struggling against competition from streaming services. The firm was putting its employees under enormous pressure, driving for sales. The staff’s frustration hurt productivity and performance. Their Workplace Survey results showed a different set of issues, including unproductive decision-making processes and unprofessional behavior from senior managers. The survey offered insights that inspired changes in how the organization functions. This shift in focus reenergized the workforce and improved results, allowing the media company to regain market share.

Over and above the SaaS offerings, WorkplaceDynamics offers an experienced consulting team that guides enterprises to engagement solutions that fit their specific needs. “Our consulting services include action planning, suggesting tailored solutions, and training on interaction tools,” Claffey says.

Ultimately, employee engagement is about creating a productive workforce and improving business results. In its goal of further equipping clients, the firm is integrating more machine intelligence and smart analytics technology into its solution portfolio to assist enterprises with more effective decision-making and action planning. “To transform the engagement space, we’re also investing in broadening our capabilities from analytics to insights to actions, supporting organizations across areas such as performance management, coaching, and recognition,” Claffey says. “Our goal is to be recognized as the most trusted employee engagement platform for empowering organizations to unlock potential, inspire performance, and achieve amazing results.”