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The 38 Most Engaged Workplaces in the World Put People First

The 38 Most Engaged Workplaces in the World Put People First

by Jim Harter and Kristi Rubenstein

The workplace could be better. Burnout is officially a medical diagnosis according to a 2019 announcement from the World Health Organization, and managers -- the key figures in helping employees manage chronic workplace stress -- are the most burned out of all. Only 15% of employees are engaged worldwide, and in the U.S. just 35% of the workforce is engaged -- that is, involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.

With so many employees not engaged, exceptional workplaces perhaps feel more aspirational than attainable. Any yet, 38 organizations around the world beg to differ. In the midst of rapid workplace changes, they have found an approach that not only improves business outcomes, but creates cultures that make employees want to come to work every day.

For more than a decade, Gallup has recognized the most engaged workplace cultures in the world with the Gallup Great Workplace Award. This year, we are renaming it the Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award (GEWA) to more fully capture the extraordinary achievement of the winners who meet the rigorous standards set by the most comprehensive workplace study ever conducted.

At winning organizations, 71% of employees are engaged. On average, the ratio of engaged to disengaged employees is 17.5-to-1 -- nearly seven (6.5) times the U.S. rate and 21 times the rate for workforces globally.

At winning organizations, 71% of employees are engaged.

These exceptional engagement rates extend to managers too. In GEWA-winning organizations there are 25.3 engaged managers to every one disengaged manager compared with 6.6 engaged managers to every one disengaged manager at other organizations. Manager engagement is extremely important, because engaged managers are more likely to create high development cultures that maximize human potential.

Engaged managers also cooperate with other managers and their teams across the organization. Managers who create high development cultures reduce burnout -- employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager are 70% less likely to experience burnout regularly. Engaged managers are far more likely to build an inclusive workplace culture where employees feel like they belong, are respected, and have what they need to perform at their best.

GEWA winners make people the key component of their business strategy, and they create a culture to match.

The demands of the workplace are shifting but a culture that is aligned with the needs of the new workforce addresses the mission and purpose, development and coaching that employees need for high performance. And Gallup's analytics prove that employee engagement drives business improvement, from lower turnover to higher customer engagement to higher profitability:

  • 41% lower absenteeism
  • 24% lower turnover (high-turnover organizations)
  • 59% lower turnover (low-turnover organizations)
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 70% fewer employee safety incidents
  • 58% fewer patient safety incidents
  • 40% fewer quality incidents (defects)
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 17% higher productivity
  • 20% higher sales
  • 21% higher profitability

GEWA winners make people the key component of their business strategy, and they create a culture to match. This culture changes the relationships between employees and managers and the customers and clients they serve. They reach ambitious heights of success because every member of the organization feels connected to the mission and has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Employees know their opinions count, that they are making a difference, and that it's possible to bring their best to work every day and live the life they want.

Congratulations to the 2020 Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award winners for their extraordinary achievements:

What makes the Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award criteria more rigorous than other awards?

1. Sample size: While many workplace awards only require a small sample of survey participants, we ask for the opinions of every employee.


2. High qualifying score: Winners must achieve a qualifying score that places them in the upper echelon of organizations.

Each company's employee engagement is measured using Gallup's Q12 survey -- a survey that asks employees questions that tie to their performance, their commitment to their organization and specific business metrics.

The results are compared with Gallup's extensive employee engagement database including 35 million respondents and more than 3 million workgroups from 195 countries -- only companies in the top tier qualify.

3. Detailed evidence: Organizations submit information about their strategy and leadership, performance and accountability, communication and knowledge management, and development and ongoing learning. A panel of Gallup workplace scientists and experts evaluates applicants and assesses them against criteria established by the most exhaustive workplace study ever conducted. Applicants have to measure up to some of the most productive and profitable organizations in the world.

Learn more about the Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award criteria.

Gallup has studied successful businesses for decades. Learn what we know about becoming an exceptional place to work.


Jim Harter, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist, Workplace for Gallup and bestselling author of Culture Shock, Wellbeing at Work, It's the Manager, 12: The Elements of Great Managing and Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. His research is also featured in the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, First, Break All the Rules. Dr. Harter has led more than 1,000 studies of workplace effectiveness, including the largest ongoing meta-analysis of human potential and business-unit performance. His work has also appeared in many publications, including Harvard Business Review, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and in many prominent academic journals.

Kristi Rubenstein is the Senior Director of Gallup's Enterprise Consulting Group.

Sarah Kosch contributed to this article.

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