Human Resources Strategies

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People-First Companies

Marriott International, Zoom Video Communications, IN-N-Out Burger, Southwest Airlines, Salesforce, and Ultimate Software are some of the companies considered to be among the best "people-first" companies.

Marriott International

  • According to their mission, “If we take care of our people, they will take care of our customers, and the customers will come back,” Marriott International has for years been committed to providing their employees with a conducive environment that will make them more productive, thus leading to the company’s profitability.
  • The company’s employee-centric focus can be dated back to the Great Depression-era, when it was just formed. They secured their workforce by hiring a staff doctor, who was to ensure that they were all in a healthy state. Notably, during the 2008 financial crisis, the company did not consider cutting their payroll, as the workforce would have lost their eligibility for healthcare benefits.
  • Marriott’s people-centric approach is also evidenced by the humble leadership portrayed by the top executives. For instance, Bill Marriott, the executive chairman of the company, does not seclude himself from other employees during lunchtimes. Also, the CEO, Mr. Arne Sorenson, connects with employees by paying attention to their points of view, putting their concerns into consideration, among others.
  • Not only are they committed to having people start with entry-level positions and have the chance to acquire new skills and expertise, but they also have a “ holistic employee wellbeing program”, which also won the American Psychological Association’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace and Organizational Excellence Award.
  • They have also introduced a parental leave program that covers adoptions and births.

Zoom Video Communications

  • The company, through its “happiness crew”, is committed to having its entire workforce happy. The crew has created an office culture that ensures employee engagement through volunteering, celebrations, and events. They have events like desk decoration with rubber ducks, Bring Your Parent to Work Day, and volunteer activities at Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity, among others.
  • During the onboarding process, new employees get to build relationships by attending training in San Jose.
  • In addition, they also have access to a mentorship program and learn the company’s culture. After the training, through the happiness crew, they get to have breakfast and interact with other employees.
  • Their commitment to the happiness of their workers has earned them recognition by the Denver Post as "The Best Place to Work in Denver"

IN-N-Out Burger

  • The company has developed a culture of paying its employees more than the minimum wage, which has in turn made them be highly productive and committed to the company.
  • Entry-level employees are treated with familial care by the company's leadership team, which has then resulted in great customer service. They also have an ongoing training program that provides managers an opportunity to be promoted.
  • Other employee incentives include a flexible work schedule, promotion, and paid vacation.
  • Managers who meet their annual goals are also rewarded with "all-expenses- paid trips". Such incentives have seen managers attain a target of about $160,000 annually.

Southwest Airlines

  • Southwest Airlines is known for having a fully engaged workforce, an aspect that has contributed to their success. They have proved that the success of a company is linked to the happiness of its employees.
  • Though the company has a rigid recruitment process aimed at having employees who are committed to representing their branding message and have a passion to meet the needs of every customer, much investment has been made on employee training and facilities like the Leadership Education and Aircrew Development (LEAD) Center and Training and Operational Support (TOPS) building.
  • They have a profit-sharing policy that allows their employees to also become shareholders of the company and they get to receive their dividends based on what the company earned in a financial period.


Ultimate Software

  • Ultimate Software has been upholding the culture of equality and diversity since its inception. They have an almost equal number of men and women. Besides, about 50% of top positions in the organizations have been held by women.
  • Through their U Belong program, the company serves its employees by providing a support system and a comprehensive diversity program.
  • They have several employee benefits including online health, unlimited personal time off, child sponsorship,100% paid maternity and paternity leave, payment for charity work, among others.
  • Their notable contribution to the wellbeing of their employees has made them receive several recognition including, the 2019 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, 2019 People Companies That Care, and 2019 Best Workplaces in Technology.

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People-First Companies, Pt. 2

Adobe, Hilton, SunTrust Bank, and the Clorox Company are some of the companies considered to be among the best "people-first" companies by having fostered genuine organizational cultures that support, nuture and encourage their staff to be their best selves.


  • Through their Employee Experience team, Adobe has been providing a dynamic and vibrant work environment for employees to do and be their best and also reflect the company's core values. The team focuses on talent acquisition, employee insights, global workspace solution, technology, employee resource center, among others.
  • Adobe has launched wellness programs aimed at supporting the emotional, financial, and physical well-being of employees.
  • The company also has programs that are focused on promoting diversity and inclusion to ensure employee fulfillment and equal opportunities and treatment.
  • The organization promotes the growth and development of employees through programs like the Learning Fund where employees receive a reimbursement of $10,000 every year to expand their education and training. They also offer $1,000 for personal growth opportunities like an online course.
  • Employees can upgrade their careers by seeking other internal opportunities through their resource known as Adobe Careers. Besides, Adobe promotes a more collaborative work environment through its state-of-the-art workspaces across the globe.
  • Other employee benefits include child back-up, the Welcome Back program, surrogate assistance, flexible schedules, and others.


  • At Hilton, both customer and employee experience have been accorded equal priority. Their employee experience is the same as their white-glove guest service. They have employed several digital technologies like chatbots, mobile, and virtual reality to meet different expectations of their workforce.
  • Through mobile technology, employees who are constantly moving can seamlessly access any workforce application or human resource. Chatbots provide quick answers to common questions asked by employees and learning has also been simplified by the use of virtual reality.
  • The company also offers Thrive@Hilton, a six-week online training program where employees get to learn scientifically proven methods that help in reducing burnout and stress and improving their health, happiness, and well-being. The program also helps in nurturing a lifestyle of continuous improvement.
  • Hilton has also been committed to improving the overall work experience of its workers by upgrading their workspaces to make them more appealing. Through their Heart to House initiative, employees can access improved WiFi, refurbished locker rooms and have eating areas like commercial restaurants. Staff uniforms are also made from high-quality fabrics.

SunTrust Bank

  • SunTrust’s mission, “lighting the way to financial well-being,” is not only centered on addressing the financial needs of their clients but also on helping its employees.
  • The inclusion of employees in the organization’s purpose has resulted in improved performance in their earnings per share, shareholder return, and efficiency ratio.
  • They also have a financial fitness program known as Momentum on Up where their employees are equipped with money management skills. They are taught about insurance, buying or renting a house, budgeting, income stream, management of debts as well as community involvement.
  • Upon completion of the program, employees are then given $1000 to start a $2000 emergency fund and a paid day off to set up their money-management goals.
  • Also, they have paid 10 weeks of maternity leave and six weeks of parental leave.

The Clorox Company

  • The success of the company's business has been — in part — due to its high level of employee engagement which, at 88%, is higher than its competitors. Kirsten Marriner, the company’s Chief People Officer, provides leadership that focuses on empowering employees. In turn, the company has earned accolades for their commitment to improving the welfare of their workers as well as for its success in business.
  • At Clorox, employees learn to think and take bold and smart risks through a culture of empowerment, accountability, and decisiveness.
  • They have also embraced inclusivity and diversity which allows all workers to have a sense of belonging. As a result, the company was “ranked fifth by Diversity MBA magazine.”
  • The company also offers programs where employees can acquire vital leadership skills to enhance their effectiveness.

Research Strategy

We determined that the companies mentioned above are among the best "people-first" organizations having been cited by industry experts in sources like Forbes, Inc., Business Insider, Great Place To Work, Human Resource Executive, and others.