7 Heartwarming Employee Stories You Won't Believe

7 Heartwarming Employee Stories You Won't Believe

Image: PulteGroup employees welcoming a U.S. Army veteran and his family to their new mortgage-free home as part of their Built To Honor program 2021.

Great Place To Work® is no stranger to exceptional employers.

Why employee stories matter

Yet sometimes even we are caught off-guard by the moving tales of compassion and authentic generosity shared by employees about their companies.

This year, we had the chance to spotlight workplaces that are going above and beyond to turn company into family. For the fifth year, we partnered with PEOPLE Magazine to recognize Companies that Care.

These companies stood out by building a culture of caring, commitment and extraordinary generosity towards their employees and their larger communities. In addition to our usual Trust Index™ survey results, we looked for employee stories that highlighted things like:

   Community involvement

   Caring relationships between staff

   Exceptional investment in employee development

   Encouragement of work/life balance and flexibility

   Special support for people and communities impacted by tragedies occurring in the last year

The list goes on. These companies offer incredible examples of what Great Place To Work knows so well – at the heart of every great workplace are caring relationships between people.

Here are just a few stories from the winning companies. We think the employee comments speak for themselves.

Employee stories that will make you smile

1. PulteGroup, Inc.

PulteGroup believes that America’s best and bravest sons and daughters deserve better. The company’s Built to Honor™ (B2H) program links their appreciation for veterans with their promise to “make lives better.”

 B2H’s charter is to build and donate mortgage-free homes to veterans wounded during service. Since its launch in 2013, B2H has delivered 58 homes throughout the country, with a constructed value approaching $23 million.

One notable example comes from 2019, when B2H partnered with the Gary Sinise Foundation to build a home for Sergeant First Class Tara Hutchinson. Tara was severely wounded in Iraq by an IED that penetrated the truck in which she was traveling.

 The incredible blood loss from the wound caused Tara’s heart to stop for nearly 20 minutes and resulted in a brain injury that manifested as a movement disorder. Tara’s had a difficult time doing simple tasks, such as holding a fork and pouring a cup of coffee.

At her therapist's suggestion, Tara picked up a hobby that would engage her fine motor skills: jewelry-making. Today, Tara owns an award-winning jewelry business that specializes in making things beautiful when they are put through fire, just like her.

In addition to featuring a personalized interior design, each B2H home is built to meet the physical needs of the selected veteran.

In Tara’s case, this meant removing thresholds, widening halls, adding grab bars and lowering counter tops to accommodate her wheelchair, while also installing innovative shelving that could be raised and lowered. It also meant one very special addition: a dedicated jewelry workshop so Tara could continue the business that has been so instrumental in her recovery

2. Wegmans

Care and helping others is central to Wegmans’ identity. One notable example of this is the company’s support of marginalized groups in their local communities.

Wegmans works to give these groups access to decent food via company donations to local food banks and hunger relief Agencies, employee-led fundraising and volunteer efforts. Last year, Wegmans’ donations approached $30 million and over 18 million pounds of food.

“I believe we have excellent community involvement. Customers want to feel like more than just customers and more like friends and family. We always (pre Covid) have fun events for the community and employees including ice cream socials, barbecues, kids events like Trick or treating and holiday activities, and all are welcome to participate.

I’m really proud of the fact that we donate to our local food banks and help our community. All these things make me proud to work for Wegmans.”

- Anonymous Wegmans employee survey response

3. Accenture

On June 1, Michelle, an Accenture strategist, texted her colleague Max the question that started it all.

“What else can we do, Max? Honestly asking. What is the best way to support this?”

”There are a few places to donate,” answered Max. “I can send links.”

“Do you want to fundraise together?”

“Yes, that would be great! You can show me the ropes.”

Michelle had previously raised money for the fires in Australia on Accenture’s  MyGiving platform, where if an Accenture person raises at least $1,000 from 10 other employees, the company will match $500. Now her eyes were on the new civil rights movement.

With the help of Max and Alex, an Accenture consultant, Michelle launched the fundraiser. A day later, it had already pulled in $20,000. This caught the attention of Accenture’s US Corporate Citizenship team, which had been working with Accenture leadership to identify charitable organizations for Accenture to support.

On June 4, Gina from the Corporate Citizenship team texted Max: “I have a bit of good news about your fundraiser!”

Accenture was going to contribute a lot more than $500—they promised to match donations from Accenture employees dollar for dollar.

4. CHG Healthcare Services

At CHG Healthcare Services, employees proactively seek out opportunities to support each other in remarkable ways.

Shortly after midnight, Grant Olsen, a copywriter on CHG’s creative team, was awakened by a fire marshal banging on his door.

A wildfire was bearing down on his house. As the flames crawled down the mountainside toward his house, Grant had to frantically gather his family and evacuate.

“The firefighters predicted that multiple homes would be destroyed,” recalls Grant. “So, we thought we might be seeing our home for the last time. Within minutes of evacuating, I had coworkers texting me to see if my family needed a place to stay. Even our CEO, Scott Beck, reached out.

I have no idea how Scott even knew about it... it’s not like we were playing Xbox Live together when it happened or something. But he made it clear that my family was a priority and he’d help us any way he could.”

5. JM Family

You’ve heard the saying, “put your money where your mouth is.” Ed Sheehy, President of JM Family’s subsidiary Southeast Toyota Distributors, put a unique twist on this idea and put his money where his hair is — and in doing so, inspired his fellow associates, dealer partners and the community to fight food insecurity.

Ed’s idea? The “Hair Color Challenge.” By making a contribution to Feeding America, donors could place their vote to dye Ed’s hair a wild new shade. To sweeten the deal and further the fight against hunger, Ed offered to personally match a portion of the donations.

In just one week, associates, Toyota dealers in the Southeast and friends of JM Family rose to the occasion by donating more than $229,000 to Feeding America.

Votes for Ed’s new ‘do ranged from “Leave as-is because he's being a great sport!” to Dennis Rodman’s famous leopard-print look. Ed happily unveiled the winning ‘do–a stunningly bright JM Family teal–live on Zoom with Paco Vélez, President and CEO of Feeding South Florida, on May 5 to coincide with #GivingTuesdayNow.

All funds raised through Ed’s Hair Color Challenge directly supported Feeding America food banks in the areas where JM Family operates (Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and California).

6. SAP America

COVID-related closures of more than 124,000 schools across the U.S. impacted much more than education. With more than 30 million children relying on school meals daily, the closures meant food insecurity for families everywhere.

SAP and nonprofit partner GENYOUth quickly became aware of the situation and created the SAP4KidsProgram, which helps families find food and other resources during this crisis.

SAP employee Sara Marshall heard about this opportunity and jumped in to take a lead role. When asked why she wanted to get involved, she said, “As a mom to a 4-year-old, my heart breaks for any parent who can’t provide essentials for his or her family due to health issues or economic instability.

One statistic stood out to me: before COVID-19, more than 52% of students were eligible for free or reduced lunch.”

Combining SAP’s technology and GENYOUth’s relationships with school communities, SAP4Kids connects free resources providers and the families who need their services in a simple way.

7. Bank of America

Bank of America (BoA) sets a great example of responsible, supportive leadership.

BoA supports employees’ efforts to make a difference in their communities, contributing millions of dollars to causes that employees say matter to them, like social justice and fighting climate change (while achieving carbon-neutral status, no less).

The company also works to ensure that employees feel valued and supported in the workplace. They raised the minimum pay to $20 per hour and prioritized hiring veterans, people from low- and middle-income communities, and other underrepresented groups.

“The way that the management team, senior executives, and my leadership team reacted to the pandemic and to the systemic racism issues this year showed me how great our company is and how much our leaders truly care about our people.

I was especially proud of our $1 billion initiative to fight systemic racism at a time when other companies were offering platitudes, were silent, or took smaller actions. The fact that our CEO had already been looking into this issue for TEN years shows his visionary leadership and makes me proud to be a part of the team at Bank of America”

- Anonymous Bank of America employee survey response

Your employee stories deserve a stage

On May 17, 2022, Certified great workplaces throughout the U.S. and worldwide come online to share their employee stories for Certification Nation Day. Get Certified today, celebrate people-first cultures and make your employee stories go viral.   

Michael C. Bush