02/01/2017 05:40 EST | Updated 02/01/2017 05:40 EST

Top Five HR Hacks No Company Should Overlook

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Many companies go to great lengths to attract and retain top talent, but face big challenges when it comes to keeping employees performing at their very best. It's no secret that factors like compensation, promotions and performance feedback are all important, yet employers tend to overlook other key factors that help drive employee success -- namely culture and engagement.

If you're an HR professional, business leader or owner looking to cultivate a positive work environment that keeps all employees engaged and motivated, here are five things that you need to put on your organization's priority list:

Upgrade Technology to Encourage Collaboration

There's nothing more frustrating to employees than not being able to quickly and successfully do their jobs due to outdated tools and resources. While the world has changed dramatically in recent years with the evolution of social and mobile, the world inside most organizations has stayed largely the same. Too many companies have raced to upgrade their systems to meet customers' expectations, but have failed to consider the employee experience.

To unlock employee potential while boosting productivity, businesses need to move into the future with virtual collaboration tools like Salesforce Chatter that allow cross-functional teams to connect, collaborate, share files, data, and expertise, all in real-time and from anywhere in the world. New workplace technology also promises to finally put an end to those seemingly endless company email chains. With solutions like Quip, chat is built into documents so your entire team can write, edit and discuss them in real-time. It's a perfect example of how upgrading your technology isn't just about helping employees work faster -- it's about getting everybody working smarter and more efficiently.

Design a Space to Reflect Your Unique Office Culture

In business, you often hear about the importance of setting your employees up for success -- which becomes very literal when discussing how a physical workplace impacts office culture. After reviewing more than a decade of research, a recent World Green Building Council (WGBC) meta-study uncovered overwhelming evidence that elements of office design have real impact on the productivity and well-being of the people who work there.

So, while in the past, an employer's only concern might be providing a desk, a phone and a computer, Salesforce now recognizes there's real value in outfitting office spaces with details like warm LED lighting, windows that provide sunlight and views, desks that can be adjusted to sit/stand for comfort, and dedicated mindfulness areas that help employees recharge.

In addition to helping shape how your employees work and interact, it's also important to remember your office design is a reflection of your brand. At Salesforce, we realized we could apply the same creative muscle to our workplaces as we do for our events and marketing programs. Now, when customers and partners cross our thresholds anywhere in the world, including our Canadian offices, they are treated to a consistent brand experience that both celebrates our culture and inspires our employees.

Make Healthy Living an Easy Choice

More important than providing your employees with a great place to work, however, is encouraging them to do things outside of work. As employers, it's our responsibility to empower employees to prioritize balance, it makes good business sense to do so. A 2014 study by the UK's Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, shows there's a direct correlation between employee wellness and job performance. Similarly, eating healthy and exercising is tied to increases in workplace productivity, getting more sleep helps employees earn more, and meditation helps promote divergent thinking.

As an HR professional, you'll need to build a business case for wellness in the workplace and demonstrate to your executives there is real ROI in having happy, healthy employees. It starts with getting alignment from stakeholders and buy-in from managers because, ultimately, they are the ones who will give their employees permission and encouragement to take breaks, unplug from their devices, and put health and happiness first. Managers should also be urged to lead by example by attending the wellness events and taking advantage of the programs themselves. Not only will this help employees feel more comfortable when prioritizing wellness, it will of course help those managers become better, more efficient workers as well.

While it takes a leap of faith to unplug from work and take care of ourselves, it's clearly worth it. One of the reasons Salesforce was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017) is our longstanding commitment to wellbeing in the workplace. We offer standing and treadmill desks, discounted fitness memberships, a monthly wellness reimbursement and frequently we bring our employees sessions on wellness and mindfulness. We also have Salesforce Moves 2 Million Miles, a company-wide fitness challenge that tracks real metrics and celebrates employees who achieve their fitness goals.

Treat Employees Like People Not Processes

This sounds like a simple concept, but it goes much further than making small talk with an employee about their kids or remembering to say "good morning". This is about creating and defining an organizational culture that everyone in the company can articulate. For instance, Salesforce builds its culture around the spirit of Ohana, which means "family" in Hawaiian and represents the idea that families -- related or chosen -- are bound together, and that members feel a sense of responsibility for one another.

When bringing new people into your company, elevate 'cultural fit' as importantly as education, experience, and skills, and train all of your recruiters and managers on what behaviours and attitudes drive your values and help people succeed.

Create a Culture that Gives Back

All employees want to feel like they're making a difference -- it's human nature. But to create a truly engaged workforce, you need to give employees a purpose that's much bigger than simply driving sales and upping profits. At Salesforce, giving back is a core value we hold close to our hearts, driven by our integrated 1-1-1 philanthropic model: we donate 1% of our product, 1% of our equity, and 1% of our employees' time to help improve the state of the world.

Regardless of its size or profit margins, it's likely your organization can afford to donate 1% of its product and equity to a good cause, and you'll quickly find that employees will be more than happy to donate 1% of their time -- which is about five minutes of an eight hour workday and 20 hours over a full year -- especially once they see what can be accomplished.

We're in an age where people often struggle to find value and meaning in their work. Empowering your employees to make a difference in the world will not only have a huge impact on engagement, it has the added benefit of helping your business attract and retain the top talent you need to stay competitive.

Many of these tips may seem like common sense, but too often they've been overlooked as part of business planning. It all boils down to this: you need to create a culture employees can be proud of, and want to be a part of. And you want this culture reflected in a modern workplace that provides your staff with the technology and tools they need to stay productive, as well as the wellness initiatives and encouragement necessary to keep them performing at their best.