Guest blog by Shawn Viduranga, Systems Administrator at The Motley Fool and one of YouEarnedIt’s 10 Most Recognized Employees in the World

Not every employer would allow me to come to work dressed as Batman on an ordinary workday when Halloween was weeks in the future. But the fact that my bosses and colleagues at The Motley Fool always look for ways to have fun even while they’re engaged in the serious business of finance and investments, speaks volumes about the culture that allows our company to attract and retain the highest caliber talent.

Top talent is absolutely critical to success at The Motley Fool, which helps millions of people attain financial freedom through its website, podcasts, books, newspaper column, radio show, mutual funds, and premium investing services. Talent is so important, in fact, that The Motley Fool twice has been recognized as the No. 1 Place to Work in America by Glassdoor.

Recent Gallup data shows that only 32 percent of U.S. employees are engaged at work, but, that engaged teams are 21 percent more productive, 22 percent more profitable and see a 10 percent increase in customer experience. So how can finance industry leaders set the bar high to encourage employees to perform their best?

I recently was honored as one of the “Most Recognized Employees” in America by the employee engagement software company YouEarnedIt, and I believe this is in large part due to the people and culture that surrounds me at work every day. But, it’s not just me — 80 percent of employees at The Motley Fool are engaged with their work.

Most Recognized Employee from The Motley Fool Shawn Viduranga YouEarnedIt

I also strongly believe that the management style of The Motley Fool can be replicated by other organizations focused on building a team whose work reflects pride, collaboration, and investment. Here’s what I think my bosses have gotten right:

They trust us

Trust pays immense benefits. When employees are trusted to make the right decisions, they will deliver incredible results. My bosses allow us full autonomy in our projects, meaning they trust us to get the work done and get it done well. That’s a powerful motivation to do my best every day.

Trust at The Motley Fool is mutually beneficial, too. According to Wills Towers Watson, 79% of highly engaged employees have trust and confidence in their leaders. So, it’s no wonder so many Fools are engaged at work.

They are honest with us

Honesty is a core value here. We appreciate the honesty with which our finance team transparently discusses company financials during a monthly all-company huddle, or when the CEO shares his vision and long-term strategy for the company at an employee gathering.

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They pay attention to what matters

I want to know that I am judged on the quality of my work and not on the tailoring of my suit and tie. The Motley Fool knows I am pushing myself to provide great, innovative service even on those days when I wear a hoodie and a T-shirt, a jester cap or a chili pepper costume to the office.

They encourage us to grow

I’m happiest when I’m constantly learning. The culture of The Motley Fool emphasizes constant learning and professional development, so much so that 93 percent of Fools say their team leader or colleagues care about them as a person.

I’m encouraged to try new things every day, without worrying about the risk of failure. If I do fail, it’s seen as an opportunity to learn and grow. The opportunity to work on projects outside my department and to participate in clubs and committees, meanwhile, strengthens my non-technical skills, such as communications, project management and event planning.

They understand the importance of health

The wellness program at The Fool also plays a huge part in making me a better employee. I’m happier, stronger, and far more productive than I’ve ever been, and I think that’s largely because of all the healthy food in our subsidized lunches, dinners and fruit-and-vegetable snacks.

I do daily planks with our plank club, participate in Fool-sponsored wellness activities and take advantage of our discounted gym membership to work out four or five times a week. It’s more than a perk. It directly improves my workplace performance.

9 out of 10 employees at the Fool participate in our wellness program, which includes yoga, spinning, or bootcamp classes, as well as wellness screenings at our annual health fair. Meanwhile, National average in workplace wellness programs is closer to 48%.

They understand the value of fun

My bosses know that the fun I have at work — playing video games with co-workers in our virtual-reality room, talking over a beer at the company-wide Thirsty Thursday event — builds stronger relationships and stronger teams. Beyond that, Fools are genuinely supportive of one another. It’s a welcome change from the cutthroat, aggressive approach to success so common on Wall Street.

My bosses also understand that great people seek out opportunities to work with great people. By taking the right steps to build a culture where we can thrive, they’ve built a company where we’re excited to work together and reach for the stars every day.

But here’s the secret that I most want to share with you: any company has the capability to create a workplace with great, empowered people. By taking the lead and allowing your employees to achieve success through encouragement, trust, and honesty, you may see the engagement and motivation from your employees that you’ve always hoped for.

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