In his role at Kenexa, the recruiting and retention firm, Bill Erickson works with a lot of businesses in many industries. When asked to name one of the better companies as far as employee engagement, he doesn't hesitate to cite a prominent public apartment REIT: Archstone-Smith Trust.

“We study the level of employee engagement at hundreds and hundreds of companies each year,” Erickson says. “Archstone-Smith is very high in employee engagement. They do a very good job of managing their employee workforce overall.”

Erickson thinks Archstone's success starts at the top. “Leadership has done a great job of communicating about the possible outcomes for the future,” he says. “So people will trust the leadership. They feel communicated with. They feel a sense of belonging and participation in the organization, and that tends to be a big deal.”

HELPING HAMMER: Archstone employees have built more than 45 Habitat for Humanity homes since 1999. Archstone CEO R. Scot Sellers believes that level of employee trust comes from more than compensation, benefits, and fun perks, such as the practice of senior management occasionally making sundaes for the rest of the office at the corporate headquarters.

“My philosophy from when we had less than 100 people is that life is ultimately all about relationships,” Sellers says. “At the end of the day, the awards and accomplishments won't matter to you. What will matter are the relationships you build and that you've nurtured.”

To create those relationships, the company emphasizes teamwork. “A big part of relationships is the teams you're a part of, whether you lead that team or you play a position on it,” Sellers believes. “That's a huge part of the satisfaction you derive from your life.”

How do they create such teams? By encouraging managers to acknowledge their employees' personal and professional lives. “A good manager cares about the dreams of the people who work for them,” Sellers says. “So you get to know those dreams. What are their objectives and what do they really want to do? What do they enjoy and what do they not enjoy? You make sure, in the context of their career, to focus on things they like and they are good at.”


  • Headquarters: Englewood, Colo.
  • Employees: 2,700
  • Turnover Rate: Not disclosed