How to Build Your Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist


January 1, 2021

Margaux Morgante

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5 min

Building employee engagement and culture is a complex project to tackle. Why not start by jotting down some ideas into a simple checklist?

Woman builds a checklist to help empower her teams. She's thankful for Kudos, the employee recognition program that excelerates workplace culture.

Table of Contents

This article is the first piece in our 5-part Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist Series:

2020 was a year full of unexpected changes and challenges. Many HR professionals were at the center of the storm, some even transitioned to remote work in a matter of days.

If your role shifted to a daily scramble of managing the needs of remote workers, administering unfortunate layoffs, and sending frequent mass communications to employees eager for direction and guidance — you’re not alone.

As the dust has started to settle on a new normal, it's time to dig into how your employees are doing.

Building employee engagement and culture is a complex project to tackle. Why not start by jotting down some ideas into a simple checklist?

Here are four must-haves to get you started:

Revisit, Communicate, and Celebrate Your Values 

Do you know your organizational values? Are they well-known organization-wide?

Values are important, but often dismissed as corporate mumbo-jumbo without any real purpose. According to Gallup, only 23% of employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization's values to their work every day. Just 27% of employees believe in their company's values. How do we fix this?

Reinforce your corporate values by communicating them daily — they are the foundation of your ideal workplace culture.

Anytime your organization experience massive change, it is vital to revisit your organizational values. Strong values help guide your employees through their work. For example, if customer experience is a core value in your company, employees will prioritize customer needs even if they’re juggling multiple tasks.

Alternatively, promoting teamwork reminds your employees to collaborate across all departments.

To start, take stock of your current values. Do you they still resonate?

Use your values as benchmarks for employee performance, and frequently recognize those who incorporate them into their daily work.

Communicate Intentionally

Effective communication is critical; especially in remote workforces. 

According to Forbes, the average attention span of a millennial is 12 seconds, for Gen Z workers, eight seconds; that 6-paragraph email isn't likely to get your message across effectively for those groups. Discovering the right channel to reach your departments or teams is the first step.

Managers should consistently communicate to employees how and why their work affects organizational success. Gallup reports that many remote workers are likely to feel lost or forgotten in their new work environment. 

Voicing what an employee's contribution means to others can make them feel empowered, connected, and more engaged [Click to Tweet!].

Explore how personal milestones and life events can be celebrated remotely. Consider sharing employee birthdays, work-anniversaries, years of service milestones, and exciting life events, so everyone feels included.

Better yet, consider a system that does it automatically, like Kudos to avoid leaving anyone out.

Where to start? Talk to your managers and team leads about their communication preferences.

Advanced action: Implement focused tools that facilitate communication at the department and organization-wide level to create visibility, consistency, and reach.

Dig into Your Culture

What's the expression? Culture eats strategy for breakfast?

Studies show that employees with a strong connection to their organization's culture exhibit higher levels of engagement. Unlike values, vision, or strategy, culture doesn't only come from the top-down. Employees and middle managers significantly impact corporate culture.

Consider whether or not you turn your camera on in virtual meetings. Is it only on with certain people or groups? Your answer indicates the health of your culture.

Small choices that managers make, like saying good morning every day, or allowing a flexible work schedule, set the tone for culture.

According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement experience and directly affect workplace culture. Your managers need to know your cultural expectations if you want your employees to have the right experience. 

Showing regular appreciation for small and major accomplishments to positive behaviours is a great way for managers to engage their team [Click to Tweet!].

Culture can be a tough egg to crack, but being aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly of your organization's existing culture gives you the knowledge you need to move forward.

Where to start? Uncover your current organizational culture by interviewing employees at all levels. Start planning what you want it to look like.

Advanced action: Take your culture beyond the employee handbook by incorporating it into policies and practices. Recognize employees who live your organization’s values. 

Recognize Your Employees Regularly

Recognition is vital to fostering employee engagement. Today's employees need to hear they're doing a great job.

A strong recognition culture can also improve individual and overall business performance. A recent survey found that companies with the highest engagement levels use employee recognition to stretch employees to new levels of success.

Harvard Business Review has reported that 40% of employed Americans say they'd put more energy into their work if they received recognition more often.

Be careful not to confuse rewards with recognition. When employees say they want more recognition for their hard work, they don’t mean rewards.

A reward would be a cash bonus or other gift with a monetary value. Recognition is the act of appreciating and acknowledging your employees' great work and effort. It doesn’t have to be complicated, 85% of employees simply want to hear 'thank you' in their work interactions.

Where to start? Take stock of your current recognition strategy. Are you relying too heavily on rewards? Assess the impact your approach has on employee engagement, culture, and business performance.

Advanced action: Implement a modern platform that simplifies recognition and helps you track who is being recognized, or recognizing most often.

With those four important to-dos' officially on your Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist, you're ready to get to work.

Your employees have been through a lot in recent years; let's make sure they feel engaged, connected, and recognized at work.

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About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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