Discover insights on employee recognition and engagement, workplace culture, performance management, people analytics, and more.
For managers, career planning can be one of the most challenging things to do well. Often, employees will look to their managers for guidance on how to learn and grow in their career – and in a world where it can feel impossible to find the time to stop and find the time to think about what’s next for someone else, it can be easy to let career planning slide... until it’s too late.
Prior to the pandemic, according to Indeed.com, three of the top six reasons that people left their jobs were related to career progression:
While the pandemic has resulted in a tectonic shift that has brought workplace culture, recognition, and other factors to the forefront, it has not changed the fact that employees wanting (1) to be challenged, (2) higher pay, and (3) career progression remain a deficiency in many organizations.
Career planning can be looked at as an advanced method of employee recognition. It requires understanding, along with strong and open communication and trust.
Of course, if your organization suffers from workplace culture issues, or lack of basic employee recognition, those issues should be addressed first and foremost. Creating an environment where employees feel safe and seen is a critical first step to helping them envision their longer-term future with your company. Once you’ve nailed down the basics, if you want to engage your employees, it’s important to think about how your managers are running career planning sessions.
Author of Radical Candor, Kim Scott and her Candor Inc. Co-Founder Jason Rosoff provide an excellent foundation for career planning which follows this approach:
Every step in this process is vital, but the most challenging part is the second step. It’s easy to ask an employee what they want to achieve in their career – they probably answered that question during their job interview. The thing is, ambitions change, and often there are deeper goals and objectives that your team members might be holding back.
To help you perform a discovery meeting with your team members, we’ve put together a simple list of questions that you can use to discover what your team’s ambitions are, what excites them and what scares them. Get your copy of the worksheet below.
Once you’ve fleshed out a clear understanding of each team member’s goals and ambitions, it becomes 1000x easier to come up with a career action plan that aligns with their goals. Does your team member want to become an executive one day? Maybe give them more opportunities to speak in front of audiences and to present department results. Do they want to start their own consulting business? Try encouraging them to study and take the certifications that they’ll need to someday go out on their own.
There’s no need to sugarcoat it. One day your team members will probably move on from your organization in search of new challenges and new adventures. Your job is to ensure that when they leave, they feel like they have had the greatest career growth while working with you. They might even decide to come back to your company in the future! Career planning is as much a necessary factor in employee engagement, as it is for your employer brand.
Ultimately, by doing the work, discovering what your people aspire to, and accelerating them towards those goals, you’ll increase the value that they deliver while they work at your company, and they’ll be an advocate for you and your business well after they move on to the next step in their career journey.
As a manager, you have the opportunity and responsibility to help people thrive and contribute to your organization’s goals in a meaningful way.
A great manager fosters relationships to build trust with their team. Marcus Buckingham, author of two of the best-selling business books of all time, explains that truly getting to know your team can make a world of difference.
“Learn what motivates them, and their unique styles of learning, be it by watching, doing or analyzing.” –Marcus Buckingham
How to be a great manager
Gallup reports that only 10% of people are born with the right skills to be a great manager. But here’s the good news: anyone with the right mindset who follows these tips, can become a great manager.
Hiring is where great management begins. You can provide potential hires with a clear picture of what it will be like to work at your organization. In addition, a great manager will focus on hiring employees that can balance their current team – hiring for cultural-add vs cultural fit. As Marcus Buckingham said, knowing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses can make a world of difference. As a manager, you can maximize the hiring opportunity and bring someone on with complementary skills to build a well-rounded team.
Great onboarding is so important – first impressions matter! While the interview process might be the first point of contact, onboarding is where employees really take in your culture and approach. As a manager, ensuring your employees are set up for success with everything they need, from equipment to resources, goes a long way. Intentionally scheduling time for casual conversation also helps with relationship-building and making your new hires feel welcome. Recognizing onboarding milestones can also help build motivation and engagement fast.
This isn't something that can happen right away; it takes time to know a person well. It takes showing genuine interest in their life, their routine, and even their struggles. Marcus Buckingham explains that managers can only succeed when they learn to communicate and work with each of their employees as individuals. . This allows you to use their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses to accomplish organizational goals. In order to facilitate this familiarity, managers need to be approachable first. According to Gallup, 54% of employees who feel their manager is approachable are also engaged at work.
Great managers take time to get to know their team, but delivering great work matters too. Setting weekly 1-1 meetings with your employees will help foster a stronger relationship and clear any doubts or roadblocks.
Weekly check-ins that are collaborative and growth-focused will increase top talent retention. These check-ins build trust and can increase the employee's sense of belonging, which is another significant factor that differentiates the average manager from the great one. One important tip is to be consistent - try your best to keep this meeting and show up on time. It can sometimes feel easy to cancel or postpone, but remember that someone on your team might be waiting for that time to ask an important question or share concerns.
A great manager understands that each employee has their own personal career goals. Here is the problem, 63% of employees left their job in 2021 due to a lack of opportunities for advancement. Engagement and productivity can be affected if employees don’t see a future at your organization. Once employees share with you where they see themselves in the future, support them by providing opportunities to gain the experience needed to achieve their goals. Have these career conversations early and often.
Studies have found that recognition reinforces a team’s sense of meaning and purpose, among many other benefits. According to Gallup, 74% of employees that receive praise at work report feeling that what they do is valuable and useful. A recognition platform like Kudos can help you here. The platform allows mangers to recognize their team publicly while reinforcing the company’s values and vision. Simply put - recognition matters!
Celebrating your employees boosts morale by helping employees feel seen and recognized. A work anniversary, birthday, and other meaningful events in employee’s lives are opportunities for managers to celebrate achievements and growth. Automated platforms make it simple to stay on top of important dates so no one ever gets missed.
Plain and simple - great managers practice what they preach. Think back to your interview, did you emphasize work-life balance and no work on evenings and weekends? If so, don’t contact your team outside of working hours. Also, don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and help when your team needs it. Be open to the fact that you might not always have the answer to every problem. Sometimes knowing where to point your team for the right support - rather than trying to solve everything yourself - can stop you from becoming a bottleneck.
Becoming a great manager requires a great deal of trust from your employees. But for trust to mean anything, it needs to be reciprocated. Servant leadership encourages leaders to put the well-being of their employees first, and showing employees that you trust them to do their job effectively is key to fostering that well-being. Servant leadership also encourages employee success by providing a positive environment where employees can feel supported.
Great managers don't focus on fixing employees' weaknesses but rather leveraging and fostering their strengths. Today managers can also use data to better understand employees' behaviours and relationships. Whether it's people analytics collected from your recognition platform, engagement surveys or business results, pay attention to trends and changes to flag engagement and performance challenges before it's too late.
Great managers build healthy relationships with their teams by understanding how unique each employee is. They listen to what their team needs and provide tailored solutions, so the employee feels supported and happy at your organization.
Great managers don’t focus on the past or any weaknesses, they care about the future and strengths of their people.
Employees are often more loyal to their company if they know their work is valued and appreciated. However, it’s not uncommon for employees to be caught up in their workday and forget to thank their peers for their hard work. While a simple “thank you” is certainly always worthwhile, a formal employee recognition program is a great way for everyone to celebrate wins big and small.
Download our free eBook, Recognition Done Right, for more information on how to drive success through the power of recognition.
According to Gallup, 40% of employees report receiving recognition just a few times a year or less. Implementing an effective employee recognition solution can have a massive impact on your organization. Organizations with formal recognition programs have 31% less voluntary turnover than organizations without one.
Employees at companies that have an effective recognition solution are five times as likely to be connected to company culture and four times as likely to be engaged. Implementing an easy-to-use recognition program for your employees is key to making recognition the foundation of your company culture.
Recognition should not be limited by who can send it –everyone in your organization should have a channel to give recognition. Here are the types of employee recognition:
Peer-to-peer recognition is when any employee can give praise to each other. Peer-to-peer recognition helps employees establish and maintain good relationships with their coworkers.
This is when a leader or someone at a manager or supervisory level gives recognition to someone on their team. Leaders who provide recognition establish a positive environment and relationship within their team. Leading by example will also encourage your team members to send more recognition messages to their coworkers.
Simple messages expressing gratitude keep employees constantly assured and motivated. This is when that simple “thank you” to someone on your team can go a long way.
Birthday's, years of service, promotions, onboarding progress and learning and development achievements. Ensuring all of these important moments are recognized is a central part of building a culture and habit of recognition.
This allows a leader or peers to identify someone who meets specific criteria for an award or nomination. Nomination programs can highlight the skills that drive your organization to success and can help strengthen your overall recognition strategy.
To learn more about nomination programs, you can read How to Get Nominations Right in 2022.
Being able to recognize your team in a variety of ways is what will take your employee experience and culture to the next level.
The Kudos platform offers all types of recognition – gratitude, performance recognition, communicating good news, and celebrating achievements so you can build stronger connections with your team. When sending a message of recognition, users can select one of four distinct levels:
This is an everyday appreciation moment. A simple act of appreciation at work where the behavior stood out or made your day.
A “good job” is used for recognizing someone who has performed better than average or expected, or for acknowledging the completion of a milestone in a larger initiative.
An “impressive” is for someone who made a noticeable difference or impact and raised the standard of delivery expectations. This can also celebrate the end of a large initiative that took significant time and effort.
An “exceptional” is when someone has exceeded delivery, job responsibility and expectations. This could be used for someone going above and beyond, exceeding a goal or KPI or any other outstanding achievement.
“Recognition is a reward in itself. Any form of appreciation, even a small word, is important.” - Vikrant Massey
No matter how simple the message, you should never hesitate to recognize a colleague, but when your message is meaningful, it has the most impact.
Sending recognition doesn’t need to be time consuming. Crafting a meaningful message that really demonstrates your appreciation can be easy when you keep these tips in mind.
Sending recognition to your peers can have a big impact – even a simple thank you can go a long way. If you need help crafting the perfect recognition message, we’ve given 20 examples of recognition messages your employees will love:
Employee recognition should be a vital part of your business. However, narrowing down the right recognition solution for your company can be challenging. We’ve made it easy for you in our free Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide to help you find the perfect partner.
The month of October can make us feel uneasy for a variety of reasons; Halloween candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner being one.
But just as the seasons are changing, so is the world of HR; and what’s more frightening than the unknown?
Here are some of today’s HR leaders’ biggest fears, and some solutions to ease them. For the full effect, please read this article by candlelight, or while holding a flashlight under your chin.
According to the 2022 Identity of HR Survey by HR Drive, HR leaders say there are three main barriers to recruitment and retention:
The survey found that small, tight-knit organizations are faring better than large ones in terms of climbing resignation rates: 53% of large organizations reported climbing rates, while only 26% of small organizations did.
Keep in mind, the size of an organization does not necessarily make or break its chances at better employee retention. Small organizations can more easily create the sense of community and belonging that job-seekers crave, but even large, remote organizations can seamlessly integrate positive culture with the right tools.
HR’s role has morphed drastically in the past two years to that of a strategic business partner. Rightfully so, HR is getting more recognition, but they’re not yet receiving the resources to match.
While HR professionals are “the people that help people”, many of us get into the habit of venting to HR without following through with formal complaints. Being an emotional sounding board in any setting would get exhausting; HR professionals somehow need to conjure the emotional energy to support entire organizations from 9 to 5.
Large organizations need more organization. That said, the survey found that rigid systems can reinforce the same toxic cultural norms HR is working to dismantle.
Naturally, employees at all levels in an organization are guilty of resisting change. It’s easy to justify tradition when you’re immersed in all its (fleeting) benefits; but today’s talent is looking for more than a paycheck.
In HR, resisting change is like hanging your feet over the edge of the bed, taunting whatever sinister being that lies underneath to pull you by the ankles.
HR Reporter also revealed workers’ ideas about change. Many people are hoping for large pay bumps if forced to return to the office full-time. In Canada, for example, 80% of remote workers might just look for a new job if asked to return full-time to the office.
Even with an excess of other responsibilities, many HR leaders are left with the task of encouraging people to return to the office. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news, especially when it could lead to losing employees they care about.
80% of organizations rank maintaining morale and engagement as their top priority for 2022. So, what’s the best way to go about it?
Maintaining morale and engagement is a unique challenge because each employee gains motivation from different things. HR professionals need a solution that harmonizes life and work, so that each employee feels welcomed and accepted for their authentic selves.
Each organization has a unique viewpoint, identity, and mission, with workplace culture at the center. Tackling culture doesn't have to be scary! With the right tools and approach, you can design an irresistible culture that fuels healthy morale.
People are happier at work when they feel welcome, and among friends. With recognition platforms like Kudos, which open the doors for peer-to-peer social recognition, your company culture will give employees a sense of community.
When you’re recognized for accomplishing something great, where does that feeling go after the moment has passed?
According to a study on autobiographical memories (moments that make up your life story) each of our memories serves different functions. Here are three important things to know about the nature of memory:
The first, and most evolutionary function of our memory is directive. This function helps us problem solve, plan, feel inspired, and get motivated. This function zeroes-in on the central conflict of a memory, so we can find a clear solution.
“Negative events would cause the individual to focus on and encode the aspects of the events that are necessary in order to solve the problem and prevent future mistakes.”
The study finds that our brains take longer to recall directive memories, and in many cases, they need to be triggered.
When you make a mistake at work, for example, forgetting to include an attachment to an email, you’re probably less likely to make that mistake again in the near future.
This function gives our life-events context, meaning, and purpose. Self-memories are the most central to our identity.
We use these memories to gain a better, more cohesive understanding of our identity over time. They act as reference points throughout our lives to judge where we’ve been, where we are, and where to go from there.
Self memories include things like how far you’ve come in your career, goals you’ve achieved and milestones you’ve accomplished.
Possibly the most self-explanatory of the three, the social memory function helps us connect with others. In fact, social memories can only be created by connecting with others — through conversation or otherwise.
The last time you told someone a story about your life, chances are you wanted to find common ground — shared interests. You were sharing memories for the purpose of creating new ones. Telling your story to persuade, provide comfort, bond, or draw out empathy is part of the social memory function.
Social memories can include times you’ve bonded with friends and family or when you first felt accepted by coworkers, for example.
The study’s participants’ most negative memories had more directive function, while their most positive memories had more self and social functions.
It’s easy to dwell on our weaknesses when they could make or break our chances of employment. This may ring even truer for today’s young workers (millennials and gen z), who often feel the need to “make it,” or prove their worth among more established coworkers.
Although it’s in our nature to take direct, clear lessons from negative memories, we should be more proactive about learning from positive ones.
Rather than making comparisons — either to competition or to our past selves — to feel motivated, we need positive social recognition. And we need to make it a habit.
Recognition should always be accessible. Platforms like Kudos keep each moment of social recognition in one place. Instead of waiting on directive memories to trigger motivation, you can access a bank of positive inspiration.
“If you think about recognizing someone in person, giving them a pat on the back, they disappear into the ether after the moment’s passed.” says Muni Boga, President and CEO of Kudos. “When you’re working with a recognition platform, you’re creating a record of it happening. That record belongs to the person receiving the recognition, the person giving it, it’s something really special that people have.”
Dedicated recognition platforms provide built-in opportunities to create and document positive directive, self, and social memories.
Each recognition message is a great source of joy and reflection on your work. The right employee recognition platform is an archive of empowerment for every team member involved, and it can be added to every day — for every contribution.
Beyond pick-me-ups, recognition messages can be used to reinforce your value to an organization. In your next performance review, for example:
A lack of recognition in any work environment creates siloes, or isolated groups. In a culture where recognition is few and far between, people revert to gaining motivation or lessons from negative memories. And without positive social recognition, people use their self-memories to judge if they’re in the right place to achieve their goals.
“Employers have flagged the fact that their people aren’t feeling recognized.” – Muni Boga, CEO of Kudos
In a culture of recognition, not only are people more aware of acts of kindness, but they’re more aware of their coworkers’ strengths. When each member of an organization supports the others for what they bring to the table, the result is dynamic, adaptable, and resilient.
Before the shift to remote and hybrid working environments, employees weren’t feeling recognized, and the same problem exists through the screen. It’s just as, if not more important for a company’s culture to translate in virtual spaces.
An employee recognition platform that can be accessed from any device, anywhere, and at any time is an invaluable asset for teams who can’t be in the same room. Kudos is an innovative, and intuitive social tool to bond your teams and create memories.
With built-in analytics, leaders can see the evolution of their teams’ skills, and uncover strengths that would otherwise go unnoticed. Kudos’ built-in dashboards give deep insights into the dynamics of your teams, without human oversight. What sets Kudos apart is a care for both individuality and community.
Recognition is many things; a statement, a feeling, and something we all deserve. A thoughtfully designed program nurtures the experience of recognition, so you can truly be part of something worth remembering.
Should you be worried about quiet quitting?
Quiet quitting represents a significant shift in today’s workforce. More than ever, today’s employees are seeking happiness at work and better work-life balance. More and more employees are rejecting the “hustle culture” mentality.
We dove into the history of quiet quitting to provide some advice on what to do next if you’re feeling confused about this trending topic.
Many definitions of quiet quitting have surfaced.
Gartner defines it as “a term that describes employees who are not motivated to put their all into work. They’re not actually quitting, but they have mentally checked out.” Forbes calls it “greater emotional separation or new boundaries between work and life.”
Essentially, it is a rebellion against the “hustle culture” mentality many grew up observing.
In the viral TikTok video, Zaid Khan defines the term as “not outright quitting your job, but quitting the idea of going above and beyond.”
While the TikTok video is from 2022, the concept of ‘quiet quitting’ has existed for decades.
Perhaps the most popular example of quiet quitting is the 1999 film Office Space. In this corporate satire, fictional character Peter Gibbons refuses to work overtime, wants to have a good time and charms two consultants into putting him on the management fast-track.
From a long commute to a boss who is constantly asking him to work weekends, he stops going the extra mile and encourages others to do the same – rejecting hustle culture.
So, what is hustle culture anyway? The concept is simple – hustle culture means letting work be the driving force in your life, to the detriment of all else. Other people stuck in hustle culture might feel like they must work (long hours) to fulfill their professional goals, and there’s simply no other way.
Historically in the US, people who earned the highest salary would work less than the people who earned the least. It makes sense – if you’re making a lot of money, then you can afford to work less.
But something changed in the late 80s; people making the highest salary started to work the longest shifts. The reason? Employees paid by the hour (typically blue-collar workers) were now protected by the Fair Labour Standards Act. From then on, hourly employees were required to be paid overtime.
At the same time, employers hiring salaried workers, typically in white-collar professions, began to glamorize the idea of workaholism. These workers would work unpaid extra hours to achieve their targets and professional goals.
Hustle culture promotes “always staying on,” and that mentality can lead to burnout.
Today, according to Deloitte, almost 80% of people have experienced burnout at work.
With the impact of globalization and automation, a wave of mergers and acquisitions started to happen. Afraid of getting laid off, people were bound to work harder to demonstrate their role was indispensable. This fed hustle culture, and subsequently, burnout culture.
When Millennials entered the workforce, they started to advocate for better work-life balance and a focus on wellness. Tired of seeing their parents working at companies with poor cultures, this generation fought for the flexibility and benefits we see in today’s job market.
A study done by PWC proves this, revealing that Millennials demand better work-life balance. That said, this generation won’t just accept a position for a high salary, they also want purpose, and will make sure that companies align with their values before they accept a job. What's more, with record-high employment rates, they can be choosy.
Did Millennials or Gen Z start the quiet quitting trend?
Both generations seem to rebel against the hustle culture mentality. According to Deloitte, Gen Z also craves more purposeful and flexible work with a particular focus on their mental health.
But employees aren’t just refusing to work overtime or weekends; some are unmotivated and disengaged during regular working hours.
According to Gallup, almost 85% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. In some cases, quiet quitting could arguably be another form of employee disengagement.
1. Get to know your employees well
It’s important to understand that each person sees work differently. According to Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski, there are three different approaches people take to their work.
First, we have the people who see work as a means to put food on the table and pay bills – these are ‘job oriented ’ people.
Secondly, we have people with a ‘career orientation;’ they see their work as a path to a better status in life, so they don't mind putting the extra mile into their work to achieve that.
Finally, we have the people who take it even further. They don’t view their job as a career but instead as a ‘calling.’
While none of these approaches are necessarily good or bad, it’s important for managers to find the right way to motivate each employee to keep them engaged.
For instance, if a person who is job oriented has a family emergency, they will seek support from their employer to take time off to support their loved one. Similarly, if someone is career oriented and feels like they’ve reached their peak at work, you should find ways to develop a comprehensive career development plan with them. Finally, if you have a ‘calling’ employee, be mindful of burnout. While they love their job and find it satisfying, make sure they get the support they need by encouraging breaks and disconnection from work on vacation.
2. Focus on engagement
Employees are disengaged for nuanced reasons, but at the core, they want to feel valued and that their organization cares for their wellbeing.
Recognition is one proven way more companies are opting to utilize to improve their engagement levels. What’s more, it also helps you build a stronger connection with your employees.
According to Gallup, employees are up to four times more likely to be engaged if they experience regular recognition at work.
The key here is to understand that happier employees perform better. As a result, forward-thinking companies are coming to realize that the push toward a more balanced work life has produced benefits for both employees and employers.
With a tool like Kudos, employers can encourage peer-to-peer recognition, allowing people’s hard work to be highlighted in situations where it might normally go unnoticed. The platform allows your team to align their recognition messages to your company values, helping employees develop a better sense of belonging while helping employers measure their engagement too.
3. Take good care of managers
Almost identical to the employee engagement study, today, Gallup reports that only one in three managers feel engaged at work. Taking good care of managers means giving them the resources they need to lead a team properly.
Quiet quitting is a silent scream for managers to build a stronger relationship with their employees, but managers can’t do that if they are feeling burned out.
According to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, the most important factor is to build trust. If an employee trusts their manager, they will also feel the organization cares for their wellbeing.
Remember, a trustworthy manager reflects a trustworthy organization. So, encourage Managers to take time off, provide training and finally, work towards a culture where managers can get recognized too. Oftentimes, managers get forgotten despite the key part they played in achieving the outcome.
Quiet quitting poses a higher threat when an unhealthy workplace culture is in place.
However, organizations that adapt to newer generations’ demands will see better results than the ones stuck in the past.
By working towards healthy workplace culture, being there for your employees and managers, and praising their achievements through consistent recognition, you'll be well on your way to a thriving, engaged workforce.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout is an occupational phenomenon that results in stress not being properly managed. The symptoms of burnout, however, can differ from person to person. Some might experience exhaustion in the workplace; some might develop a negative feeling toward their job. Regardless, burnout isn’t something your employees can just shake off.
Why are your employees’ showing signs of burnout? Identifying the root of the problem is essential for organizations wishing to fight back. Unfortunately, employees often choose silence, or hope that the situation will just resolve itself.
By fostering resiliency, you can create a team that will adapt and recover from tough situations. This is something you can start working on right away, and yes, it begins with the person in front of the mirror – but with some work, it can resonate with the entire organization.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
In the last quarter of 2020, Tim Cook spoke in the earnings call for the technological giant. That day, Cook gave his employees’ praises. One word he used to describe his team that year was resilient. Despite several challenges, his team came together and achieved a 6% growth over the previous year, higher than Wall Street’s prediction.
Cook explained that a shared sense of purpose between his employees was what made everything possible. Cook’s empathy is nothing new. However, it was his resilience that trickled down to his employees, inspiring them to keep going. This is key in a post-pandemic world – the modern leader must be resilient and empathetic to inspire those qualities in their teams.
Bob Chapman, Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller
The Chairman and CEO of the $3-billion corporation Barry-Wehmiller spoke about how he faced the 2008 recession without making any layoffs. He attributes that to resilience. Chapman explained the importance of designing a resilient business model. A model that is designed to take on the shocks of the economy.
In a conversation with thought leader Simon Sinek, Chapman explained the similarities of parenting and leadership. Listen to the entire conversation here.
Chapman built resiliency by creating education programs that his employees can take, where one of the primary skills they are taught is listening. Chapman believes the best way for people to understand each other, is through empathy and listening to one another.
1. By Listening: Bob Chapman learned that the best way for people to understand each other is to be empathetic listeners. Burnout doesn’t develop overnight. This is a state-of-mind that grows over time, and without the right approach, employee’s mindsets can crumble. By listening to what your employees have to say, you’ll be helping your organization build resilience, reducing the chance of burnout.
According to Gallup, employees with managers who listen to their work-related problems are 62% less likely to be burned out. In an ever-changing working environment, listening will help clear any roadblocks your employees encounter. On top of that, employees who feel valued and heard will face difficult situations with more confidence knowing they are supported.
Tip: Create an intentional, positive and safe environment for listening. Being a boss or manager is not the same as being a leader. Focus on your onboarding, your one-on-ones, even exit interviews. Any interaction you have with your employees is an opportunity to learn more about them and their experience in your organization.
2. By Recognizing: Frequent recognition gives your employees motivation to go the extra mile. Recognition recharges resilient teams. According to HubSpot, almost 70% of employees say they would put more effort into their work if their efforts were better recognized. Moreover, recognizing employees for their hard work can foster a sense of belonging in the workplace – which in turn, According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), can bring down absenteeism due to sickness up to 75%.
When you add more positive interaction at work through frequent recognition, your employees feel more confident, get more work done, and really look forward to being at work each day.
Tip: Focus on building a culture and a habit of recognition. When you recognize your employees often, you’ll have more productive teams.
With Kudos’ simple but effective recognition approach, staying on top of your team’s achievements has never been easier. The platform allows you and your team to send a personalized recognition message in seconds. The platform also offers deep analytics that help you measure employee engagement, which is essential for employees at risk of burnout.
3. By Being Proactive: Your chances of fighting burnout are much higher when you take the time to apply tips like these. As a leader, you have the enormous responsibility to modelling resilience and continuously adapting to current employee needs. You would do it for your clients, why not do it for your employees? Becoming a servant leader is something you can learn little by little; but your employees will notice instantly.
Burnout occurs when employees don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. An empathetic servant leader can help this by listening, and offering clear guidance and direction. By understanding your employees’ experiences during stressful situations, you can direct them better and help them regain their confidence. Additionally, your empathetic approach will boost employee retention and reinforce their working relationships.
Tip: While we think it’s amazing that you’re thinking of a recognition solution, don’t forget to do what’s best for your organization and employees. One way is to align your recognition strategy by incorporating your core values. According to Gallup, only 27% of employees believe in theirs. With Kudos, you align every recognition message to your organization’s unique values. This is key for employees and organizations because it will create a better sense of belonging and alignment.
As a leader, you have the tools to build a resilient team. You can directly impact your team and adapt to new challenges. Don’t wait until your best employees leave from burnout and discouragement – act now to prevent it.
Engaged employees are highly motivated and move your organization forward because their needs are being met, they have a sense of belonging, and they know their wellbeing matters. Interestingly, there is a significant correlation between employee recognition and employee engagement – recognition boosts employee engagement and contributes to mental wellbeing.
When was the last time you took a pulse check of how your employees are feeling? For HR leaders, it’s critical to have a sense of where your employee sentiment stands, and how to get ahead of it before it’s too late. The key to improving sentiment and wellbeing in your workplace is being aware of it, not just through an annual survey, but through constant information gathering.
An article published by the MIT Sloan School of Management describes seven steps to making employee wellness and wellbeing a priority in your organization, and the first step is talking to your employees. This may sound simple, but having the right channel is critical. Hosting an event or a meeting to generate discussions may not be the perfect solution to truly understanding what your employees need. Sometimes a simple and anonymous channel works best, and is more inclusive, especially with a distributed workforce.
Collecting feedback anonymously through a sentiment survey allows you to track how employees as a group are feeling over time, and also creates a safe space for anonymous individual feedback. This provides invaluable information that can help you to improve the quality of your employee experience. Leaders can learn how their employees are doing, and employees have an outlet to share what they’re experiencing.
Most organizations understand the importance of employee wellbeing – but how do we measure it? Giving your employees access to a tool where they can share their needs is one way to gather valuable insights into your employee sentiment. Regularly surveying your employees allows you to build a sentiment index, allowing you to track trends over time. The goal of an employee sentiment survey is to uncover specific and actionable insights about your team’s happiness and wellbeing, so that you can take informed steps to improve it.
Technology like the Kudos recognition platform is making it easier than ever for employees to openly communicate with their organization. For employers, it’s all about having easy access to digestible data that helps them to:
For those employers that want access to deeper insights on employee wellness, the first step is properly gathering information. Using a tool where employees can submit anonymous feedback on their wellbeing that then translates that feedback into easy-to-read data and analytics is an excellent way to get started.
Giving feedback shouldn’t be time-consuming or difficult for your team. If employees need to go out of their way to provide their thoughts, they simply won’t do it. As important as it is to encourage your employees to provide feedback, it’s equally important to make it easy and convenient to do so.
Adding emoji reactions, ratings and comment options is a great way for employees to quickly check-in with how they’re doing. Keep in mind that anonymity can be crucial when asking employees for feedback. Keeping responses anonymous is less invasive, increases the number of participants, and can help to instill trust with your employees. You’ll also get more accurate data.
Regularly asking employees for feedback with a short sentiment survey, for example, adds to your employee experience without it feeling like an interruption. With the data collected, your organization can begin to prioritize the changes your employees are seeking.
There is nothing worse than being asked for feedback and seeing nothing come of it. This is critical. If you ask your employees to be open and vulnerable about their wellbeing (even anonymously) you have to address the concerns or ideas for improvement they provide.
Once you have the data, look for common threads to identify potential issues with your employee experience. The goal is to make the necessary improvements that address the feedback you’ve received, and the sentiment trends you’re evaluating. It’s important to be prepared for negative feedback or seeing data that is showing a decline in employee wellbeing. What’s important is that your organization uses these insights to move forward with a strategic plan to enhance your employee experience.
Conducting an employee sentiment survey is a step in the right direction in showing employees you care about their wellbeing. How your organization changes to improve your overall employee experience is the path that will positively impact your people, and your business.
Culture has the power to influence many aspects of your organization’s operations. That’s because workplace culture is part of everything an organization does. From policies and procedures to your company’s values and beliefs. So, what exactly is workplace culture, and how can recognition create a workplace culture that will flourish?
Culture is a hot topic these days, especially surrounding discussions on remote work and many organizations returning to office-based work. At its core, workplace culture is the shared values, behaviours, and goals of the organization.
Workplace culture is the foundation of the unique identity your organization needs to stand out from the rest. Like employer branding, workplace culture has the power to attract top talent and build stronger relationships with your clients. Think of workplace culture as your organization’s personality and unique traits.
Culture and employer branding go hand in hand. While employer branding focuses on how prospective employees will see your organization while looking for a job, workplace culture is what will ultimately make them stay.
By now, most organizations understand that workplace culture can bring benefits such as better communication between teams, enhanced trust between employees and higher efficiency.
In fact, according to a Deloitte study, 94% of executives think of culture as a vital component to business success. What’s more, when looking at successful organizations around the globe, you’ll notice they all have one thing in common: a strong workplace culture.
A strategic workplace culture built by design (versus by default) is important because it will influence your employees by creating a better sense of belonging. Employees that feel like they belong and bring their authentic selves to work, influence organizational performance.
“Millennial turnover costs the US economy $30.5 billion annually” (Gallup Report, 2022)
With millennials voluntarily leaving their jobs at a drastic rate, it’s never been more important to analyse what’s working and what needs improvement.
Millennial workers – the largest working generation today, are different from previous generations in that if they don’t like the culture, they will leave for a new employer. Moreover, a likeable culture needs to be genuine – it must reflect your organization’s values and ideals.
Now that we know why culture is so important, and why it has become so top of mind in the last few years, how can you define it and make it stronger?
Leadership plays a big role in how workplace culture is developed and evolves. It’s demonstrated that when employees take pride in the workplace culture they share, everyone wins. Employees want their needs to be met, but they also want to know the work they do is appreciated. By recognizing and adapting, employers that strive towards a positive workplace culture will thrive.
Let’s get this question out of the way: Who doesn’t love having options? More importantly, what’s worth understanding is that people have different tastes and opinions. After all, what you like or enjoy might be the opposite of the person sitting next to you. This is especially true when it comes to recognition. Authors Gary Chapman and Paul White spoke to this in their book, 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.
At Kudos, we believe that recognition is the key to a happy team and stronger workplace culture. And while we are passionate about regular, meaningful peer-to-peer recognition, we also know people might prefer a more extensive celebration for their hard work and accomplishments. Let’s go back to the beginning: Who doesn’t love having options?
Recognition can take many different forms and being able to recognize your team in a variety of ways is what we’re all about.
Employee Nominations allow leadership and peers to identify a colleague who meets specific criteria. After a reviewing process, a significant reward is granted.
Now, as you probably already know, nominations are a small piece to a bigger solution. At Kudos, we’d like to think of nominations as an added feature to your recognition strategy and not as a one-size-fits-all.
So, why is it important to consider a nominations program in 2023? If you like history as much as I do, this next section is for you.
During the American industrial revolution, plenty of innovative ideas to improve productivity and efficiency were introduced. One of those innovative ideas came from Frederick W. Taylor, who created Scientific Management Theory. Taylor spent many years figuring out a way to keep productivity levels high.
By watching his employees very closely and taking notes, Taylor would then analyse and remove any unnecessary steps to their workflow, making their job more straightforward. His idea was simple but significant - overworked employees won’t perform as well.
Additionally, Taylor realized the simple promise that his best employees would have a job the following day wasn’t enough to keep them motivated. So, after a close review, Taylor would categorize the type of work his employees were doing, he then selected the top performers and rewarded them with higher salaries. This selection process can be considered the first nominations flow to ever exist in a work environment. Taylor understood very early that the cost of hiring a new employee would impact the productivity and overall prosperity of his organization’s culture.
Although nowadays we know that money isn’t a long-term solution to keep employees motivated, Taylor’s innovative approach to an employee’s experience, showed us that being able to meet the demand of top performers can lead to better retention and help increase your organization’s productivity. And that, has not changed.
With Taylor’s approach in place, methods to keep employees motivated became more prevalent. Programs such as Employee of the Month (EOTM) and President’s Club are clear examples of that. Employees who have received this recognition in the past still rank it as some of the most memorable recognition they’ve ever received.
Why? Because it’s exclusive, appreciates their hard work and commitment to the organization, and singles them out as a high performer.
However, years of learning about what makes a healthy work-environment tells us that a solo nomination program for the Presidents Club or EOTM can often be seen as “out of reach” and doesn’t motivate employees to strive for this recognition. Kudos has lots of ideas to support you here, and when it comes to nominations, we recommend creating a diverse nomination strategy. After all, Taylor observed his employees and top performers, plural. Nothing stops you from creating nomination programs, plural, that highlights the multiple types of behaviours and skills that drives your success.
Here are some points we recommend when creating your diverse nomination strategy:
Having a consistent and diverse recognition program in your organization is a solid strategy to improve employee productivity and retention – giving your organization a competitive edge. Adding a nomination program or two is just one of the ways you can strengthen your strategy and Kudos is here to help you.
In a rapidly evolving business world, there’s no exact recipe for what makes a workplace great. Amidst a global pandemic, the Great Resignation, a looming recession and continuously evolving technology – building a robust workplace culture is more important now than ever.
When people are asked, “what makes your workplace great”, the typical responses you’ll get are: high pay, good health benefits, vacation time, and other office perks like gym access, ping pong tables, and free snacks.
Today's employees expect most of those items as the bare minimum in terms of workplace perks and benefits. Offering free snacks and staff parties is no longer a competitive driver to making your organization a great workplace. Companies that are ahead of the culture curve know to look for deeper answers to this question, like: “feeling valued,” “a sense of community,” “employee well-being," and “opportunities to grow”.
We know recognition is a leading driver in retention, productivity and innovation, but understanding the impact of recognition culture on the overall employee experience is the shift organizations need to make to gain a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining top talent.
In a culture of recognition, employees know their company values them and their contributions to the success of their organization. A culture of recognition builds trust and security, and employees are more motivated to continue doing great work. Recognition consistently emerges in studies on improving workplace culture and has proven to be a primary driver in engaging and motivating employees to do their best.
It also reminds employees they are integral to building and living the company’s core values. With effective recognition, employees understand their accomplishments within the context of something greater. So, even when the company is going through changes, employees feel secure and content with the value they bring.
“Globally, employee engagement and wellbeing remain very low, and it’s holding back enormous growth potential” (Gallup Report, 2022).
Employers need to move away from the traditional thinking that engagement happens at work and wellbeing happens at home. Engaged employees are highly involved and are moving the organization forward because their needs are being met, they have a sense of belonging, and they know their wellbeing matters. Disengaged employees are psychologically unattached to their work, or worse, are resentful and reactive because their needs are not being met.
Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report asks: Are your employees thriving, struggling or suffering? Companies with engaged workers (thriving) have 23% higher profit compared to companies with unhappy workers (struggling or suffering). When employees are engaged and thriving, they experience significantly lower stress, and this plays a massive role in their responsibilities at work and outside of work.
There is a significant correlation between employee recognition and employee engagement – recognition boosts employee engagement and contributes to mental wellbeing. In fact, the absence of recognition can lead to the deterioration of an employee’s psychological health and, ultimately, their performance. Employee wellbeing is not just “health benefits” and “time off”; it’s providing a promise and a commitment to your employees that you take their wellbeing seriously.
Let’s go back to the question: “what makes a great workplace?”. Implementing an employee recognition platform isn’t the whole solution – making recognition an extension of your core values, your talent strategy, and a regular habit within your organization is the key. So, how do you build a culture of recognition?
You can learn more on how to build a culture of recognition and drive your organization's performance in our Recognition Done Right Culture Guide.
Your employees are your greatest asset – you need to foster an environment where they can thrive versus just seeing them as "workers." Employees want to be part of a workplace that unlocks their full potential by being invested in them as a whole person, recognizing them for their achievements, and valuing them as part of a positive workplace culture. When you make meaningful recognition part of your company’s culture, you are unlocking an advantage and leading the way for what can truly make a workplace great.
Most people have an idea of what they want their life to look like at a certain age. Work anniversaries prompt employees to reflect on their career, and job-hunting tends to spike due to people assessing their career and making a change if they’re unhappy. Milestones offer a great way to celebrate and acknowledge every individual in your organization, however, implementing other milestones into your recognition program can help reduce employee turnover and strengthen retention.
Work anniversaries shouldn’t be limited to 5 years, 10 years, etc. as is the case with many traditional programs. These days, the average person only stays at their organization for approximately 4 years. Recognize every year of an employee’s commitment and don’t limit it to years of service. Other important milestones to consider include completing onboarding training, achieving more education or certifications, learning a new software tool...all of these are important and often massive contributions to people reaching new career goals or life achievements.
While celebrating a work anniversary shows you value your employee’s dedication, celebrating a birthday or other milestones demonstrates taking a personal interest in your employee’s lives. A Great Place to Work survey had 37% of respondents say that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work.
We know employee recognition helps retain talent, increase engagement and encourage higher performance, but understanding the impact of recognition culture on the overall employee experience provokes many growth opportunities. Employees who feel consistently recognized at their place of work are two times more likely to embrace innovative thinking and are willing to go above and beyond in their work. Recognition consistently emerges in studies on improving workplace culture and has proven to be a primary driver in motivating employees to do their best.
It’s important to define your employee lifecycle – what are the various stages your employees will experience in your organization? The average employee lifecycle has 11 stages, all of which recognition can play an important role. Defining the celebratory moments in each stage will help you structure your employee milestone program, and ensure it stays consistent and contributes to your culture of recognition.
Your employee milestone program should have:
Kudos has the tools to make your employee milestone program a culture success. Having an automated system like Kudos to keep your employee milestone program organized and up to date makes giving everyday recognition easy and simple.
Celebrating milestones is only one form of recognition, and it’s important to remember that employee recognition should be regular and meaningful. Recognition is essential in creating a lasting company culture that values its employees' contributions, dedication and celebrates successes, no matter how big or small.
For much of the world, the pandemic is far from over. Navigating this ever-changing landscape can feel disorienting, to say the least. Yet, many organizational leaders have utilized this time to learn from their past misdirection, and thrive on unfamiliar, new, and exciting ideas.
Retaining valuable talent is essential not only to keep your organization on track, but also to explore untravelled avenues.
“Nearly one in four workers (23%) say they are actively trying to change their job and/or move into another industry that they believe is more future-proof.” – ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022
The script has flipped from “what can people do for the organization” to “what can the organization do for its people.” Companies that follow this new script are attracting more talent and holding onto them for longer.
To know what makes people want to stay with a company, it’s helpful to know first what makes them leave.
People need to feel fundamentally supported; this starts with comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. Many people leave jobs because their employer isn’t meeting this bare minimum, let alone building inclusive culture strategies or sharing educational resources throughout the company.
ADP recently published an outline of current sentiments echoed by workers around the world, People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View.
The report shows that 76% of the global workforce, “would consider looking for a new job if they discovered their company had an unfair gender pay gap or no diversity and inclusion policy.” – ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022
More notable findings:
“Employers’ strategies could also benefit from encompassing how to support and champion neurodiversity, such as dyslexia or autism, among the workforce.” – ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022
The impulse to change jobs for a more future-proof career path is growing. Employees have higher expectations because they want to feel secure in rapidly changing, uncertain times.
Just like your company, employees want to be at the leading edge of their fields — push the envelope, think outside of the box, and create something they’re proud of. Yet, they don’t want to sign themselves up for burnout and impossible performance standards.
“For the one in 10 who are not satisfied with their current employment, almost half (49%) say it is due to being given increased responsibility for no extra pay.” – ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022
More notable findings:
The JD-R Model, created by researchers Arnold Bakker and Evangelia Demerouti in 2006, is a different way to represent, measure, and ultimately improve employee well-being. It splits working conditions into two categories: job demands and job resources.
Job demands are the physical and emotional stressors of someone’s role. Job resources are the physical, social, and organizational resources that reduce the stress of someone’s role.
“The JD-R Model states that when job demands are high and job positives are low, stress and burnout are common. Conversely, good job positives can offset the effects of extreme job demands, and encourage motivation and engagement.” – Mind Tools Content Team, The JD-R Model Analyzing and Improving Well-Being
Promisingly, the JDR model can give leaders clarity on turnover risk before it’s too late. Oftentimes, leaders only gain this clarity after a valuable employee leaves.
With the JDR model, if someone’s job demands far outweigh the resources available to them, employers have measurable information they can act on.
At the end of the day, people work to feed families, pay bills, and improve their quality of life. Competitive salaries can give someone more freedom to do so, but maybe they’re looking for a more sincere incentive. People want to be part of a community where their creativity isn’t limited, and they can bring their authentic selves to work.
Daily recognition is a powerful engagement incentive, whether your company has the capacity to offer competitive salaries or not. In several cases, smaller companies set themselves apart from competitors by building a transparent, collaborative, and supportive culture.
“More than half (53%) would accept a pay cut if it meant improving their work-life balance, and a similar proportion (50%) would take a pay cut to guarantee flexibility in how they structure their hours – even if it meant the total hours worked did not change.” – ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022
At Kudos, we value happiness. Of course, we don’t expect our employees to be happy 100% of the time, but we support them in their pursuit of happiness. And we are dedicated to eliminating any obstacles in their way.
Valuing your employee’s psychological well-being is integral to improving their sense of belonging. Especially considering the large portion of the workforce struggling with their mental health:
Effective remote leaders seem to have a better handle on the “people-first” approach. In virtual environments, leaders need to be intentional and creative about connecting with their teams. In-office leaders don’t have the same physical and technological barriers to overcome, so they are often less proactive about connecting with their employees.
"Only one in 11 remote workers (9%) say their employer is not doing anything proactively to promote positive mental health at work, as opposed to around one in three (34%) of those in the workplace.” – ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022
That said, feeling truly connected in any environment takes dedication, thoughtfulness, and compassion.
For many, working at home can contribute to their stress. Maybe they’re juggling parenthood, a tense roommate dynamic, or any number of distractions in their home life. But, when employers extend their support to remote workers the “out-of-office” benefits shine through.
Alternative working models support the future-proof trajectory people want to be on. Workplaces that offer remote or flexible opportunities are more likely to keep their valued members on board:
To keep people around, invest in a working style that complements their lifestyle. Otherwise, they will leave to find a better match.
The truth is, that talented people leave great jobs for nuanced reasons. Thoughtful employee recognition strategies can address these nuances, remind people of their unique worth, and support their individuality. Peer-to-peer recognition makes people feel appreciated, valued, and irreplaceable.
Change is inevitable, but companies that intentionally build positive relationships with their employees also build a positive legacy. And should anyone have to leave your company, they will take that legacy with them.
So, be a company that’s great to work for, and to be from.
In today’s ever-changing job market, a strong employer brand will set your organization apart. It will help you compete with companies that are offering the same roles, same benefits and even the same compensation as you. In times when people basically can choose to work at any company, anywhere in the world, your organization’s employer brand is what will ultimately attract top talent.
What’s important to understand is that employer branding shouldn’t just fall on the Human Resources department’s shoulders. Branding is a marketing concept and as such, the marketing department must actively collaborate with the HR team for the strategy to work.
Simply put, employer branding is the way your organization manages how current employees and potential candidates perceive you as an employer.
However, employer branding also influences how your clients see your brand. When a brand has a reputation of not treating its employees well, clients or consumers won’t want to do business with it. There are plenty benefits an organization will start to see with the development of a great employer brand. Let’s dive into it!
Now that we know the benefits of a great employer brand, it’s time to figure out who should oversee employer branding at your organization, HR or Marketing?
As the war for talent continues, employer branding has created the need for the two departments to collaborate more than ever before. In fact, a LinkedIn survey says HR professionals acknowledge that recruitment is becoming more like marketing.
The answer is that it should be a team effort. Employer branding is about creating a culture of happy employees and eager prospects who dream of working for you. It’s about listening to, and measuring employee referrals, both formal, and informal. When someone is so happy to work at your organization, they will tell all their family and friends about your brand.
Employer branding needs a strong culture where employees are in the spotlight; their stories, their achievements, and their wellbeing. Adding a people-point-of-view to your employer branding will generate better candidates, contributing to better culture. Employer branding and culture go hand in hand.
But how can you take your employer brand from good to great?
Building an employer brand is a long-term culture strategy that will pay big dividends. While the task may seem daunting, remember that you already have an employer brand – the key is to make sure people are experiencing your workplace the way you want them to, and the way that will drive business results in the future.
Why People-First HR Strategies are the Future
The Great Resignation is still hanging over our heads, and many economists predict a recession.
Toxic corporate culture is 10 times more important in predicting employee turnover than compensation, yet many organizations don’t have strategies to purposefully improve culture. Even worse, the topic of culture is often ignored or considered “out of management’s hands.”
While some employers wait for culture to form organically, their employees are left to fulfill unclear expectations without feedback or support.
People should never feel stuck in an exhaustive cycle with no affirmation that they are headed in the right direction. They should feel valued, recognized, and motivated to take initiative in what they do best. Many organizations are realizing that today’s job searchers are no longer settling for anything less.
Companies need dedicated, creative, and people-focused solutions to keep up with a transforming workforce.
Positive intentions produce positive results
Your company’s culture is shaped by shared experiences and expectations. It influences the way people think, feel, and behave in the workplace. If created with the right intentions, culture can provide a sense of identity, and increase employee commitment to your organization’s values.
A culture built by design, not by default, is critical. And while everyone shares the responsibility of keeping it healthy, more and more companies are leaning on HR professionals.
Focused People and Culture strategies are becoming more popular, because they authentically strengthen the relationship between organizations and the people who work tirelessly to keep them running.
“We’re really focused on treating our own employees as if they are customers of the People and Culture team. We want them to have a good experience with our company.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor at Kudos.
Why HR strategies need to transform
MIT Sloan Management Review identifies five attributes of a toxic company culture: disrespectful, noninclusive, unethical, cutthroat, and abusive.
Being consistently disrespected at work is soul-crushing.
When someone’s self-worth is repeatedly attacked, they lose confidence in their skills. They feel increasingly out of place and decide they don’t belong – before their employer decides for them.
According to the research highlight, a lack of respect in the workplace was “the single strongest predictor of how employees as a whole rated the corporate culture.”
Too often, employee voice is discussed in universal terms. Lumping everyone together denies important diversities, and further silences marginalized voices.
Organizations that fail to address the specific barriers their employees face based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or age create a toxic climate of silence.
“Climates of silence exist when powerful systemic forces create organizational silence — widely shared perceptions that speaking up is not worth the effort or is downright dangerous.” – Voice, silence, and diversity in 21century organizations
A company that sweeps dishonesty under the rug encourages the same behaviour from their employees. On the other hand, a company with clear moral and ethical standards encourages a culture of accountability and trust.
In a cutthroat environment, recognition is achieved by sabotaging others – not uplifting them. Unhealthy amounts of competition create unstable corporate cultures and diminish everyone’s sense of belonging.
An organization’s culture is led by example. If leadership is hostile, demeaning, and abusive to their staff – they can’t expect company culture to be any better.
“The most frequently mentioned hostile behaviors in our sample are bullying, yelling, or shouting at employees, belittling or demeaning subordinates, verbally abusing people, and condescending or talking down to employees.” - MIT Sloan Management Review, Why Every Leader Needs to Worry About Toxic Culture
Generally, toxic cultures prioritize corporate-performance results at the expense of people. Traditional policy-focused HR strategies support these priorities.
People focused strategies achieve the same performance results as traditional HR strategies, if not better, by prioritizing well-being.
“Traditionally, HR is there to protect the company. Although that’s still true for a People and Culture team, I think our focus is more on enabling the organization to be the best they can be – through the power of people.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor at Kudos
The Power of People: Why dedicated culture strategies are on the rise
Obviously, people-focused strategies are still strategies by nature. It’s how you communicate the strategy that makes a positive difference in culture.
People and Culture teams value happiness and transparency. Simply, treating people like people promotes open lines of communication; this is how you reach the heart of the problems people struggle with in the office: stress, burnout, excessive performance standards, work-life imbalance, and so on.
“Transparency helps people feel genuinely connected to the company. I think it also encourages people to feel like they have a stake — they can leave their DNA and their fingerprints by making suggestions.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor at Kudos
People want to feel fulfilled by their work; like they have a purpose. They don’t want to show up purely out of obligation.
A People and Culture team that truly cares for their employees, values transparent communication, and supports their employees instead of testing them will do wonders for retention and engagement. While this is true, everyone in the company needs to understand and align with the People and Culture teams’ mission — or else there will be friction.
Specifically, leadership needs to be on board with building more sustainable working environments. People-focused strategies encourage more earnest, intentional, and positive company-wide relationships. Strong foundational relationships like these are extremely valuable to your organization in the long term. A company’s culture can only take shape from there.
Creating a healthy culture is “a heavy lift. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it. And you’ll see that in the results.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor with Kudos, recently recognized as a Best Place to Work by HRD Canada.
HR teams are evolving even beyond title changes, and so are the tools and technologies that support their growth. Recognition platforms like Kudos support the future of HR by empowering everyone within the organization through peer-to-peer recognition.
Simple and sincere recognition plays a pivotal role in your plan to create a healthier culture. Change is hard, but change is good – especially when it comes to your most valuable asset.
Employees have been through a lot these past few years.
Most recently, in addition to the regular pressures of everyday work life, today’s employees are coping with several difficult external circumstances (recession, inflation, supply chain issues, global uncertainty). For many, today’s uncertain times are contributing to increasing levels of stress – which can have far reaching implications for your company. In particular, with the Great Recession of 2008 still fresh in the memories of many employees, fears of layoffs, financial hardship, and general economic uncertainty could soon be impacting employee mental health and wellbeing.
The good news is that by following some key guidelines you can help your organization successfully navigate this unpredictable era.
Uncertainty, Stress and Productivity
Cutbacks and the fear of a recession cause employees to feel insecure about their jobs, causing stress. Feeling stressed is a factor in lower productivity.
Let your employees know where they stand. By recognizing their contributions regularly, you’re telling them they are seen, they are appreciated, and they are safe. Now is the time to ramp up recognition.
Even in more stable times, employee stress is a major contributor to reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, presenteeism, as well as high turnover. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 American workers have quit a job because of stress related issues.
Stress is also associated with higher accident rates, higher injury rates, and more days taken off for doctor visits.
And regardless of how your company is affected by worsening macroeconomic conditions, studies have shown a “clear negative effect of general unemployment on subjective wellbeing among the employed”. One study focused on the recession of 2008 showed that 55 percent of employees felt that their workplace had become more stressful during that time. A large part of this has to do with a perception of insecurity which is fueled by increased unemployment – even if that increase is occurring outside one’s own company.
In other words, being exposed to the negative effects of a recession makes everyone uneasy – not just about unemployment, but also about the potential for unfair treatment.
Interestingly – employee productivity can increase during a downturn. During the Great Recession of 2008, some studies actually showed an increase in worker productivity resulting from increased effort – in part because “When the alternatives are poorer, say because job search is less likely to result in success, it is optimal for a worker to respond with increased effort.”
On the surface, this might sound like a benefit to employers. However, with that increased effort comes the increased potential for burnout – another major concern when it comes to the impact of stress on employees.
“When an employee’s work is recognized, the likelihood that he/she will experience stress is lowered by 22.1%, whereas if his/her work is not, it rises by 16.7%. - BioMed Research International
By recognizing employee contributions and acknowledging the impact of their efforts, employers are able to directly – and dramatically – reduce the negative effects of stress on employees. Recognition can provide certainty and reassurance for employees who are feeling uneasy due to the volatility of the times. This reduction in stress can translate in turn to lowered turnover, absenteeism and more productivity.
Uncertain times demand transparency, open communication and a crystal clear focus on core values.
Whether you have had to make cutbacks or slow your growth, organizations need to do everything in their power to ensure that they maintain a reputation as an employer worth working for - because eventually, they'll be hiring again. For example, at the outset of the pandemic, there were several high-profile stories about leaders callously letting hundreds of employees go without warning, context, or clarity. This lack of transparency (and humanity) can permanently damage a company’s reputation, hobbling future efforts to grow and expand, and potentially causing irreparable harm to consumer (or investor) confidence.
The unfortunate reality that many companies have to face during an economic downturn is that growth will slow – and in many cases there could be cutbacks. Regardless of your situation, maintaining clear, thoughtful and open communication is absolutely essential and will have a lasting impact.
Critically, even when companies are forced to downsize, employees that remain have been shown to benefit immensely from that clarity of communication. One study noted that “employees who felt that the downsizing process was fair, and that communication was open and honest, reported fewer medical symptoms, lower survivor syndrome, and more job security than their counterparts [at other similarly affected companies].
An extremely powerful part of maintaining clarity of communication during times of economic upheaval is demonstrating commitment to core values. In showing that the organization is “walking the walk” with respect to core values, companies can provide employees with a tangible sense of stability, as well as a shared sense of purpose to help guide them through troubling times. To learn more about the importance of core values, check out our webinar on how to How to Drive Employee Performance Through Core Values.
When the future is unclear, it’s more important than ever to understand how your employees are feeling, and to be able to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of your workplace culture.
In this article, we’ve looked at a set of tools that companies can use to help mitigate some of the impact of economic uncertainty: reducing stress through recognition, living and demonstrating one’s core values, and maintaining open and caring communication between leadership and employees.
In and of themselves, these methods are absolutely essential – but without a way to measure the well-being and strength of a culture, leaders can only guess as to whether their efforts are succeeding.
Tools like Kudos, who’s proprietary, recognition-first approach to employee engagement provides clients with a clear view into the health of their culture, the performance of their employees, and allows them to gauge how connected employees are to the core values of the organization.
Though nobody wants to experience the negative side of an economic slump, by following the basic guidelines laid out in this article, companies have the opportunity to prove their character, and in doing so build loyalty and trust with their employees, their customers, and their stakeholders.
Kudos can help you build and maintain your culture, and keep your employees focused during what many experts believe is an imminent recession. Get in touch today to learn how.
Let’s face it, your leadership style can be hard to define, yet it’s a question you’ve probably been asked in a job interview. That’s because leadership style is one of the best ways to determine whether someone will be a good cultural fit (or cultural add).
Servant leadership is one approach that’s gaining popularity in all types of organizations. Here’s a mini guide to the concept to help demystify this trend.
Servant leaders have a serve-first mindset. They ask how they can serve their employees, instead of micromanaging or imposing on them. They unlock the employee’s potential and creativity and let them run with projects because they trust them. That is key – to become a servant leader, you must trust your employees.
The history of servant leadership
Before we explore the many benefits servant leadership can bring to your organization, it’s important to acknowledge that this isn’t a new concept. In fact, it's been around for centuries as a philosophy.
The term servant leadership came from Robert K. Greenleaf’s 1970 essay ‘The Servant as a Leader’. In this essay, Greenleaf introduces several ideals, philosophies and values that revisit the main role of a leader in a modern organization.
However, while Greenleaf revitalized the concept of servant leadership, he didn’t create it. The philosophy itself is considered ancient history. Historical figures such as Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are examples of servant leadership in practice. But in fact, servant leadership could be brought back even further. Let’s journey back to 600 B.C to ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu when he said: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
Now that we know that servant leadership is a concept that has existed for a while, let’s get into its key differentiators from the traditional approach.
What’s a traditional approach?
“Traditional leadership is more about what the employee can do for the organization,” says Michelle Thomas, Director, Development & Architecture at Kudos. “You are a cog in the machine to earn the money, and they want to know what you’re doing to help earn those dollars. Traditional leaders will consider if you are worth keeping or if you’re actually an expense for the organization.”
“Servant leadership is the complete opposite,” she continues. “It’s what can we do for you to make you happy, so you are a happy, productive member of this organization because the most productive teams are the happiest teams. The teams I’ve led that were collaborative, and happy - the teams that would have a good time together - those were the best teams and the highest performing,” says Thomas.
Servant leaders know that a motivated employee will bring better results to the organization. They use their skills and position to help individuals complete their tasks with ease. They provide the tools to employees to stay motivated and engaged, while also going above and beyond to better the person rather than the “employee.” This includes their mental health, physical health, and career development. For example, chances are that your employees already know how things work in your organization. So, why not take that into consideration and instead of telling them what to do or how to do it, you ask them “How can I help you make your job less stressful?” Once you switch it up and listen to them, you’ll be left with a better boss-employee relationship.
Now that we know what key differences exist between traditional and servant leadership, let’s focus on benefits any organization will see by having and supporting servant leaders, especially organizations doing it on a larger scale.
Now that we’ve explored the many benefits, let’s dive into successful organizations that are currently using this fascinating leadership method.
What do Marriott International, Starbucks, Google and Whole Foods have in common? They are all applying a servant leadership approach in their day-to-day operations. Whether it’s to offer you the best possible stay away from home or to help you decide on how to season your thanksgiving turkey, organizations across the globe have started to realize that in order to keep talent, they need to empower and recognize employees for what they do.
Google, for instance, knows that when employees feel appreciated, the clients will benefit. Google understands that perks and recognition are no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a must. The technological giant’s CEO makes sure to set up calls with all teams, creating a better relationship between employees and leadership.
Starbucks has been working on culture for decades. The largest coffee chain in the world has made sure to treat customers like celebrities, and it’s not a coincidence that every employee working there treats you that way.
Howard Schultz, former president of Starbucks, worked hard on employee engagement. Schultz created forums where employees had the opportunity to speak up. He had realized early on that the way leaders treat employees will directly impact on how employees treat the customers.
Marriott International walks the talk; besides being a world leader in the hotel industry, Marriott is a place where employees can enjoy free education, mentorship and the opportunity to move up within the organization. In fact, many general managers at Marriott started as hourly workers. Marriott embraces key Servant Leadership values; the business isn’t just about the guests – they make it mainly about the employees.
Whole Foods and John Mackey’s leadership: according to the cofounder and CEO of this $17 billion corporation, leaders are made, not born. They are made by practicing, says Mackey, who understands that if a leader wants to see results, they need to put the people first.
By using Servant Leadership conviction, Mackey has proved that a leader can be strong and caring at the same time.
Let’s look at key attributes you will need to develop:
Servant Leadership goes beyond a style of leadership, it is a mindset. Building a relationship with your team that goes beyond the “what are you working on?” will help you cultivate the culture you want at your organization.
As Michelle Thomas from Kudos says, “make sure that your people are happy, they have what they need to be fulfilled at work. It’s not just a job to them. They want to know that they’re contributing, making a difference, and to me, that’s what servant leadership is all about.”
Think about a time when a friend or family member said “thank you” for helping them. It may have made you feel appreciated and motivated to do more for them – this same concept applies equally in the workplace.
When employees feel appreciated, they become motivated to do more and better quality work. For customer-facing employees, that means providing an experience that clients appreciate and remember. Studies show that companies with at least 50% employee engagement retain more than 80% of their customers. That is the impact of employee recognition.
“There’s no CEO on the planet who’s responsible for the customer. They’re just not. They’re responsible for the people who are responsible for the people who are responsible for the customer.” -Simon Sinek
Employee recognition describes any formal or informal acknowledgment of an employee’s contributions to a team or organization’s success. It can come from a peer, direct report, manager, or leader.
Organizations approach employee recognition in different ways. Some do it in more informal ways: a shout-out during a meeting, on social media, or through the company’s intranet; thank-you notes, or an employee lunch. Others are using robust employee recognition platforms like Kudos to streamline the process and make sure everyone benefits.
Employee recognition matters because it directly impacts critical aspects of the organization. Several studies have shown that employee recognition is a powerful driver of retention, productivity, and motivation. For example, let’s consider the following facts:
When structured efficiently, recognition can reinforce a company’s organizational values, which in turn helps to keep employees aligned with their objectives and their coworkers.
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen Covey
Customer service teams play a crucial role in driving profitability in many industries, such as retail, hospitality, food service, and technology. According to PwC’s Future of Customer Experience Survey, 73% of customers agree that customer experience is central to their purchasing decisions. Among U.S. customers, 65% find a positive customer experience more influential than great advertising.
Therefore, you need employees – especially those in customer-facing roles – to prioritize customer satisfaction by offering “speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service.” These employees assist customers by anticipating concerns, preparing solutions, responding quickly, and going above and beyond to ensure that customers are satisfied.
Consistently and effectively Recognizing your customer service teams for their contributions can yield incredible results:
Building a culture of recognition comes down to the common-sense practice of not taking your people for granted. To keep your customers happy, make your employees happy by recognizing them with Kudos’ help.