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5 min

5 min

Employer Branding: Everything you need to know

Employer Branding: Everything you need to knowEmployer Branding: Everything you need to know

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.

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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.  

What is employer branding?

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!

The benefits of a strong employer brand

  • Attracting top talent: When job-hunting, people want to know more about prospective employers. A quick Google search never hurt anyone, right? Wrong. It can hurt your organization if the results aren’t encouraging. Now, what are prospective employees searching for? They’re looking for clues on what it’s really like to work for you. Glassdoor, Google reviews, your social media platforms – nothing is off limits. The idea is, you don’t want potential hires to disqualify your company before you even had a chance to speak to them. Top talent will bring many years of profitable earnings, so losing them before the conversation begins is possibly the worst nightmare of any talent acquisition team. Ultimately, a great employer brand will have the complete opposite effect. Before you even talk to candidates, you will already have an advantage. That’s what you want, and that’s what employer branding is all about.
  • Strategic, Sustainable Recruitment: “I love when I hire someone, and they resign within months” – said no hiring manager ever! With a strong employer brand, your organization won’t only be ahead of the competition, but hiring managers will have an easier time finding candidates who are the right fit. A LinkedIn study shows that 72% of world-wide leaders agree that employer brand impacts the hiring process directly. Supposing your brand includes an honest and straight-forward mission, in the interview process you’ll see who is aligned with your organization and excited to join. The point of great employer branding isn’t to convince talent or increase the number of applicants, but to attract people who are aligned with your mission and company values. This combination will make the best possible impact in your organization.
  • Improved Retention: Having a team full of people who are passionate about their work is priceless – and possible – with great employer branding. Investing in your employer brand will save you significant money in the long run. In fact, employee turnover costs can go down up to 28% just by investing in your employer brand. So, a straightforward job description, and having a team that is trained to explain your brand goes a long way.
  • Brand Reputation: While employer branding focuses on how your employees and potential hires will see your organization, employer branding has one extra hidden benefit; how clients will see your brand. A recent report by Reputation X, shows that three out of four consumers trust an organization more if it has positive reviews. Adding credibility to your employer brand will make your organization attractive to top talent, plus it will boost satisfaction levels to your clients, as they’ll be proud to be partnering with such a great company.

Cultivate your employer brand

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.

So, who should oversee employer branding?

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?

How to build a great employer brand

  • Focus on the human aspect: Potential hires want to know the people who work for your organization, their background, their personalities. In fact, LinkedIn shows that 52% of people will look at your website and social media channels as a first point of contact. Moreover, another study by Careerarc says that 68% of millennials go directly on employer’s social media to evaluate their employer’s brand. So, by developing a website with testimonials, videos or even a gallery of photos from social events or volunteer activities, you will be making a powerful statement. Also, sharing this meaningful content that aligns with your mission and culture will give your clients a sense of satisfaction knowing they’re doing business with the right people.
  • Work on your workplace culture: Mistakenly treating your culture as an expense could harm your reputation as an organization. Now, there’s different ways to work towards stronger culture. At Kudos, we believe in a recognition-first approach. Why? The data speaks for itself. According to a Glassdoor study, four in five employees showed higher level of motivation when they felt appreciated by their boss. Recognition should be meaningful, specific and timely to have the biggest impact. Prioritizing a culture where people feel engaged, supported and most importantly safe, will boost your employer brand as a desired place to work. A brand that values employees just as much as clients.
  • It's all about the people: LinkedIn data shows that 94% of employees would stay at a company that offers a learning and development program. Furthermore, a PWC study shows that 86% of female millennials said employer policy on diversity was essential when choosing a place to work. Another study done by Monster, shows that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is important to 86% of workers, globally. So, Offering employees something that goes beyond their salary will give your brand long-term benefits and far-reaching word-of-mouth marketing. Encouraging a diverse and inclusive workplace doesn’t only increase innovation and creativity, but it also helps you build an employer brand that sees in different backgrounds a window full of opportunities.  
  • Living by your organization's core values: From the website to the job posting, employer branding is a combined effort that will need leadership to walk the talk. Remember, today most people are looking to work at a place where they can intertwine their goals and values. So, making sure you’re being authentic in your messaging will help you hire for culture-add, not culture-fit. At the same time, having your values be evident through your marketing will ignite a sense of belonging. Finally, purpose is essential. According to Deloitte, Millennials and Gen Zers are prepared to turn down senior positions that don’t align with their values. Accordingly, work with your HR team to craft behavioral questions to help you in the hiring process.
  • Monitor reviews: Lastly, we all know that feedback is crucial in the workplace, and the same goes for you as the employer. When your organization actively responds to consumer reviews, you will know if your company is doing things right, and better understand your weaknesses and strengths so you can make improvements. A Glassdoor survey points out that replying to reviews can have a positive impact in your culture moving forward. So, don't be afraid to check your reviews - embrace what's working and fix what needs to be fixed!

Take aways

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.


5 min

5 min

Why People-First HR Strategies are the Future

Why People-First HR Strategies are the FutureWhy People-First HR Strategies are the Future

People 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.

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Why People-First HR Strategies are the Future

The Great Resignation is still hanging over our heads, and many economists predict a recession.  

More than 24 million Americans left their jobs between April and September 2021. Even before this period, people leaving toxic work environments cost U.S. employers $50 billion per year.  

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.  

Defining culture

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.  

Culture impacts your company’s performance and efficiency, knowledge management, corporate social responsibility, and innovativeness.  

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.

What makes a culture toxic?

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.

30% of the most powerful predictors of a toxic culture relate to how well an organization encourages diversity and meaningful inclusion.

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

What makes a culture healthy?

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.


5 min

8 min

Why Strong Workplace Culture is Critical in Uncertain Times

Why Strong Workplace Culture is Critical in Uncertain Times Why Strong Workplace Culture is Critical in Uncertain Times

For many, today’s uncertain times are contributing to increasing levels of stress – which can have far reaching implications for your company.

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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.  

Managing the Emotional Wellbeing of Your Employees

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.

Recognition Directly Counteracts Stress

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.

Managing the Wellbeing of Your Employer Brand & Reputation

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.

Measuring the Wellbeing of Your Culture

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.

Take Action Now

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.


5 min

5 min

What is Servant Leadership?

What is Servant Leadership? What is Servant Leadership?

Servant leadership is gaining popularity in all types of organizations. Here’s a mini guide to the concept to help demystify this trend.

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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.

First, who are servant leaders?

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.

The benefits of servant leadership

  1. Employee retention
    When employees feel valued, and their development is supported by caring and charismatic leaders, you have a higher chance of keeping them. A recent Gallup study found that 52% of employees believed their manager could have helped them stay. Also, having happier employees will result in better productivity and a more positive work environment, which helps to aleviate another significant issue organizations are managing these days – burnout.  
  1. Better relationships between teams
    Servant leadership works both ways, team members managed by servant leaders will build the relationships between the rest of teams in the organization. According to a Harvard Business Review article, open communication will set up clear expectations on what everyone needs in the organization. Having servant leaders creates healthier relationships between employees because they don’t feel like they’re competing for the boss’s approval. Instead, they will collaborate with each other, increasing productivity.  
  1. Improved diversity
    Data from Deloitte shows that only 11% of employees feel they can be their authentic selves at work. Servant leaders typically possess many qualities that contribute to a diverse workplace. They build trust in their followers; they are active listeners to what employees have to say and ultimately, they care for their team’s advancement in the organization. A more diverse and inclusive workplace starts where the decisions are made.  
  1. Enhanced creativity
    A top-rated skill by LinkedIn, creativity is an important element in the success of any organization. Individuals who are creative at work will benefit the organization in the short, medium and long term. Servant leadership inspires creativity by encouraging a service mentality; they make employees feel safe, allowing them to set their creative thoughts free.
  1. Employee growth and development
    According to LinkedIn, almost three-fourths of leaders agree that learning and development has become essential in their organization. Servant leaders are long term thinkers. They invest in their employees, and they encourage their success. By providing a positive work environment where employees can ask questions, servant leaders help employees to succeed.  

Servant leadership in action

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.  

How do you become a Servant Leader?

Let’s look at key attributes you will need to develop:

  1. Be humble and listen
    Servant leadership starts and ends with listening and understanding. In order to listen you need to be humble, you can’t assume to know it all and call yourself a servant leader. It simply won’t work. Take the time to know your team and appreciate them for what they do.  
  1. Engage, but nicely
    Without communication, it’s impossible to gain or maintain someone’s trust. This applies both in life and at the office. At Kudos, we pride ourselves on engagement because we know when teams feel valued, productivity skyrockets.  
  1. Foster growth
    Servant leaders simply want employees to succeed. A leader that makes employees feel confident, strengthens their working relationship. Plus, you will see higher employee retention rates.  
  1. Recognize Often
    Servant leaders always go the extra mile to have an impact beyond their direct team. Servant leaders want the entire organization to feel part of something special. An Employee recognition platform like Kudos, can give your leaders and team a place to share recognition widely, and often.  

Looking ahead

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.”


5 min

5 min

Improving Customer Service Through Employee Recognition

Improving Customer Service Through Employee Recognition  Improving Customer Service Through Employee Recognition

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.

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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

Understanding employee recognition and why it matters to businesses

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. 

Creating an ideal customer experience

“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.

How employee recognition impacts customer service

Consistently and effectively Recognizing your customer service teams for their contributions can yield incredible results:

  1. Customer rapport: Data from Bain & Company shows that companies that excel at the customer experience increase their revenues by 4% to 8% above their market. Recognizing employees helps them maintain positive relationships and do what is right for the customer. This can improve revenue because customers will be willing to pay more and are likely to refer other customers.  
  1. Employee satisfaction: According to a Harvard Business Review article, “customer and employee satisfaction should be seen as two sides of the same coin.” When employees are happy and satisfied with their jobs, they are more capable of ensuring customer satisfaction.  
  1. Employee and knowledge retention: The risk with employee turnover in customer service teams is the loss of product knowledge – which helps employees respond to customers’ questions or close sales. According to Panopto’s research, 42% of an employee’s knowledge in a given role is unique to that person. It comes from self-learning and discovering new efficient and effective approaches on the job. When that employee leaves, the customer experience suffers because the new or existing employees may not be as efficient as the employee with the unique knowledge. So, recognizing employees encourages employees to stay longer on the job and keep their expertise within your organization. Recognition is proven to reduce turnover by over 30%, according to Bersin & Associates.

Simple ways to recognize customer service employees

  • Share positive feedback in real-time.
  • Recognize them regularly, not just during annual reviews.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer recognition.
  • Give casual monetary rewards like gift cards.

Final Thoughts

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.


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5 min

The Science Behind Employee Recognition

The Science Behind Employee RecognitionThe Science Behind Employee Recognition

Practicing recognition in the workplace improves employees' mental well-being, and increases their motivation to contribute value to their organization.

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Human Beings Need Recognition

In 1943, Abraham Maslow theorized that human beings are motivated to make decisions based on a hierarchy of needs. This hierarchy can be viewed as a pyramid, with basic physiological needs like water and food setting the foundation; then our need for safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. A core requirement in the esteem level of this pyramid is appreciation.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 

Human beings feel the need to accomplish things, and be appreciated and recognized for those accomplishments. In addition to feeling accomplished, we need to know that our contributions to the world are valued. Without this recognition, we begin to feel our hard work has no purpose. And without purpose, we feel unappreciated, undervalued, and unmotivated.  

What Happens in Our Brains When We Feel Appreciated

Human beings are wired to crave connection, belonging, and acceptance. When we experience appreciation and gratitude, our brains release dopamine and serotonin. These are crucial neurotransmitters responsible for making us feel ‘good,' regulate our emotions, and respond to stress. Gratitude acts as a catalyst for these neurotransmitters, and actively experiencing gratitude and appreciation allows us to manage our stress levels better.

Feeling and expressing gratitude activates several parts of the brain. Verbalizing thoughts of appreciation and gratitude activates the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for positive emotions and decision-making, as well as reward and motivation. The more we practice expressing appreciation, the more we activate these gratitude circuits in our brain. Overtime, it takes less effort to stimulate those pathways.  

Scientists also suggest that by activating the reward center of the brain, gratitude exchange alters the way we see the world and ourselves. When we give and receive ‘thank you’ notes, our brain automatically produces motivational thought patterns. This means that practicing recognition in the workplace improves employees' mental well-being, and increases their motivation to contribute value to their organization.  

The Relationship Between Recognition and Well-Being

Employee recognition promotes positive psychological functioning (PPF) and its absence worsens it. Positive psychological functioning is comprised of the positive feelings that lead to self-acceptance, personal growth, and social contribution. The absence of recognition can deteriorate an employee’s psychological health, and ultimately their performance.  

Feeling unappreciated affects not only your emotions, but also how you think and act. It’s no surprise that a lack of appreciation can influence your mental health and lead to mental illness. If others ignore what you do for them, it can feel devastating. You might start to wonder why you bother putting effort into a task, or worse, you’ll lose sight of how your work contributes value to your organization.  

In a UK study78% of respondents said they would work harder if they had more recognition. In that same study, 94% said that employee recognition is critical in retaining talent. The solution to keeping your employees is simple — recognize them. 

The Importance of Employee Recognition  

A study conducted on over 1800 employees found the effect of recognition is two times greater with peer recognition than with top-down supervisor recognition. The study highlights the importance of promoting employee recognition in organizations for the impact it has, not only on well-being, but also on the positive psychological functioning of the employees.

Technology now exists to make recognition accessible, simple, and impactful for any organization. Cloud-based platforms that work in browsers and mobile apps allow remote, field, and in-office employees a place to regularly share meaningful recognition.

Kudos, an employee recognition and engagement platform, harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition to boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Employee recognition isn’t just becoming an industry standard, it’s an essential requirement for an employee’s well-being, motivation, and performance.

It’s been almost 80 years since Abraham Maslow theorized that human beings require appreciation. The science behind employee recognition was always there, now it’s time to take it seriously and implement the recognition your employees not only deserve, but need.  


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Lead with your Core Values

Lead with your Core Values Lead with your Core Values

Why values-driven organizations drive the performance that delivers results.

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Do you know your company’s core values? Do your employees? Do your clients? If you’re honest, I imagine most of you answered “no” to at least the last two questions. You might have also struggled to remember your core values. Am I right?

The reason for that is simple. Most companies treat core values like a task they need to complete when building their organization. They also don’t make their core values easy to remember, promote, reinforce, revisit, or celebrate. At best, most publish the core values on their website, in the employee manual, and only refer to them now and then in a team meeting or annual report. The sad truth is that most organizations and employees rarely give them a second thought, much less know how to identify them or apply them in their day-to-day decision-making and interactions.  

Organizations that are successful and do not have their core values at the center of what they do, often have an inconsistent corporate culture that differs by department, location, and manager. That is what we refer to as a culture by default, and that has many unintended and avoidable challenges. Does this sound familiar?

Organizations that are purposeful in their core values development, deliberate in the application, and dedicated to weaving them into every aspect of their operation have a culture by design. These organizations are much more focused, resilient, cohesive, successful, and, I would argue – happier. Is this where you want to be?

The seminal book Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras started the core value revolution in 1994. They did a six-year study on organizations that they considered to be visionary. What set those organizations apart was their focus on being a core value-driven organization, and as a result, they outperformed their peers and the market by 16x over six decades. The primary item that differentiated these organizations from the field was not capital, markets, or products but company culture grounded in their core values.

More recently, in the book Start with Why, thought leader Simon Sinek focuses on similar immutable truths around purpose. His message resonates so deeply; it is today the second most-watched Ted Talk. In that talk, “How great leaders inspire action,” he focuses on “Purpose” or your “Why,” which is your personal vision and mission. Sinek believes the “How” is embodied in your principles, core values, and processes. Finally, he talks about your “What” or product or service. Unfortunately, the reality is that the “What” is where most organizations start and spend most of their efforts.

Sinek highlights how organizations we view as visionary achieve extraordinary success because they start with their “Why.” But truth be told, your success will depend on how you hyper-focus your “How,” putting your vision and mission into action, and using your core values to drive actions and decisions.

In both books, the writers highlight that all of the visionary companies they featured would have been successful no matter what they chose to do because they led with their purpose and core values. In fact, HP and 3M started their companies not knowing “What” they would do as an organization, and both continue to lead their categories today. Warren Buffett recently revealed his massive HP investment, and he is notorious for focusing on value, which is driven by purpose and core values. 

Why Core Values Matter

Collins and Porras defined Core Values as inherent and sacrosanct; they are not compromised for convenience or short-term economic gain. I would add that they are the ingrained principles that you live everyday. This is rooted in the shared vision, code of conduct, and ethos of a company.

Once you identify and define your core values, they should be at the center of your actions and decisions, from hiring to strategy. They should be expressed, captured, and shared widely and often to inspire, align, and attract employees and clients. 

The movie Jerry McGuire is a very entertaining but memorable way to see this in action. His infamous memo “The Things We Think But Do Not Say” was so important to him that he was willing to lose a lucrative career and leave a company he helped start versus compromise his values. While this is a fictional story, the movie then and today still resonates with many because that is the kind of company motivated people want to work for. The story demonstrates how living your values can guide you to success and the person you are meant to be. Google’s “Ten Things We Know To Be True” is an excellent example of sharing your vision, mission, and values in the real world in a similar but less rambling way. 

A great place to start your core value journey – developing, refining, updating, or discovering your company's core values is to think about your own core values and why they matter to you.

Discovering and Developing Your Core Values

 Your personal mission statement and core values should reflect who you want to be at your very best. Consider these things in a simple exercise by answering these questions:

  • What matters most to you? 
  • What makes you proud of yourself? 
  • What do you want to be remembered for? 
  • What do you value in others? 

Values can be aspirational, but they should be who you already are and what matters most to you to be truly authentic.

There are a few great resources to help you discover your core values. The Center for Value-Driven Leadership has resources and insights that are a great place to start. Other sites such as and Barret Value Centre self-assessment allow you to take quizzes to help you discover what core values already guide you.

When you set out to develop your company's core values, they should be authentic, unique, memorable, and come from a small group of individuals, likely your founders and possibly a small group in leadership, representing what the company strives to be, and do. 

Creating values is not a consensus team-building exercise. That is a bad idea for two reasons. It will integrate suggestions from people that should not be at your organization and others that will not be at your organization in the near future. The median tenure for workers between twenty-five and thirty-four is 3.2 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018. 

The core values should be developed by a core group of people that truly know the organization's personality and what type of company they want it to be. They will be the ones who will be there to live them in the long term. They will be the ones that will use the core values to lead by example and use the core values to drive performance and make critical decisions. There should be little daylight between what leadership says and what they do for the core values to be successful and adopted companywide. There should be no "Say-Do" dilemma for your team.

The book The Core Value Equation by Darius Mirshahzadeh describes in great detail how to develop and employ your core values. He outlines four key elements of a well-designed and communicated core values:

  • Themes. Themes are core values such as integrity, caring, and customer service, which define the company’s personality.
  • Headers. Headers are memorable words, sentences, or catchphrases that are easy to remember that represent several grouped themes and sub-themes like “WOW Service.”
  • Descriptions. Descriptions are the four to eight sentences that are the nitty-gritty details that precisely describe what you expect and how your team should deliver on the themes.  
  • Policy/Producers. Your manuals and living documents outline how the core values are employed tactically in everyday processes and activities. For example, if one of your themes is “Default to Action,” explain that team members are encouraged to take the initiative instead of waiting for direction.

 Concepts to consider when you are developing your core values:

  • Core values don’t need to be generic or “nice.” Your values should make you unique, distinct, and attractive to your ideal employees and clients.
  • Make your core value themes/headers easy to remember. Following Miller’s Law, you should keep your core value themes and headers between five and nine words.
  • Leverage your subthemes. Subthemes highlight the more expansive qualities and behaviors that are critically important to defining who you are as an organization and how team members should act and interact.

Becoming a Core Value Driven Organization 

To become a core value-driven organization, you need to weave your core values into everything you do. Getting team buy-in and a commitment to live by your/their company’s values is critical and should be part of your processes or “How.” Everything from job postings and onboarding to recognizing team members and having team core values discussions, to individual performance reviews should be based on your process as outlined below:

  1. Hire people based on core value alignment. 
  2. Evaluate your team based on living your core values.
  3. Recognize team members regularly for living your core values.
  4. Communicate your core values to your team like you market your product or services to your clients.
  5. Celebrate your people, culture, and values at every opportunity. 
  6. Reflect on your core values when faced with difficult decisions.

The proof of being a core value-driven organization will be in several key measures that you should review monthly, quarterly, and annually. And if you take the time, you should be able to correlate company performance and profits to achieving high scores and participation using these three measures. 

  • NPS® scores. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) was developed by Bain & Company in 2003 to measure how well an organization treats the people whose lives it affects and subsequently how well it generates relationships worthy of loyalty. This straightforward question allows you to easily track clients (NPS) and employees’ (eNPS) sentiments towards your company. 

 Why is this important? Bain& Company proved a strong correlation between a company's growth rate and its NPS and eNPS score. 

  •  Q12® Survey. The Gallup organization developed the Q12 survey to give managers a framework to address critical areas directly correlated to employee engagement. The questions are written and ordered in a specific way that measures the essential elements that determine overall engagement. The results can help you narrow down critical areas in your employee experience that require improvement. 

Why is this important? Gallup was able to show through their research that organizations that consistently score high in the Q12 survey outperform their peers.

  •  Kudos®. Kudos’ social peer-to-peer recognition and company communication system allows organizations to keep their core values front and center. Every recognition message sent and received reinforces core values, qualities, and behaviors. The quantity and quality of the Kudos messages is a barometer of daily and weekly employee engagement levels. Kudos helps build a strong foundation for promoting and celebrating team and corporate goals. 

Why is this important? Kudos positively affect the organization's NPS, eNPS, Q12 scores, and Glassdoor ratings. That translates into better employee recruitment, retention, productivity, and overall corporate performance.  

For more insights and information on becoming a core value-driven organization and living your values, watch our Webinar – How to Drive Employee Performance Through Core Values.

I would love to know your thoughts, observations, and results if you put some of these ideas into practice.

You can find me on LinkedIn @wtshort.


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6 min

Why Nomination Programs Aren’t Enough

Why Nomination Programs Aren’t EnoughWhy Nomination Programs Aren’t Enough

While on the surface nomination programs seem like a simple solution to employee recognition, in order to be successful, they need to work in conjunction with a more robust suite of tools to deliver results.

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A nomination is an official endorsement for someone to receive an award or prize. The first step in a nomination program is for the organization to determine and communicate the criteria for their program. Employees can then nominate colleagues they feel meet the criteria, with one nominee being selected as the final winner. Some organizations have employee nomination programs for awards like “Employee of the Month,” “Most Hard Working,” “Most Innovative,” and so on. While nomination programs seem like a simple solution to employee recognition, they need to work in conjunction with a more robust suite of tools to deliver results.

Nominations are a Small Piece to a Bigger Solution

Traditional employee nomination programs give employees an opportunity to tell a story about their peer’s accomplishments, and how they impact the business. Nominations can bring acknowledgement of standout achievements in a workplace where they may otherwise go unnoticed, especially by outside members of that team. They can bean opportunity to communicate expectations, or curate awards and prizes that tie-in your company values. Nominations can also deliver a morale boost, especially for those employees who win.  

Nomination programs are not without their challenges. Why only allow employees to give recognition whenever there’s an award involved? These types of programs are only one piece to a complete solution. No need to abandon your nomination program altogether, but simply include it in a deeper, more impactful employee recognition strategy.  

Nominations Do Not Reflect Consistent Recognition

For employee recognition to be effective at motivating and communicating the value individuals offer your organization, it needs to be consistent and meaningful. Nomination programs are often monthly, quarterly, or yearlong initiatives; your employees are not being nominated frequently enough to create lasting meaning. When you nominate someone for an award, you’re not directly recognizing them for their work — you’re only giving them a chance at recognition. If someone deserves recognition, they should receive it day-to-day.

When you nominate employees for an award or prize, you compare their accomplishments to someone else’s instead of celebrating and appreciating their work individually. While being nominated is considered recognition, it can cause unhealthy competition and resentment between employees. Your employees deserve to be recognized constantly, not only when an award is up for grabs.

Nomination programs build a barrier between you and the wider benefits of recognition. When your organization partakes in a nomination program, it’s usually comprised of certain award categories, which over time can become disassociated from what employees are working on or dealing with. If an organization implements an Employee of the Month program, only 12 employees will receive that recognition in a year. Also, these programs only focus on one person winning something atone time; why limit employee recognition to just one person? Recognizing teamwork or collaboration amongst a group of people is just as important as recognizing an individual.  

The Solution is in Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Using an employee recognition platform will allow your employees to be recognized regularly. Platforms like Kudos allow employees and leaders the freedom to recognize anyone, for anything, at any time. Adding a peer-to-peer recognition program to your strategy offers a more consistent and accessible motivational experience. Enabling all your employees to recognize impactful moments regularly, timely, and specifically ensures that recipients know the value they bring to the organization. No matter how small the achievement is, peer-to-peer recognition has a better overall impact on improving employee morale and engagement.

A recent Forbes study found that 66% of employees will leave their jobs because they do not feel appreciated. A strong company culture is an increasingly crucial factor for employees, and a recognition solution builds an impactful company culture where employees feel recognized and appreciated.  

An employee recognition platform does not mean leaders can no longer create employee awards or prizes, but they shouldn’t take away the chance for peers or leaders to give and receive constant recognition. Offering more nomination options by building levels of nominations with high-level prestigious, and quarterly or monthly nominations can still exist, but should be supported by regular recognition. Add more social or community nominations that bring creativity and fun to your employee recognition solution, instead of focusing on traditional nominations centered around recognizing select employees. Nominate employees for awards like “Most Likely to Be Late for a Meeting," or “MostCreative Zoom Background” and have them for entertainment or enjoyment purposes instead of just performance.  

Choosing the Right Employee Recognition Solution

Nomination programs are a small piece to a bigger solution. Giving regular recognition should become a habit within your organization and should be used as a building block to help retain talent, form healthier work relationships, and strengthen company culture.  

We know that selecting the best recognition solution for your organization can be challenging, so we’ve made it simple for you with our Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide. Our guide gives a comprehensive overview of how to choose the right employee recognition solution for your company’s culture, goals, and budget. Remember that consistent and authentic employee recognition should always be the priority, and the awards and prizes should come secondary.


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5 min

Managing Employee Morale with the Return to Office

Managing Employee Morale with the Return to OfficeManaging Employee Morale with the Return to Office

Returning to the office will cause a massive shift in your operations and your employees’ lives and workflows. They will need some time to adjust to the new normal, and your culture and morale might suffer.

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After over two years of remote work, 70% of businesses plan to reopen their offices to their employees this year. The majority will implement a hybrid approach of in-person and remote work. This shift presents an important opportunity for you to boost employee morale among those returning to the office.  

Returning to the office will cause a massive shift in your operations and your employees’ lives and workflows. They will need some time to adjust to the new normal, and your culture and morale might suffer.

What is Causing Low Morale?

There’s no denying that the pandemic was, and still is, a stressful time for most. Anxieties concerning health, work, and the economy are ever-present. Working from home brings in new distractions for most remote employees. That is especially true for those juggling childcare and work responsibilities at the same time.

While remote work has many morale perks, it also has disadvantages. Some of the top causes of low morale are:

  • Lack of socialization with colleagues
  • Feelings of isolation from the company
  • Lack of transparency
  • Adjustment to new workflows, workplaces

Ignoring these issues can worsen your employee morale and lead to a disengaged and unproductive workforce.

Why Return to the Office?

The world is entering the new normal. More companies are preparing to bring their employees back to the office, while others are choosing a hybrid model.

Every organization will have to determine the best approach for their people, but returning to the office is the best choice for many employers, their employees, and organizational and customer needs. For many, returning to the office means more spontaneity, socialization, and collaboration; a refreshing change of pace from the isolation of remote work.

How to Manage Employee Morale

Employees returning to the office may feel anxious and resentful of colleagues or friends who are still working from home. As an employer, you must do your part to ease those feelings and support a smooth transition. Here are some tips on how you can manage employee morale in returning to the office:

1. Clearly Communicate any Policy Changes

Many businesses changed their policies and rules to accommodate their shift to remote work. Reopening the office for your employees requires you to re-evaluate your current policies. You must make sure your policies adapt to the new normal; this means including policies on health and safety inside the office. You can also create a clear return-to-office checklist to help the project go smoothly. 

Most importantly, you must clearly communicate, socialize, and enforce these policies to build trust with employees. Make sure your employees can access these new policies anytime by sharing and posting them on multiple channels. Go above and beyond by hosting town hall meetings avenue for employees to ask questions, and make sure managers are all on the same page.  

2. Listen to Employee Feedback

Employee morale goes hand-in-hand with job satisfaction. When employees feel satisfied with their company, they are more motivated to do great work.

You must consider their wants and needs when planning their return to the office. Send surveys or forms to collect feedback on the subject.  

A recent survey by Owl Lab shows that 57% of employees prefer working from home. If that’s the case, it is better to slowly ease your employees into the transition. Instead of forcing everyone to go back to the office, you can offer hybrid alternatives.

You can also ask those employees who prefer working remotely for their suggestions or concerns surrounding a return to the office. This way, you can adjust your strategy and make the transition more appealing.  

3. Take it One Step at a Time

Going back to the office will introduce changes to your employees’ workflow. After years of working from home, they’ll need some time to adjust. It is tempting to makeup for the lost time by scheduling meetings and social gatherings, but these can actually hinder employee morale.  

Instead of overwhelming your employees so soon, ease them into the rhythm of in-person work. This gives them time to adjust to being surrounded by many people again. Organize small and simple activities instead of full-blown, company-wide social activities right away. Why not keep it digital to include all in-person and remote employees?

Employee recognition is a great way to boost engagement, productivity, and morale for all employees regardless of location.  

4. Create Opportunities for Socialization

One step at a time doesn’t mean avoiding social gatherings altogether. After all, some might be looking forward to seeing their colleagues again after being cooped up inside their homes. Create opportunities for socialization without completely overwhelming your employees.  

You can start by conducting face-to-face meetings per team. This way, they can start with smaller groups of people before moving on to a broader circle. Conduct activities that will require simple interactions among employees, like icebreaker games. And, of course, team lunches are always a good place for casual socialization.  

Group projects also give your employees opportunities to socialize with their colleagues. And by investing in the best collaboration software, you can make teamwork more effective and efficient.

5. Be Proactive about Providing Support

The rising awareness of burnout and stress requires businesses to be more attentive to their employees’ needs. Ensure your employees’ happiness to boost their morale at work.

You can do this by proactively providing support for your employees. Implement an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) where you can offer resources to address personal issues concerning health, emotional well-being, and work performance. This can come in the form of short-term counselling, assessments, referrals, or support groups.

Most importantly, make sure that your employees are aware of the resources available within the organization.

Entering the New Normal

It is undeniably important to consider that your employees returning to the office will need some time to adjust to their new working environment. Use these tips to keep employee morale high during the transition. With the right strategy and tools, this is an opportunity to motivate your employees to feel their best and contribute great work.


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5 min

The Future of Work Hinges on Employee Recognition

The Future of Work Hinges on Employee RecognitionThe Future of Work Hinges on Employee Recognition

At the heart of the Great Resignation there is a fundamental need that has gone largely unmet: the need for employees to go beyond simply existing in their job roles and thrive.

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This article was originally published on

Working toward a return to normal, however, is just as probable and effective as hoping for a return to the good old days. The reality is that a new normal is unfolding in front of us – and there’s no shortage of opportunities for organisations that are adapting to it.

At the heart of the Great Resignation there is a fundamental need that has gone largely unmet: the need for employees to go beyond simply existing in their job roles and thrive. The talent of today’s world wants to be treated well and to be recognised for their contributions. The benefits for companies that realise this and take the steps to act on this are massive in terms of employee engagement, retention, and ultimately organisational growth.  

Conversely, the organisations finding themselves bearing the brunt of the Great Resignation are often the ones offering outdated solutions to modern problems. A common one is focusing solely on compensation to solve deeper issues. When attracting talent, money is a huge part of the equation, but a strong company culture is an increasingly important choice factor. Many struggling companies overlook the importance of fostering a strong, recognition-filled work culture. Increasing compensation may be a quick fix, but if money is the primary thing keeping talent motivated, they’ll be easily lured away by better offers. But while improving company culture takes a greater commitment from leadership, it has a lasting and more substantial effect on those factors organisations worry about most today: retention and engagement.

It’s both as complex and as simple as this: The desire for fair and robust recognition in the workplace will define the future of work during the pandemic and post-pandemic. Here’s how.

Values over money

To help inspire employees to work toward a common goal, companies must have clear core values that employees know and care about. But it doesn’t stop there. Companies must also associate behaviours to these values, with leadership demonstrating these behaviours every day. With that in place, all employees should be given the tools and much needed support to recognise their colleagues when they see moments that exemplify these values. The old way of recognition was sporadic and top down, but a strong value-based culture seeks to make this recognition a daily habit among peers as well as managers.

This practice not only reinforces the behaviours that move organisational goals forward, but it makes employees feel they are direct contributors to an irreplaceable company culture.

In addition to incorporating behaviours and values in recognition, there is a slightly different connection between monetary rewards and recognition. If the recognition system is set up to be predominantly monetary, so is the employee’s motivation. Employees who feel empowered to give and receive continuous recognition in their workplace will not only feel a strengthened commitment to the organisation, but they will be incredibly difficult to poach with monetary incentives alone. Instead, they will see their everyday contributions in a far more meaningful way than they might at companies where recognition is sporadic, scarce, or nonexistent.

Fuel intrinsic motivation through connection

Motivation can come in many forms, but employers today must learn to spot the difference between intrinsic motivation and traditional motivation through rewards. Traditional incentives get people through the day, but it rarely makes them care about their work beyond a paycheck. It doesn’t motivate them enough to fully engage and innovate. It’s why a rewards-centric approach can backfire on companies where incentives can be seen as an opportunity reserved for the elite few.

On the other hand, when people feel a deep connection to the company’s values and their coworkers, their inner motivation kicks in. That’s when we see creativity, innovation, and growth unfold in the organisation. The cohesiveness and connection within teams doesn’t have to be limited to small groups either. It can be shared across the organisation by creating a space for everyday recognition that can come from anyone. A robust recognition ecosystem among teammates and managers is an invaluable catalyst in promoting a culture of trust, self-confidence, and innovation.

A generational challenge that’s here to stay

In 2021 48% of American workers actively looked for jobs. We are facing a historic challenge of retention and recruitment. The pandemic is one factor, but the causes of the talent drought go deeper than that, and the effects are not going away once we are through the worst of it. Millennials make up the majority of today’s workforce in the United States, and they are unafraid to leave a bad workplace for a better one, with 21% reporting that they switched jobs in 2021. For employers and HR leaders, retention efforts are more critical than they have ever been. Holding on to talent is not only important because it helps organisations innovate and grow, but having a constantly understaffed organisation raises the risk of employee burnout, which directly translates to a negative employee experience.

A strategic, values-driven approach to culture increases employee engagement, happiness, and performance, but the benefits go beyond that. Word gets around about great culture at an organisation, and recruitment efforts suddenly become easier for HR. With Gen Z changing jobs 134% more now than they did in 2019, the talent pool is open – and looking for better work prospects.  

As the internal culture improves, and employees begin to feel like they are truly a part of the company, it naturally leads to an excellent client and external stakeholder experience.

No looking back

It’s time for a new approach to recognition – one that helps organisations and employees adapt to today's reality. For companies looking to learn crucial lessons from the pandemic, rather than hoping for a return to the old ways, the path to sustained success involves investing in a recognition-centric culture where all employees feel connected and valued. In other words, embodying ‘the future of work’ is actually just answering the call of the present day.


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5 min

The Key to A Winning Employee Recognition Strategy

The Key to A Winning Employee Recognition StrategyThe Key to A Winning Employee Recognition Strategy

Your cheat sheet on what today’s employees expect, want and need.

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This article was originally published on

Employee recognition is an age-old practice dating back to the Industrial Revolution when employers sought to make employees more efficient at work. While much has changed since then in terms of management styles, organizational structures, and workplaces (the last one especially, given the last two years) – many organizations still haven’t adapted their recognition practices to meet changing employee expectations, relying instead on dated, rewards-focused, infrequent recognition for a select few employees.

Employee recognition is a powerful tool that, when used correctly, leads to better employee engagement, improved organizational performance, and reduced turnover, among many other benefits (Gallup).

So, how can you modernize employee recognition at your organization this year?

As Muni Boga, President and CEO of Kudos®, a popular employee recognition platform, put it, “it’s not as simple as getting your managers to check recognition off their to-do lists – it’s about building a culture of recognition, where recognition has a deep-seated place in your organization.

Ideally, its value is understood by your people so that it can flow freely and frequently across all areas of your workplace.”Here are some key things to consider when building your strategy:

1. Peer-To-Peer Is Here to Stay

Historically, employee recognition used to be the responsibility of leaders and managers, or what many know as a top-down approach. Managers would highlight “top performers,” leaving many employees feeling passed over and unappreciated. On the other hand, enabling and encouraging peer-to-peer recognition allows for the democratization of recognition. This approach is not unlike 360 performance evaluation that boomed in the last two decades.

When employees of all levels are empowered to recognize – and receive recognition from – colleagues in all directions (up, down, laterally), organizations see increased employee engagement, reduced turnover, and improved productivity. A study quoted by Gallup found that 66% of employees agreed with the statement, “If I get recognition, I would also like to give others recognition,” the impact is exponential.

Studies have shown that teams that share recognition often create oxytocin responses in their team members, which was strongly correlated to more productivity, innovation, and better work enjoyment ratings.

2. Get Into the Habit of Recognition

We’ve all experienced the effects of the Great Resignation. In the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the overall turnover rate in the US was 57.3%, but that number drops to 25% when considering only voluntary turnover. That still means a staggering 1 in 4 employees left their job voluntarily in 2021.

Interestingly, studies show that globally, only 1 in 4 employees report receiving recognition in the last week. The urgency to build recognition into daily life at work is evident. Gallup believes that shifting the dial and moving from 1 in 4 having received recognition, to 3 in 5 would deliver employers a 28% improvement in quality of work and a 31% decrease in absenteeism rates.

Another significant trend here is revisiting milestones and anniversaries.

With such high turnover rates in the market, employers should celebrate anniversaries from the first year, recognizing loyalty and hard work. Anniversaries can also be used as a retention tool, incentivizing employees to stay with bonuses at each annual milestone (please, no mantel clocks – see next point).

3. Personalized and Inclusive Rewards

While recognition itself carries many benefits, it often comes hand-in-hand with rewards. The days of rewarding employees with wildly expensive company pens are gone (or at least, they should be). More and more organizations have realized that historic one-size-fits-all approaches no longer cut it; this is evident through the prevalence of flexible work schedules, remote work, and discretionary health care spending accounts.

You hire employees for their unique skills and individuality – why aren't you factoring that into your rewards strategy? One way to do this is to allow employees to choose gift cards for popular retailers or vouchers for local businesses of their choice. This approach is simple, yet it tells your people that the reward is truly for them, which has a more significant impact.

4. Play the Game

Who says work and fun don’t mix? Gamification is an incredibly efficient but sometimes forgotten lever that you can use to encourage engagement in building your culture of recognition. Some friendly competition can help kick-start a sustainable habit of free-flowing recognition in your organization. Gamification expert Yu-Kai Chou shares dozens of gamification examples for you to sift through here.

This is why many modern recognition platforms have leaderboards for both recognition received, and recognition sent to spark everyone’s inner competitor. This philosophy isn’t new – the age-old employee of the month award is a great example. The difference is, when the person sharing the most recognition is the one crowned, everyone wins.

5. Promoting Hard Work

Sometimes, the best way to recognize someone is by presenting them with the opportunity to take on more responsibility via a well-deserved promotion. Publicly acknowledging dedication and hard work via a promotion can lead to higher employee retention and engagement. It shows employees that their efforts will be rewarded, and their careers can flourish with your company (Forbes).

There are many benefits to internal promotions beyond morale, such as reduced recruitment costs and less downtime in open roles. As we migrate to more distributed workplaces, identifying top performers may not be as easy as it once was. A recognition platform can be a great tool in this instance, allowing the organizational leaders to easily see who is receiving consistent positive praise from peers at every level.

6. HR Analytics

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Most HR professionals know by now that employees don’t leave companies – they leave managers. Keeping a pulse on employee-manager relationships can be tricky, but recognition can serve as a lens into your employee experience at all levels. Some of the most sophisticated recognition platforms provide dashboards that illustrate who is giving and receiving recognition, who stands out, and who might be left behind.
Analytics can also help HR leaders demonstrate the value of recognition to their finance and leadership teams to secure the budget they need to develop a robust program.

As Muni Boga from Kudos explains, “the ROI of employee recognition can be significant in terms of recognition’s ability to improve absenteeism and turnover. An organization’s bottom line can dramatically improve not just in terms of those metrics, but also through the impact of those metrics on your organization’s productivity and innovation. Today, in a world where ESG and DEIB measurement is necessary and needed, recognition also plays an important role in illustrating social impact and inclusion.”

In 2022, an employee recognition strategy is a must-have. Building a culture of recognition is not a simple task, but it pays big dividends if it’s approached in the way your employees want.

Remote Work

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5 min

Our Hybrid Future: Strategies to Enhance Performance

Our Hybrid Future: Strategies to Enhance Performance Our Hybrid Future: Strategies to Enhance Performance

There have been many challenges and benefits from the forced global experiment. One thing for certain — there is no going back to the way things were.

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In our recent webinar, Reading the (Virtual) Room: Strategies to enhance digital communication, we explored how our world has forever changed since March 2020 with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overnight, there was a massive global shift in where and how we work, communicate, connect, and collaborate. Now that we are entering the third year and the endemic stage, we’ll start to see a massive shift to a hybrid work future.  

A Global Shift

In the hybrid future, some will work at HQs, offices, or busy facilities, some gather at smaller offices or co-working facilities, and many will remain fully remote. Even the staff with access to offices and facilities will be working remotely several days a week, and most will be working with flexible hours. The future is going to be messy.  

There have been many challenges and benefits from the forced global experiment. One thing for certain — there is no going back to the way things were.

While flexible, remote, and hybrid work was once seen as a privilege, it is now seen as a right. Organizations that embrace our hybrid future will be the future winners.

The Great Reset

Success will come down to mastering organizational culture, workplace experience, and effective communication. Those who get it wrong will see it reflected in their performance and profits.

Even now, we see the adverse effects of the pendulum swinging too far to all remote all the time: burnout, low engagement, and a massive wave of resignations. We need to embrace the challenges ahead to reframe the great resignation, to the great reset.  

The benefits of working from home are many for society, business, and the individual.

Businesses benefit from operational cost savings, a wider talent pool, the ability to retain older and more experienced employees, more motivated employees, fewer sick days, and more productivity.

Employees benefit from more autonomy, flexibility, work-life balance, and healthier well-being.

Society benefits from a lower carbon footprint, higher labor force participation, and equity for individuals with disabilities.  

There are also many disadvantages, from heavy investment in telecommuting technologies and IT security, to resistance from some workers to these technology changes. Not to mention, technological and interpersonal communications challenges, loss of human and organizational connection, and coordination and collaboration difficulties.

Individuals see the extremes of all remote all the time manifesting as loneliness, stress, inability to unplug, and effects on training, coaching, and in-person collaboration — all negatively affect career advancement opportunities.

All things considered, the jury is in.

In a recent survey by both Gallup and McKinsey & Company, 52% of workers indicated they want a more flexible work environment going forward, with the ability to work 1 to 4 days in the office. As a result, 9 out of 10 businesses are saying they will adopt a hybrid workplace model in the future.

The office will evolve into collaboration centers with shared resources, communication hubs, and quiet areas to improve connections, enhance innovation, and drive collaboration and performance.

So how do we succeed in this hybrid future? Adaptability, fluid communication, and the ability to read the room will be key to connecting with remote and in-person team members, clients, and partners.  

Transforming Communication

Our digital body language will be more important than ever to help us through this shift. Our digital body language is not just how we act or are perceived online in a video conference, but also in the way we use all digital communications; from chat tools (Teams, Slack), collaboration tools (Asana, Trello), specialty communication tools (Lattice, Kudos), to email, text, and even the phone. 55% of communication is visual, 38% is based on tone, and only 7% is what you hear. 

In the book Digital Body Language, How to Build Trust and Connection No Matter the Distance, Erica Dhawan highlights several things you need to keep in mind when communicating:

  • Know your audience; are you connecting with a digital adapter or a digital native? 
  • Be mindful of your style; consider how others might receive the tone and content of your message. Consider your punctuation; some mediums or audiences may call for informal format, rather than formal
  • Choose the correct channel; consider the complexity and urgency of your message

Erica also recommends that you set explicit communication standards. What was once implicit in the office now needs to be explicit in a hybrid workplace, where many, if not all of your team members are online and using technology to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate.  

Erica wraps up the essentials of communication in our brave new world as follows: 

  • Value Visibly - be attentive, aware, and show appreciation for others
  • Communicate Carefully - use the right channel, be straightforward in your words and expectations, read carefully, and write clearly
  • Collaborate Confidently - be explicit, use the correct channel, involve the right people, and be consistent
  • Trust Totally - give the benefit of the doubt, empower others, show vulnerability, and recognize others often for their efforts, contributions, and successes

Zooming In

So how does this translate to being your best on a virtual call?

  1. Greet people with a smile and a wave (the new online handshake).
  2. Look into the camera and make eye contact with your team or guests.
  3. Frame yourself confidently so your audience can see a strong posture.
  4. Use your hands to make gestures that enhance your communication. 
  5. Make sure you use good lighting, a quality camera, and an appropriate background.
  6. Think like a TV host, ask questions, and be sure to engage everyone.
  7. Be aware of potential meeting bias – online versus offline participants, extroverts vs. introverts, as well as cultural nuances.  
  8. Dress for success. Set the business standard.
  9. Be aware of your resting face; you may think it is neutral, but it can often look contemptuous, unfriendly, or angry. Consider sending comfort signals (detailed below).

On the other hand, it’s important to observe what others’ body language is telling you. Mark Bowden and Joe Navarro, authors of “Truth and Lies, What People Are Really Thinking” and “What Every Body is Saying,” are two top experts on reading body language. Their insights can help you read the room, and avoid miscommunication.

Five simple signs that people are comfortable, absorbing, or agreeing with your message:

  1. Duchenne smile – represents a warm and authentic connection. 
  2. The head tilt – means they are engaged and listening intently.
  3. The eyebrow flash – shows curiosity, familiarity, and engagement.
  4. Eye contact and slower blink rate – means they are attentive and interested.
  5. Authentic Mirroring – Shows agreement and a desire to connect, and that they like you.

In contrast, here are a few body language signs of discomfort or disagreement you should be aware of:

  1. Biting a lip – indicates that a person is physically stopping themselves from saying something or holding back feelings.
  2. Fidgeting – indicates boredom or under-stimulation.
  3. Neck rubbing – indicates that a person is feeling insecure or stressed.  
  4. Wrinkled nose – indicates disdain and that something does not pass the smell test.
  5. Pursed lips – may indicate tension, frustration, or disapproval.
  6. Wringing or rubbing hands –  indicates that a person is feeling stress, nervousness, frustration, or anxiety.
  7. Closing or covering eyes – indicates that a person is troubled, frustrated, or struggling with something emotionally.

Being aware of your own signals and observing others can help you avoid communication breakdowns. Preparing for meetings goes beyond setting the agenda, being on time, and having your notes ready; it also means applying the knowledge outlined above to get your point across and build strong relationships.

Want to learn more? Watch our recent webinar, Reading the (Virtual) Room: Strategies to enhance digital communication.

I would love to know your thoughts, observations, and results if you put some of these ideas into practice.

You can find me on LinkedIn @wtshort  


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5 min

15 Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day 2022

15 Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day 202215 Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day 2022

Recognizing and appreciating your employees should be a year-round priority, but sometimes you need to go above and beyond. This Employee Appreciation Day, March 4th, make sure you have a plan to celebrate your team.

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Each time you receive recognition or gratitude, your brain releases a chemical called serotonin. This chemical helps regulate your emotions and enhance your mood. Appreciation positively impacts your personal world, as well as your professional one.

Recognizing and appreciating your employees should be a year-round priority, but sometimes you need to go above and beyond. This Employee Appreciation Day, March 4, make sure you have a plan to celebrate your team.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. "What would make you feel appreciated?"

This day is about celebrating your employees. Give them an opportunity to express what would make them feel appreciated. There are many tools to distribute surveys to your employees. Plan to send the survey well before Employee Appreciation Day, so that you can plan the day around the responses.  

2. A simple thank you still goes a long way

Thanking your employees for the simple things they do every day has a great impact on your organization. Try celebrating each employee for their unique contribution to the team by sending personalized notes. Remind your employees that they are valued, and that their work does not go unnoticed.

3. Invest in their personal time

Let your employees pursue their passions by giving them a paid afternoon off. What better way to appreciate your employees’ dedication than allowing them some much-needed time off to relax, be with their family, or take an extra-long weekend? 

4. Cover their transportation costs

Some organizations don’t consider the sheer cost of commuting to work. Some employees can spend up to $5,000 annually just transporting to and from work. You may not be able to cover all transportation costs, but you could reimburse your employees for bus and train passes or offer them a paid parking pass.

5. Go public with your appreciation 

Don’t just celebrate internally – tell the world you appreciate your employees. Work with your marketing team to build a plan for spreading the recognition on all of your social media platforms.

6. Have a virtual lunch or happy hour

We know that showing appreciation in a work-from-home environment can be a struggle, but you can still host virtual lunches or happy hours with your employees. Send pre-paid Uber Eats gift cards to your employees and celebrate together virtually.

7. Set up remote team building activities

Dedicate an afternoon for planning remote games. This is a great way to promote virtual team building, while giving your team the opportunity to bond outside of work.There are many online games you can play to make remote socialization creative and engaging.  

8. Create custom awards

Work with your Human Resources team to create internal awards to honour your employees. These could be awards like Employee of the Month or Best Team Player. Go the extra mile and create customized engraved trophies for the winners.

9. Be creative with rewards

Coffee mugs, t-shirts, and customized pens don’t send a genuine message of appreciation to your employees. Instead, give your employees options to choose from – not everyone wants a gift card or free food. Discover how to meaningfully reward your employees by offering multiple choices.

10. Update their work-from-home equipment

When was the last time you checked in on your employees' work-from-home equipment? Do they have everything they need to be productive and successful? Show your appreciation by ensuring their equipment is up to date and reliable. A new standing desk, new chair or better monitor could demonstrate your gratitude to your employees.  

Appreciation should be built into your culture – not just set aside for one day out of the year. If you’re wondering how to incorporate ongoing employee appreciation, here are some solutions to investigate:  

11. Invest in an employee recognition platform

One of the most common reasons employees’ leave their jobs is because they feel unrecognized. Meaningful recognition allows employees to see their organization’s values in action and feel appreciated for their contributions. Employee recognition solutions, like Kudos®, make it easy for managers and peers to recognize employees regularly.

12. Celebrate birthdays, milestones, and anniversaries

Don’t let these moments go unnoticed. Your employees deserve recognition on birthdays, anniversaries, and each milestone in between. Simply sharing an e-card for team-members to sign   

13. Update your company values

It might be time to review your organization’s values to ensure they still align with your employee’s. Forbes research finds that more than 50%of employees will leave their jobs if company values no longer align with their own. Lead by example and incorporate recognition into your brand’s core values.

14. Offer more flexibility

83% of employees feel more loyal to their employers if flexible work arrangements are available to them. This can include working from home, flexible hours, part-time options, and paid leave. Start focusing on results and deadlines, instead of how many hours your employees work.  

15. Encourage your leaders to check in frequently

Appreciate your employees for the dedication and time they invest in the company. It’s important to give your employees the opportunity to open-up about any stress or burdens they’re feeling. Teams perform better when members believe their leaders respect and appreciate them.


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6 HR Trends to Watch for in 2022

6 HR Trends to Watch for in 20226 HR Trends to Watch for in 2022

Many organizations are continuing to adapt to the impacts of the pandemic. Employees now look for permanent remote arrangements, work-life balance and improved health benefits. Here are the trends HR leaders should focus on in 2022.

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After a disruptive couple of years, many organizations introduced adjustments in order to keep their talent. More organizations are now expected to offer remote arrangements, work-life balance and improved health benefits. These adjustments have significantly changed how we see the future of work; however, employee expectations are constantly evolving. Here are the trends HR leaders should focus on in 2022.  

1. Building Critical Skills Within the Organization

According to a Gartner survey, 59% of HR leaders consider building critical skills within the organization a top priority. However, many HR leaders are struggling to predict the skills their employees will need for their organization to succeed in the future. HR leaders are also struggling with rising turnover rates due to increased competition for talent. Although remote work has widened the talent pool, it also means it’s easy for employees to find work elsewhere if their needs are not being fulfilled at their current place of work. In addition to actively disengaged employees having an easier time finding new work, the competition and constant recruitment efforts from global businesses mean that even moderately disengaged employees pose a much higher risk of leaving than they did before. Gartner suggests organizations should build a more adaptable workforce by structuring talent management around skills instead of just roles.  

  • Provide cross-training across the organization. Encourage leaders to share ownership of skills throughout the organization. When employees share skills, it increases productivity and empowers employees to do their job more effectively.
  • Encourage a knowledge sharing mindset. Sharing skills should start at the top and managers should lead by example. Knowledge sharing could also be included in your company values and should be communicated across the entire organization.  
  • Collect skill data. Understand what skills your organization has plenty of and areas where it might be lacking. It’s also important to focus on skill trends and how they impact your organization and whether they create a threat or an opportunity and build a strategy around that.
  • Thread skills through talent management processes. There’s always an opportunity to use skills as the foundation of your hiring practices. Instead of just focusing on the roles required for the organization, focus on the skills you want to add.

2. Organizational Change Management

There’s no denying there has been a lot of change in the workplace over the last two years, and leaders need to recognize when their employees could be feeling burnt out. Today’s average employee can absorb only half as much change before feeling fatigued as they could in 2019 (Gartner). There are many ways HR leaders can foster a positive change experience:  

  • Encourage teams to implement their own change that works. Not all teams will function and perform efficiently the same way, and they shouldn’t have to. Instead of having a structured team dynamic across your organization, empower your teams to shape their own change experiences.
  • Don’t overlook the day-to-day changes. Even though some changes may seem small, they can significantly impact your team and can easily become overwhelming.
  • Ensure your employees have the right tools. Organizational change often comes with new systems or processes employees must follow. Make sure the tools you are providing will set your employees up for success and are the right solution to a previous challenge.  

3. Creating a Healthy Work Environment

Many factors go into creating a healthy workplace, all of which should be considered a priority. Workplace health is not just work-life balance; healthy employees will form healthy relationships with their coworkers. Here are some factors to consider when trying to build a healthy work environment:  

  • Healthy employees: this doesn’t just mean the physical well-being of employees, but also their financial well-being, their stress and burnout levels, their work capacity, and their work-life balance.  
  • Healthy relationships: this includes not only trust in leadership, but trust within your team, employee-manager relationships, and how your team collaborates and respects one another.  
  • Healthy work environment: creating a healthy and inclusive work environment is a huge contributor to your organization’s productivity. A healthy work environment increases innovation, responsiveness, and changes receptivity and efficiency.  

A healthy work environment means offering your employees the support they need. 62% of employees identified well-being benefits (including financial, mental health and physical well-being) as a key factor when applying for a job. In addition to that, 80% of employees want support and guidance from their employers on personal finances. HR leaders should move away from universal benefit packages and lean more towards a personalized approach, with the goal of being a workplace culture of care that meets the needs of everyone. There are also EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) available for organizations to utilize that provide counselling for employees both personal and work-related.  

4. Flexible Work Arrangements

The global pandemic has shifted how we work in so many ways, with work-from-home or hybrid work arrangements being one of the most significant. Some of your employees may thrive in a work-from-home environment, while others may prefer a hybrid situation where they can still go into an office if needed. However, flexibility is not just about where employees work; it also means allowing employees the ability to adjust their work schedule to accommodate their lifestyle. Many of us have other priorities outside of work and a non-flexible work schedule can be a massive deterrent for employees.  

Focus on results and deadlines instead of the number of hours employees are working. Not everyone is productive during the same time periods, and part of adopting a more inclusive mindset is allowing your employees the freedom to design their work schedule. Utilize technology and move towards a productivity-anywhere approach and make your work systems easily accessible for all employees.  

5. Pursuing vs. Established and Thriving Workplace Culture

Your future employees aren’t interested in working for an organization that is behind on updating its company values. Forbes research has found that more than 50% of employees will leave their jobs if the company values are no longer aligned with their own. It is vital that HR leaders ensure they are closing their employee expectations gap by engaging with their employees and are committed to incorporating what their employees value into the organization.  

A major component of this is representation and diversity. Gartner research revealed there were only 29% of women and 17% racial minorities in c-suite positions. Low diversity in leadership positions is a result of a lacking DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) strategy. HR leaders need to incorporate consequential accountability instead of collective accountability in their DEIB strategies and hold the leaders within their organization accountable for DEIB outcomes.  

6. Regular, Meaningful Recognition

Regular, meaningful recognition will be critical in 2022. Robert Half found that 66% of employees would quit if they didn’t feel recognized – for Millennials, that number jumps to 76%. Similarly, a study by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) found that 79% of Millennial and Gen-Z survey respondents said an increase in recognition and rewards would make them more loyal to their employer.  

By 2025 Millennials will make up three-quarters of the workforce; the need for robust employee engagement strategies and management is urgent to fight this unprecedented wave of resignations. Modern recognition platforms like Kudos® make it easy for managers and peers to recognize employees regularly, regardless of their location.

What does the future of work look like?

Hybrid work arrangements are the new normal, skill-based hiring is shifting HR practices, and employee well-being is becoming a pivotal concern everywhere. This new world of work is encouraging leaders to ask important questions about their organization’s current challenges and how they are going to invest in the right solutions. The HR landscape in 2022 is not just about the best business practices but rather shaping the future of work.


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3 min

What’s Inside Our Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide?

What’s Inside Our Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide?What’s Inside Our Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide?

You are the expert on your needs and what makes your workforce unique. Complete with self-assessment worksheets, ROI calculations, platform evaluation checklists, and so much more, this guide will help you find the perfect partner.

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Don’t shop for a product. Shop for a solution.

Employee recognition is a key pillar of your overall business performance. Finding the right tool to keep employees engaged can be overwhelming, so we’ve created an Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide to help you make the best decision.

Our guide is a comprehensive overview of how to choose the right employee recognition solution for your company’s culture, goals, and budget. You are the expert on your needs and what makes your workforce unique. Complete with self-assessment worksheets, ROI calculations, platform evaluation checklists, and so much more, this guide will help you find the perfect partner.

What is a Buyer’s Guide?

A buyer’s guide helps customers make purchasing decisions. Our guide will simplify each step so you can make the best decision for your organization’s needs. We’ve broken it down into 5 simple sections:

  1. Employee Recognition Overview
  2. Organizational Needs Assessment
  3. Tips on Key Stakeholders, Timeline, and Budget
  4. Platform Evaluation Worksheet
  5. Building Your Business Case

1. Employee Recognition Overview

Employee expectations have changed. Today’s leading organizations understand that money, time off, and rewards are no longer a primary driver in a desired workplace. Today’s employees expect meaningful and memorable recognition. The focus has shifted to building a strong culture through engagement, shared values, and performance-centered recognition. Our guide will walk you through the impact of employee disengagement and the benefits of a formal recognition program.

2. Organizational Needs Assessment

There are many great employee recognition solutions on the market; it’s up to you to determine which one is right for your business. Our guide includes a self-assessment worksheet to help you decide which platform best suits your organization’s needs. Each answer to our strategic questions will identify the main problem you need solutions for. Our self-assessment exercise contains insightful topics like:

  • HR Challenges and Pain Points: Are you experiencing higher employee turnover than usual? What have your employees shared in recent exit interviews?
  • Your Current State: What are you currently doing to engage and recognize your employees? How are you measuring success?
  • Values and Culture: What changes would you like to see in your organization’s culture?

3. Tips on Key Stakeholders, Timelines, and Budget

Many important factors go into selecting a recognition platform; key stakeholders, timelines, and budgets just scratch the surface of what to keep in mind. Our guide will help you answer all these questions, and more:

  • Implementation and Support: What does the onboarding process look like? Will you havecontinued support before and after your purchasing decision?
  • Integrations: Is the platform capable of integrating with your existing technology?

Who are the key stakeholders in my organization?

Deciding on an employee recognition platform impacts many parts of your organization.It’s important to identify who your key stakeholders could be in the decision-making process. In our guide, you will find key takeaways to consider when reaching out to your stakeholders about an employee recognition platform. It’s important to remember your HR team will have different questions and concerns than your CFO or CEO.

When should I launch my employee recognition program?

Our guide includes all the questions and topics you should discuss with your key stakeholders about a timeline. Whoever you choose to partner with will help you develop a realistic plan – including us. Kudos has a team of dedicated Onboarding Specialists who can assist you in all aspects of your program launch.

How should I budget for an employee recognition program?

Building a budget can be difficult – that’s why our guide includes important factors to consider when evaluating quotes from different employee recognition platforms. For more solutions on building your budget, you can also read our article on budgeting for employee recognition.

4. Platform Evaluation Worksheet

Our included worksheets make it easy for you to compare different platforms and ultimately find the right solution for your organization. You’ll be able to measure ROI, the cost of disengagement, and use detailed checklists to keep track of the various features each platform offers.

5. BuildingYour Business Case

Even if you’ve selected a platform that satisfies all your organization’s needs, you’ll need a compelling presentation and business case for your executive team. We included a simple, but informative framework for successfully presenting your solution to stakeholders. These suggestions will help you create a convincing business case to win over your executive team, so you can move forward with your purchasing decision.

Successful organizations understand that employee recognition matters more than ever before. You’re already on the right track to creating a positive impact on your organization’s culture, and we want you to find the right solution. Make your decision easier by downloading your free copy of our Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide today.


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5 min

8 Steps for Pitching Employee Recognition to Your Executive Team

8 Steps for Pitching Employee Recognition to Your Executive Team 8 Steps for Pitching Employee Recognition to Your Executive Team

Hoping to hire an employee recognition platform that will help you achieve incredible results? If you answered yes, then follow this framework to make the case for an employee recognition platform in your organization.

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This is part 3 of our 3-part “Making the Case” series, dedicated to helping you make a business case for employee recognition in your organization. Make sure to check out part 1 (Budgeting for Recognition)and part 2 (Calculating the ROI of Employee Recognition).

You've done your research, determined that recognition is an excellent solution to some of your organization's biggest pain points, and found a vendor you like (hopefully Kudos®).

It’s time to pitch to your leaders to get approval.  

While this can be a nerve-wracking process, it's also an incredible opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise and impress your leaders with a solid business case.

In this article, we share a simple framework that will help you make a case for an employee recognition platform. That said, the framework presented can be used for virtually any business proposal.

Prefer Video? The content in this article is covered in a recent webinar you can access for free on-demand here. By accessing the on-demand webinar, you’ll also be able to download your customizable pitch deck.

Tip: Give an early preview of your pitch to a key stakeholder and get their advice and feedback. This does two things: (1) It allows you to address some issues that might come up before the larger presentation, and (2) it converts that stakeholder into a friendly face so that during the main presentation, they will already be on your side and may even jump in to answer questions from other stakeholders in the room.

Now let’s jump into the 8 steps you’ll need to cover to successfully make the case.  

1. Mission: Create context and define the problem

Capturing the attention of your audience is critical. The key to doing this is clearly explaining your mission and the purpose of your pitch. Lead with the business need, define what you’re proposing and why you’re proposing it.  

Creating a mission statement for the initiative is a powerful way to do this. In the context of employee recognition, you could say, “my goal as an HR leader is to build a thriving culture based on measurable results. To achieve a thriving culture, we must reduce turnover, increase engagement, improve performance, and provide the tools for a more inclusive and happier culture.”  

Another great way is to connect your pitch to your company’s core values. For example, you could state that although your organization values innovation, your employee recognition practices are stuck in the past.

Finally, a powerful way to set the tone for your presentation is to tell a story. Share a personal experience or anecdote that will resonate with your audience while showcasing the reason behind your proposed initiative.

2. Current State: What’s the cost of doing nothing?

When covering your organization’s current state, it’s crucial to create a sense of urgency.

Clearly illustrate that things are changing beyond the control of the company, and there will be winners, and there will be losers. This sets the stage for your leaders to want to be winners, and that not addressing these outside forces will cause the business to become less competitive unless they find a way to navigate these shifts effectively.  

Another important component of this is the cost of doing nothing.

In the second article from this series, we present how to calculate the cost of absenteeism, turnover, and disengagement.  

Using hard data like those numbers is a great way to demonstrate where you are today, where you want to go and how you’ll measure success. Comparing your organization to your competitors using benchmark data is also a great way to capture your executive team’s attention.  

Clearly describe how the problem presented affects the business and impedes corporate success. Bring in actual data from your organization. When you finish this section, your audience should be convinced that doing nothing is not an option and should be eager to hear your proposed solution.

3. Future State: What does success look like?

What exactly are you hoping to achieve? How will you measure success with your proposed solution?

These are questions you need to answer in this section of your presentation.  

Another way to approach this section is to consider what outcomes you’re looking for and the drivers that can get you there.

What is the one most important thing that your manager or company could do to make a meaningful and far-reaching positive impact? In the case of employee recognition, you want to demonstrate that you’ve considered all possible options (or drivers) but have determined that recognition is the best solution to achieve your organization’s specific goals.  

Describe the approach you’re proposing and the known benefits of that approach.

4. Solution: How will you make this happen?

Now is the time to make your specific strategic recommendation. You’ve answered what will get you there; now it’s time to answer how.

This is where you propose your preferred vendor.

When recommending a vendor, it’s essential to show that you’ve compared various solutions to make the most strategic choice for your organization.

For employee recognition software, make sure to show that you’ve compared important features, including: Price per user, Rewards Markup, required integrations, support, analytics, mobile application, are rewards optional?

Show that you’ve done your homework, identified the most important qualities in a vendor, reviewed multiple options, and have a decision matrix that led you to your recommendation.

This Buyer’s Guide is a great resource; it includes an employee recognition vendor comparison checklist.

5. Cost: What budget needs to be allocated to this?

Once you recommend a concrete solution, the next thing you’ll need to address is the cost.

When approaching cost, a good starting point is to share benchmarks. For example, for modern employee recognition programs, the key cost benchmarks are:

  • Low: Under 1% of base salary
  • Average: 1-3% of base salary
  • Above Average: 4-10% of base salary

Next, present the actual cost of your proposal. Our budgeting spreadsheet is an excellent tool for this step. Following the spreadsheet will ensure that you consider all inputs such as your employee count, whether you’ll be including rewards and additional fees. Using the spreadsheet will allow you to show that you’ve compared vendors based on the total cost of ownership and are presenting the actual cost difference between your proposed solution and its competitors.

6. Financial Benefits: What’s the Impact?

Demonstrating the bottom-line impact of your proposal is often the most impactful part of the presentation.

The good news is that the financial benefit or ROI is undeniable with the right metrics when it comes to employee recognition platforms.

The ROI formula itself is relatively straightforward, and many of the required metrics should be readily available to you (e.g., turnover rate, engagement survey results, and absenteeism rate). You can see a step-by-step walk-through of how to calculate ROI here.

Beyond the ROI, demonstrating that your chosen solution has worked for other organizations is a powerful way to further support your case to a risk-averse executive team.

Examples you can use include:

  • Case studies
  • Client testimonials
  • Awards won
  • Product Reviews

7. Action Plan: How do we make this happen?

A vital component of a business proposal or business case is to present what your solution will look like in practice.

Make sure your presentation identifies the internal champions (likely yourself) and that you have buy-in from the most critical stakeholders for this initiative, for example, in the case of employee recognition, the CHRO, or Head of People (if that’s not you).

Ask your preferred vendor for an implementation plan and timeline so you can accurately predict and plan for a suitable go-live date.

8. Decision: Don’t forget to ask for Approval

This part is the simplest but most often overlooked step. After working through your presentation, and answering any questions along the way, don’t forget to ask for permission to proceed with the initiative.

If your executive team indicates that they need more time to make their decision, make sure to immediately schedule another time to ask for the decision again.

Reminder: The content of this article is covered in a recent webinar you can access for free on-demand here. By accessing the on-demand webinar, you’ll be able to download a customizable pitch deck.

Final Advice

Equipped with accurate budgeted costs, a persuasive ROI, along with a compelling and easy-to-follow presentation, you’ll be well on your way to getting the approval you are looking for to move forward with your plan.  

Remember that if you are confident and committed to your proposal, you’ll foster confidence within your executive team. They want a reason to say yes; it’s up to you to make the case.  


5 min

5 min

Calculating the ROI of Employee Recognition

Calculating the ROI of Employee Recognition Calculating the ROI of Employee Recognition

Calculating ROI can be a daunting task, but following the steps presented in this article should demystify the process. With the ROI in hand, you'll be well on your way to impressing your leaders with the undeniable benefits of an employee recognition platform.

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This is part 2 of our 3-part “Making the Case” series, dedicated to helping you make a business case for employee recognition in your organization. Read part 1 (Budgeting for Recognition) and part 3 (8 Steps for Pitching Employee Recognition to Your Executive Team).

HR leaders carry a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.

They manage their organization's most valuable (and most expensive) asset – their people. Luckily, many tools in the market are designed to help HR leaders.These tools include HRISs (Human Resources Information Systems), recruitment tools, and, more recently – modern employee engagement solutions, like employee recognition platforms.

While relatively new to the market in the last ten years, employee recognition platforms bring a host of benefits that align an organization's historical employee engagement practices with the expectations and needs of today's workforce. These platforms take traditional recognition practices, like years of service programs or annual top-performer programs to a place that benefits all employees – everyday. This increases the impact, reach, and equity of the programs by ensuring that no one is left out or left behind.  

Unfortunately, because social employee recognition platforms are a new concept for many leaders, demonstrating the impact and business case to executives can be a challenge for HR teams.  

The good news is that the bottom-line impact of employee engagement and recognition is undeniable with the right metrics.

Recently, Kudos®’ Founder and Chief Customer Officer Tom Short, and Kudos®' Director of Sales, Cheryl Smith, hosted a workshop to help walk HR professionals through demonstrating the ROI of employee recognition. We encourage you to watch a recording of the webinar here or read on to learn from the simple ROI example Tom and Cheryl shared.

Demonstrating the Need

The first step in understanding the value of your recognition program is to demonstrate it as an urgent need to your leadership team.

When we consider recognition, the key benefit is increased employee engagement. But why is employee engagement so critical?


Employee engagement is quite possibly the most critical factor to a successful business. Gallup has done countless studies on the benefits of employee engagement, including increased profitability, more customer engagement (higher Net Promoter Scores), and improved productivity. Gallup has also found that enhanced employee engagement reduces costly trends such as absenteeism, turnover, production defects, and safety incidents.

But to make the case for investment in employee engagement, you need to be able to explain what disengagement is costing your organization today.  

As the famous saying by author and management guru Peter Drucker puts it, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

To present a compelling business case, you need to quantify your existing state when it comes to metrics you want to improve. These are called Key Performance Indicators, and the three examples that we’ll explore more in-depth are:

1. Absenteeism

2. Turnover Rate

3. Disengagement

1. Cost of Absenteeism

Absenteeism is any failure to report for or remain at work as scheduled. Absenteeism does not include scheduled vacation, PTO, or sickness, but rather an unexpected absence. The absenteeism rate is calculated by taking the number of absent days and dividing it by the number of available workdays in a given period. The average absenteeism rate in the US is approximately 3.1%, which translates to 64 hours per employee per year. For reference, a healthy rate is 1.5%. Absenteeism is caused by many factors like stress, lack of motivation, disengagement, workplace conflict, and more.

According to workforce specialist Circadian, unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,660 each year for salaried employees.The costs can be attributed to many factors, including:  

  • Wages paid to absent employees
  • High-cost replacement workers (overtime pay for other employees and temporary workers)
  • Administrative costs of managing absenteeism

2. Cost of Turnover

Turnover can be both voluntary (leaving for another job) and involuntary (being let go). Both have a significant financial impact on organizations.

We are now experiencing the Great Resignation, a staggering trend of post-pandemic resignations. The Economist reported that a record 3% of the U.S. workforce quit their jobs in September 2021.  

According to a study released in August 2021 from the National Business Research Institute, employees' average annual turnover rate across industries in the United States is 15%. The cost of turnover can range from 20% for a mid-level manager to 200% for a C-Suite Executive.

3. Cost of Disengagement

Gallup found that 74% of people looking for a new job today are disengaged. “It's not an industry, role, or pay issue,” Gallup’s team says, “it's a workplace issue.” So, let's look at engagement and the specific costs of disengaged employees.

According to Gallup, disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity, and 15% lower profitability.

In their book, Follow this Path, authors Curt Coffman and Gabriel Gonzalez Molina estimate that a disengaged employee costs a company 34% of their annual salary, or $3,400 for every $10,000 they make.  

Recognition as a Solution

The cost of disengagement as well as two of the most common by-products of disengagement, turnover and absenteeism, are substantial. But, there are many ways employers can address these challenges. Presenting recognition as a solution and demonstrating the ROI is a great way to show your leadership team the value of your proposal.

While there are many ways to increase employee engagement, research by Cicero found that recognition is a highly effective solution.

Calculating the ROI

Using the three costs described above, (Absenteeism, Turnover, and Disengagement) simple plug-and-play equations can lead you to a powerful ROI presentation. 

As illustrated below, we use a hypothetical situation that reflects many organizations. This example is described in more detail in the webinar recording.

ROI Formula

To calculate the ROI using the formula above, we need two numbers, Total Savings (based on the achievement of the goals above, and Total Investment based on the number of employees (1000).

Calculating Total Savings

Absenteeism Savings = $41,230

Based on the costs we discussed previously, we can calculate the absenteeism cost savings based on 1000 employees. The savings reflect a shift from a 3.1%absenteeism rate (today’s standard) to a 1.55% absenteeism rate attributed to increased employee engagement through the recognition program.  

Turnover Savings = $500,619

The turnover cost reflects the average cost of turnover for a mid-manager making $60,000/year (20% of $60,000 = $12,000) + the cost of onboarding a new employee, which ADP estimates are about $4,129. In this example, we used a modest turnover improvement year over year of 3%.(15.9% decreased to 13.9%).

Disengagement Savings = $408,000

Finally, the cost of disengagement was calculated as 34% of the same average salary of $60,000. The Future state represents a modest 2% improvement in employee engagement.

Now, we add Absenteeism Savings + Turnover Savings + Disengagement Savings to get our total savings.  

Total Savings= $949,849

Calculating Total Investment

A Conference Board of Canada study, “Making it Meaningful: Recognizing and Rewarding Employees in Canadian Organizations,” suggests that the average annual amount spent on recognition is $175 per employee.  

So, using that average figure, we can estimate our investment for a company of 1000 people:
Recognition & Reward Investment = $175.00 per person x 1000 employees =$175,000

Total Investment = $175,000

Final ROI Formula

The results of this calculation are undeniable.

A 443% return on investment is fantastic and hard to ignore as a business leader. The best thing about the ROI of employee recognition is that with regular, meaningful recognition, the returns will continue to grow as a strong culture of recognition develops.

Once again, if you would like a walkthrough of these calculations, we strongly encourage you to watch this helpful webinar, where you can download the slides to reference when creating your own ROI estimation. 

Key Takeaways

Calculating the ROI to help support the case for a significant investment can be a daunting task, but following the steps presented in this article should demystify the process and blow your leaders away with the hard numbers.

As a recap, the steps are:

1. Identifying Desired Outcomes (e.g., lower turnover)

2. Identifying Relevant Metrics (e.g., turnover rate)

3. Quantify Costs and Set improvement goals (e.g., turnover costs 20% of the employee's salary, we want to reduce by 5%)

4. Demonstrate the impact on the bottom line (e.g., a recognition and rewards program will cost us $175 per employee per year but reduce our turnover by 5% saving us XYZ amount)

Need some help? Reach out for support building your plan – we are here to help!


5 min

5 min

Budgeting for Employee Recognition

Budgeting for Employee Recognition Budgeting for Employee Recognition

How do you build a comprehensive budget for a new recognition program? How do you make sure you're comparing different solutions “apples to apples”? We asked the experts those questions and more to equip you with everything you need to build your budget.

Read Article

This is part 1 of our 3-part “Making the Case” series, dedicated to helping you make a business case for recognition in your organization. Read part 2 (Calculating the ROI of Recognition) here and part 3 (8 Steps for Pitching Employee Recognition to Your Executive Team).

Organizations are overwhelmingly finding that to take part in today’s competitive labor market and retain great employees, they must strengthen their employee experience holistically through unique benefits, flexibility, and proactive employee engagement initiatives. One proven way to enhance employee engagement is through regular, meaningful recognition. The benefits of employee recognition programs are undeniable and plentiful.  

When proposing employee recognition solutions, HR leaders are often tasked with building a budget for an enhanced program to get executive buy-in.  

So how do you build a comprehensive budget for a new program from scratch?  

How do you make sure you're comparing different solutions “apples to apples” to get a clear picture of which solution is best for your needs?  

Recently, Kudos’ CFO, Karim Punja, and Kudos’ Director of Sales, Cheryl Smith, hosted a workshop to help HR professionals answer the questions above and more. We encourage you to watch the webinar here, or read on to learn all the insider tips and tricks shared.

Recognition’s Impact

Before digging into the actual budgeting exercise, it’s important to level-set on why you’re considering bringing in an employee recognition platform so you can contextualize your budget with a legitimate need and urgency.

“Doing what’s best for your employees does not contradict doing what’s best for your company,” Cheryl Smith, Director of Sales at Kudos, explains. The Gallup Q12 Meta-Analysis is a fantastic resource to reference when building your case for the importance and impact of recognition. Here are some highlights:

  1. Recognized employees are more engaged employees. When employees feel acknowledged and appreciated by their place of work, they are more likely to develop the mental and emotional connections needed to be engaged. Learn more.
  2. Enhanced engagement leads to lower absenteeism and reduced turnover. Research has repeatedly shown that employees who feel valued are less likely to leave their employer. Learn more.
  3. Employee recognition drives a stronger workplace culture. Besides incentivizing achievement, employee recognition gives employers the ability to reinforce behaviors they find valuable. Learn more.
  4. Employee recognition is important for inclusion. Creating a workplace environment where employees feel valued, welcome, and comfortable will foster a sense of belonging, psychological safety, equity, and general well-being. Learn more.
  5. Employee recognition drives employee performance and productivity and business performance overall. Humans have an innate need to be seen by and receive praise from others, and employee recognition does just that. Organizations with employee recognition programs are 12x more likely to have strong business outcomes. Learn more.

Building Your Budget


With all of the value that employee recognition and engagement provides in mind, it’s now time to build your budget.

“The key number from the CFO’s perspective is the total cost of ownership,” says Karim Punja, CFO at Kudos. The following is designed to help you understand what key inputs and cost drivers make up that total cost so you can build an accurate and comprehensive budget.

Starting with benchmarks of how much today’s organizations invest in recognition and rewards provides your decision-makers with something to compare your proposal to. The benchmarks provided in this overview are for comprehensive recognition programs, like Kudos.  

Beyond helping with your proposal, these benchmarks can help you assess how your current recognition budget compares to others and give you a place to start if this is a net new program and initiative. Keep in mind that many organizations migrate legacy “years-of-service” awards and annual recognition programs to their modern recognition system, so those costs are included in these benchmarks.

Current Benchmarks (per employee recognition budget benchmarks):

  • Low: Under 1% of total payroll
  • Average: 1-3% of total payroll
  • Above Average: 4-10% of total payroll

The Six Key Budget Inputs  

✓ Employee count: Because you’re building your budget on a per-employee basis, this number is critical to an accurate proposal. Consider the exact size of your organization, whether it spans multiple regions, and whether there are various kinds of employees to consider (contract, field, temporary, interns). Larger organizations with multiple departments and regions might opt for a sequential implementation where, for example, a specific geography or division would start, then other groups would join in over a year or two. The timing of a staggered launch would have to be considered to make sure the budget is attributed at the right time.

✓ Rewards or no rewards? Some vendors will give you the option of running your recognition program platform with or without monetary rewards and points. Some costs to consider are whether points need to be purchased in advance, if rewards are marked up, and the fulfillment costs of physical rewards. Hint: With Kudos, rewards are optional. Kudos also never marks up points and rewards. You are in complete control of your budget!

✓ Expected recognition and rewards budget per employee/year: Determine what you intend to spend on your program using the benchmarks above. You can also use the amount you’re spending on your current recognition/years of service program. For example, if you’ve recently moved to a remote work format, you could reallocate the budget from the expensive parties and receptions you’re no longer hosting.  

✓ Budget timeframe: Budgets are usually based on one fiscal year. Your CFO will likely want to know, beyond the fiscal year budget, what the total cost of ownership is for the program and the total cost of the agreement. For example, if you’ve committed to three years, fees for all three years would be included in your total cost of ownership. The total cost of ownership also consists of any additional resources required to run the program, such as staff time.

✓ Hidden fees: It’s essential to work directly with vendors to understand all fees and costs regarding rewards, markups, or fulfillment costs and any other resources you require. Your budget proposal should include a plan for who will manage this program (including one or two alternates.)

✓ Implementation & support: Ensure you understand the onboarding and launch process, including any information technology (IT) support needed. Your CFO needs to consider the opportunity cost of using IT resources for this project rather than another, so providing that information upfront is extremely helpful.  

Your Budgeting Workbook

While all of this may seem overwhelming, the right vendor will be able to walk you through this process, making it painless and straightforward. To help, Kudos has a prebuilt Employee Recognition & Rewards Budget Planner that you can download here.

The webinar recording previously mentioned walks through how to use the budget planner workbook.  

The workbook contains three helpful sheets:

  1. Business Details (the initial set of inputs for the budgeting process), if rewards are marked up, and the fulfillment costs of physical rewards. Hint: With Kudos, rewards are optional.
  2. Advanced Business Details.
  3. Budget Worksheet (summary) which provides a nice output schedule of budget costs over a three-year period.

Here is a preview:

Bringing It All Together

Budgeting is a tedious but extremely valuable business process that allows you to make significant strides in your work. Launching a formal recognition program is often a career-defining move for many HR professionals – it requires work and dedication, but the results are undeniable.

Finally, remember that this is the starting point. Depending on your organization's structure, policies, and needs, there can be nuances. This overview captures the baseline budgeting information needed for an employee engagement and recognition system.  

Once again, we strongly encourage you to watch Kudos’ CFO, Karim Punja, and Kudos’ Director of Sales, Cheryl Smith’s budgeting workshop here. If you need any assistance building your recognition program budget or learning more about the value of recognition and employee engagement systems, please reach out to the Kudos team.

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