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5 min

5 min

7 Hacks for Building Your Business Case for Recognition & Rewards

7 Hacks for Building Your Business Case for Recognition & Rewards 7 Hacks for Building Your Business Case for Recognition & Rewards

Crafting a persuasive business case for recognition and rewards requires a strategic approach.

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So, you know a recognition & rewards (R&R) platform is right for your organization, but you need executive buy-in and backing to access budget and move the project forward? We're here to help.  

Building a robust business case for R&R requires a strategic approach, intertwining innovation with financial foresight. These seven hacks serve as the foundation, enabling you to navigate challenges, quantify impact, and create a compelling narrative that resonates with the stakeholders who matter most.

1. Tell a Compelling Story

When you’re putting together your internal pitch for an R&R solution, think about how the world has changed and how this impacts your organization. Is it harder for you to find talent these days due to competition? Are you seeing higher turnover and more Gen Z employees in your workforce?

There are always massive changes happening in the world, and your job is to help your company succeed by taking advantage of these changes. Position your proposal as a way to do this.

2. Work with Finance to Demonstrate the ROI

When you propose your R&R program, you will likely have at least one person ask about the return on investment (ROI) of implementing such a program. In many cases, this person might even be a leader from the Finance team, such as your CFO or a Controller. In our experience, questions from Finance about ROI can cause delays in moving a project forward.

You can get ahead of this by involving Finance early as you build your business case. By involving Finance, you achieve two things:

  1. You will ensure that the information you put together answers all of their questions
  1. By the time you present/pitch your proposal, you will already have a de facto seal of approval from your Finance department

Pro Tip: You need to quantify your ROI. Check out our resources on calculating the ROI of R&R for easy ways to do this.

3. Recruit High-Influence Leaders into Your Pitch

This tactic will increase your success rate significantly. Once you have established a robust draft of your proposal, select one or more people who will be at the table when you are presenting your proposal and ask them to review and provide feedback on your proposal. Ideally, the person(s) that you loop in will be either a decision maker or a very high-level influencer within your organization.  

Doing this will provide you with valuable information that will help you avoid any pitfalls in your proposal, and it will have the added effect of giving you additional supportive voices in the room when you make your formal proposal.

4. Budget According to Your Fiscal Year

We tend to think about budgets for contracts in annual terms, but if you’re looking to bring on an R&R solution in the middle of your fiscal year, keep in mind the actual budget you’re asking for in the current year is half of the annual fee. Presenting it this way can make the expense more palatable to the Finance team – by breaking down the cost based on how many months are left in your fiscal year. This reduces the perceived risk of the expense in the first year of your agreement by spreading the cost across two fiscal years instead of one.

5. Target Unspent Budget in H2

If your organization has unspent budget in the second half of the fiscal year, make sure to mention it in your pitch. Knowing this can help alleviate concerns that your Finance team might have about spending on a new R&R program that was outside the original budget for the year. Tie this in with a strong ROI model and budgeting according to your fiscal year (see above) and you have a very strong case for Finance to approve this initiative! Hint: If you hit a roadblock here, make sure to include the required budget in your next fiscal year to ensure a “Yes!”

6. Focus on the Cost of Doing Nothing

This hack is heavily tied to telling a compelling story. By now, you know that you need to tell a compelling story about how the world has changed, and you know how to tell the story about how your R&R program will help your business navigate these changes – but what will happen if your organization doesn’t act now? Will it become less competitive over time? Will costs increase? Will your competitors overtake you in some way? Call out these risks early in your pitch to prime the audience for the rest of your proposal.

7. Identify Things You Can Stop Doing/Using

If your organization is using any tools that can be replaced by your proposed R&R solution, or if you have any manual processes that will be streamlined/automated using Kudos, be sure to quantify these cost savings at the end of your proposal. This is the cherry on top and a great way to wrap up your proposal as an additional value add.

Examples of software that you might be able to replace are pulse surveys, company internal image hosting, and employee gifting tools. Processes that you can automate or eliminate are manual awards for birthdays and/or work anniversaries, rewards management, etc.

Our world has changed. Now is the time to craft a persuasive business case for Recognition and Rewards. It's the best strategic move for your people, your company, and your career.  

You can present an irrefutable proposal by harnessing the power of a captivating story, collaborating closely with Finance, enlisting influential champions, and weaving together fiscal prudence and long-term vision. As organizations strive to remain agile, relevant, and competitive, your skillful mastery of these seven hacks promises not just approval, but admiration for your ability to transform intention into impactful action.


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6 min

Generation Alpha: The World’s Next Leaders

Generation Alpha: The World’s Next Leaders  Generation Alpha: The World’s Next Leaders

Everything you need to know about Gen Alpha – the tech-savvy trailblazers who will transform the working world.

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Step aside Millennials and Gen Z – there's a new generation entering the workforce.  

Meet Gen Alpha, the generation after Gen Z that is expected to shake up the working world in a big way.

Defined by the digital world, this tech-savvy generation is very familiar with smartphones, AI technology and social media. They will soon begin to trickle into the workforce, and it's time for employers and colleagues to take notice of this fascinating generation and prepare for the unique dynamics they bring to the workplace.

Who is Gen Alpha?

The children of millennials, Gen Alpha is anyone born between 2010 and 2025. Millennials make up the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, and experts are paying attention to their children, how they’re being raised, and what this generation will value when they start their career journeys.  

Millennials are generally very caring and supportive parents, which means their children will most likely seek that out later in life. This means mental health, work-life balance and financial security will be crucial to Gen Alpha. In a recent study, 75% of 8–10-year-olds are already thinking about their mental health.  

Gen Z had a profound impact on how brands approached their consumer experiences, but companies need to brace themselves even more for the changes Gen Alpha will infuse,” says Dani Mariano, President at Razorfish.

What will Gen Alpha be known for?

This generation is rewriting the rules of engagement. While Millennials and Gen Z experienced the tech revolution, for Gen Alpha, technology has been seamlessly integrated into their worlds from the beginning – it's an extension of themselves. Many distinctions will undoubtedly influence their approach to work and collaboration.

Fuelled by technology

Gen Alpha's relationship with technology is a whole new level of intimacy. While learning to tie their shoelaces, they’re also learning to master complex apps, code, and any digital device. McCrindle Research is calling this generation the “Great Screen Age”, due to their extreme savviness with navigating the fast-paced evolutions in tech. More colloquially, these are iPad kids.

Multitasking champions

Gen Alpha has the ability to juggle multiple screens, tasks, and conversations simultaneously. They’re able to learn faster, and their capacity for maintaining information is much greater than the generations before them.  

Entrepreneurial spirit

Technology has allowed access to more information to Gen Alpha than any other generation before them. If they’re looking for a solution, they have Google at their fingertips to figure it out. This is also contributing to a new concept called kid-powered entrepreneurship - with technology readily available, they are learning how to problem solve, and be innovative and creative much earlier.  

What will Gen Alpha value at work?

As HR leaders, understanding the core values of upcoming generations is essential for building a cohesive and thriving workforce. Being attuned to these values will be instrumental in creating an environment where Gen Alpha can thrive.  

Download our free Recognizing Generational Diversity Culture Guide to learn more about the meaningful differences between generations, and what they each need to help you build a more vibrant company culture.

Gen Alpha's values reflect their upbringing in a digitally connected and diverse world:  

The private generation

Gen Alpha will not know social media without professional content creators – they are growing up in a world saturated with influencers and vloggers. Some may even have parents who are heavily present on social media. This may lead Gen Alpha to a more privatized social media life, and an increase in more personalized, one-on-one communication preferences like email or phone. This won’t take away from their talents in understanding the complexities with social media, but it will play a role in what they value when deciding on a career path.  

Diversity advocates  

Gen Alpha's worldview is naturally diverse and inclusive. Growing up in an era of increasing social awareness, they are more accepting of differences and strive for equality. Employers who celebrate and embrace diversity will be more attractive to this generation. Moreover, Gen Alpha's openness to new ideas makes them receptive to experimentation and change.

Personal life over work-life

Say goodbye to the rigid boundaries between work and personal life. Gen Alpha's approach to work is all about integration. They are not confined to the traditional 9-to-5 schedule and are more likely to embrace flexible work arrangements that cater to their lifestyle preferences.

How can HR leaders prepare for Gen Alpha?

With fresh perspectives, boundless enthusiasm, and eagerness to learn – Gen Alpha will bring many unique skills to the workplace.  

Gen Alpha will come with several expectations. though. With meaningful work in mind, they won’t be interested in an organization that is working towards a better culture – they will want an organization that has already established firm roots in their employee experience.  

Experts are predicting that Gen Alpha will see remote-first work as very normal, and value more work-life balance and social issues. This means they will most likely seek organizations who have already established robust company culture and are placing extreme emphasis on their employee experience.  

When they talk about what their goals are and the kind of workplaces they want to be in, they want flexibility and are looking for more meaningful work.” - Abdaal Mazhar Shafi, Co-Founder of UpstartED.

Purpose-driven engagement

Gen Alpha isn't just chasing paychecks; they want purpose. They're driven by a desire to make a difference in the world. It’s important that organizations align their company's values with meaningful causes to attract and retain their socially conscious spirits.

Flexible work is key

They will thrive in flexible work environments that adapt to their preferences. HR leaders will need to consider remote work options, flexible hours, and gig-based projects to keep them excited and productive.

Feedback loops

Regular performance reviews won't suffice; they crave ongoing feedback. Implementing real-time feedback mechanisms to keep them motivated and on track will be crucial.  

Gen Alpha will demand meaningful recognition

Gen Alpha is expected to value employee recognition, but the way they perceive and respond to recognition might differ from previous generations. Growing up in a digital and highly connected world, Gen Alpha is likely to have certain expectations when it comes to recognition in the workplace:

  • Instant gratification: Gen Alpha is accustomed to immediate feedback, and they might appreciate and respond well to frequent and timely recognition. Short, real-time acknowledgments can be more impactful for them compared to traditional annual awards.
  • Digital recognition: Digital recognition tools, such as Kudos, will resonate well with Gen Alpha for open and highly visible peer-to-peer recognition that aligns with their tech-savvy nature.  
  • Personalized approach: Generic recognition might not have the same effect on them as it does on other generations. Customized messages that highlight specific contributions or qualities can make recognition more meaningful and engaging for them.
  • Tangible rewards: While peer-to-peer recognition is important, Gen Alpha might also appreciate tangible rewards. These could range from experiences, such as team outings or workshops, to tech gadgets or innovative products.

Employee recognition is here to stay and is growing more and more important. HR leaders and managers should be mindful of their recognition strategies and take note of Gen Alpha's preferences, emphasizing personalized and integrated approaches that align with their digital upbringing and individualistic mindset.  

The world’s next leaders

As Gen Alpha starts to make their mark in the professional world, embracing their technological prowess, collaborative spirit, and entrepreneurial mindset will be key to unlocking their full potential.  

They may be small now, but their impact on the world will be mighty. By preparing for these next generations to enter the workforce, organizations can be ahead of the game with a future-ready workplace that is years ahead of its competition.  


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5 min

Making a Memory-filled Summer at the Office (15+ Ideas)

Making a Memory-filled Summer at the Office (15+ Ideas)Making a Memory-filled Summer at the Office (15+ Ideas)

Create lasting memories during the summer office days fostering team bonding and creativity throughout the warmer season.

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It’s easy to feel stuck in the office, whether remote or shared, looking out the window and envying everyone spending their summer outside. But, being in the office doesn’t have to mean you’re missing out on making other memories. It should be the opposite. So, we put together a handful of summer office activities and injected some personality into them.

It’s one thing to plan a group outing, but to make sure employees feel their summertime is well spent, add some small, personalized touches, and make it a true team-building experience. With that said, here are our ideas for a memory-filled summer at the office.  

For a Crafty Summer

Team Zines

Zines, pronounced zeens, are beginner-friendly, handmade magazines or comics. But really, your zine can be whatever you make it. You could brainstorm a theme, or have each team member fill a page with a collage of their summer. Put everyone’s artwork together on one printable document and publish your zine to the whole company. To get started, search Google or Pinterest for downloadable templates, or create your own. Zines don’t have to be complicated; you can even make a mini zine with just one piece of printer paper.  

Zines are a great way to share memories and create traditions. Every summer, your team can look forward to making the next edition or volume.  

Personal Picnic Blanket

Picnics already make for a wholesome summer day, but throw in a blanket canvas and some fabric paint to really bring everyone together. Team members can paint one square each, quilt-style, or paint all over the blanket, abstract-style. Hold onto it for future team picnics, or hang it up in the office as a conversation piece.  

If one blanket is too small for everyone’s illustrations, cover your lunch tables in some brown kraft paper and leave out a pack of rainbow crayons or markers. Who said coloring is just for kids?

Paint Night

Paint nights are great for bonding with your co-workers and decorating the office for the season. Not to mention, a great opportunity for creative team members to share their ideas. Hopefully, everyone leaves with a sense of pride for what they created, but even better, a sense of belonging. Teams can paint frames to fill with their own photos, or canvases to bring home.  

Maybe bring a big blender to the office and sip on a batch of (virgin) frozen margaritas while you’re at it?  

Desk Terrariums

Terrariums bring a little more life to the office and showcase everyone’s imagination. Plus, they’re pretty low maintenance, so team members who aren’t plant lovers will have no issue keeping them alive. Terrariums are super customizable, but here are some supplies you might need:  

  • Glassware, check out your local thrift or dollar store
  • Rocks, Pebbles
  • Perlite
  • Orchid Bark
  • Potting Soil
  • Moss
  • Succulents

You can bring terrarium kits to the office for people to make on their own time, or bring all the supplies in bulk and lead them through the experience.  

For a Sporty Summer

People want to step away from the screen and be outside while the sun’s shining. These ideas don’t need too much pre or post-amble, rewarding your team with some healthy summer sun is a great way to make the most of the season.  

Of course, pick a sport or activity you know your whole team would be excited for and that’s inclusive to everyone’s mobility. Lean toward options that give employees more time outdoors with their families. These are just a few ideas, low and high intensity, for a sporty summer:  

  • Mini-Golf
  • Hacky Sack Games
  • Kite Flying
  • Cardboard Boat Racing
  • Badminton Tournament  
  • Hiking
  • Soccer Game  
  • Volleyball Tournament

Refresh with some lemonade or ice cream to round out the day. Don’t forget to take lots of photos along the way so you can reminisce once the cooler months hit.

For a Virtual Summer

We didn’t forget about your remote team members of course. There are endless options for online team building throughout the summer.  

Oracle Card Readings

You could hold oracle card readings throughout the year, but in the summer, people might have more time to reflect on their readings during vacation. And if you love a theme, there are many oracle decks with nature and floral illustrations you can use to tie in the season.  

In one team fortune-telling session, for example, the manager could pull a card for each team member and help them find the meaning behind it. Team members can ask their fortune teller questions like, “Am I on the right track with this idea?” or “Where should I get ideas for my next project?” Readings don’t set anything in stone, but they are a fun way to keep your team sharing ideas.  

Virtual Contests

From finding the best summer recipe to snapping the coolest landscape, give your team the opportunity for some friendly competition. Though these ideas make online participation easy, they’re also meant to give remote workers time away from the screen first. Here are just a few ideas for virtual contests that keep everyone engaged no matter where they’re working from:  

  • Summer Photography Contest: Post your summer pictures to an album where team members can vote on their favourite one. The winner gets to pick the theme for a company-wide photo at the end of the summer, the sillier the better.  
  • Recipe Recreation Contest: Post your favourite summer recipes to an album all team members can access. Then, decide on an award for the employee with the most recreated recipe. Maybe a paid night out to their favourite restaurant?  
  • A Scavenger Hunt: Less time-consuming than an in-person scavenger hunt, send team members out to solve riddles and find common household objects as fast as possible. The first person to complete the scavenger hunt could win a trip to an escape room near them.  
  • Hawaiian Shirt Contest: This one can take on many forms. The basic idea is that people wear their best Hawaiian shirts to the team meeting, and the tackiest one wins. It doesn’t have to be limited to Hawaiian shirts though, try the contest with hats or sunglasses.  

And remember, Kudos can help you bring all these ideas to reality, with features such as Albums to hold all of your virtual contests and safe-keep your favourite summer memories. It’s now time to let the sun set on this article, but hopefully we gave you some ideas worth considering.  

People People

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5 min

Embracing Change and Inspiring Growth

Embracing Change and Inspiring GrowthEmbracing Change and Inspiring Growth

Meet Denise Beaupré, Entrepreneur, Author, Personal Development Coach, and Creative Leadership Mentor.

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Denise Beaupré, a best-selling author and accomplished entrepreneur, has navigated the ever-changing landscape of business and leadership by staying true to her values, and building relationships.  

From her early days in real estate, where she achieved recognition as one of the Top 100 Realtors in North America, to owning and operating a thriving car hauling business, Denise's journey has been marked by both triumphs and challenges.

Her accomplishments have garnered attention from esteemed publications like MacLean's Magazine and The Globe and Mail, highlighting her car hauling business as one of Canada's fastest-growing companies, reaching a 5-year revenue growth of 283% between 2015-2020.

With a passion for personal development and a commitment to fostering creativity and innovation within her teams, Denise has discovered the power of effective leadership and the importance of investing in people. Her most recent endeavor? A coaching and leadership consulting practice to share her wisdom and philosophy with leaders in business.

In this insightful interview, we delve into Denise's unique perspective on HR, leadership, and the evolving nature of work in today's rapidly changing world.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Tell me about your career. How did you get started, and when did you feel like you hit your stride?

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. My career began in real estate, where I was constantly exposed to motivational speakers, conventions, and training programs. Those learning opportunities helped me face my fears, step out of my comfort zone, and achieve remarkable success. I became one of the top 100 Realtors in North America, selling over $100 million worth of residential properties in a real estate market where the average house was $175,000. Interestingly, when I retired from real estate and entered the trucking industry, I realized I really missed the training and mentorship I had in real estate. This realization led me to seek out renowned speaker and mentor Bob Proctor – who I’m proud to have called a friend.

How did mentorship and personal development shape your leadership style?

Joining Bob Proctor's mentorship program elevated my leadership skills and introduced me to a different perspective. Instead of focusing on competition, I learned the importance of collaboration and creativity—the abundance mindset. I immediately implemented these principles in my trucking organization, exposing my staff to personal development and encouraging them to think creatively. The results were astounding, with our team securing multimillion-dollar contracts and experiencing tremendous growth. It became evident that understanding and valuing each team member's story, beliefs, and aspirations creates a strong foundation for effective leadership. To me, the key is leading by example – leaders should never stop learning, taking chances, and being creative.  

Tell me about your experience with employee recognition.

The issue I faced in my trucking business was that I had two types of workers, field workers and office workers. The workers didn’t understand each other’s responsibilities, there was a lack of respect, and I realized this was partly due to a lack of a shared communication channel. Kudos helped connect everyone.  

I had employees who were going above and beyond, and they deserved to be recognized.  

To me, one of the most prevalent causes of unhappiness at work is when employees put in that extra effort and aren’t recognized for it. That can turn into resentment – the fact that nobody sees what they’re doing.  

Kudos was also a channel for recognition. It’s not always about the money. Sometimes it’s just a matter of recognizing, acknowledging, and thanking employees publicly in front of their peers.  

And what impact did this culture of recognition have?

What we saw was incredible respect, something I had never witnessed before. Drivers were thanking office workers, being incredibly polite on the phone. Office workers were supporting drivers. I was even seeing drivers show more kindness toward each other. I got messages from customers (big manufacturers) who had noticed too. Things like, “I was at the plant this week and saw two of your drivers helping each other; I never see that.” It was terrific for the team to not only feel great receiving recognition, but also sending it. Recognizing everybody’s acts of kindness and achievements made them want to do more.

Fear is not a conducive mindset for success, and it is essential for leaders to help their teams overcome fear and operate from a place of strength.

How did the pandemic impact your business and leadership approach?

The pandemic brought financial difficulties, both personally and professionally. It disrupted the business landscape, especially trucking, and caused drastic changes and uncertainty. Unfortunately, due to the associated costs, I had to cut back on mentoring then. Regrettably, this decision hindered my progress and reminded me of the detrimental effects of fear. When I reflect on the choices I made during that time, I realize that continuing with mentorship might have yielded different outcomes. Fear is not a conducive mindset for success, and it is essential for leaders to help their teams overcome fear and operate from a place of strength.

What do you think is the biggest challenge in HR and people management today?

The current difficulties in finding suitable talent indicate a larger shift in the job market. Many traditional roles are becoming obsolete, replaced by emerging positions driven by automation and artificial intelligence. As organizations struggle to identify the right candidates, employees are unsure of where they fit in this evolving landscape. Rather than eliminating existing staff due to mismatched job titles, I believe in investing in their development, identifying their strengths, and providing training opportunities. By understanding and nurturing their talents, individuals can thrive and contribute to the organization in meaningful ways.  

The flip side is that while I believe we can all be leaders, a lot of people are put in leadership positions with no training, no guidance, and have no clue what it stands for, and therefore, teams are affected by it.  

And then you have another issue where you have some leaders that are taking advantage of their titles and abusing their power, and we're seeing a lot of that as well. What we need are authentic leaders, who understand people and want to come to work with intent and make a difference in the world.  

So, what advice would you give to a new manager?

First – get a mentor. Second – set goals. Not necessarily individual goals, but team, or departmental goals. I find many companies, corporations, smaller businesses, etc., may have a mission or a vision of where they want to go, but they're not necessarily getting participation from their staff. Shared goals are a great way to make that happen.

Next would be to get to know your staff. It's much easier to lead others when you understand that everybody has a story. Their stories are all important. Our stories dictate our belief systems, our values, what makes us happy, what makes us tick. If you can understand where everyone on your team is coming from, you can help them grow and achieve their goals.

Thank you, Denise Beaupré, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at    



5 min

5 min

10 Ways to Build Your Culture with Gratitude

10 Ways to Build Your Culture with Gratitude10 Ways to Build Your Culture with Gratitude

Check out these 10 ways you can use gratitude to build your culture.

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A few years ago, Harvard Business Review met with a Fortune 500 company, and the word “culture” came up 27 times in 90 minutes. Culture is critical. A healthy culture is the cornerstone of any successful organization, which underlines the importance of building culture with intention. 

Gratitude is a powerful tool that can foster a stronger, more positive culture in your organization. In today's ever-evolving corporate landscape, organizations across the globe are recognizing the immense value of fostering a culture rooted in gratitude, thanks, and recognition. 

And it's no surprise why. As workplaces embrace the power of appreciation, they witness a multitude of benefits. Extensive research in positive psychology consistently reaffirms that gratitude lays the foundation for a more productive, positive, and engaged workforce. The shift towards a culture of gratitude is not just a trend but a strategic move that can revolutionize how organizations thrive in today’s world - and this starts with you! 

Why Culture is Key

A strong culture sets the workplace tone and influences every element of an organization’s success. It can help build the identity of a brand or business, and can directly influence a sense of purpose, mission, and belonging across employees. We know that strong culture motivates employees to do better work, but it also:

  • Boosts productivity
  • Retains talent 
  • Makes an organization more resilient
  • Creates healthy team environments
  • Reduces turnover 

High-performance cultures focus on unearthing the potential and purpose of each individual and celebrates them as a contributor to a team. Gratitude is the perfect tool to ensure your organization can do exactly that.

Why Workplace Culture Needs Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for fostering a positive and thriving workplace. Gratitude creates a sense of appreciation, recognition, and value among employees. Gratitude and recognition helps them feel motivated to give their best in their roles . Gratitude also can help employees:

  • Feel more engaged with the team
  • Focus on the large collective goal and mission
  • Feel more motivated in their role
  • Maintain a more positive mindset
  • Maintain better mental and physical well-being
  • Bounce back from a challenge or obstacle quickly

10 Ways to Build Culture with Gratitude 

As HR leaders, it's critical to implement strategies that cultivate a culture of gratitude in your organization. So, how can you do this in your organization? Here are 10 ways you can use gratitude to build your culture.  

  1. Create a Workplace Recognition Program: Establish a formal recognition program that acknowledges and rewards employees for their work or positive impact on the organization.
  2. Gratitude Email Train: Start a gratitude email to someone and CC the entire team. Encourage them to keep the email train going by paying it forward to someone CC-ed that they appreciate.
  3. Gratitude Gifts: Celebrate your employees and acknowledge their contributions to the business and gift them something that allows them to harness the power of gratitude in their personal lives, like a gratitude journal. Gifts serve not only as a morale booster but are a way to go the extra mile in celebrating your team.
  4. Promote Work-Life Balance: Demonstrate gratitude for employees' commitment and hard work by providing flexible work arrangements. This flexibility shows appreciation for their personal needs and fosters a culture of trust.
  5. Host a Gratitude Event: Organize events centered around gratitude, like a team-building exercise focused on appreciation, a gratitude workshop, or volunteer activities that give back to the community.
  6. Set Up a Gratitude Wall: Set up a gratitude wall where employees can share appreciative messages for their colleagues, either physically or digitally. This serves as a constant reminder of the positive impact individuals have on each other.
  7. Appreciate Work Milestones: Celebrate employees' work anniversaries to commemorate their loyalty and dedication to the organization. This can include small gestures like personalized notes, gifts, or holding a team celebration.
  8. Share Stories of Appreciation: Regularly share stories that highlight employees' achievements and how their efforts contribute to the organization's success in team or company-wide meetings. 
  9. Foster a Culture of Thank You Notes: Encourage employees to write thank-you notes to express appreciation to their colleagues. This simple act can create a positive ripple effect throughout the organization.
  10. Lead by Example: When we model the spirit of gratitude, it encourages others to do the same. We can demonstrate gratitude by expressing appreciation for employees' efforts and contributions openly, especially in front of others.

Your employees are your greatest asset! Showing gratitude in the workplace is truly a win-win for both employees and the overall success of the organization. Use it to increase productivity and performance and ultimately create a culture that cannot be broken or replicated

Show Your Gratitude with Kudos 

Kudos is a recognition platform that allows you to share your gratitude and appreciation for all the hard work your employees do. Celebrate your team with:

  • Meaningful Recognition: A great culture is built on a foundation of gratitude. Strengthen the bond of inner workplace relationships and encourage gratitude to be expressed between employees rather than only coming from the top down.
  • Sensational Rewards: Lead by example with recognition and rewards to create a memorable moment of gratitude for your team.  
  • Employee Milestones: Celebrate tenure and show your appreciation for special workplace milestones to celebrate your people. Celebrating the little things are what adds up to become the big things!


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6 min

Building a Career in Human Resources: Everything You Need to Know

Building a Career in Human Resources: Everything You Need to Know  Building a Career in Human Resources: Everything You Need to Know

Explore the importance of human resources, the diverse career paths available for aspiring HR professionals, and how to build a career in HR (with a free worksheet!).

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The role of Human Resources (HR) has never been more vital – in fact, HR-related job postings have grown by 87% since 2020. HR professionals are the backbone of any organization, driving the growth and success of their company through their expertise in talent management, employee development, and strategic workforce planning.  

"It's not just about being a people person - that’s only one part of the equation. For me, it's also about helping the business. I'm interested in solving business problems, and my worldview is that in order to solve them, you need to lean into the people side of things, because ultimately, business is done by people,” says Rebecca Lee, Director of People at Kudos.  

Choosing a career in HR brings many possibilities – HR professionals empower individuals to reach their full potential, driving overall organizational success.

The History of Human Resources

The concept of Human Resources Management (HRM) can be traced back to the early 20th century when organizations began recognizing the importance of employee welfare and productivity. In the early 1900s, personnel management emerged as a discipline focused on administrative tasks such as hiring, training, and payroll.  

HRM gained prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, emphasizing a strategic approach to managing employees, aligning HR practices with organizational goals, and focusing on employee engagement. In recent decades, HRM has evolved into Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) and talent management, focusing on attracting, developing, and retaining top talent to achieve competitive advantage.  

More recently, we’ve seen the integration of technology into HR processes, with the emergence of HR technology solutions, such as applicant tracking systems, performance management software, data analytics tools, and employee recognition and culture solutions like Kudos.  

The Importance of Human Resources

Among many other responsibilities, HR professionals are the champions of organizational culture. With their expertise, they create and nurture a positive work environment that embraces diversity, fosters inclusivity, and nurtures company culture.  

HR professionals take on many responsibilities and are put at the forefront of building thriving workplaces that drive employee satisfaction, business growth, and much more.  

Shaping organizational culture

HR professionals play a crucial role in shaping and nurturing a positive company culture. By fostering an inclusive, diverse, and engaging work environment, they cultivate a sense of belonging, which enhances employee morale and productivity.

Culture is about aligning people's behaviour to what you want the organization to drive in terms of results and strategy,” says Charlotte Collett, VP of Human Resources at NorthRiver Midstream.  

Talent acquisition and retention

Recruiting and retaining top talent is a top priority for every organization. HR professionals are responsible for attracting skilled individuals who align with the company's goals and values. By implementing effective recruitment strategies and designing comprehensive employee benefits and retention programs, HR ensures the organization has a competitive edge.

Employee development and performance management

HR professionals facilitate continuous learning and growth within the workforce. Through training and development programs, performance evaluations, and coaching initiatives, they help employees maximize their potential, boosting individual and organizational performance.

Compliance and risk management

Staying on top of labor laws, regulations, and compliance requirements is crucial for businesses. HR professionals ensure that companies operate within legal boundaries, mitigating risks and safeguarding the rights of employees.

Exploring Human Resources Career Paths

In the world of HR, not everyone aspires to become a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). Many professionals develop a passion for specific HR disciplines and choose to specialize in areas such as:

  • Payroll and benefits  
  • Recruiting and talent acquisition  
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB)
  • Learning and development
  • Organizational culture  
  • Employee engagement and experience  
  • Training and compliance
  • Rewards and recognition  

If you're considering a more focused career path within HR, there are many exciting areas to explore:  

HR Coordinator

HR Coordinators support various essential functions within the department. They assist with recruitment and onboarding processes, coordinating employee benefits and payroll administration, maintaining employee records and databases, and ensuring compliance with HR policies and regulations.  

HR Generalist

HR Generalists have a broad range of responsibilities across all aspects of HR. They handle recruitment, employee relations, training, performance management, and policy implementation. This versatile role provides a solid foundation for those starting their HR careers.

Recruitment or Talent Acquisition Specialist

Recruitment or Talent Acquisition Specialists focus on attracting and hiring top talent. They utilize various sourcing strategies, conduct interviews, and evaluate candidates to identify the best fit for the organization. This role requires strong interpersonal skills and an ability to assess candidates effectively.

First and foremost, you need to be extremely people-oriented. You need to be comfortable having conversations about anything with candidates and clients left, right and center. I think authenticity is also really important, “ says Niki Murphy, Canadian Talent Acquisition and Talent Advancement Lead at ABB.  

Training and Development Manager

These professionals design and implement training programs to enhance employee skills and knowledge. They assess training needs, develop curriculum, and deliver engaging learning experiences. A Training and Development Manager needs a strong grasp of learning principles and a knack for instructional design.

Compensation and Benefits Analyst

Compensation and Benefits Analysts are responsible for designing and managing employee compensation packages and benefits programs. They conduct market research, develop salary structures, and ensure the organization remains competitive in attracting and retaining talent.

HR Director or Vice President

As an HR Director or VP, you serve as the driving force behind the development and implementation of human resources strategies that align with the company's overall goals. They are usually responsible for the creation and execution of HR policies and procedures, ensuring compliance with labor laws and regulations while fostering a fair and inclusive work environment.  

My favorite thing is working with people and the interconnectivity between people and business. How, if you put people in the right positions, and give them the right tools, you can build an organization from nothing to something successful. It’s an amazing thing to see,” says John Odike, Vice President of Human Resources at Wesley Enhanced Living.  

HR Business Partner

HR Business Partners align HR strategies with overall business objectives. They work closely with department heads, providing guidance on workforce planning, organizational development, and employee engagement. This role requires strong analytical skills and the ability to drive change effectively.

HR Information Systems (HRIS) Specialist

HRIS Specialists manage and optimize HR technology systems, such as human resources management software. They ensure data accuracy, streamline processes, and leverage technology to enhance HR operations, reporting, and analytics.

How to Map Your HR Career Path (with a free worksheet!)

There’s no secret formula when mapping out a career – everyone's career paths are different and even with the same starting point, two people can end up in very different careers. The good news is the possibilities in an HR career are endless.  

Career mapping can be a daunting task, but we’ve broken it down into five simple steps to help you map out your ideal career:  

  1. Identify your dream job: ask yourself what your ideal career would be. If you don’t know what your dream role is, that’s okay! Focus on the skills and experiences you would like to have instead.  
  1. Determine the skills needed: identify the skills, knowledge and experiences needed to obtain your dream job. If you’re unsure, reach out to your network or someone who has your dream job for their insights.  
  1. Reflect on your current role: compare the skills needed with the skills you already have, where your strengths are and areas of knowledge or experience you want to invest in.  
  1. Establish a growth plan: define the actions you’re going to take to fill the gaps in your skills and knowledge. Ask yourself what success looks like; this could be additional training or experience, adjusting your responsibilities, or enrolling in a course or continued education.  
  1. Work with your manager: present your career map to your manager and discuss any resources available to help you achieve your goals, or other initiatives your manager can help you with to get you on track.  

For more in-depth career mapping, use our downloadable career planning worksheet to help establish your career goals, reflect on where you’re currently at in your career, and helpful questions and conversation tips to discuss with your manager.

The Future of HR is Bright

The importance of Human Resources in today's dynamic workplace cannot be overstated, and it is certainly not an area of business that is going away any time soon. HR professionals contribute significantly to creating a harmonious, engaged, and high-performing workforce. There are endless HR career paths – think about choosing a specialization that aligns with your interests and strengths, and what will make you feel successful in your journey.  

Remember, whether you are an aspiring HR professional or an HR veteran seeking growth opportunities, investing in your HR skills, staying up to date with industry trends, and continuously expanding your knowledge will propel your career forward and make you an invaluable asset to any organization.

People People

5 min

5 min

Revolutionizing Recruitment: From Passion to Purpose

Revolutionizing Recruitment: From Passion to PurposeRevolutionizing Recruitment: From Passion to Purpose

Meet Samantha Bateman, a great talent in talent.

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Samantha Bateman started Integria Consulting from the ground up. She wanted to re-imagine recruitment, her way. Now, she leads her business with a close to 20-year legacy of integrity, diversity, and transparency.

Bateman fell into recruitment, and it quickly became a passion.  So much so that she returned to McGill University to study HR and eventually taught a recruitment class there. In 2021, Bateman’s company established the McGill University Integria Consulting Bursary to support young changemakers.  

In our recent interview, we got to hear her perspective on HR, where it’s going and where it’s been, from the outside looking in.  

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Where did your adventure begin?

I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody in recruitment who said, “I went to school because I really wanted to be a recruiter.” We all just kind of fall into it.  

I think it’s an easy way to get into HR, from the talent acquisition side. It is a good way, yet I’ve kind of done the opposite.  

I had taken on the role of office coordinator fresh out of university for an economic forecasting firm. We kept on hiring receptionists that didn’t want to stay; they would come in as receptionists but want to move into customer support. We always worked with recruitment agencies, and they were constantly replacing them, so I asked, “Why don’t we just hire somebody who’s been a career receptionist?” Monster had just come onto the scene, and it was revolutionary at the time. I pushed our firm to let me recruit through their platform in order to save on agency fees.  Needless to say, it was a success.

And that’s how I moved into HR.  

After 5 years, I transitioned to working in a recruitment agency. Unfortunately, my values didn’t align with that organization’s. My husband asked me at one point, “What’ll it take to get started on your own?”  

That was 18 years ago. I’d like to say the rest is history, but it’s been a wild ride.  

What makes you a great talent in talent?

I think I’m just very curious about people and have enjoyed fitting them together.  

Talent has always been our client. If we don’t provide a great candidate experience, then we haven’t adequately represented our corporate clients, and our candidates don’t feel valued.  

That was one thing I’ve held onto [focusing on people.] A stark contrast with my experience at an agency that was very transactional. I couldn’t work in that environment, it never felt right to me. Especially after having worked at my previous firm which truly valued talent from entry to exit.

When you look back on your accomplishments, what stands out?

I would say there are a few that stand out, but definitely going out on my own when I did is one of them.  

My husband was constantly working late hours, and I was working and rushing to tend to my three-year-old daughter night after night. I had no other option but to go through the grind that so many working parents do. It was day after day of sprinting to pick her up on time from daycare.  At least twice she was the last one sitting on a bench by her locker waiting for me. I felt like I was failing motherhood, and I didn’t want that life for myself or my family anymore.  

Making the decision to go out on my own was terrifying. But then, 6 months into starting Integria Consulting, I reached out to somebody at Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG). The HR Director there had gotten promoted and wanted to backfill his role. I had to make this one happen.  

We met for breakfast and had an incredible first meeting. I felt like we really got to know each other, but when I left, I realized neither of us had said anything about recruitment. A couple of days later he reached out saying, “That was such a great conversation. It’s right in line with our values and our way of thinking. We’d love to work with you.” It took another 6 months for PBG to call me with a role to work on and they changed my life.  Working with that company for about 5 years, and their leaders – Sian, Carm and Mary-Beth, they elevated my entire practice.

Then we fell into a recession. Everybody was making cuts. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it, but I saw a solution in LinkedIn.

It was 2008 and most people didn’t know what LinkedIn was. Nobody was hiring a recruiter, but I was going into companies and charging them $3000 for a 3-hour session on how to recruit with LinkedIn. That paid my bills.  

When you see a wall, you have to get to the other side of it. So, I’m going to dig a hole under, go around, go through it — you just have to figure it out.  

If someone doesn’t make it past the first month, it’s a recruitment issue. If they leave within the first three months, it's an onboarding issue. And if they leave within the first 6 months, it’s a manager issue.

What makes a good candidate experience?

A job description is like a resume, it’s just your marketing piece.

When we launch a search, we dig deep with our clients.  We ask about short and long-term objectives in the role, growth opportunities, the good, the bad and the ugly of the position.  

This helps guide our candidates no matter the role. The candidate experience is critically important from the first reach out. You need to have honest and down-to-earth conversations with candidates to really do right by them.  

It’s not just about, ‘we’re nice to them and we care about them,’ it’s really about having their best interest at heart. If the role will side-track their career, we need to be able to say “I’d love to work with you, but this role may not be it.  Let’s work through it together.  It also means, sharing market data and salary guides – especially with traditionally marginalized community members who may not be aware that they are grossly underpaid.  For new arrivals especially, we get them in touch with people doing the same work, advocate for what they deserve, and support them in what they’re asking for.  

‘If you don’t have all the qualifications listed, please apply anyway.’  A statement like this in your job description really does have an impact.  

I think the statistics tell us that men will apply if they’re only 30% qualified for a position, but women will only apply when they have 90%.  

And I’m always very critical about this “lack of Canadian work experience,” idea that keeps job postings open for months on end. We have great talent that comes from other countries.  They don’t always need to have knowledge of local laws or designations.  

We’re getting a lot of candidates asking for representation too. They’re asking about the diversity at the top. We have those conversations, and we’ve stopped working with companies for discriminatory hiring practices.  

We need to talk about managerial courage. When a new hire is disrupting the culture, you need to have the courage to change or reverse that.

What are candidates asking you about corporate culture?

Culture is so important, but it can be difficult to put your finger on it.  

I see organizations where hiring managers are looking for different things, so each team has a different culture because of it. I see a lot of miscommunications about culture, but it’s hugely important when it comes to retention and engagement.  

We need to talk about managerial courage. When a new hire is disrupting the culture, you need to have the courage to change or reverse that. First, you need to be clear on what you tolerate and what you don’t, and then you need the courage to hold everyone to that same standard.  

Candidates are also talking about the culture they’re staying away from.  

We see a pattern where candidates worked in one place for ten years, 5 years at the next, and then 3 years following that. Oftentimes, they’re looking for that first culture fit again and just haven’t been able to find it. They know deep down what kind of culture they’re chasing after, but they sometimes can’t put it into words. Often, it’s that continuous learning and development piece that had them staying for as long as they did.

How do you measure success in recruitment?

There’s an expression that if someone doesn’t make it past the first month, it’s a recruitment issue. If they leave within the first three months, it's an onboarding issue. And if they leave within the first 6 months, it’s a manager issue. Retention of talent is very important to us, and we make sure to check in at these benchmarks.  

We also look at how diverse our slate of talent is. With every role we’re thinking, “Is this group too homogenous? Are we looking in the right places? Are we connected to the right people?” Somebody said to me once, and I agree, that any employer who doesn’t have diversity on their teams has consciously decided not to. I agree.

In the end, we can measure success with a slew of KPIs but I would tell you, that when talent takes our call a year after placement when we check in, and they’re getting promoted or just still enjoying their role, and organization, then we know we’re doing the right things.

What does the future of HR look like to you?

It’s a very challenging time right now, there are a lot of managers who were promoted well ahead of their curve without any support. Many haven’t been given any tools or training, so they’re failing.

The best companies have strong development plans for their team members, and we find it very challenging to pull anybody out of those organizations. Even if bigger opportunities fall on their lap, people will rather stay if you have a plan for them — talk about retention and engagement.  

What’s also of concern is all the conversations about diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, because I don’t see the needle moving on that, to be honest. The easy, lazy approach is to ask your recruitment firm to present a diverse slate of talent, right? Even then, it’s rare that we are asked to bring forward diverse talent. I’d like to think it’s because they know we’ll do that regardless, but it’s really because they haven’t woven that into their HR strategy. That’s extremely concerning to me.

And leaving my concerns out of the equation, if you don’t make a conscious effort toward diversity, your culture will suffer for it. Not to mention, great talent will avoid your organization because they see you don’t take it seriously.  

Ultimately looking ahead, it will be all about finding ways to engage employees from multiple generations and cultural backgrounds in a way that makes them feel valued and appreciated to drive retention and employee satisfaction.

Thank you, Samantha Bateman, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature?

Send us a note at  


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5 min

How Employee Recognition Contributes to Corporate Social Responsibility

How Employee Recognition Contributes to Corporate Social Responsibility  How Employee Recognition Contributes to Corporate Social Responsibility

What is corporate social responsibility and how does employee recognition play a pivotal role in CSR initiatives?

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We live in a world where employees’ standards are continually shifting. Where we choose to work is heavily influenced by our personal beliefs and convictions. Applying for a job may seem harmless, however, learning how that company treats its employees, people in our society, and the planet may have you second guessing your application.  

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has emerged as a crucial factor in determining an organization's success and reputation. People are demanding more transparency and want to support companies that give back and connect to a greater purpose.  

The good news? This is a tremendous opportunity for organizations open to change. By embracing CSR, companies can demonstrate their commitment to making a positive impact on their employees, society and the world we live in.  

What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

CSR refers to a company's ethical, social, and environmental responsibilities beyond profit-making. It encompasses the voluntary initiatives organizations take to address societal challenges and contribute to sustainable development. CSR initiatives encompass areas such as:

Environmental sustainability

This refers to an organization’s commitment to environmentally friendly operations and sustainability. CSR differs from Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), which has more detailed and quantitative criteria for sustainability measurement. Examples of environmental sustainability are:  

  • Reducing a company’s carbon footprint  
  • Ensuring a proper recycling program  
  • Reducing waste across the organization  
  • Avoiding single-use plastics  
  • A plant-a-tree program  

Ethical business practices

This is when an organization commits to operating business ethically that supports human rights, fair treatment, fair trade and equal pay for all stakeholders and workers. Examples of ethical business practices are:  

  • A zero-discrimination policy  
  • Having a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) strategy  
  • Ensuring corporate transparency  
  • Honoring fair employee compensation  
  • Following health and safety regulations  

Philanthropy & community engagement

This kind of responsibility refers to an organization's goals and contributions to actively bettering society or their community. Examples of philanthropy and community engagement are:  

  • Donating a portion of company profit to charities or community causes  
  • Setting up a trust or a foundation  
  • Offer employee donation matching  
  • Giving employees paid time off to volunteer  
  • Participate in community events

Employee wellbeing

This is when an organization makes their employee’s mental and physical health a priority inside and outside the organization. Examples of supporting employee wellbeing are:  

  • Providing regular meaningful recognition
  • Providing paid personal time off  
  • Offering flexible and remote work hours
  • Providing robust health spending accounts  
  • Encouraging work-life balance  

Is corporate social responsibility mandatory in the U.S.?

The short answer is no – CSR is not legally enforced in the U.S. however, there are corporate laws that organizations must follow that fall under certain categories in CSR. Many organizations are taking CSR very seriously to mitigate risk, while also understanding that CSR plays a significant role in the interests of consumers and employees.  

Why is corporate social responsibility important?

A recent study found that almost 90% of employees that have engaged in their company's sustainability work said it increased their overall satisfaction with their workplace.  

If you still don’t think CSR is important, you might want to think again. There are plenty of benefits that investing in CSR can do, including:

Improved employee engagement and retention

Employees today seek purpose and meaning in their work. By prioritizing CSR, organizations provide employees with opportunities to contribute to a greater cause, leading to increased engagement and higher retention rates.  

Enhanced brand reputation

Embracing CSR initiatives helps organizations build a positive brand image, fostering trust and loyalty among stakeholders. It establishes a reputation as a responsible and ethical company, attracting customers, investors, and top talent.

Mitigated risks and increased resilience

Engaging in CSR initiatives helps organizations anticipate and manage risks effectively. By proactively addressing social and environmental concerns, companies can prevent potential crises, protect their reputation, and foster long-term sustainability.

Competitive advantage

Companies that are investing in CSR differentiate themselves from their competitors. Consumers and investors are increasingly prioritizing socially responsible businesses, making CSR an asset in gaining a competitive edge.

How to build a corporate social responsibility strategy

Building a successful corporate social responsibility strategy requires careful planning and execution – here are steps you can follow to help guide you:  

  1. Define your organization's purpose: Start by understanding your organization's core values and purpose. Determine how CSR aligns with your business objectives and what positive impact you want to make in society.
  1. Conduct a CSR assessment: Evaluate your organization's current impact and identify areas where you can make a difference and assess the needs and expectations of your stakeholders. This analysis will help you prioritize your CSR initiatives and focus on areas that matter most.
  1. Set clear goals and objectives: Establish goals that align with your organization's purpose and address the social and environmental issues you aim to tackle. Clear objectives will guide your efforts and enable you to track progress effectively.
  1. Engage stakeholders: Engage with your stakeholders, including leadership, employees, customers, suppliers, and local communities to understand their perspectives and involve them in the decision-making process. Their input will help you identify meaningful initiatives, enhance transparency, and build strong relationships.
  1. Start developing your CSR plan: Outline the initiatives, programs, and actions you will take to achieve your CSR goals. Ensure your plan is actionable, resource-efficient, and aligns with your organization's capabilities.
  1. Measure and monitor progress: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to track the progress of your CSR initiatives. Regularly report on your achievements, both internally and externally, to demonstrate transparency and accountability. Use the data collected to identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions.
  1. Celebrate successes and recognize contributions: Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of your CSR initiatives. Recognize the efforts and contributions of employees, partners, and stakeholders who have played a role in driving positive change.

Building a successful CSR strategy is an ongoing process. It requires commitment, collaboration, continuous improvement and a genuine desire to create meaningful and sustainable change. Remember to stay informed, encourage innovation and feedback, and explore new ways to make a positive impact.

How does employee recognition contribute to corporate social responsibility?

A challenge that is often seen when building a successful CSR program is how to get more employees to participate or be involved. Motivation fuels engagement and reinforces behavior that will set the foundation for a brighter future for your organization.  

Using employee recognition to help motivate your employees can be a powerful component to your CSR strategy. Here’s how employee recognition can contribute:

Recognition fosters a sense of purpose

Recognizing employees for their contributions to CSR initiatives reinforces the notion that their work goes beyond individual tasks and directly impacts society. This recognition instills a sense of purpose, motivating employees to continue their commitment to CSR.

Recognition drives employee engagement

By acknowledging employees' efforts in CSR initiatives, organizations empower them to become brand ambassadors and active participants in promoting the company's social and environmental goals.

Recognition strengthens team collaboration

Recognizing employees for collaborative CSR efforts reinforces the belief that achieving CSR goals is a collective effort.  

Recognition amplifies CSR impact

Using employee recognition software, like Kudos, you can share success stories and recognize outstanding achievements, inspiring others to actively participate and contribute to CSR efforts.

Bonus! Use recognition points to give back

With Kudos, employees earn points with recognition they can redeem for rewards. Those rewards can be charitable organizations and causes that align with your CSR strategy.

CSR is no longer an optional endeavour but a necessity for organizations aiming to thrive in a socially conscious world. By integrating CSR into core values and leveraging employee recognition, companies can unlock the potential to create positive change. Employee recognition not only contributes to CSR initiatives but also cultivates a culture of engagement, purpose, and collaboration. It is through these combined efforts that organizations can transform the way they operate and make a lasting impact on the world.  

People People

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Navigating the New Age of HR

Navigating the New Age of HR Navigating the New Age of HR

Meet John Odike, Vice President of Human Resources at Wesley Enhanced Living.

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In today’s fast-paced corporate world, the role of Human Resources has evolved far beyond its traditional boundaries. As business strategies become more intricate and employee-centric, the function of HR has taken on an even more pivotal role in the journey to success.  

To delve into this dynamic landscape, we sat down with John Odike, the Vice President of Human Potential at Wesley Enhanced Living. Originally from Nigeria, John moved to the United States in the late nineties to complete his MBA. As part of his program, he did a rotation in HR at Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana, where he fell in love with the profession.  

“What I loved most was the exposure it gave me in understanding how organizations work and how people play a critical role in business success. From technology to processes and operations, if you don’t have the right people, it’s not going to work,” John shared.

Today, he is shaping the future of HR with his unique blend of business acumen, social prowess, and a deep understanding of human potential.  

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity

What makes you a good fit for a career in HR?

My background has always been in business, accounting, and analytics. Walking into my first HR role, I realized I could marry that with understanding how to use the workforce to impact the organization’s goals and objectives – the bottom line. Making those connections came naturally to me.  

As a person that truly enjoys social interactions, building networks within the organization at all levels was easy, allowing me to understand the business.  

My favorite thing is working with people and the interconnectivity between people and business. How, if you put people in the right positions, and give them the right tools, you can build an organization from nothing to something successful. It’s an amazing thing to see.  

What is a memorable moment in your career–something you are proud of?

One of the things I always look back on is getting recruited by the owner of an oil and gas start-up to help put together their infrastructure. There were just four of us. We went from 4 people to a global organization of 1500, with offices in the UK, Nigeria, and the US. It was a fulfilling accomplishment, and the organization is still doing well today.  

Communication is key when managing human resources amidst such rapid growth. From the start, we had a clear focus in terms of what we wanted to accomplish. Everyone was clear on the strategy and their role in implementing it. We used a stage gate process where at the end of each stage, we would stop, do some tweaking, and ensure our approach was sound. Making sure the key people involved were focused on the right tasks.

How do you earn and keep your seat at the executive table as an HR leader?

I’ve been lucky to work with organizations and boards made up of people who see the value of investing in people. Typically, the critical information that executives are looking for is whether or not we have the right people in critical roles, or whether our benefits and wages are competitive in our industry. They also want to know why turnover is happening–and what we can do to retain employees.  

In the last 15 years, HR has evolved from a primarily administrative function to something much more dynamic. HR today is about understanding your workforce, and how that workforce is integral to making your business successful.  

My team needs to be seen as a team of partners for leaders–a team that looks at every aspect of the business–things like our work environment, wages, benefits, succession planning, employee engagement, and how we recognize and reward our team.  

Unfortunately, HR departments sometimes focus on the wrong things, or things that don’t necessarily matter to employees. The key here is analytics. Analytics gives you the data you need to understand your employees' engagement and what you need to focus on and improve.  

How do you build a strong workplace culture?

Building a successful work culture is not easy. Culture is the shared values, beliefs, behaviors, and norms that exist in your organization. At Wesley, we’re values-driven, our key values are Grace, Honesty & Integrity, and one of the things our senior leaders try to figure out daily is how to get people simply to do the right thing in their roles and functions.  

In everything we do, including our partnership with Kudos, the focus is on ensuring our values are front and center for all employees. Recognizing and rewarding people for living those values using Kudos cements a lot of the things we’re trying to accomplish. We’re using that lever to get our culture to stick.

What advice would you have for someone building a career in HR?

First, education matters for someone trying to get into HR; it’s essential to know the principles of Human Resources.  

Also, getting affiliated with the right HR organizations, because networking is key. SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, has been a great association to participate in. I’ve learned so much by networking within SHRM in terms of policies, compliance, ordinances, working with the department of labor, and different policies and laws.  

Next is embracing continuous learning. You can never learn enough, especially in this industry. Every day there’s something new–new initiatives, technology, and concepts. People are constantly coming up with ways to make our jobs easier, and having the right mentors and subject matter experts lined up is key.  

Finally, it’s imperative to understand the business that you work in. For every company I’ve worked with, the first thing I need to understand is how the business makes money – their bottom line. If you understand that, you can gear your HR practices to ensure you’re accomplishing the company’s goals and objectives.

Looking ahead, what do you see as your biggest challenge?

There are so many technological advancements, so I worry about whether we are positioned to compete in the next 5-10 years as an organization. I wonder if we’ve put the right tools in place to attract the workforce of the future. So, I’m focused on making sure that, from a technology perspective, we have the right tools in place. And taking that further, are technologies talking to each other?

What are the biggest opportunities? What are you most excited about?

Coincidently, also technology. Specifically, analytics. The amount of data and information that exists for you to make a case for HR tools and programs is incredible. Having data that tells us exactly what our employees need is so helpful. For example, our survey results continuously showed that our employees weren’t feeling recognized and appreciated, leading to our partnership with Kudos. It’s much easier to go to your Executive Team when you can show them trends. HR leaders no longer rely on personal intuition or opinion. There are a lot of “a-ha moments” when you have those conversations.

Thank you, John, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at


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5 min

The Power of Recognition: 25 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate Your Team

The Power of Recognition: 25 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate Your Team The Power of Recognition: 25 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate Your Team

Unlocking potential within your organization starts with a simple yet mighty act: recognition.

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The Power of Recognition

Recognition matters. In fact, recognition is considered a top driver for engagement, with employees being 2.7 times more engaged when routinely receiving recognition.  

Unfortunately, Gallup found that almost half of today's employees are only receiving recognition a few times a year at most. That startling statistic highlights a major gap in today's employee experience.  

The good news is, leaders and organizations around the globe are starting to understand the importance of recognizing and rewarding their employees. By implementing an effective employee recognition program, you can create a tidal wave of positive change.  

Recognition and Motivation

Recognizing and empowering your employees increases their motivation – it significantly affects drive, productivity, wellbeing and the overall performance of your organization.  

There’s even science to prove this – when we receive recognition, it activates the reward center of our brains and automatically produces motivational thought patterns. By making recognition a workplace habit, employees feel more motivated to contribute value to their organization.  

Recognition Quotes to Motivate Your Team

Motivational speakers, with their ability to inspire and uplift, often provide valuable insights into the power of recognition in driving motivation, productivity, and overall success. We gathered a collection of famous quotes to motivate your employees, shedding light on the transformative power of recognition in the workplace.  

  1. "Recognizing employees' accomplishments and showing appreciation is the fuel for motivation and the key to unlocking their potential." - Brian Tracy
  1. "Recognition is not just about rewards; it's about creating a culture of appreciation that inspires and empowers employees to excel." - Simon Sinek
  1. “In order to build a rewarding employee experience, you need to understand what matters to your people.” -  Julie Bevacqua
  1. "Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary." - Margaret Cousins
  1. "When you reward and recognize employees, you create a positive cycle of motivation, productivity, and loyalty that drives organizational success." - Tony Robbins
  1. "Employees who feel valued and appreciated will always go above and beyond, because they know their efforts matter and are recognized." - Robin Sharma
  1. "Recognition is not a scarce resource. You can't use it up or run out of it." -Susan M. Heathfield
  1. "Rewarding and recognizing employees is not just an act of appreciation; it's an investment in their growth, engagement, and long-term commitment." - Mel Robbins
  1. "The power of recognition is one of the most effective tools in a leader's arsenal to inspire, engage, and retain top talent." - John C. Maxwell
  1. "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." - William Arthur Ward
  1. "Recognition is not a luxury; it's a necessity. It fuels the fire within employees, igniting their passion and driving them towards excellence." - Les Brown
  1. "Reward and recognition are not expenses; they are investments that yield higher employee morale, productivity, and ultimately, organizational success." - Jim Rohn
  1. "People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards." - Dale Carnegie
  1. “It's very inexpensive to give a compliment.” - Joyce Meyer
  1. "Recognition is the fuel that drives the fire of excellence." - Denis Waitley
  1. "The reward for doing great work is the opportunity to do more great work." - Jonas Salk
  1. "Recognition is the oxygen of the soul. It breathes life into our efforts and fuels our desire to keep pushing forward." - Oprah Winfrey
  1. “Being told you’re appreciated is one of the simplest and most uplifting things you can hear.” - Sue Fitzmaurice
  1. "The greatest form of recognition is not just a pat on the back but the trust and responsibility to take on greater challenges and make a bigger impact." - John C. Maxwell
  1. "The reward for recognition is not the accolades themselves, but the belief in oneself and the motivation to continue pushing forward." - Les Brown
  1. “What gets recognized gets reinforced, and what gets reinforced gets repeated.” - Unknown
  1. "Recognition is like water for a plant. Without it, our potential withers, but with it, we can blossom and thrive." - Darren Hardy
  1. "The best rewards are not the ones we receive, but the impact we make on others and the legacy we leave behind." - Tony Gaskins
  1. “If you don’t create a great rewarding place for people to work, they won’t do great work”- Ari Weinzweig
  1. “Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.” – Sam Walton

Ways to Use Inspirational Quotes in the Workplace

Finding effective strategies to inspire your team is more important than ever. That's where the power of inspirational quotes can have an impact – they have the unique ability to inspire, help build a sense of purpose and contribute to a more positive, uplifting work environment.  

Powerful words serve as constant reminders of the shared vision and values that drive your organization forward. Incorporating your favorite quotes into your communication channels, team meetings, and company-wide initiatives can help align your team's actions with the broader purpose of your organization.  

Here are some ways you can integrate inspirational quotes into your HR initiatives:  

  • Share a quote every day for a month in your communication channels
  • Start every meeting with a quote-of-the-day  
  • Add a quote to your email signature  
  • Send a recognition message that includes a quote  
  • Collect favorite quotes from your employees  
  • Include quotes in your company newsletter

Receiving words of wisdom reminds us of our own potential, urging us to push beyond our comfort zones and embrace growth. It can inspire us to dream bigger, work harder, and strive for excellence. Whether it's overcoming setbacks, finding inner strength, or fostering resilience, these quotes are a reminder that we are all capable of achieving remarkable things.  

Build a Future with Recognition

Recognizing your employees has the power to unlock the boundless potential within your organization. The simple act of acknowledging work and celebrating achievements fuels motivation and is the catalyst that ignites success.  

An effective recognition program requires more than a moment of applause though – it demands commitment to continual growth and progress. It's about nurturing a culture where recognition becomes second nature, where words of praise, improvement, and success echo through every corner of your organization.

With these quotes, we invite you to take a moment to absorb the importance of recognition. The stage is set, the spotlight awaits—now it's time to make recognition the star of the show. Kudos can help pave the way to a future where your employee’s best work is not just acknowledged, but celebrated, cherished, and forever shared in your organization's success story.

People People

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5 min

Building a Cohesive Culture: Insights from Dr. Troy Hall

Building a Cohesive Culture: Insights from Dr. Troy HallBuilding a Cohesive Culture: Insights from Dr. Troy Hall

Meet Dr. Troy Hall, award-winning culture strategist, radio show host, speaker, author, and talent retention expert.

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“Are you willing to be wrong to further what is right?”

This thought-provoking question captures the essence of Dr. Troy Hall’s lifelong pursuit of teachability. 

As a renowned culture strategist, radio show host, speaker, author, and talent retention expert, Dr. Troy has dedicated his career to embracing the power of learning.  

Inspired by his mother’s wisdom (the question posed above was hers), he emphasizes that teachability goes beyond the idea of right or wrong. He believes that by approaching conversations with a willingness to challenge our beliefs, we can collectively move towards what truly matters and create positive change in individuals, projects, and organizations. 

Currently residing in Charleston, South Carolina, Dr. Troy cherishes his family, a fact that he shares openly and often. He understands the importance of balancing his personal and professional identities; this is something he believes contributes to positive workplace culture.

 In our recent interview, we delved into his inspiring journey and discovered his insightful perspectives on the ever-evolving world of work.


Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity


Tell me about your career path and your work in workplace culture.

I’ve spent four decades in leadership, specifically working in people development. I have a Ph.D. in global leadership and entrepreneurship. My dissertation was on group dynamics with an emphasis on cohesion, which led to my trademarked CohesionCulture™ program.  

My Cohesion Culture™ framework has three strategic elements: belonging, value and shared mutual commitment.

Belonging is about inclusion and feeling part of something special. Value is about feeling like your work is meaningful and knowing it matters. A shared mutual commitment means that teams will operate collaboratively. To me, collaboration is defined by two requirements. The first is that everybody involved in the project or team agrees they need each other. And the second is trust. People must trust that others will do the right thing and their job.

What can executive leaders do to support people-leaders in being more vulnerable and teachable?

They must lead by example. You can’t just tell people, hey, this is what I want you to do and then turn around and do the opposite.

One opportunity I see for leaders is to be more skilled in the art of self-discovery. Too often, leaders find it much easier to tell you what you did wrong than to uncover information about what happened and why. I created a cohesive communication process to help support this.

Instead of pointing out that somebody did something wrong, ask them about the circumstances and the situation. Questions like, Walk me through your thought process. What were your assumptions and expectations? Those are great alternatives to “Why did you do that?” and help everyone learn.

How can leaders change culture?

I like to recommend a processI refer to as C.A.P.E.S. 

The first aspect is cultural discovery, understanding what’s happening within the organization’s culture through observation and conversations. Next, assessments to understand levels of cohesion, including individual leadership assessments. After that, you build a plan that aligns with your strategy. With a plan in place, it’s time for the education component to ensure the organization understands the desired culture. Finally, sustainability. What will you do to sustain the culture once you’ve implemented it?  

In my work, I often don’t want to change an organization’s culture; I just want them to notch it up by adding a layer of cohesion. My research proved that performance occurs whenever cohesion is present within a team. And how you get to that performance, is employee engagement. 

We tend to think that we can get engaged employees by making them happy or satisfied, and that’s when we get trapped into giving them treats. Instead, we should be focusing on how we treat them. Leaders must understand and embody the concept that culture is built in how we treat people, not the treats we give them

What else can organizations do to foster engagement?

Affirmations play a crucial role in emphasizing the value of employees’ roles and identities. Programs like Kudos allow organizations to recognize and uplift individuals openly. 

However, a robust program requires leadership involvement. Leaders must lead by example, actively engaging with individuals and expressing genuine affirmations that go beyond surface-level praise. By highlighting an individual’s role, attributes, and alignment with core values, leaders not only affirm but also teach desired behaviors.  

This depth of affirmation fosters engagement and helps create a strong organizational culture. It’s important to align core values with behaviors to craft meaningful recognition. This holistic approach to affirmation is key for fostering engagement and building a thriving organization.

What is the most effective way to retain employees?

I’ve broken it down very simply through my work – it’s called F.A.I.R. play for cohesion. It’s important to understand that, at minimum, employees have to believe they’re getting fair compensation for their work –but that is not the only factor.  

Employees want flexibility—flexible work hours and locations. When I think about the Great Resignation, for example, I don’t think it was a resignation. People didn’t resign. It was the “Age of Recalibration.” People were recalibrating where they wanted to work, how they wanted to work, and who they wanted to work with.  

The next thing is autonomy. Employees want to know what authority they have and what level of initiative is required to do the job. And within that, they want the resources to help them succeed. 

After that is inclusion. Employees want to make sure they have a voice in the organization, that leaders will ask them what they think, and their supervisor shows interest in their success. The number one reason that people quit a company is still the lack of a healthy supervisor-employee relationship.They don’t quit the company; they quit the manager.   

The last is readiness, that is, growth and development opportunities. We know today that 71% of employees want growth, development, and advancement. If an organization does not offer these opportunities, employees will look elsewhere to find them.    

People stay for fair pay and F.A.I.R. play.


What is the biggest challenge facing HR Leaders today?

The biggest challenge is that supervisors are not trained to deal with employees who work remotely. For the most part, if the employee is not visible to the supervisor, the remote employee may not interact with others for days at a time. I am not suggesting that every employee gets a remote work option; however, leaders must be willing to consider building remote work policies. In fact, many organizations have mislabelled remote work as “work from home.” I think ‘Work from home’ demeans the work and the person doing it. My suggestion is to call it what it is:“Remote Work.”

Leaders can make that small language change very quickly to change the perspective and perception of remote work within their organization’s culture vocabulary.

They can also make sure that supervisors are trained to manage hybrid teams. For example, if you have some remote workers and some on-site and there is a need to meet, then my recommendation is that everyone is on camera – not just the remote workers and not a group huddled together on one camera in the conference room.

There’s no turning back. Work-life is not going back to the way it was pre-pandemic. To be successful, organizations must accept that reality, train leaders for it, and develop work structures to accommodate flexibility, autonomy, inclusion, and readiness.z

What do you think is the biggest opportunity when it comes to culture and the employee experience today?

It’s always the opportunity for human connection. The three strategic elements of cohesion: belonging, value, and commitment speak to creating great workspaces where people feel included, empowered to do a job, and work alongside others who may not look, think, or act like another. It’s the responsibility of every employee to build cultures of cohesion, not just the leaders’.

That’s why the attributes of an effective leader (teachable, compassion, grace, truthfulness, humility, purity of heart, and peace-making must be practiced by all. In the future of work, we will never abandon, nor should we abandon, the human element of people before the task. Leaders are charged with the responsibility to think of others first before themselves. They motivate, influence, and enable others to be successful.

We often think of our work environment – the way we’ve experienced it over and over again – as sacred.That’s the concept around the “status quo.” So, do you challenge the status quo, which says that an organization can only have innovation, collaboration, and a great culture when people are under the same roof? Can we break the paradigm? Can we create a paradigm shift?

We need to figure out how we can make that human element a little more interactive if we don’t happen to all be sitting under the same roof, because no matter what, culture is for everyone, regardless of whether you’re in the same place or not.  


Thank you, Dr. Troy, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!


Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at


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5 min

Pride Month: Embracing History, Inclusion, and Activism in Workplace

Pride Month: Embracing History, Inclusion, and Activism in WorkplacePride Month: Embracing History, Inclusion, and Activism in Workplace

Pride Month resources and activity inspiration for HR Leaders.

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The History of Pride in the U.S.A

It’s June 28, 1969, in New York City.  

Homosexuality is still illegal, and most gay bars are run by the Mafia in exchange for protection from the police. Raids were quite common at the time, but the Mafia-run bars were almost always tipped off beforehand.  

On the first day of the Stonewall Uprising, police raided the Stonewall Inn with a warrant, but without any warning. They arrested 13 people for bootlegged alcohol, and for violating the state’s gender appropriate clothing statute. The Stonewall Uprising continued violently for six days, while bar patrons and neighbourhood residents protested law enforcement’s brutality and discrimination. Drag queens and trans women of colour were some of the first to stand up against the police.

On the one-year anniversary of the riots, people were shouting, “say it loud, gay is proud” in America’s first Pride parade.  

The History of Pride in Canada

It’s February 5, 1981, in Toronto.  

200 police officers set out on a series of coordinated raids, called “Operation Soap.” By the end of the night, 286 patrons of four downtown bathhouses were arrested.  

The Toronto Bath Raids, and the demonstrations to follow marked a significant transition for the city, rooting it firmly in protest, he first Toronto Pride parade in June of 2021.  

“As long as society continues to demand us as its victims and its human sacrifices, that anger is going to be there, waiting to get into us, again and again. It’s not going to go away for a long, long time,” – Excerpt from Ken Popert in The Body Politic, in Jamie Bradburn

On this 2023 Pride celebration, we put together a spectrum of resources, activities, charities, and learning opportunities to help you carry on the legacy paved by LGBTQ+ activists.  

Tip: Encourage your internal experts and allies to participate as speakers in Pride Month celebrations or programs. To ensure inclusivity, extend an open invitation to all members of your organization, inviting anyone interested to step forward.

How to Celebrate Pride in the Workplace

To celebrate Pride Month effectively in the workplace, consider incorporating inclusive activities that both educate and engage employees.

Celebrating Pride Month at work is crucial for fostering an inclusive culture that values diversity and inclusion. It helps acknowledge the contributions and existence of LGBTQ+ employees, creating a more welcoming and supportive environment. Such celebrations can enhance employee engagement, promote acceptance, and demonstrate a company’s commitment to supporting all its employees.

Here's how you celebrate Pride Month in your organization:

Make a Pride Playlist Together

One universal way to connect is through music; this Pride, don’t let it go in one ear and out the other.  

Within teams or company-wide, introduce a song or album of the week highlighting queer artists from your country. Start your meeting listening to the lyrics, then work together to decode them; research the artists’ inspirations, careers, and impact; learn more about the political environment during the time the song was released.  

For example, one meeting could start to the tune of ‘Any Other Way,’ an album by Toronto Soul pioneer, Jackie Shane. Share how Shane’s words are emblematic of her time – hopeful, and meaningful to many people under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Encourage your employees to listen more to the artist’s work and invite them to pitch their own song or album of the week.

If technology and community are key characteristics for your brand, take your playlist to the next level and host a radio-style live stream, inserting quick and informational voice-overs between each song. Or, pre-record short podcast-like segments and post them to Slack or Teams.  

For a less performance-involved approach, utilize Spotify’s collaborative playlist function and curated Pride playlists; suggest Pride-themed radio segments for the whole team to tune into, like iHeart Radio’s Can’t Cancel Pride event, which raised $11.3 million in charity since its inception in 2020.  

Watch a Local or Virtual Film Screening

There are many non-profit Pride Film Festivals, some running all year round. These events are thoughtfully curated, socially driven, artful commentary only made more appropriate during this Pride season. Buy your team tickets to an LGBTQIA+ themed film screening and filmmaker Q&A to make memories with one another and learn in the process.  

If a screening time doesn’t fit with your schedule, or you just want a more flexible option, suggest queer-made films already available on your employee’s streaming services. For example, you could offer your team a one-month subscription to watch Cheryl Dunye's ‘The Watermelon Woman’ the first feature film directed by a Black lesbian.  

Start a Book Club, or Clubs

Book clubs are a close-knit way to create change. Starting a LGBTQ+ themed book club can promote inclusion and improve your company culture in the process. History and knowledge sharing are the backbone of Pride; now is the time to get people together and read for a purpose.  

Consider finalizing the book club with a donation to Lamba Literary, an organization providing scholarships to emerging LGBTQ+ writers.  

There are many authors for all types of readers:

Depending on the book, it’s important to provide employees with content warnings upfront. Screen your book club selections for trauma-triggering content, so that everyone can feel included without having to confront sudden emotions at work.  

For more recommendations, check out Egale’s summer Pride reading list.

Tip: Having a digital hub to house the details for initiatives like the examples in this guide is critical to getting your team to participate. This could be a folder on your intranet, a channel on Teams/Slack, or Kudos Spaces.

Go to a Pride Parade

Whether you walk in the parade or watch from the sidelines, pride parades are a welcoming rite of passage for allies and LGBTQ+ community members.  

Start searching for “pride parade near me,” and ask what your team is up for. Check out this Pride 101 article by them, a diverse source for LGBTQ+ journalism. Within the article, you can find some virtual pride parade options for your remote team.  

Donate and Volunteer

Companies have a great opportunity to utilize their platforms for good during Pride month; from finding group volunteer activities that get your team involved hands-on in their communities, to donating to local LGBTQ+ charities and supports.  

Impact is best achieved with the right intentions, so it’s important to choose a cause that resonates with your brand. Here are a couple charities to choose from, and a hub detailing even more options:  

Review and Revise Your Policies  

On one note, it’s important for companies to publicly take a stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. On the other hand, it’s equally important for companies to turn inward during Pride and make sure their policies align with the values they promote.  

30% of LGBTQ employees in Canada report experiencing discrimination in the workplace compared to only 3% of non-LGBTQ employees,” – Egale  

Beyond updating your diversity policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity, consider offering company-wide training to make your workplace a safe space.  
Bain & Company offers a few more specific suggestions when it comes to policies and procedures:

  • Create an environment where “coming out” is safe and easy. Companies sometimes claim they don’t need LGBTQ-specific policies, since they don’t have ‘observably’ LGBTQ employees
  • Examine how language—including pronoun assumptions and discussions of home life—may be working to include or exclude (for example, some organizations ask all employees to refer to their romantic partners as "partners" vs husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend
  • Create opportunities for all employees to educate themselves on LGBTQ matters
  • Revisit your benefits, particularly healthcare and family leave, and ensure they meet the needs of all identities, genders, orientations, and family setups
  • Build allyship programs to lighten the load for LGBTQ employees in terms of advocating for pregnancy or flagging issues
Tip: if you are choosing to produce your own Pride content, the team at Copacino+Fujikado put together this guide, called Rainbow with a Cause to help brands create more thoughtful, purposeful, and inclusive Pride content.

Enhancing DEI Through Pride Month Celebrations in the Workplace

Celebrating Pride Month in the workplace is a pivotal element of a robust Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy. Here’s how it supports each aspect of DEI:

  1. Diversity: Celebrating Pride Month visibly acknowledges and values the presence of LGBTQ+ individuals in the workforce. It brings attention to the diverse orientations and identities, enhancing the organizational understanding and appreciation of this diversity.
  2. Equity: Pride celebrations in the workplace can lead to more equitable policies and practices. By recognizing the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, companies can adjust their policies to ensure fair treatment, access, and opportunities for all employees. This might include revising non-discrimination policies, providing equitable benefits (like extending spousal benefits to same-sex partners), and creating support structures such as LGBTQ+ affinity groups.
  3. Inclusion: Pride Month activities help foster a more inclusive work environment where LGBTQ+ employees feel genuinely welcome and safe to express their identities openly. This inclusivity boosts morale and can increase overall employee engagement and satisfaction.

Overall, incorporating Pride Month into a DEI strategy helps promote a more inclusive corporate culture that actively supports everyone. This not only benefits LGBTQ+ employees but also enriches the entire organizational environment by encouraging openness, empathy, and understanding among all employees. Celebrating diversity in this way can also enhance the company's reputation, making it more attractive to diverse talent and potentially leading to greater innovation and productivity.

Celebrating Pride in the workplace is not just a symbolic gesture, but a meaningful commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for all employees. HR leaders have a vital role in driving this change by updating policies, providing diversity training, and promoting initiatives that amplify LGBTQ+ voices. Let us seize this opportunity to stand in solidarity, honor the history of Pride, and actively work toward a future where everyone can bring their authentic selves to work without fear of discrimination. Together, we can create workplaces that truly embody the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.


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6 min

Elevating Recognition with Meaningful Rewards

Elevating Recognition with Meaningful Rewards Elevating Recognition with Meaningful Rewards

Pairing rewards with recognition can have a transformative impact when building a thriving company culture.

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In today’s dynamic business landscape, companies are continuously seeking ways to attract, engage, and retain top talent. While meaningful recognition remains an essential factor, organizations are recognizing the significant role that employee rewards play when paired with recognition.  

"When you recognize and reward people, you ignite their inner spark, and they become unstoppable." - Tony Robbins

Employee recognition needs are continuously evolving. For recognition to be impactful for today’s workforce, it must be personalized, and the same logic applies to employee rewards.

Together, recognition and rewards can have a transformative impact on culture. Employee rewards can create an environment that fosters motivation, loyalty, productivity, and ultimately, business success.  

What are employee reward programs?

Employee reward programs are initiatives that recognize and reward employees for their hard work and dedication. These can range from financial incentives such as bonuses and stock options to non-financial rewards such as time off work, complimentary lunches, and summer work hours.  

Organizations need to offer curated and customizable reward options to meet the demands of what all their employees truly value. The days of only offering a small catalog of products and company swag as employee incentives are not enough – organizations need to shift their focus to robust reward options that are meaningful to everyone.  

Why do employee rewards matter?

Employee rewards can be a motivational tool; they can inspire individuals to grow, learn, and improve. Rewards can be tied to goals and milestones, encouraging employees to stretch their capabilities and reach new heights.

Motivation that fuels success

Employee rewards act as powerful motivators, igniting a sense of purpose and commitment within individuals. Whether it's a performance-based bonus, a public accolade, or a personalized gift, the act of rewarding employees for their achievements reinforces a culture of excellence and motivates others to strive for greatness.

Drives employee engagement

Employee engagement is the key to unlocking untapped potential and driving exceptional results. Rewards and recognition initiatives provide a clear link between an employee's efforts and the organization's success. As engagement increases, so does productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction.  

Retains top talent

Employee rewards and recognition programs play a pivotal role in creating a workplace culture that attracts and retains exceptional employees. Recognizing and appreciating their hard work and achievements not only boosts morale but also enhances loyalty – employees are more likely to stay at an organization that fosters a culture of recognition.  

"Recognition is not a luxury; it's a necessity. It's what keeps us motivated, inspired, and striving for greatness." - Brendon Burchard

A SHRM article that discusses how to measure organizational health mentions the ROI of employee rewards and if implemented well, how investing in rewards can drastically reduce turnover.

Prioritizes wellbeing

Companies that prioritize employee wellbeing and engagement are more likely to succeed and thrive. Implementing employee reward programs is a simple yet effective way to build a positive workplace culture that benefits both employees and the company as a whole.  

How can companies implement effective employee rewards?

The key to an effective employee rewards program is providing flexible reward options that satisfy everyone’s preferences. Personalized rewards that align with employees' needs and values are more meaningful and contribute to overall happiness and loyalty.  

  1. Recognition comes first. It’s important to remember that recognition should always be the foundation of a robust rewards system.  
  1. Focus on your employees. Companies should assess their employees' needs and preferences to design a rewards program that aligns with their values and aspirations.  
  1. Offer personalization. Select a program that offers curated rewards that satisfies everyone. A rewards catalog should offer just as many experiential-based rewards as it does merchandise.  
  1. Be reasonable with the ratio. An employee shouldn’t have to be at a company for many years to earn enough points to redeem a reward. Rewards should be accessible to everyone and earned at a reasonable ratio, so employees can enjoy their well-earned rewards frequently throughout the year.  
  1. Evaluate and adjust. Finally, companies should regularly evaluate and adjust their rewards programs to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

Ignoring employee reward programs is a missed opportunity. Employee reward and recognition programs are powerful tools that can transform a company's culture. By investing in these initiatives, organizations demonstrate their commitment to their employees' wellbeing and success, paving the way for a highly productive and fulfilled workforce.  

Examples of meaningful rewards for everyone

Meaningful rewards look different for everyone. Everyone’s needs are unique and there should be reward options that will be beneficial and meaningful to all employees.  Kudos Rewards offers a world-class suite of options with merchandise, events, travel, charities, gift cards and custom rewards.  

Experiential rewards

Maybe it’s tickets to a favorite sports event, an outdoor adventure, or some much needed family time spent at the zoo; rewards that offer experiences and travel can serve a wide range of different interests and create lasting memories for everyone. Here are some examples of experience-based rewards offered in Kudos:  

  • Banff Gondola and Glacier Two Night Adventure
  • Three Night All-Star Disney Vacation
  • American Music Award Show Orchestra Level Experience
  • Four Night Montreal and Quebec Foodie Fest
  • Grand Canyon South Rim Family Adventure

Employee wellbeing

Whether it’s a retreat, a stay-cation, or even a home gym – everyone needs time to relax, decompress and treasure moments of tranquility. Here are examples of wellbeing related rewards in Kudos:  

  • Scottsdale Princess Golf and Spa Two Night Experience
  • Orthopedic Pillow Set
  • Bowflex Blaze Home Gym
  • La Siesta Domingo Sea Salt Kingsize Hammock Chair
  • At Home Wine-tasting Experience

Treat yourself or someone else

Perhaps you’ve been eyeing something special for yourself, or you need a gift idea for someone else, the Kudos Rewards catalog is a great place to start:  

  • Apple Watch  
  • Belgium Waffle Maker  
  • Airpods  
  • Dream Zero Espresso Machine
  • Blink Indoor Camera System  

While recognition has long been the bedrock of appreciation, organizations are awakening to the realization that employee rewards hold tremendous sway when combined with recognition.  

Recognition paired with rewards is instrumental in attracting and retaining top talent, enhancing employee engagement and motivation, fostering a positive company culture, and promoting employee wellbeing.  

By acknowledging employees' efforts and successes, organizations create a culture that embraces innovation and professional development. The result is a workforce that is constantly evolving, staying ahead of the curve, and driving the company towards sustainable growth.

People People

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5 min

Leveraging Your Strengths and Embracing Your Style to Build an HR Career in Tech

Leveraging Your Strengths and Embracing Your Style to Build an HR Career in TechLeveraging Your Strengths and Embracing Your Style to Build an HR Career in Tech

Meet Jessie Lambert, Human Resources Director at Mistplay

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HR leaders all have unique styles and approaches to the profession.

For Jessie Lambert, HR Director at Mistplay (a loyalty program for mobile gamers,) the key in her career has been to understand her unique style and use it to her advantage. She encourages all HR leaders to do the same.  

“You aren't going to be the best HR professional in every situation, in every company, in every phase of the company, in every field,” she explains.  

Jessie’s strengths lie in her intuition, relationship-building skills, and ability to move fast – a perfect fit for growing tech companies, where she has spent the last eight years of her career.

“As an HR leader, when you lean into your strengths, you’ll add more value to your career, your company, and the people you’re supporting,” she says.

We sat down with Jessie to learn more about her career and what’s on her mind in today’s fast-changing world of work.

What have been some highlights in your HR career thus far?

I went to school in France at the Burgundy School of Business, which culminated in every student having to choose a career field. I chose HR back then, without knowing much about the field, but I thought, this is it.  

From there, an essential factor in my career has been respecting my personal standards and expectations. I've had to leave roles because I wasn't aligned with how leaders wanted me to do things.

I’m impatient, decisive, and not risk averse.

The most defining moment for me was when I moved into tech. I immediately knew that these were the kind of companies I wanted to work with. Where I could best use my strengths.

What are some critical skills HR leaders need, and how do you approach professional development?

With HR, things change fast. We are constantly developing new programs and finding new ways to build culture. Staying up to date is key.

I prefer to learn independently. I like to move quickly when I learn and often don't have the patience to sit in training sessions. I read a lot (all of Malcolm Gladwell's books) and follow the Harvard Business Review. And I listen to a lot of podcasts. That just suits me best.

How would you define workplace culture?  

Culture is how we behave toward each other. From an HR perspective, it's the behaviour you try to enforce, the behaviour you tolerate, and the behaviour you don’t.  

The tricky thing with culture is that it exists regardless of whether you have an HR department [or not]. Even if you aren’t doing anything intentionally to build it – you put people together, and you have a culture. The question for HR leaders is, do you want to be active in shaping the organizational culture, or passive and just witness what's unfolding?

What’s key is to make sure there’s a connection between your company’s mission and vision, and what you're observing in your people.

For so long, we have been vague about what culture is, what we can do to drive it, and how we can measure results. That’s often why leaders hesitate to invest in culture, because the impact is hard to quantify.  

For example, if someone says a culture is toxic, what does that mean? What can you do? Can you know if you've managed to change it?

Historically, HR wasn't data-driven enough to answer those questions from leaders. Now things are different, especially in tech companies. Leaders are more willing to give HR ownership of culture and provide budget for programs that provide those data points and insights.

Culture is how we behave toward each other. From an HR perspective, it's the behaviour you try to enforce, the behaviour you tolerate, and the behaviour you don’t.

How do you work with senior leaders to drive success?

I feel lucky to work in tech. It really is the best field for HR. Leaders see the value of culture-focused initiatives. They can’t afford to have top talent leave due to a bad work environment.

Today HR tends to come in early when tech companies are built. Leaders want to work with HR. They trust you. They want your input. If you’re good at your job, tech welcomes you with open arms – and the sky’s the limit. It's different when you're in a big organization where change takes time and is difficult to reverse. In tech, you have more freedom to try things – worst-case scenario, you pivot if the results aren't what you expected.

I once entered a company as employee number 22, which was very early for HR. In tech, they want your input as soon as possible.

How has the shift to remote or hybrid work affected your role?

Being in tech, shifting from in-office to remote was easy from an operational perspective. Everyone had laptops, and everything was accessible through the cloud.  

An unexpected challenge, however, has been people overworking. In the early days of remote work, I had to train my team on the importance of taking breaks and eating. And making sure leaders were modelling healthy behaviours and working hours.

I never had an engagement or employee dedication issue; my problem was burnout. My people were burning out, and the challenge with a hybrid or remote setup is that you don't always see your people.  

Another challenge as an HR leader in a remote environment is getting to know everyone. There's nothing worse than having a difficult conversation with an employee and it being the first time you're speaking with them.  

You have to be intentional about your interactions, whereas before, in an office, you didn't have to think about that.

Having recently started a new role, it was one of my first goals and questions. When can I speak to the employees? What is the process for that?

What do those conversations look like between you and employees? Do you have advice for HR leaders undertaking a similar initiative?

I approach the conversations intuitively. If you’re newer to HR, I’d recommend an agenda and a checklist to ensure you’re being intentional about the conversation. I usually start by asking how they're doing, and from there, I get a sense of whether we need to discuss work, if they need to vent, or maybe it's just a friendly chat to connect about something personal.

Ultimately the objective is to create connection.  

It's also an opportunity to reiterate the business’ strategic direction. It’s not always easy for employees to ask a question in an all-hands meeting so I make space for that too.  

It can be difficult for employees to take the step to reach out for help, but if they have a meeting booked with HR already, they have dedicated time to raise any questions.

What helps is that the more conversations you have, the more you know, giving you more insight for everyone.

What challenges are you facing in HR these days?

For me, it's scalability and speed. When you work in a growing startup, you have to ensure whatever you do is scalable but also execute quickly. That balance of moving fast while always thinking about the future can be a challenge.

Ultimately, if you spend too long working on something, it might no longer be relevant to the business by the time you're ready to launch it. Basically, you have to be fast, but not too fast.

And on the flip side, what are you most excited about?

I'm most excited about advances in diversity & inclusion innovations. There are so many new resources now on how to support our people. I’m always looking for further insight and tools to help me understand if we're doing a good job in this space (for example, analytics), identifying issues, and finding ways to challenge my views. And always trying to understand how I maintain equity through rapid growth, for example. It's all super interesting!

Thank you, Jessie, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at


5 min

5 min

Boost Workplace Well-being with Gratitude

Boost Workplace Well-being with Gratitude Boost Workplace Well-being with Gratitude

Discover the importance of gratitude in the workplace and how it can benefit both employees and organizations as a whole.

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Did you know May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Nearly 1 in 5 Americans live with a mental illness, and now more than ever, it is crucial that we bring awareness and support to mental wellness by communicating openly with our teams about mental health.

We all have access to an essential tool that can impact mental health – gratitude.

Organizations worldwide are shifting to a culture that fosters gratitude and recognition – and for good reason. Organizations are experiencing the many benefits of a workforce that feels more appreciated, respected, and valued. Positive psychology research has proven time and time again that gratitude creates a more productive, positive, and engaged workforce. 

Gratitude has the ability to fuel an incredible culture and has so many benefits to an organization. Telling someone they are appreciated is important of course, but as leaders, it is important to practice what you preach and share your gratitude in meaningful, intentional ways. When shared openly and often, gratitude can be a massive needle mover in creating a stronger culture and benefiting an organization. 

How Gratitude Benefits Your Organization

Gratitude yields so many benefits not only to employees but to the organizational success as a whole. Companies that prioritize gratitude get to reap the reward of the practice. Employees that rate themselves as happier have been found to be 13% more productive than the average employee after working the same amount of hours. It was also found that employees who do not feel valued at their workplace are more likely to seek other employment opportunities. This means that the time, money, and energy you have spent training employees is at risk if they don’t feel valued! A stronger culture also promotes the overall brand of the business as a whole, leading to a stronger talent pool, enhancing the company’s reputation as an employer, and driving business results. 

How Gratitude Benefits Your Employees

There are benefits to the employees on a personal level as well when gratitude is present at work. Improved well-being at work has been shown to improve the mental health of employees which leads to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. Studies have also shown that employees who feel appreciated are more likely to be more motivated within their roles and work harder to achieve goals within their roles.

Employees that feel the effects of gratitude are also more likely to have strengthened relationships with those around them such as their colleagues or company leadership. Gratitude brings people together and strengthens employee bonds which creates a stronger culture. 

Employees are also more likely to be engaged in the workplace when gratitude and appreciation are expressed. Gratitude is a key driver to keeping employees engaged and connected to their work. Gratitude is also often a two-way street, and when an employee feels appreciated, they are more likely to pay it forward and share their gratitude in return through actions, emotions, or tenure. This creates a wonderfully positive cycle of appreciation. 

Sharing Gratitude At Work

As an HR leader, there are many ways you can express gratitude to employees within an organization - even a simple thank you can go a long way in fostering a culture of positivity. The former CEO of Campbell Soup sent over 30,000 handwritten thank-you notes to his employees and staff during his tenure with the company! This is such a personal and meaningful thing to do because he used his own precious time to go above and beyond in showing others that they are seen and valued not only by the company but by him personally. 

When you lead by example and promote gratitude, you can create a culture where gratitude and appreciation are valued, and positive actions and behaviors are encouraged and rewarded. This can lead to a more positive and productive workplace where employees feel motivated, engaged, and committed to the success of the company. You have the ability to foster a culture of gratitude in the workplace - and will get to reap the reward of success when gratitude is felt! 

6 Ways to Show Your Gratitude 

If you are looking for a creative way to share more gratitude and create a stronger work culture, here are 6 creative ways to show your gratitude to your team and create positive feedback loops and boost engagement.  

  1. Thank You: a simple thank you is so powerful and can go a long way in fostering a culture of positivity. It lets your employees know they are seen and recognized for their efforts.
  2. Gratitude Email Train: start an email thread with a gratitude note to an employee and encourage them to pay it forward to another employee and keep a gratitude email train going.
  3. Gratitude Gifts: recognize your employee's professional efforts by gifting them something to cultivate gratitude within their personal lives, such as a gratitude journal. Intentional gifts go a long way in showing you care and creating a meaningful memory for the receiver. 
  4. Gratitude Newsletter: encourage employees to nominate one another for a monthly gratitude newsletter where they can share an appreciation for their teammates. This is a great way to publicly express appreciation and get others involved. 
  5. Milestone Celebrations: express your gratitude to your employees by recognizing important milestones within the company, such as an employee anniversary and let them know how appreciated their efforts have been.
  6. Team Gratitude Activity: try a virtual or in-person gratitude meditation video that allows your employees to take time to prioritize their mental health. This is a great way to practice what you preach and ensure everyone who participates experiences the positive benefits of gratitude.

Show Your Gratitude with Kudos 

Kudos is a platform that allows you to share your gratitude and appreciation for all the hard work your employees do. Celebrate your workforce with::

  • Employee Milestones: Celebrate tenure and show your appreciation for workplace milestones to celebrate your people. Celebrating the little things are what adds up to be the big things! 
  • Peer-to-Peer Recognition: A great culture is built on a foundation of gratitude. Strengthen the bond of inner workplace relationships and encourage gratitude to be expressed between employees rather than only coming from the top down.
  • Sensational Rewards: Lead by example with recognition and rewards to create a memorable moment of gratitude for your team members!

Showing gratitude in the workplace is truly a win-win for both employees and the overall success of the organization. Use it to increase productivity and performance and create a workplace of well-being and connection.


5 min

5 min

Rage Applying: Is This the New Quiet Quitting?

Rage Applying: Is This the New Quiet Quitting? Rage Applying: Is This the New Quiet Quitting?

Quiet quitting is out, rage applying is in.

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First it was the great resignation, then quiet quitting and now – rage applying?

Rage applying is the latest trend in the job market - it's like a mad dash to the finish line, except the finish line is a new job.  

Employee retention is more critical than ever and with one trend after the next, leaders are going to HR for advice on how to navigate these trends that put their teams at risk.

Here's a guide on how to navigate this latest one – rage applying.  

What is rage applying?

Unlike quiet quitting, where employees distance themselves from their work and become less motivated, rage applying is when an employee starts applying for any role, even if it’s not well suited for them, just to get out of their current situation.  

Rage applying isn’t the result of one bad workday – it's the result of general disengagement due to a number of factors. When workers are consistently underpaid, overworked and left hopeless, they begin asking themselves, “is this worth it?”  

Why should leaders care about rage applying?

A whopping 67% of Canadian professionals have rage applied in 2023. According to this study, more than half of this group stated they left their organization due to toxic work relationships. That’s a lot of angry job seekers!  

But why should leaders care about this new trend?

You could lose your best employees

People don't leave their workplace; they leave their managers.

When a company is losing its best talent due to poor management, that means there are some serious adjustments that need to be made. It's time to start investing in your managers and providing them with the training they need to support their teams. Leaders are often the key agents to change and if they’re not aware of their team's needs, they will unfortunately lose their best performers.

The cost of turnover is high

Turnover is not a term any business likes to hear. It’s predicted that turnover costs about one third of a person’s annual salary. Recruitment, onboarding, and training all cost businesses a lot of money when they are constantly turning over employees.  

Gen Z is entering the workforce

Younger generations are seeking opportunities that give them fulfillment. They also can easily recognize the signs of a toxic workplace and are more inclined to walk away than to fight for what they want in their current role.  In a job where they feel powerless, rage applying might give them a small sense of power, even if it results in a new, mediocre job.  

Learn more about the needs of today’s multigenerational workforce in our Recognizing Generational Diversity culture guide.

Even though rage applying may only seem like a trend, it could be a sign of deeper issues going on within the workplace. Leaders need to pay careful attention and invest in solutions that will help build a better culture, so their employees can thrive in this new era of work.  

How can managers support employees they suspect are rage applying?

  1. Foster open and honest conversation. Have regular check-ins with your team so you can keep communication consistent and better recognize signs of burnout. Tessa White, also known as the “Job Doctor” on TikTok, talks about some of these helpful tips from her own experience when she was called a micromanager by her best team member.  
  1. Consider their career growth. Career planning can be challenging, but it’s key if you want to hold on to your best employees. Create an environment where your employees can harness new skills and reach their career goals, so they can fully see and understand their future in the company.
  1. Invest in recognition. It’s no secret employee recognition leads to business success. Employees who receive regular recognition are more productive, motivated, and committed to their organization, which leads to a more positive work environment and higher retention rates.

Demonstrating to your employees that you care, and their work is valued through meaningful recognition will have tremendous impact on your team. Using an employee recognition solution, like Kudos, you can recognize every moment of excellence and foster a culture of appreciation to improve overall job satisfaction, leading to a more committed and loyal workforce.  

People leave their jobs for many reasons, and that’s okay.

Sometimes it’s time to say goodbye and embrace new opportunities. But if we’ve learned anything over the last few years – losing top talent due to poor management and lousy culture is a costly mistake. In today’s competitive job market, trends like rage applying will only continue and it’s up to leaders to take notice and make the necessary changes.  

Investing in your employees is investing in the success of your business.


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7 min

Mental Health in the Workplace: What HR Leaders Can Do

Mental Health in the Workplace: What HR Leaders Can Do  Mental Health in the Workplace: What HR Leaders Can Do

87% of HR leaders say employee mental health is a serious risk to their business. Here’s how you can prioritize mental health in the workplace in 2023.

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Mental health related illnesses cost the global economy one trillion US dollars every year. If you still don’t think mental health affects your business – think again.  

Mental health is health. And it’s time we took it seriously,” says Avni Jain, M. Ed, Registered Psychotherapist and Workplace Mental Health Consultant. A South Asian woman who immigrated from the UK to Canada, Avni entered the mental health field to deepen her understanding of herself, and now has a decade of experience helping organizations develop authentic and sustainable mental health solutions.

This field of work has been really interesting. I'm always curious about how HR leaders are being proactive about workplace mental health. Burnout is on the rise, and everyone manages it differently. I work with many people who often present well on the outside but tend to be struggling in overdrive on the inside,” says Avni.  

Experiencing many unhealthy workplace cultures and environments firsthand led her to play an integral role in developing and implementing a hospital wide mental health program, COPEline, for Canada’s leading mental health hospital: The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). You can find research-informed workplace recommendations in CAMH’s Workplace Mental Health Playbook for Business Leaders.  

We sat down with Avni to discuss her thoughts on mental health in the workplace and what HR leaders can do to support their employees.  

How does workplace mental health contribute to culture?

A workplace culture is created by its people. If your people aren't doing well, your culture will be directly impacted. Supporting your employees better will ultimately trickle down and have tremendous impact on your business.  

The challenging part is making workplace mental health more sustainable. Bringing back office pizzas every Friday is not going to change your culture. Leaders need to think more strategically about evaluating employee struggles and, instead of putting a band-aid over it, invest in solutions that will help sustain culture.  

Thinking more sustainably is “how can we make our employees thrive?” versus “what can I do to support this right now?”. Even if your culture is doing great, it’s always important to think long-term when it comes to improving culture. Organizations that manage workplace mental health well are constantly reflecting on their practices and evaluating what is supportive and what’s not. I think the pandemic is proof of that – no one thought working from home would be sustainable, and we discovered it can actually be better than going into an office every day for many employees.

Should HR leaders be embracing people analytics in 2023?

YES. If we're creating solutions to a problem our employees are struggling with, why wouldn't we go directly to the source? Giving your employees autonomy to voice their feedback – whether it be through engagement surveys or eNPS – is key. As much as data is so important, so is action. Many organizations collect, collect, collect, but then don’t follow through or know what to do with the data. Your employees are telling you what they need, they’re giving you the answer, but for them to feel heard, employers need to hold themselves accountable to implementing actionable steps.  

What are some signs of mental health struggles leaders should look out for and how can they provide support?

Absenteeism. Are your employees showing up, and if so, are they engaged? Do they seem present at work, or more withdrawn?  

As a leader, or direct manager, it’s important to know these signs and ask yourself how well you know your team. Check in with your employees regularly to ensure their needs are being met. We have entire lives outside of work, and our personal lives play a huge role in how we perform at work. Encourage your employees to take time off when they need it – providing paid personal time, or unlimited sick days ensures your employees will actually take the time to rest, instead of worrying about limited time off.  

This all contributes to your workplace culture – are your employees feeling guilty or worried because there’s no one to cover or assist with the workload? As a leader, you need to be hyperaware of this and know when to lessen the workload or bring in more support.  

Organizations tend to offer mental health solutions outside of their organization. How do we bring mental health support inside an organization?

Leaders are the key agents of change, and they need to practice what they preach. A workplace culture that talks about mental health, but then has leaders who are not reinforcing the resources available doesn’t help reduce the stigma.

People are more likely to reach out for support if it's encouraged and demonstrated throughout all levels of the organization. This includes things like flexibility – encouraging employee wellbeing is pointless if employees aren’t given the flexibility to attend doctor’s appointments or manage their personal responsibilities.  

Employees have full lives outside of work, and companies that support their team's needs with compassion and flexibility are more likely to create a positive and healthy work environment. Effective leadership and compassion go hand in hand. Compassionate leadership is consistent communication, regular check-ins, transparency, and keeping those practices consistent beyond periods of change.

How can HR Leaders win over their executive team when pitching health and wellness initiatives?

Mental health issues are the leading cause of long-term disability claims in Canada. The research is there, and the numbers don’t lie. HR teams need to remember they have the data: retention rates, absenteeism, turnover, disability claims – all of which cost the business a lot of money. Leverage that data to drive forward better strategies.  

Investing in mental health training for leaders can be incredibly effective. Are your leaders building teams that foster relationships and team building? Have they built teams that support a culture of work-life balance? Train your managers in these areas so they can lead by example and are better equipped to respond to their team’s needs. You put the numbers together plus some good research, and you have the formula for a pitch that will get results.

How can HR leaders prioritize mental health in 2023?

Employees thrive when their employers care – they can show up to work as their whole authentic selves because they know they’re valued and supported. With that in mind, developing a mental health strategy that’s sustainable, thoughtful, intentional and tailored to your team’s unique needs doesn't need to cost a lot. It doesn’t need to be at a large scale either, you can take small steps to get to the bigger picture if you stay committed to it.  

Reach out to people who are fostering the best workplace cultures, continue to share information, and understand what’s working and what isn’t. Fundamental basics like expressing empathy and kindness and actively listening to your employees can go a long way. There’s plenty of resources out there to get you started, but in the meantime – just be human.  

Thank you, Avni for your time and insights.

How Kudos Can Help

Better culture starts with Kudos – our platform offers resources that can help employee wellbeing, and contribute to a healthier workplace culture:  

  • Peer-to-Peer Recognition: our brains are wired to crave recognition. When we receive appreciation, our brains release serotonin and dopamine which are the crucial neurotransmitters that make us feel good. Kudos makes it easy to send meaningful recognition to anyone, so all great work can be celebrated.  
  • Sentiment Surveys: it’s important to have a place where employees can submit anonymous feedback on how they’re feeling. Kudos' Sentiment Survey provides valuable insights about employee wellbeing in your workplace quickly, efficiently, and in one place, allowing you to assess the overall employee sentiment in your organization currently and over time.
  • People Analytics: Kudos’ robust People Analytics can help uncover key indicators that are impacting your culture, so you can assess areas that need improvement before it’s too late.  

Don’t wait for your culture to crash – book a demo today to get started with Kudos.  

For mental health support in the U.S. call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.

For mental health support in Canada call 1-888-668-6810 or text WELLNESS to 686868 for youth or call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 741741 for adults.  

People People

5 min

5 min

Building a Talent Acquisition Career Through Taking Chances, Sales Savvy, and the Human Touch

Building a Talent Acquisition Career Through Taking Chances, Sales Savvy, and the Human TouchBuilding a Talent Acquisition Career Through Taking Chances, Sales Savvy, and the Human Touch

Meet People Person Niki Murphy, Canadian Talent Acquisition and Talent Advancement Lead at ABB

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Starting a career in human resources can come with surprises and unexpected opportunities.

For Niki Murphy, a Talent Management leader at ABB, a technology leader in electrification and automation, it was a chance visit to an employment agency in Ireland that set her on a path toward a successful and rewarding career in human resources management. While looking for a position in accounts payable, she was offered a recruitment role that opened up a world of possibilities.  

An early surprise for Niki? The financial opportunities and career possibilities in recruitment. But for her, the adventure of finding the perfect candidate and negotiating contracts was only part of the appeal. It was the realization that she was impacting people’s lives and livelihoods that was truly motivating.

We sat down with Niki to learn more about her career and what’s on her mind in today’s fast-changing world of work.

What makes a good talent management professional?

First and foremost, you need to be extremely people-oriented. You need to be comfortable having conversations about anything with candidates and clients left, right and center. I think authenticity is also really important.  

You do need to be a good salesperson too. The reality is that talent acquisition is, in many ways, a sales role. You need to listen to your clients to understand what they need. All day you’re selling the company to candidates – you need to know the values, the culture, the team, and the people.  

At the same time, there’s a huge element of creativity and branding involved, so it’s a position that requires a lot of adaptability and different skill sets.  

But, at the root of it is a people function; you need that motivation to work with people and help them succeed.  

How are you approaching the ‘new’ world of work post pandemic?

After polling staff, our company has taken a hybrid approach. Some wanted remote, some wanted hybrid, and a few wanted full-time in-office. So, we rented out some of the floors at our beautiful Montreal campus and implemented a desk hoteling approach with what we held onto.  

Office hoteling, otherwise known as desk hoteling or simply ‘hoteling’, is a flexible way of reserving a desk or room in your workplace for a set period of time. As the name suggests, hoteling operates in the same way as an actual hotel. You make a reservation, you check-in, you complete your stay, you check-out. (Envoy)

But that means the number of people that can come into the office is limited. So, we have different challenges now. At first, it was, “how do we fill the space?” And “is it worth us keeping this space because it costs a lot of money for the organization?“ Now, it’s “how do we cater to the crowds of people that want to come back in?” I don’t think that anybody has found the perfect recipe for it. Studies I’ve read show that the productivity of people working from home spikes, but the engagement drops, and then the flip side is, if people come into the office, the engagement is through the roof, but their productivity drops.  

So that’s why I think the hybrid model is probably best and is here to stay. We need human interaction and time to build relationships with people.

What are you most proud of in your career?

There are a few things that I’ve done over the years that have had a big impact.  

The first that comes to mind is spearheading an internal mobility program – that, for me, was probably one of my most significant career achievement.  

Internal mobility is the movement of employees (vertically and laterally) to new career and development opportunities within the same organization. (AIHR)

My company was focused on retaining talent; they understood the time and effort required to attract talent, given the scarcity in the market, and realized that once people were through the door, they had to keep them. It’s simply the most cost-efficient strategy. You have people at the peak of their efficiency in terms of company knowledge – it costs a lot to start over.  

My colleague and I led the charge, despite this being the first time I had taken on an initiative like this. We set out to change the culture and mentality of our company when it came to internal mobility. The board approved our plan, and within a year, we generated so much interest and adoption that the program took us from a 19% internal mobility rate to 31%, which is considered best in class.  

This is something that I continue to push on my teams today – the importance of considering your internal talent first.

Can you tell me about your work building an internal D&I Council?

I co-lead the Diversity and Inclusion Council at ABB, which is something that’s near and dear to my heart. It always has been, for that matter. We are working to have an impact by creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

Along with another leader, we put the council in place with four distinct priorities:

  1. Talent Strategy

We always want to hire the best person possible for any role, regardless of gender, ethnicity, ability etc., and that’s a promise that I’ve always made to the organization. However, we want to create more opportunities for diverse people to be seen and heard in the interview process. I’ve asked my team to, at a minimum, strive to have an underrepresented group meet the hiring manager – that’s a commitment we’ve made.

I walk the talk on my own team too. Candidates need to see themselves in the people interviewing them, which means diversity on our talent acquisition team, the gatekeepers of our hiring, is critical.

  1. Impact on External Communities

This means working with external groups to support D&I at a grassroots level. One way we do this is by working with programs for girls in STEM, starting as young as the High School level.

  1. Programming

We’re committed to a minimum of four events annually focused on topics related to D&I. Last year, a big focus for us was unconscious bias; this year, the focus is on the LGBTQ2S+ community. We want to take a stand and demonstrate that we are an inclusive organization.

  1. Marketing & Communications

This pillar is about internal visibility and sharing the stories of our colleagues to build empathy and understanding. It's about creating awareness.

That's what we're focusing on. It's grassroots and simple; hopefully, in the years to come, it will progress into something even bigger and better.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing today?

One challenge is the speed at which things are changing – it can be extremely overwhelming. I think people can get intimidated by the speed at which business strategies change. The world of HR is being flipped on its head.

Another big shift in HR is the prevalence of mental health conversations. Mental health concerns have spiked since the pandemic, and people are silent about it. The challenge is you don’t always see people suffering if they work remotely. So, it needs to be very clear, simple, and easy for them to access resources to help them. It needs to be a dialogue that’s easy and safe for people. HR leaders need to train managers on how to have those conversations. I think we’ll see a lot of HR positions created because of this in the future.

Another one is talent. Talent is scarce right now. For example, Canada has over 1 million open positions, and we don’t have enough people to fill the roles. Along with that comes talent retention. People are being poached left and right because of how accessible they are through technology like LinkedIn. They don’t even need to look for a job. The jobs come to them. We need to create an engaging workplace, and that’s in the culture. It’s a change that needs to happen – it’s a necessity.

What are you most excited about?

Companies need to rethink their talent strategy. And there’s not just one answer to that. What people need to do is stop the knee-jerk reaction to resignations. Instead of immediately replacing the person leaving, we need to take a second and figure out, “Is there a way to optimize how we’re doing things? Is there technology that exists that would allow us to rethink and redesign the function that they had? Can it be absorbed elsewhere without overworking the current team? It’s about redesigning.  

And that’s change management.

You need to coach your managers on how to do that and allow everyone the space to be creative and to provide their ideas.

Other opportunities include international recruitment and tapping into underserved labour markets, such as people who are neurodistinct, have physical impairments or disabilities, veterans etc.

I’m also cautiously excited about AI, and if and how it will revolutionize our world. I’m curious about how we can use tools like ChatGPT. I think the concept of AI, like being able to do psychometric assessments through video, is fascinating; I’m curious to see where we’ll be in 20 years. What this is all going to look like. I don’t think the human elements are ever going to leave. But I’m pretty excited to see where it’s going.

Thank you, Niki, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at

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