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Culture

Culture

5 min

5 min

How to Use Your Culture as a Talent Strategy

How to Use Your Culture as a Talent StrategyHow to Use Your Culture as a Talent Strategy

How effective is your current talent strategy? Compensation and benefits might seem like the most important tools in the war for talent – but they’ll only serve to get people in the door.

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Attracting and retaining talent is more crucial than it’s ever been. Compensation and benefits might seem like the most important tools in the war for talent – but they’ll only serve to get people in the door.  

“We think that if we treat our team members well and empower them to make a meaningful impact, that’s what will help our company’s performance. In fact, that’s what we’ve seen.” Sierra Berg from Pillar Properties, a Kudos client since 2013.  

The culture you create directly impacts every part of your employee experience and determines your ability to attract, engage, and retain top talent. Our eBook, Culture as a Talent Strategy, provides actionable insights on how to create the kind of culture that fosters exceptional performance and retains your best people. Let’s take a look at what you’ll find inside.  

Fighting Historic Labour Shortages

In 2021 we were challenged with The Great Resignation, where 2.9% of the U.S. workforce voluntarily left their jobs and 48% of American workers were actively searching for new jobs in that same year.

For HR leaders, attracting and retaining talent through these shifts in our workforce is incredibly challenging. If our current demographic trends continue, this problem will only get worse. When organizations are perpetually understaffed, growth and innovation don’t happen.  

Talent is a strategic priority for your organization and will become THE strategic priority and your greatest source of competitive advantage. How can you take your talent strategy to the next level?

Your Culture is the Answer

Organizations that plan to seriously address long-term labor shortages are investing in creating authentic cultures that drive engagement and performance.  

Your people want to feel respected, valued, and aligned with the direction of your company. Creating an attractive, healthy culture is an investment in the long-term viability of your organization. Working on your culture today will help you make enormous strides, especially with younger generations, who care more about their employers’ values.  

Pillar Properties’ culture-first approach directly impacts their customers and their business performance. Pillar was recognized as a Culture Leader in the Best Culture Awards, due to their investment and commitment to building a strong workplace culture by becoming a people-focused and culture-first organization.  

Download the full case study, The Key to Pillar Properties’ Success is Remarkable Culture, to learn more about how they turned their challenges into opportunities and are now an award-winning company – all due to their culture.  

How to Build an Irresistible Culture

To build a healthy, high-performance culture, take a realistic look at your culture today and evaluate what is working and what is not working. Here are the important questions to help guide you:

  1. Do your current values align with your vision for the future? Work with leaders at all levels to define the values and supporting behaviors that align with your business strategy.  
  1. Which cultural values, qualities, and behaviors will create the conditions for engagement and excellence in your organization? Once you’ve identified your cultural values, you can use them as a lens to evaluate existing processes, technologies, and policies.  
  1. Have you created an environment where your people become culture champions? Employees who are culture champions are the ones who can’t wait to tell their friends and family about how great it is to work at your organization.  

Great culture happens when values, behaviors, talent, and strategy come together. More answers to these questions are all in our free eBook.  

Bonus! Employer Branding 101

Employer branding is how organizations manage how potential candidates perceive them as employers. Your goal for employer branding is to convince desirable candidates (i.e., candidates with the right skills, aligned values, etc.) to apply for jobs with your organization.

Your employer branding strategy should showcase your culture in an authentic way, not because it will attract candidates, but because it will attract the RIGHT candidates. Infuse the hiring process with your culture – a top-notch culture is the best way to recruit top-notch talent.

Culture is the only thing your competitors cannot replicate, and that’s why it’s the only sustainable competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Build a winning talent strategy today by downloading our free eBook, Culture as a Talent Strategy, and start taking actionable steps towards a culture that fosters exceptional performance and retains your best people.

Culture

5 min

5 min

Your Team’s Secret Holiday Wish List

Your Team’s Secret Holiday Wish List  Your Team’s Secret Holiday Wish List

Company swag and forced fun is out. Time to disconnect and regular recognition is in.

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Currently, half of today's employees and managers are burned out at work, according to Microsoft's 2022 Work Trend Index. Between the ongoing pandemic, looming recession, and the usual stress this time of year brings, chances are your team is exhausted, overwhelmed, and in dire need of some downtime. Why is it, then, that along with weekends and weeknights full of holiday parties, shopping, and travelling, life at work feels busier and more demanding than it has all year?  

As HR teams, social committees, and culture clubs congregate to make some last-minute holiday plans, why not try something new this year? Rather than sticking to the old approach, here's an inside look at what your team really wants, and how to make it happen:

1) Instead of a virtual happy hour, offer time to disconnect

The urge to organize a virtual happy hour may be strong, and for some people, they are still a holiday dream come true! But with 80% of U.S. remote workers reporting some level of 'Zoom fatigue,' chances are, zooming in to party might bring out a few inner Grinches. Instead, give your team a clear choice by including one simple (compound) word: non-mandatory. Make it clear that your team can choose to attend or take the time to log off and recharge.

2) Swap out company swag for flexible gift cards

Sure, everyone loves a free t-shirt/hoodie/coffee mug, but is that really the best you can do? Between inflation and layoffs in the news, people are worried about personal finances – S&P Global reports that consumer holiday spending is expected to pull back compared to last season, for example. With that in mind, rather than delighting your team with (non-re-giftable) company swag, why not give them the gift of choice with a flexible gift card? Relieving the burden of holiday spending is a great way to show your team you have their back.

3) Ask yourself – can this wait until 2023?

Sometimes, what you don't give has the most impact. While the idea of starting 2023 off ready to go, with planning, budgeting, and reports complete, consider if it's worth your team's sanity and peace of mind. On top of that, with stress at an all-time high this time of year, the quality of the work will undoubtedly suffer. Pushing some deadlines to a week into January and giving your team a chance to breathe this December will put a smile on your team's face that a holiday ham could simply never.  

4) Pair your performance reviews with much-needed recognition

"I love performance review season," said no one ever. For some people, performance reviews bring anxiety, insecurity and significant discomfort. Unfortunately, this year risks being even more stressful, with many organizations freezing salaries and stalling promotions. Ensuring your team knows their work is appreciated is more critical now than ever. Announcing a 2023 implementation of a recognition platform, like Kudos, is a relatively inexpensive way of showing your team that you value their contributions. The bonus – a recognition platform is the gift that keeps on giving since your employees will continue to receive meaningful recognition all year and, if you choose to use points, a catalog of world-class rewards.

5) Give your team the right to disconnect

Finally, all this talk and effort leading up to the holidays is pointless if there is no actual time to celebrate and recharge. Time off can mean something different to everyone, including your managers. Some expect their teams to be accessible despite being "off." Have your leaders sign off on a "right to disconnect over the holidays" policy with guidelines on what is expected in terms of checking in with work and contingency plans. This will give your team the freedom to delete their work tech apps off their phones (no offence, Slack & Teams) and eliminate the need to check their email obsessively. Add some fun by suggesting some of these funny out of office messages. Your team will be delighted and will come back refreshed and ready to tackle 2023's challenges.


Changing how you've always celebrated the holidays can feel risky or uncomfortable, but the payoff is significant. When you see the joy in your team's eyes from getting what they really want, your own heart might just grow three sizes!

"And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!" –Dr. Seuss


Culture

5 min

5 min

10 Must-Read Articles for HR Leaders Going into 2023

10 Must-Read Articles for HR Leaders Going into 2023 10 Must-Read Articles for HR Leaders Going into 2023

Here are our top 10 articles from 2022 that will take your culture to the next level in 2023.

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The working world is continuing to change – for businesses, for leaders, but especially for employees. Employees are facing critical questions in terms of job security, where they work and their long-term career aspirations. Despite recent reports of layoffs and quiet quitting, the effects of the great resignation are still very much alive, with some are choosing to leave their jobs, or pursue new careers, and this means the competition to attract and retain talent is still very much top of mind for HR leaders.  

An organization is only as good as its people. Organizations that want to stand out in 2023 will need to look beyond their traditional goals and start embracing trends, like building a culture of recognition, in order to thrive among the competition. Let’s take a look at our top 10 articles from 2022 that will help you take your culture to the next level in 2023.  

1. Lead With Your Core Values

What are your company’s core values? What seems like a straightforward question often ends with an incomplete answer.  

Tom Short, CCO of Kudos, explains in, Lead With Your Core Values, how to transform your company’s core values to be purposeful and deliberate. Tom discusses the necessary principles when building core values so your company can have a culture by design rather than a culture by default:

  • Why Core Values Matter  
  • Discovering and Developing your Core Values  
  • How to Become a Core Value Driven Organization

2. The Science Behind Employee Recognition

As human beings, we have the need to accomplish things, and in turn, have those accomplishments appreciated and recognized. Without this recognition, we begin to feel our actions or hard work have no purpose, and this leads us to feel unappreciated, undervalued, and unmotivated.

The Science Behind Employee Recognition, discusses how human beings are wired to feel connection, belonging and acceptance. Feeling and expressing gratitude releases dopamine and serotonin – these crucial neurotransmitters are responsible for making us feel ‘good’ and helping us regulate our emotions and immediate stress response. Gratitude acts as a catalyst for these neurotransmitters, and actively experiencing gratitude, and appreciation allows us to manage our stress levels better.  

3. 20 Employee Recognition Examples your Team Will Love

You should never hesitate to send recognition, but when your message is meaningful, it has the most impact.  

Employees at companies with an effective recognition solution are five times as likely to be connected to company culture and four times as likely to be engaged. Implementing an easy-to-use recognition program for your employees is key to making recognition the foundation of your company culture.  

20 Employee Recognition Examples your Team Will Love discusses the types of employee recognition, how to write meaningful recognition and perfect examples to help you start.  

4. Recognition Platforms: Banks of Positive Reinforcement

When you’re recognized for accomplishing something great, where does that feeling go after the moment has passed?

Recognition Platforms: Banks of Positive Reinforcement dives deep into human memory, how we store recognition, and how an effective employee recognition program can nurture the experience of positive recognition.  

Platforms like Kudos keep each moment of social recognition in one place. Instead of waiting on directive memories to trigger motivation, you can access a bank of positive inspiration, any time.

5. How to Build a Culture of Recognition

When it comes to workplace benefits, today's employees expect the most common “perks” as the bare minimum  Offering free snacks and staff parties are no longer a competitive driver to making your organization a great workplace. Companies that are ahead of the curve know to look for deeper, more sustainable solutions.

How to Build a Culture of Recognition discusses the impact recognition has on your culture and employee experience, and how to make recognition an extension of your company’s core values and talent strategy by making it a regular habit within your organization.  

6. Why Strong Workplace Culture is Critical in Uncertain Times

Employees have been through a lot, and it’s critical to manage their emotional wellbeing. For many, today’s uncertain times are contributing to increasing levels of stress – which can have far reaching implications for your company. The good news is that by following some key guidelines you can help your organization successfully navigate this unpredictable era. Here’s what you’ll find in Why Strong Workplace Culture is Critical in Uncertain Times:

  • How recognition counteracts stress  
  • How to manage the wellbeing of your employees
  • Measuring the wellbeing of your culture  

7. The Key to A Winning Employee Recognition Strategy

Employee recognition has been around for a long time – dating back to the Industrial Revolution, when employers sought ways to make employees more efficient and productive

A key contributor to building an engaged workforce and great culture is continuing to adapt to your employee expectations. While the need for recognition has not gone away, employees today expect it more regularly and personalized to their contribution and impact. When did you last check in on your current employee recognition practices? What steps are you taking to modernize your employee recognition in 2023?

Read all about The Secret to a Winning Employee Recognition Strategy and the 6 key things to consider when building a culture of recognition in your organization.

8. Employer Branding: Everything you need to know

A strong employer brand will set your organization apart in today's ever-changing job market. Your employer brand will help you compete for talent with companies that offer similar roles and benefits compensation.  

In times when people can choose to work at any company, anywhere in the world, your organization's employer brand will help you stand out.

In Employer Branding: Everything you need to know will help you learn:

  • Employer branding 101
  • The benefits of building a strong employer brand
  • Who should oversee employer branding in your organization
  • How to build a great employer brand

Building an employer brand is a long-term culture strategy that will bring your core values to life and pay big dividends for your organization.  

9. Why People Leave Their Jobs

Feeling genuinely connected in any environment requires dedication, thoughtfulness, and compassion.  

Many people are looking for new jobs because they don’t feel connected to their current ones. Employees feel disconnected from their organizations for many different, but equally important reasons:  

  • Lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion policies  
  • Low job satisfaction, and pessimistic outlook  
  • Salary matters, but it’s not all that matters  
  • Their mental health is suffering  
  • People want a work style to match their lifestyle  

Thoughtful employee recognition strategies can address these nuances, remind people of their unique worth, and support their individuality.  

Read our article, Why People Leave Their Jobs, to learn what you can do to keep your team engaged and onboard.

10. The Future of Work Hinges on Employee Recognition

If you find yourself bearing the brunt of the Great Resignation you might be using outdated solutions to modern problems.

Today’s employees are seeking a strong company culture that recognizes their contributions. They want more than just compensation and time off – their must-haves for a thriving work culture include a recognition-first approach and a company that is taking massive steps towards employee engagement.  

Kudos’ President and CEO Muni Boga’s article, The Future of Work Hinges on Employee Recognition, sheds light on the crucial lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic and offers a path to success for companies who are ready to invest in a recognition-centric culture, rather than hoping for a return to our old ways.  

Kudos is ready to help you build a culture of recognition. Let us know how we can help you succeed.

Culture

5 min

5 min

Why Transparency Matters to Employees

Why Transparency Matters to Employees Why Transparency Matters to Employees

What is business transparency, anyway? This article dives into the benefits for your organization and how you can overcome potential challenges.

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Trust is built upon a foundation of transparency; employees, clients and partners trust an organization that is open, honest, and clear.

For employees, transparency means having enhanced visibility into processes, decisions, and strategy that goes beyond the superficial or the “need-to-know". Access to pertinent information helps people make more effective decisions, especially in the workplace. According to Glassdoor, “when an organization is more transparent with their employees, they tend to be more successful in several areas: they have increased employee engagement, stronger company culture and [transparency] fosters a type of comfort that allows employees to freely communicate.”  

What is business transparency?

Here’s a (fictional) short story about a person named Leslie. Leslie had worked in technology for quite a while when she felt it was the right time to change careers. To learn as much as possible about prospective opportunities, Leslie tried to learn as much as she could about a company, she thought she might want to work for; the problem was that there wasn’t much available on their website beyond templated copy and marketing speak that gave her no insight into what the company was really like. Leslie decided to take matters into her own hands by using other digital resources available to her, like search engines, social media, and career review websites. In the end, Leslie was able to learn enough about the company to pursue it as an opportunity. Through her search, she started to understand the culture, the objectives, and the philosophy of the company.

There are two important takeaways from this story:

1. This could easily be the real story of anyone seeking new opportunities and having to go deep to find necessary information. In Leslie’s case, she was highly motivated and did the extra work to dig up information, but not everyone – client or potential employee, has the same dedication.

2. The need for prospective employees, clients, and partners to do a deep dive to learn about your business can be avoided by being more transparent on your own website.

This doesn’t mean you have to expose every aspect of your business to the public and potentially make your organization vulnerable to competition. What it does mean is that you have an opportunity to tell your brand’s unique story in an open and authentic way, which will help you grow your business, reach the right clientele, and attract employees who are a great culture fit.  

While the example above is of a prospective employee, the impact on prospective and existing customers is also significant. Forbes states that honesty and transparency can help a business see growth in its customer base. In fact, a study found that 94% of consumers questioned would remain loyal to a transparent brand.

What are the benefits for my organization?

First and foremost, you will stand out as a business that is open, honest, and authentic. When an organization is viewed this way, people have more faith in working for them (as an employee) and with them (as a partner or client).  

MyHRToolKit outlined some specific benefits of business transparency which focus on relationship building with employees and improving overall workplace culture. Healthy relationships start with trust, and when your business is transparent, it “helps employees feel like they are part of something bigger. It invites them to really be a part of your business and its vision. It gives them ownership over their role, provides them with confidence in your leadership, and often means they will remain loyal to your company for longer.”  

When it comes to how this can impact your workplace culture it all boils down to the environment you want to foster; a transparent culture “strengthens relationships between employees and their employers and helps nurture an environment of collaboration. Rather than fighting for a position at the top and pulling down others along the way, employees will be more likely to support their colleagues and stay motivated even when the going gets tough.”

How can I overcome potential challenges?

Being transparent isn’t without its own set of challenges. When you decide to be more open about your business, that vulnerability may instill fear and skepticism – ‘have we shared too much?’ ‘Are we giving our competitors an edge?’ While these are normal concerns, a more important question to ask of your business is ‘can our brand grow and thrive without being more transparent?’  

What’s important to remember is that the type and amount of transparency your business fosters are completely within your control. According to Harvard Business Review, there are very real challenges in being too transparent, but finding the right balance for your organization can ensure you’re setting the right tone and facilitating an optimal experience for everyone. They outline four categories of transparency in business:

  • Boundaries around teams - Members of a team are more likely to embrace transparency if they know there are set boundaries in place that limit information from becoming too far reaching. (e.g., the R&D team may want boundaries to protect items still in the development process)
  • Boundaries between feedback and evaluation - Giving employees permission to learn and grow from their day-to-day actions without their mistakes being exposed and over scrutinized.  
  • Boundaries between decision rights and improvement rights - Drawing a line between an organization’s innovators and decision makers as they need differing levels of transparency. Holders of decision rights benefit from a transparent environment while that kind of visibility gets in the way of employees’ striving to make improvements. (e.g., executive team members require transparency to make the best possible decision, while team members who are innovating require a less transparent environment so they can create more freely).
  • Boundaries around time - Transparency granted for a specified period of time, allowing employees to prepare for —and make the most of—their window of privacy. This type of boundary complements the other three.

What’s the next step?

The benefits of becoming a more transparent business vastly outweigh any potential challenges, as long as you’re mindful of what you’re being transparent about and are doing it in the interest of your team, partners and clients. The following are three ways you can encourage your company to become more transparent today:

  • Facilitate a safe space – when people know that the environment they are working in is safe, they become more willing to collaborate, challenge one another and ask for help.
  • Keep your team informed – transparency starts from the top down; when a business leader is open about the values, direction, and growth plans of the company, the team will feel more confident in the organization.
  • Employee recognition – Public employee appreciation helps your team feel appreciated for their efforts, shows them how valued they are within the organization and helps them stay better engaged while at work.

You’ve worked hard to create an organization that offers a unique solution to a problem – make sure you’re open enough to let people fully appreciate your greatness and help make you even better.  

Culture

5 min

5 min

The Monster Under HR’s Bed

The Monster Under HR’s Bed   The Monster Under HR’s Bed

Here are some of today’s HR leaders’ biggest fears, and some solutions to ease them. For the full effect, please read this article by candlelight, or while holding a flashlight under your chin.

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The month of October can make us feel uneasy for a variety of reasons; Halloween candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner being one.  

But just as the seasons are changing, so is the world of HR; and what’s more frightening than the unknown?

Here are some of today’s HR leaders’ biggest fears, and some solutions to ease them. For the full effect, please read this article by candlelight, or while holding a flashlight under your chin.  

Finding and Keeping Talent

According to the 2022 Identity of HR Survey by HR Drive, HR leaders say there are three main barriers to recruitment and retention:  

  • 72% said they don’t receive enough well-qualified candidates.
  • 31% said their company has limited work flexibility (hours, location).  
  • 41% said their company doesn’t offer competitive compensation.

The survey found that small, tight-knit organizations are faring better than large ones in terms of climbing resignation rates: 53% of large organizations reported climbing rates, while only 26% of small organizations did.  

Keep in mind, the size of an organization does not necessarily make or break its chances at better employee retention. Small organizations can more easily create the sense of community and belonging that job-seekers crave, but even large, remote organizations can seamlessly integrate positive culture with the right tools.  

Solutions

Feeling Stretched Too Thin

HR’s role has morphed drastically in the past two years to that of a strategic business partner. Rightfully so, HR is getting more recognition, but they’re not yet receiving the resources to match.  

While HR professionals are “the people that help people”, many of us get into the habit of venting to HR without following through with formal complaints. Being an emotional sounding board in any setting would get exhausting; HR professionals somehow need to conjure the emotional energy to support entire organizations from 9 to 5.  

Solutions

  • HR leaders need leadership buy-in to build their culture strategies, and act on them. From getting approval for the necessary budget and staffing to making time for culture activities in their schedules – this groups participation is crucial.    
  • HR leaders can’t build an effective strategy if they have no time. Create a clearer definition for the role of your HR team, and if necessary, expand your team or outsource.
  • Every member of an organization is responsible for its culture. Try implementing regular recognition and team building, so everyone has a chance to make a positive difference. If people have less to vent about, HR can build resiliency in other areas — beyond emotional support.  

Resistance to Change

Large organizations need more organization. That said, the survey found that rigid systems can reinforce the same toxic cultural norms HR is working to dismantle.  

Naturally, employees at all levels in an organization are guilty of resisting change. It’s easy to justify tradition when you’re immersed in all its (fleeting) benefits; but today’s talent is looking for more than a paycheck.  

In HR, resisting change is like hanging your feet over the edge of the bed, taunting whatever sinister being that lies underneath to pull you by the ankles.  

Solutions

  • Accepting that there is no static, be-all end-all solution opens the door to a more transparent, synergistic culture.  
  • Give employees frequent opportunities to showcase their own ideas or suggestions for cultural initiatives – you may find that opening up the floor to employees can help to drive important change
  • Your organization’s culture is what you make it. Investing in an employee engagement program like Kudos will take some of the heavy lifting off your HR teams’ shoulders, and demonstrate the value of their role to the rest of your organization through public, peer-to-peer recognition messages.  

Remote Work vs. In-Office

HR Reporter also revealed workers’ ideas about change. Many people are hoping for large pay bumps if forced to return to the office full-time. In Canada, for example, 80% of remote workers might just look for a new job if asked to return full-time to the office.  

Even with an excess of other responsibilities, many HR leaders are left with the task of encouraging people to return to the office. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news, especially when it could lead to losing employees they care about.  

Solutions

  • Thoughtfully consider your organization’s reasons for bringing employees back to the office full-time. Many workers have acclimated to their remote, flexible, and hybrid roles, so a full return may feel jarring.  
  • Create a plan that eases employees back into the office. Smooth-out the blunt edges of your plan, so that HR can introduce it to employees with less confrontation.  

Maintaining Morale and Engagement

80% of organizations rank maintaining morale and engagement as their top priority for 2022. So, what’s the best way to go about it?  

Maintaining morale and engagement is a unique challenge because each employee gains motivation from different things. HR professionals need a solution that harmonizes life and work, so that each employee feels welcomed and accepted for their authentic selves.  

Each organization has a unique viewpoint, identity, and mission, with workplace culture at the center. Tackling culture doesn't have to be scary! With the right tools and approach, you can design an irresistible culture that fuels healthy morale.

People are happier at work when they feel welcome, and among friends. With recognition platforms like Kudos, which open the doors for peer-to-peer social recognition, your company culture will give employees a sense of community.  

Culture

5 min

6 min

Quiet Quitting Explained

Quiet Quitting ExplainedQuiet Quitting Explained

Your guide to the quiet quitting phenomenon and what you can do to address it.

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Should you be worried about quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting represents a significant shift in today’s workforce. More than ever, today’s employees are seeking happiness at work and better work-life balance. More and more employees are rejecting the “hustle culture” mentality.

We dove into the history of quiet quitting to provide some advice on what to do next if you’re feeling confused about this trending topic.

What is quiet quitting?

Many definitions of quiet quitting have surfaced.  

Gartner defines it as “a term that describes employees who are not motivated to put their all into work. They’re not actually quitting, but they have mentally checked out.” Forbes calls it “greater emotional separation or new boundaries between work and life.”

Essentially, it is a rebellion against the “hustle culture” mentality many grew up observing.

In the viral TikTok video, Zaid Khan defines the term as “not outright quitting your job, but quitting the idea of going above and beyond.”  

While the TikTok video is from 2022, the concept of ‘quiet quitting’ has existed for decades.

Perhaps the most popular example of quiet quitting is the 1999 film Office Space. In this corporate satire, fictional character Peter Gibbons refuses to work overtime, wants to have a good time and charms two consultants into putting him on the management fast-track.

From a long commute to a boss who is constantly asking him to work weekends, he stops going the extra mile and encourages others to do the same – rejecting hustle culture.

Hustle Culture

So, what is hustle culture anyway? The concept is simple – hustle culture means letting work be the driving force in your life, to the detriment of all else. Other people stuck in hustle culture might feel like they must work (long hours) to fulfill their professional goals, and there’s simply no other way.  

But, why?  

Historically in the US, people who earned the highest salary would work less than the people who earned the least. It makes sense – if you’re making a lot of money, then you can afford to work less.  

But something changed in the late 80s; people making the highest salary started to work the longest shifts. The reason? Employees paid by the hour (typically blue-collar workers) were now protected by the Fair Labour Standards Act. From then on, hourly employees were required to be paid overtime.

At the same time, employers hiring salaried workers, typically in white-collar professions, began to glamorize the idea of workaholism. These workers would work unpaid extra hours to achieve their targets and professional goals.

Hustle culture promotes “always staying on,” and that mentality can lead to burnout.  

Today, according to Deloitte, almost 80% of people have experienced burnout at work.  

With the impact of globalization and automation, a wave of mergers and acquisitions started to happen. Afraid of getting laid off, people were bound to work harder to demonstrate their role was indispensable. This fed hustle culture, and subsequently, burnout culture.  

What changed?

When Millennials entered the workforce, they started to advocate for better work-life balance and a focus on wellness. Tired of seeing their parents working at companies with poor cultures, this generation fought for the flexibility and benefits we see in today’s job market.

A study done by PWC proves this, revealing that Millennials demand better work-life balance. That said, this generation won’t just accept a position for a high salary, they also want purpose, and will make sure that companies align with their values before they accept a job. What's more, with record-high employment rates, they can be choosy.

Did Millennials or Gen Z start the quiet quitting trend?

Both generations seem to rebel against the hustle culture mentality. According to Deloitte, Gen Z also craves more purposeful and flexible work with a particular focus on their mental health.  

But employees aren’t just refusing to work overtime or weekends; some are unmotivated and disengaged during regular working hours.

According to Gallup, almost 85% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. In some cases, quiet quitting could arguably be another form of employee disengagement.

What can your organization do?

1. Get to know your employees well

It’s important to understand that each person sees work differently. According to Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski, there are three different approaches people take to their work.  

First, we have the people who see work as a means to put food on the table and pay bills – these are ‘job oriented ’ people.

Secondly, we have people with a ‘career orientation;’ they see their work as a path to a better status in life, so they don't mind putting the extra mile into their work to achieve that.  

Finally, we have the people who take it even further. They don’t view their job as a career but instead as a ‘calling.’  

While none of these approaches are necessarily good or bad, it’s important for managers to find the right way to motivate each employee to keep them engaged.  

For instance, if a person who is job oriented has a family emergency, they will seek support from their employer to take time off to support their loved one. Similarly, if someone is career oriented and feels like they’ve reached their peak at work, you should find ways to develop a comprehensive career development plan with them. Finally, if you have a ‘calling’ employee, be mindful of burnout. While they love their job and find it satisfying, make sure they get the support they need by encouraging breaks and disconnection from work on vacation.  

2. Focus on engagement

Employees are disengaged for nuanced reasons, but at the core, they want to feel valued and that their organization cares for their wellbeing.  

Recognition is one proven way more companies are opting to utilize to improve their engagement levels. What’s more, it also helps you build a stronger connection with your employees.

According to Gallup, employees are up to four times more likely to be engaged if they experience regular recognition at work.

The key here is to understand that happier employees perform better. As a result, forward-thinking companies are coming to realize that the push toward a more balanced work life has produced benefits for both employees and employers.

With a tool like Kudos, employers can encourage peer-to-peer recognition, allowing people’s hard work to be highlighted in situations where it might normally go unnoticed. The platform allows your team to align their recognition messages to your company values, helping employees develop a better sense of belonging while helping employers measure their engagement too.  

3. Take good care of managers

Almost identical to the employee engagement study, today, Gallup reports that only one in three managers feel engaged at work. Taking good care of managers means giving them the resources they need to lead a team properly.  

Quiet quitting is a silent scream for managers to build a stronger relationship with their employees, but managers can’t do that if they are feeling burned out.  

According to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, the most important factor is to build trust. If an employee trusts their manager, they will also feel the organization cares for their wellbeing.  

Remember, a trustworthy manager reflects a trustworthy organization. So, encourage Managers to take time off, provide training and finally, work towards a culture where managers can get recognized too. Oftentimes, managers get forgotten despite the key part they played in achieving the outcome.  

Where to go from here

Quiet quitting poses a higher threat when an unhealthy workplace culture is in place.  

However, organizations that adapt to newer generations’ demands will see better results than the ones stuck in the past.  

By working towards healthy workplace culture, being there for your employees and managers, and praising their achievements through consistent recognition, you'll be well on your way to a thriving, engaged workforce.  

Culture

5 min

5 min

Workplace Culture: Why Recognition is Important

Workplace Culture: Why Recognition is ImportantWorkplace Culture: Why Recognition is Important

From policies and procedures to your company’s values and beliefs. What exactly is workplace culture, and how can recognition create a workplace culture that will flourish?

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Culture has the power to influence many aspects of your organization’s operations. That’s because workplace culture is part of everything an organization does. From policies and procedures to your company’s values and beliefs. So, what exactly is workplace culture, and how can recognition create a workplace culture that will flourish?

Workplace Culture: Definition

Culture is a hot topic these days, especially surrounding discussions on remote work and many organizations returning to office-based work. At its core, workplace culture is the shared values, behaviours, and goals of the organization.

Workplace culture is the foundation of the unique identity your organization needs to stand out from the rest. Like employer branding, workplace culture has the power to attract top talent and build stronger relationships with your clients. Think of workplace culture as your organization’s personality and unique traits.

Culture and employer branding go hand in hand. While employer branding focuses on how prospective employees will see your organization while looking for a job, workplace culture is what will ultimately make them stay.

Workplace Culture: Importance

By now, most organizations understand that workplace culture can bring benefits such as better communication between teams, enhanced trust between employees and higher efficiency.

In fact, according to a Deloitte study, 94% of executives think of culture as a vital component to business success. What’s more, when looking at successful organizations around the globe, you’ll notice they all have one thing in common: a strong workplace culture.

A strategic workplace culture built by design (versus by default) is important because it will influence your employees by creating a better sense of belonging. Employees that feel like they belong and bring their authentic selves to work, influence organizational performance.

“Millennial turnover costs the US economy $30.5 billion annually” (Gallup Report, 2022)

With millennials voluntarily leaving their jobs at a drastic rate, it’s never been more important to analyse what’s working and what needs improvement.  

Millennial workers – the largest working generation today, are different from previous generations in that if they don’t like the culture, they will leave for a new employer. Moreover, a likeable culture needs to be genuine – it must reflect your organization’s values and ideals.

Defining your workplace culture 

Now that we know why culture is so important, and why it has become so top of mind in the last few years, how can you define it and make it stronger?  

  1. Employees need to believe in it: Whether your company is a start-up, or a large enterprise, workplace culture has been part of who you are as an organization from day one. By now, however, one important thing you’ve probably realized is that you can’t force people to believe in it. Sure, you can tell them what you believe the culture is all about, and how to work within that culture, but this approach is unsustainable and distracting for leaders and employees. According to thought leader, Simon Sinek, the key is to get early adopters and innovators in your organization onboard with your desired culture and values first, and if they buy-in, the rest of the company will follow. One way to reinforce your culture according to your vision and your values, in an authentic way, is through recognition. Voluntary, peer-to-peer recognition has the right ingredients to make everyone believe in your workplace culture. Moreover, linking recognition to your core values will reinforce the culture you’re trying to achieve and embrace. So, if you don’t have a recognition program in place, that’d be a great place to start. Kudos’ unique approach to recognition allows you to link recognition back to your organization’s values. Remember that you already have a workplace culture; all you need is a little help defining it.
  1. Focus on engagement: With many of us working remotely and only 3% wanting to return to an office full-time, it can become tough to define and enrich your workplace culture. According to a Gallup report, only 34% of US employees feel engaged at work. This is extremely low, yet it is the highest level of engagement since the early 2000s. With a tool like Kudos, teams will have an online forum where employees can celebrate accomplishments, recognize peers, and feel more connected to your organization’s culture. Kudos can transform the challenge of remote work into an opportunity for employees to connect, celebrate and learn more things about each other. But regardless of whether your team is remote, hybrid or in-office, appreciation for their hard work will directly have an impact on your workplace culture because it boosts employee’s morale.
  1. Adapting to new generations: One sign of great workplace culture is the ability to adapt and attract top talent. With generations like millennials and Gen Z making up almost half of the full-time US workforce, your organization’s workplace culture needs to focus on what they care about the most: Benefits, flexibility and recognition. These generations appreciate having mental health benefits and work-life balance. Even before The Great Resignation, millennials and Gen Z were opting for organizations that cared about their wellbeing. In a post pandemic world, adding a comprehensive employee benefits package that includes mental health resources such as employee family assistance programs (EFAP) or high maximums for psychology, will lower absenteeism and increase productivity. Additionally, both generations crave flexibility, meaning they don’t want rigid working hours. A study done by Deloitte found that three quarters of millennials and Gen Z would prefer hybrid or remote work. Unique circumstances like mass layoffs and more than a few economic recessions have made these two generations crave better recognition at work. So, by creating a culture of recognition, you will see higher employee performance because employees will trust you and feel safe.

Looking ahead

Leadership plays a big role in how workplace culture is developed and evolves. It’s demonstrated that when employees take pride in the workplace culture they share, everyone wins. Employees want their needs to be met, but they also want to know the work they do is appreciated. By recognizing and adapting, employers that strive towards a positive workplace culture will thrive.

Culture

5 min

5 min

How to Build a Culture of Recognition

How to Build a Culture of RecognitionHow to Build a Culture of Recognition

A culture of recognition helps employees know their company values them and their contributions to the success of their organization.

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What Makes a Great Workplace?

In a rapidly evolving business world, there’s no exact recipe for what makes a workplace great.  Amidst a global pandemic, the Great Resignation, a looming recession and continuously evolving technology – building a robust workplace culture is more important now than ever.  

When people are asked, “what makes your workplace great”, the typical responses you’ll get are: high pay, good health benefits, vacation time, and other office perks like gym access, ping pong tables, and free snacks.

Today's employees expect most of those items as the bare minimum in terms of workplace perks and benefits. Offering free snacks and staff parties is no longer a competitive driver to making your organization a great workplace.  Companies that are ahead of the culture curve know to look for deeper answers to this question, like: “feeling valued,” “a sense of community,” “employee well-being," and “opportunities to grow”.

We know recognition is a leading driver in retention, productivity and innovation, but understanding the impact of recognition culture on the overall employee experience is the shift organizations need to make to gain a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining top talent.  

What is a Culture of Recognition?

In a culture of recognition, employees know their company values them and their contributions to the success of their organization. A culture of recognition builds trust and security, and employees are more motivated to continue doing great work. Recognition consistently emerges in studies on improving workplace culture and has proven to be a primary driver in engaging and motivating employees to do their best.

It also reminds employees they are integral to building and living the company’s core values. With effective recognition, employees understand their accomplishments within the context of something greater. So, even when the company is going through changes, employees feel secure and content with the value they bring.

Employee Engagement and Wellbeing

“Globally, employee engagement and wellbeing remain very low, and it’s holding back enormous growth potential” (Gallup Report, 2022).

Employers need to move away from the traditional thinking that engagement happens at work and wellbeing happens at home. Engaged employees are highly involved and are moving the organization forward because their needs are being met, they have a sense of belonging, and they know their wellbeing matters. Disengaged employees are psychologically unattached to their work, or worse, are resentful and reactive because their needs are not being met.  

Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report asks: Are your employees thriving, struggling or suffering? Companies with engaged workers (thriving) have 23% higher profit compared to companies with unhappy workers (struggling or suffering). When employees are engaged and thriving, they experience significantly lower stress, and this plays a massive role in their responsibilities at work and outside of work.

There is a significant correlation between employee recognition and employee engagement – recognition boosts employee engagement and contributes to mental wellbeing. In fact, the absence of recognition can lead to the deterioration of an employee’s psychological health and, ultimately, their performance. Employee wellbeing is not just “health benefits” and “time off”; it’s providing a promise and a commitment to your employees that you take their wellbeing seriously.  

Building Your Culture of Recognition

Let’s go back to the question: “what makes a great workplace?”. Implementing an employee recognition platform isn’t the whole solution – making recognition an extension of your core values, your talent strategy, and a regular habit within your organization is the key. So, how do you build a culture of recognition?

  1. Start at the top: Workplace culture needs to be modeled by all levels of leadership and needs full support to establish a true recognition culture.  
  1. Make the connection: Align recognition with your company’s strategies and core values. Employee recognition is most effective when it’s tied back to the behaviours that your organization values.
  1. Make giving recognition easy: Recognition platforms, like Kudos, that are accessible to all employees via web browser, a mobile app or kiosk make it easy for employees to give and receive recognition.  
  1. Don’t just focus on rewards: While rewards still hold value, recognition should always be the center of your program, with points and rewards, secondary.
  1. Be consistent: Keep your recognition program top-of-mind and encourage your leadership teams to embrace it. Giving recognition should become a habit within your organization (even recognizing the small things!).

You can learn more on how to build a culture of recognition and drive your organization's performance in our Recognition Done Right Culture Guide.

Your employees are your greatest asset – you need to foster an environment where they can thrive versus just seeing them as "workers." Employees want to be part of a workplace that unlocks their full potential by being invested in them as a whole person, recognizing them for their achievements, and valuing them as part of a positive workplace culture. When you make meaningful recognition part of your company’s culture, you are unlocking an advantage and leading the way for what can truly make a workplace great.  

Culture

5 min

5 min

Why People Leave Their Jobs

Why People Leave Their Jobs Why People Leave Their Jobs

The script has flipped from “what can people do for the organization” to “what can the organization do for its people.” To know what makes people want to stay with a company, it’s helpful to know first what makes them leave.

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For much of the world, the pandemic is far from over. Navigating this ever-changing landscape can feel disorienting, to say the least. Yet, many organizational leaders have utilized this time to learn from their past misdirection, and thrive on unfamiliar, new, and exciting ideas.  

Retaining valuable talent is essential not only to keep your organization on track, but also to explore untravelled avenues.

“Nearly one in four workers (23%) say they are actively trying to change their job and/or move into another industry that they believe is more future-proof.” – ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022 

The script has flipped from “what can people do for the organization” to “what can the organization do for its people.” Companies that follow this new script are attracting more talent and holding onto them for longer.

To know what makes people want to stay with a company, it’s helpful to know first what makes them leave.

1. Lack of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policies

People need to feel fundamentally supported; this starts with comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. Many people leave jobs because their employer isn’t meeting this bare minimum, let alone building inclusive culture strategies or sharing educational resources throughout the company.

ADP recently published an outline of current sentiments echoed by workers around the world, People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View.

The report shows that 76% of the global workforce, “would consider looking for a new job if they discovered their company had an unfair gender pay gap or no diversity and inclusion policy.” – ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022

More notable findings:

  • In a third of cases, employees are left to drive gender pay equality and a diversity and inclusion policy within companies. One in seven say no one is driving inclusive initiatives — a response most common in North America and Europe.
  • 36% of workers feel there is an unequal mix of ethnicities and genders in their companies.
  • Only 37% of workers think that people with disabilities are equally represented in the workforce.
“Employers’ strategies could also benefit from encompassing how to support and champion neurodiversity, such as dyslexia or autism, among the workforce.” – ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022 

2. Low Job Satisfaction, and Pessimistic Outlook

The impulse to change jobs for a more future-proof career path is growing. Employees have higher expectations because they want to feel secure in rapidly changing, uncertain times.

Just like your company, employees want to be at the leading edge of their fields — push the envelope, think outside of the box, and create something they’re proud of. Yet, they don’t want to sign themselves up for burnout and impossible performance standards.

“For the one in 10 who are not satisfied with their current employment, almost half (49%) say it is due to being given increased responsibility for no extra pay.” –  ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022

More notable findings:

  • 46% of workers feel dissatisfied in their positions because there are no opportunities to progress.
  • 41% of workers say they are dissatisfied because they receive fewer benefits than initially expected.  
  • 23% of employees are searching for more future-proof work, an increase from one in seven (15%) who said the same in 2021.

The JD-R Model, created by researchers Arnold Bakker and Evangelia Demerouti in 2006, is a different way to represent, measure, and ultimately improve employee well-being. It splits working conditions into two categories: job demands and job resources. 

Job demands are the physical and emotional stressors of someone’s role. Job resources are the physical, social, and organizational resources that reduce the stress of someone’s role.

“The JD-R Model states that when job demands are high and job positives are low, stress and burnout are common. Conversely, good job positives can offset the effects of extreme job demands, and encourage motivation and engagement.” – Mind Tools Content Team, The JD-R Model Analyzing and Improving Well-Being

Promisingly, the JDR model can give leaders clarity on turnover risk before it’s too late. Oftentimes, leaders only gain this clarity after a valuable employee leaves.

With the JDR model, if someone’s job demands far outweigh the resources available to them, employers have measurable information they can act on.

3. Salary Matters, but it’s not all that Matters 

At the end of the day, people work to feed families, pay bills, and improve their quality of life. Competitive salaries can give someone more freedom to do so, but maybe they’re looking for a more sincere incentive. People want to be part of a community where their creativity isn’t limited, and they can bring their authentic selves to work.

Daily recognition is a powerful engagement incentive, whether your company has the capacity to offer competitive salaries or not. In several cases, smaller companies set themselves apart from competitors by building a transparent, collaborative, and supportive culture. 

“More than half (53%) would accept a pay cut if it meant improving their work-life balance, and a similar proportion (50%) would take a pay cut to guarantee flexibility in how they structure their hours – even if it meant the total hours worked did not change.” –  ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022 

4. Their Mental Health is Suffering

At Kudos, we value happiness. Of course, we don’t expect our employees to be happy 100% of the time, but we support them in their pursuit of happiness. And we are dedicated to eliminating any obstacles in their way.

Valuing your employee’s psychological well-being is integral to improving their sense of belonging. Especially considering the large portion of the workforce struggling with their mental health:

  • 67% of workers feel stressed at least once a week, and 15% feel stressed every day.
  • 41% are stressed by an increased amount of responsibility during the pandemic.
  • 53% believe their work is suffering because of their poor mental health.
  • 70% of workers feel their managers support their mental health, and 76% feel supported by their colleagues.

Effective remote leaders seem to have a better handle on the “people-first” approach. In virtual environments, leaders need to be intentional and creative about connecting with their teams. In-office leaders don’t have the same physical and technological barriers to overcome, so they are often less proactive about connecting with their employees.

"Only one in 11 remote workers (9%) say their employer is not doing anything proactively to promote positive mental health at work, as opposed to around one in three (34%) of those in the workplace.” – ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022

That said, feeling truly connected in any environment takes dedication, thoughtfulness, and compassion. 

5. People Want a Work Style to Match their Lifestyle

For many, working at home can contribute to their stress. Maybe they’re juggling parenthood, a tense roommate dynamic, or any number of distractions in their home life. But, when employers extend their support to remote workers the “out-of-office” benefits shine through.

 Alternative working models support the future-proof trajectory people want to be on. Workplaces that offer remote or flexible opportunities are more likely to keep their valued members on board:

  • Two-thirds of the global workforce (64%) have already, or would consider leaving their jobs if their employer asked them to return full-time to the office.
  • More than half (52%) would accept a pay cut of 11% on average to guarantee remote or flexible work arrangements.
  • People who work from home are more likely to feel optimistic about the next five years in the workplace; 89% say so compared to 77% of their peers who travel to work.
  • Remote workers are more satisfied with their jobs than those working in-office (90% versus 82%).

To keep people around, invest in a working style that complements their lifestyle. Otherwise, they will leave to find a better match.

Making the Case to Stay

The truth is, that talented people leave great jobs for nuanced reasons. Thoughtful employee recognition strategies can address these nuances, remind people of their unique worth, and support their individuality. Peer-to-peer recognition makes people feel appreciated, valued, and irreplaceable.

Change is inevitable, but companies that intentionally build positive relationships with their employees also build a positive legacy. And should anyone have to leave your company, they will take that legacy with them.

So, be a company that’s great to work for, and to be from.

Culture

5 min

5 min

Employer Branding: Everything you need to know

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

In times when people basically can choose to work at any company, anywhere in the world, your organization’s employer brand is what will ultimately attract top talent.

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In today’s ever-changing job market, a strong employer brand will set your organization apart. It will help you compete with companies that are offering the same roles, same benefits and even the same compensation as you. In times when people basically can choose to work at any company, anywhere in the world, your organization’s employer brand is what will ultimately attract top talent.  

What’s important to understand is that employer branding shouldn’t just fall on the Human Resources department’s shoulders. Branding is a marketing concept and as such, the marketing department must actively collaborate with the HR team for the strategy to work.  

What is employer branding?

Simply put, employer branding is the way your organization manages how current employees and potential candidates perceive you as an employer.  

However, employer branding also influences how your clients see your brand.  When a brand has a reputation of not treating its employees well, clients or consumers won’t want to do business with it. There are plenty benefits an organization will start to see with the development of a great employer brand. Let’s dive into it!

The benefits of a strong employer brand

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

Cultivate your employer brand

Now that we know the benefits of a great employer brand, it’s time to figure out who should oversee employer branding at your organization, HR or Marketing?

As the war for talent continues, employer branding has created the need for the two departments to collaborate more than ever before. In fact, a LinkedIn survey says HR professionals acknowledge that recruitment is becoming more like marketing.

So, who should oversee employer branding?

The answer is that it should be a team effort. Employer branding is about creating a culture of happy employees and eager prospects who dream of working for you. It’s about listening to, and measuring employee referrals, both formal, and informal. When someone is so happy to work at your organization, they will tell all their family and friends about your brand.

Employer branding needs a strong culture where employees are in the spotlight; their stories, their achievements, and their wellbeing. Adding a people-point-of-view to your employer branding will generate better candidates, contributing to better culture. Employer branding and culture go hand in hand.

But how can you take your employer brand from good to great?

How to build a great employer brand

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

Take aways

Building an employer brand is a long-term culture strategy that will pay big dividends. While the task may seem daunting, remember that you already have an employer brand – the key is to make sure people are experiencing your workplace the way you want them to, and the way that will drive business results in the future.

Culture

5 min

5 min

Why People-First HR Strategies are the Future

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

People should feel valued, recognized, and motivated to take initiative in what they do best. Many organizations are realizing that today’s job searchers are no longer settling for anything less. Companies need dedicated, creative, and people-focused solutions to keep up with a transforming workforce.

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Why People-First HR Strategies are the Future

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

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

Toxic corporate culture is 10 times more important in predicting employee turnover than compensation, yet many organizations don’t have strategies to purposefully improve culture. Even worse, the topic of culture is often ignored or considered “out of management’s hands.”

While some employers wait for culture to form organically, their employees are left to fulfill unclear expectations without feedback or support.  

People should never feel stuck in an exhaustive cycle with no affirmation that they are headed in the right direction. They should feel valued, recognized, and motivated to take initiative in what they do best. Many organizations are realizing that today’s job searchers are no longer settling for anything less.

Companies need dedicated, creative, and people-focused solutions to keep up with a transforming workforce.  

Defining culture

Positive intentions produce positive results

Your company’s culture is shaped by shared experiences and expectations. It influences the way people think, feel, and behave in the workplace. If created with the right intentions, culture can provide a sense of identity, and increase employee commitment to your organization’s values.  

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

A culture built by design, not by default, is critical. And while everyone shares the responsibility of keeping it healthy, more and more companies are leaning on HR professionals.

Focused People and Culture strategies are becoming more popular, because they authentically strengthen the relationship between organizations and the people who work tirelessly to keep them running.  

“We’re really focused on treating our own employees as if they are customers of the People and Culture team. We want them to have a good experience with our company.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor at Kudos.

What makes a culture toxic?

Why HR strategies need to transform

MIT Sloan Management Review identifies five attributes of a toxic company culture: disrespectful, noninclusive, unethical, cutthroat, and abusive.  

Disrespectful

Being consistently disrespected at work is soul-crushing.  

When someone’s self-worth is repeatedly attacked, they lose confidence in their skills. They feel increasingly out of place and decide they don’t belong – before their employer decides for them.  

According to the research highlight, a lack of respect in the workplace was “the single strongest predictor of how employees as a whole rated the corporate culture.”

Noninclusive

Too often, employee voice is discussed in universal terms. Lumping everyone together denies important diversities, and further silences marginalized voices.

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

Organizations that fail to address the specific barriers their employees face based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or age create a toxic climate of silence.  

“Climates of silence exist when powerful systemic forces create organizational silence — widely shared perceptions that speaking up is not worth the effort or is downright dangerous.” – Voice, silence, and diversity in 21century organizations

Unethical

A company that sweeps dishonesty under the rug encourages the same behaviour from their employees. On the other hand, a company with clear moral and ethical standards encourages a culture of accountability and trust.

Cutthroat  

In a cutthroat environment, recognition is achieved by sabotaging others – not uplifting them. Unhealthy amounts of competition create unstable corporate cultures and diminish everyone’s sense of belonging.  

Abusive

An organization’s culture is led by example. If leadership is hostile, demeaning, and abusive to their staff – they can’t expect company culture to be any better.  

The most frequently mentioned hostile behaviors in our sample are bullying, yelling, or shouting at employees, belittling or demeaning subordinates, verbally abusing people, and condescending or talking down to employees.” - MIT Sloan Management Review, Why Every Leader Needs to Worry About Toxic Culture

Generally, toxic cultures prioritize corporate-performance results at the expense of people. Traditional policy-focused HR strategies support these priorities.  

People focused strategies achieve the same performance results as traditional HR strategies, if not better, by prioritizing well-being.  

“Traditionally, HR is there to protect the company. Although that’s still true for a People and Culture team, I think our focus is more on enabling the organization to be the best they can be – through the power of people.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor at Kudos

What makes a culture healthy?

The Power of People: Why dedicated culture strategies are on the rise

Obviously, people-focused strategies are still strategies by nature. It’s how you communicate the strategy that makes a positive difference in culture.  

People and Culture teams value happiness and transparency. Simply, treating people like people promotes open lines of communication; this is how you reach the heart of the problems people struggle with in the office: stress, burnout, excessive performance standards, work-life imbalance, and so on.  

“Transparency helps people feel genuinely connected to the company. I think it also encourages people to feel like they have a stake — they can leave their DNA and their fingerprints by making suggestions.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor at Kudos

People want to feel fulfilled by their work; like they have a purpose. They don’t want to show up purely out of obligation.  

A People and Culture team that truly cares for their employees, values transparent communication, and supports their employees instead of testing them will do wonders for retention and engagement. While this is true, everyone in the company needs to understand and align with the People and Culture teams’ mission — or else there will be friction.  

Specifically, leadership needs to be on board with building more sustainable working environments. People-focused strategies encourage more earnest, intentional, and positive company-wide relationships. Strong foundational relationships like these are extremely valuable to your organization in the long term. A company’s culture can only take shape from there.  

Creating a healthy culture is “a heavy lift. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it. And you’ll see that in the results.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor with Kudos, recently recognized as a Best Place to Work by HRD Canada.

HR teams are evolving even beyond title changes, and so are the tools and technologies that support their growth. Recognition platforms like Kudos support the future of HR by empowering everyone within the organization through peer-to-peer recognition.

Simple and sincere recognition plays a pivotal role in your plan to create a healthier culture. Change is hard, but change is good – especially when it comes to your most valuable asset.

Culture

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5 min

What is Servant Leadership?

What is Servant Leadership? What is Servant Leadership?

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

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Let’s face it, your leadership style can be hard to define, yet it’s a question you’ve probably been asked in a job interview. That’s because leadership style is one of the best ways to determine whether someone will be a good cultural fit (or cultural add).  

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

First, who are servant leaders?

Servant leaders have a serve-first mindset. They ask how they can serve their employees, instead of micromanaging or imposing on them. They unlock the employee’s potential and creativity and let them run with projects because they trust them. That is key – to become a servant leader, you must trust your employees.  

The history of servant leadership  

Before we explore the many benefits servant leadership can bring to your organization, it’s important to acknowledge that this isn’t a new concept. In fact, it's been around for centuries as a philosophy.  

The term servant leadership came from Robert K. Greenleaf’s 1970 essay ‘The Servant as a Leader’. In this essay, Greenleaf introduces several ideals, philosophies and values that revisit the main role of a leader in a modern organization.

However, while Greenleaf revitalized the concept of servant leadership, he didn’t create it. The philosophy itself is considered ancient history. Historical figures such as Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are examples of servant leadership in practice. But in fact, servant leadership could be brought back even further. Let’s journey back to 600 B.C to ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu when he said: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Now that we know that servant leadership is a concept that has existed for a while, let’s get into its key differentiators from the traditional approach.

What’s a traditional approach?

“Traditional leadership is more about what the employee can do for the organization,” says Michelle Thomas, Director, Development & Architecture at Kudos. “You are a cog in the machine to earn the money, and they want to know what you’re doing to help earn those dollars. Traditional leaders will consider if you are worth keeping or if you’re actually an expense for the organization.”  

“Servant leadership is the complete opposite,” she continues. “It’s what can we do for you to make you happy, so you are a happy, productive member of this organization because the most productive teams are the happiest teams. The teams I’ve led that were collaborative, and happy  - the teams that would have a good time together - those were the best teams and the highest performing,” says Thomas.

Servant leaders know that a motivated employee will bring better results to the organization. They use their skills and position to help individuals complete their tasks with ease. They provide the tools to employees to stay motivated and engaged, while also going above and beyond to better the person rather than the “employee.” This includes their mental health, physical health, and career development. For example, chances are that your employees already know how things work in your organization. So, why not take that into consideration and instead of telling them what to do or how to do it, you ask them “How can I help you make your job less stressful?” Once you switch it up and listen to them, you’ll be left with a better boss-employee relationship.  

Now that we know what key differences exist between traditional and servant leadership, let’s focus on benefits any organization will see by having and supporting servant leaders, especially organizations doing it on a larger scale.

The benefits of servant leadership

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

Servant leadership in action

Now that we’ve explored the many benefits, let’s dive into successful organizations that are currently using this fascinating leadership method.  

What do Marriott International, Starbucks, Google and Whole Foods have in common? They are all applying a servant leadership approach in their day-to-day operations. Whether it’s to offer you the best possible stay away from home or to help you decide on how to season your thanksgiving turkey, organizations across the globe have started to realize that in order to keep talent, they need to empower and recognize employees for what they do.  

Google, for instance, knows that when employees feel appreciated, the clients will benefit. Google understands that perks and recognition are no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a must. The technological giant’s CEO makes sure to set up calls with all teams, creating a better relationship between employees and leadership.  

Starbucks has been working on culture for decades. The largest coffee chain in the world has made sure to treat customers like celebrities, and it’s not a coincidence that every employee working there treats you that way.  

Howard Schultz, former president of Starbucks, worked hard on employee engagement.  Schultz created forums where employees had the opportunity to speak up. He had realized early on that the way leaders treat employees will directly impact on how employees treat the customers.

Marriott International walks the talk; besides being a world leader in the hotel industry, Marriott is a place where employees can enjoy free education, mentorship and the opportunity to move up within the organization. In fact, many general managers at Marriott started as hourly workers. Marriott embraces key Servant Leadership values; the business isn’t just about the guests – they make it mainly about the employees.

Whole Foods and John Mackey’s leadership: according to the cofounder and CEO of this $17 billion corporation, leaders are made, not born. They are made by practicing, says Mackey, who understands that if a leader wants to see results, they need to put the people first.  

By using Servant Leadership conviction, Mackey has proved that a leader can be strong and caring at the same time.  

How do you become a Servant Leader?

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

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

Looking ahead

Servant Leadership goes beyond a style of leadership, it is a mindset. Building a relationship with your team that goes beyond the “what are you working on?” will help you cultivate the culture you want at your organization.  

As Michelle Thomas from Kudos says, “make sure that your people are happy, they have what they need to be fulfilled at work. It’s not just a job to them. They want to know that they’re contributing, making a difference, and to me, that’s what servant leadership is all about.”

Culture

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5 min

Managing Employee Morale with the Return to Office

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

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

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

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

What is Causing Low Morale?

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

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

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

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

Why Return to the Office?

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

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

How to Manage Employee Morale

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

1. Clearly Communicate any Policy Changes

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

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

2. Listen to Employee Feedback

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

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

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

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

3. Take it One Step at a Time

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

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

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

4. Create Opportunities for Socialization

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

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

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

5. Be Proactive about Providing Support

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

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

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

Entering the New Normal

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

Culture

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7 min

6 HR Trends to Watch for in 2022

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

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

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

1. Building Critical Skills Within the Organization

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

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

2. Organizational Change Management

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

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

3. Creating a Healthy Work Environment

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

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

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

4. Flexible Work Arrangements

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

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

5. Pursuing vs. Established and Thriving Workplace Culture

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

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

6. Regular, Meaningful Recognition

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

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

What does the future of work look like?

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

Culture

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Is Happiness at Work Important?

Is Happiness at Work Important?Is Happiness at Work Important?

With the reality of permanent remote work settling in for many, the distinction between work and personal life is blurred, making happiness in our work more imperative than ever to avoid burnout.

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Are Your Employees Happy?

Every year on March 20, the world celebrates the United Nation’s International Day of Happiness. Action for Happiness, a not-for-profit dedicated to "building a happier and more caring society," spearheads the celebration with events, resources, and ideas on how to act.

With the reality of permanent remote work settling in for many, the distinction between work and personal life is blurred, making happiness in our work more imperative than ever to avoid burnout.

Additionally, we're finding more evidence indicating that organizations perform better when employees are happy. In fact, organizations with happy employees report increases in productivity (17%), sales (20%), and profitability (21%).

Now that I have your attention, I'll ask again, are your employees happy?

How to Spot an Unhappy Employee

Studies show that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. So before you investigate, consider employees as individuals or small teams, rather than one large group. Everyone's experience is different.

According to Entrepreneur magazine, some signs of employee unhappiness include:

  • Only contributing the minimum and not going beyond a job description
  • Limited personal engagement, such as a lack of humor and connection with colleagues
  • Lack of new ideas and a general lack of passion and interest in success and improvement
  • Secrecy or lack of transparency, such as limited feedback or openness about problems
  • Visual cues like blank expressions, sighing, and fidgeting (these can be tricky to spot in remote work environments)

So, what can you do to improve employee happiness?

There are many ways to address and create happiness. The United Arab Emirates, for example, has a dedicated Minister of State for Happiness overseeing a "National Programme for Happiness and Positivity." Now, you may not be able to create a position solely dedicated to managing employee happiness, but you can do something equally as powerful at little to no cost.

Make Happiness a Core Value

To be clear, happiness as an organizational value does not mean employees "must be happy." It means that happiness is valued, whether it's an employee, manager, or customer. What's more, if you consider some of the more common organizational values, happiness would not be out of place. For example, "respect," "trust," "passion," and"caring" are all in the top 20 corporate values in the United States.

Values give every member of your organization a sense of direction and a definition of success in every interaction and task. But don't take my word for it. Take the lead from some fantastic companies who have happiness-inducing organizational values guiding their teams.

For example:

  • Fun! (The Honest Company)
  • Create Fun and A Little Weirdness (Zappos)
  • Playful (Spotify)
  • Make Friends (Virgin Atlantic)
  • Happiness (Kudos)

Identifying happiness as a value is the first step towards enjoying all the benefits a happy workforce can produce. According to Annie Mckee, author of "How to Be Happy at Work," there are three things that employees need to be happy and engaged:

  • A meaningful vision of the future: In a study by Annie Mckee, the number one thing that hindered her subject’s happiness was an inability to see where they fit into their organization’s future. Happy employees see a clear trajectory for their role with an organization. One easy way to fix this is to have regular 1-1 meetings with staff to understand their goals.
  • A sense of purpose: Today’s employees want to feel like they’re making an impact; on their team, within their organization, for their customers, and even for the greater good.
  • Great relationships: A study by Gallup shows that women who have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged than those who don't. It doesn’t stop there. Beyond happiness, the same study reports that when more employees have a best friend at work, there are fewer safety incidents, more engaged customers, and higher profits.

Identifying happiness as a core organizational value will encourage managers to prioritize the three points above, as well as their employees’ well-being in general. At the end of the day, organizational values shape culture, and in the words of Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsiesh, “If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff will just take care of itself.”

More Tips for Improving Employee Happiness and Engagement

One thing everyone can do to feel happier is to show more gratitude for the people around them. Recognizing others and showing appreciation does more for the ones giving the recognition than those receiving it. Amongst many other benefits, Dr. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, proves that gratitude can increase happiness and reduce depression.

Companies can use tools like Kudos as a hub to show gratitude, and prioritize employee happiness. As Shawn Anchor, author of “The Happiness Advantage”, shares in his famous TED talk, creating happiness and fostering positivity in our day-to-day life helps our brains work harder, faster, and more intelligently.

Here are a few more TED Talks to inspire you and make you smile today – share with your network and make someone’s day:

Culture

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5 min

6 Ways to Live by Your Organization’s Core Values

6 Ways to Live by Your Organization’s Core Values6 Ways to Live by Your Organization’s Core Values

Clear values give every member of your organization a sense of direction and a definition of success in every interaction and task.

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This article is part 3 of our 5-part Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist Series:

Since the onset of the pandemic, our resiliency is being tested beyond what we ever could have imagined. Even so, many of us adjusted reasonably well to new safety measures, virtual meetings, and 6ft bubbles. That's not to say we aren't still mourning the loss of camaraderie, connection, and collaboration we had in communal spaces. So now that the dust is settled, how do we reclaim what we lost and forge ahead?

We need to get back to our core – renew focus on our mission, vision, and values.

Organizational Values and the Bottom Line

Clear values give every member of your organization a sense of direction. They outline the definition of success in every task and interaction. The right core values can drive belonging and wellbeing, improved employee engagement, and reduced turnover. But most importantly, tying performance measurement and recognition to those fundamental values enables you to build a resilient workforce with a robust culture – laser-focused on what matters most to your organization. Relating all actions and decisions to your core corporate values does improve your business performance.

According to Gallup, the problem is only 23% of employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization's values to their everyday work.

Does this problem sound all too familiar? These six tips should help you bridge that gap.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Define What Your Values Look Like in Action

Sometimes values seem too aspirational; or worse, like corporate fluff. Nevertheless, substance can be distilled from them.

Identify specific behaviours and tie them to each core value. In doing so, you give your team guidance. Your values become their North Star, directing their day-to-day decisions to best reflect your company. This method can be especially helpful in organizations of remote workers, who have less supervision or guidance readily available.

Let's break down some behaviours that could be tied to particular values, including Integrity – the most popular value in US companies, according to a recent MIT Study.

company core values chart

Remember that your values will also dictate how your employees treat your clients – that should help spell out specific behaviours that matter.

Try this: Take some time at your next management meeting to define critical behaviours for each one of your core values. If you can't, chances are your employees can't either, and it might be time to revisit your values.

2. Communicate Values Consistently and Often

For your values to help drive the culture and performance you’d like to see, your employees need to know them. Organizational values are often buried in employee manuals or deep in the corporate intranet. It’s likely that many of your employees don’t even know your values. No wonder only 27% of employees believe in their core values, according to Gallup.

Many organizations are getting creative about spreading the word. Some incorporate values into their office décor, while others display values in their standard email signatures. The common theme is to give your values a presence and have them center stage. For a remote workforce, customize Zoom backgrounds, desktop background images, or the homepage of your company intranet.

Try this: Why not make your values easier to remember by developing a clever acronym? But remember, this step comes after you’ve identified your core values. Do not determine your values based on an ideal acronym. For example, here at Kudos, our core values are:

 Transparency
 Happiness
 Accountable
 Nnovation
 Kollaboration

We made a simple and relevant acronym that suits our values – not the other way around.

3. Recruit and Hire with Your Values in Mind

After you've identified key behaviours and tied them to your values, start looking for people who display those behaviours during your hiring process. Share your values openly and communicate to your candidates that they should be looking for value-alignment as well. Be open and honest in your interviews. If you know your organization values punctuality, and a job candidate indicates that they don’t see the importance of every meeting starting exactly on time - they might not be the ideal fit.

A great example of a company being open about values in recruitment is the meal-kit company, HelloFresh. Their career page features their values front and center, essentially communicating to candidates, "we aren't interested if this isn't you." Check it out. Another example is popular online shoe and clothing retailer, Zappos. They have a recruitment video that displays their culture in a radical way, with the purpose of attracting people who align with their values and repelling those who don’t.

Try this: Work with your HR team to craft behavioural questions to discover if the candidates fit your core values. Here are some practical behavioural-style interview questions to get you started.

4. Address any divides between what you say, and what you do

Leaders and executive managers are always being watched closely by the rest of the organization. Employees look to management for cues on how to act and react; especially in unusual or challenging situations (like what we experienced over the course of the last year). Leaders need to embody the core values they want their employees to live by. If transparency is a core value, leadership must be open with the entire company about any challenges they are facing. If collaboration is a corporate value, leaders should have representation from all company levels and functions on any special projects or working groups.

A great example of this is how Microsoft handled the onset of the global pandemic in 2020. Microsoft's corporate values are respect, integrity, and accountability. When COVID-19 first hit in March, Microsoft announced they would continue to pay all hourly service providers their regular pay during the period of reduced service needs. They embodied their core values at a time when all employees were watching.

Try this: Next time you're faced with a difficult situation (for example, a core employee resigns, or you lose a big contract), think about whether your reaction embodies your core values and make the necessary adjustments. Remember that your employees will follow your lead.

5. Work and Play by your Values

Consistency is critical when communicating the importance of your values to your team to show your commitment. If one of your core values is health and wellness, but you celebrate your wins with cake and alcohol, that doesn’t really align – does it? For your values to stick, you need to live them in all aspects of your organization.

Here’s a great example: one of Airbnb’s core values is “Be the Host.” Fittingly, during an annual meeting, they encouraged local employees to host their visiting colleagues for dinner at their home or at a local restaurant. This isa perfect example of truly living your values.

Try this: Challenge your social committee to tie any staff events and celebrations back to your corporate values. If something isn’t clicking – change it. Show you are committed to living your values, and others will quickly get on board.

6. Recognize and Reward Value-aligned Behaviours

One of the most straightforward ways to reinforce your values into your corporate culture and day-to-day life is to recognize value-aligned behaviours. That can happen formally as part of performance reviews, but also informally through regular recognition. Informally recognizing value-aligned behaviours and contributions helps keep values top of mind, helping to build the culture you need to succeed as an organization.

Try this: Consider an employee recognition and engagement platform like Kudos® to make daily peer-to-peer recognition easy. With Kudos, specific value-tied behaviours must be associated with each recognition message, essentially hardwiring your values into your culture.

Corporate values are a powerful tool that should not be ignored or brushed over. The right values have the power to connect your workforce and drive everyone toward a shared goal. To get there, you must incorporate your values into daily life, and truly live by them. When values are distilled down from broad and aspirational statements to clear behaviours, employees are equipped to do their job in a meaningful and valuable way. Overall, you will experience improved organizational performance.

Culture

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5 min

Reassessing, Refocusing, and Reinforcing Culture

Reassessing, Refocusing, and Reinforcing Culture Reassessing, Refocusing, and Reinforcing Culture

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This article is part 2 of our 5-part Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist Series:

How would you describe your organizational culture these days?

An Institute for Corporate Productivity survey reported that over 50% of respondents anticipate “major change” to their culture due to the pandemic. With entire families working from one kitchen table, devastating illness preventing many people from working altogether, and a general sense of uncertainty surrounding the future of many businesses and industries, the change in organizational culture was a top concern for many business leaders. Leaders are left wondering how they can be more intentional about their culture to prevent environmental forces, like mandatory remote work, from controlling their employee experience moving forward.

Ignoring significant shifts in organizational culture can be costly. The right culture can help employees fulfill their need for meaning and purpose at work, leading to more impactful discretionary effort and higher performance levels. Building on that, culture is a known powerful driver of employee engagement and better financial performance for organizations.

Let's dig a bit deeper into the idea of culture. The most common definition speaks to a particular groups’ shared values, goals, attitudes, and practices. As HR professionals and business leaders, it’s important to remember that those values, goals, attitudes, and practices must be intentionally defined, shared, lived by leadership, and recognized widely and often to build the right culture.

In 2021, successful organizations are reassessing, refocusing, and reinforcing their culture. In considering the steps below, you’ll be well on your way to seeing a more engaged and higher-performing workforce this year.

Reassessing Culture

Do you suspect there’s an issue with the culture in your organization? Do you have a good pulse of your employee experience over the last year?

Today many workplaces have a hybrid workforce, combining in-office and remote workers. So, what does that mean for culture? Simply speaking, if you thought your office environment with a ping pong table and popcorn machine was the backbone of your culture, you were wrong. One thing that we’ve learned in the last year is that organizational culture is about relationships, not things, and it now needs to evolve based on what employees are experiencing day-to-day. For that to happen, leaders need to take the time to assess what’s working and what needs a bit more attention.

Forbes offers a simple 8 question model to assess culture, with questions like “What was the biggest adjustment for you when you started working here?” and “How are meetings typically run here?”. In a modern workplace, it’s also important to ask questions about what has changed in the last year and what challenges employees are experiencing. That is important to understand because, according to Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement and directly affect how employees experience workplace culture.

Nowadays, it's essential to consider your findings based on the employees' individual workplace (in-office, remote, and hybrid.) Ideally, your organization should have one overarching vision for its culture independent of each employee’s work environment. Armed with knowledge on how culture is perceived and experienced, you're now ready to make the necessary changes to make your culture strive.

Key Takeaway: Workplaces have changed forever - it’s time to reassess your current culture and uncover issues that need work. [Click to Tweet!]

Refocusing Culture

After assessing where your current culture stands, you can determine if there are any components that don't align with -or are actively impeding- your organizational goals in our new normal. Take the time to rethink your employee experience and make sure it’s conducive to what you’re trying to achieve. Ultimately, culture guides employee behaviour, so it’s essential to formulate a solid plan.

But it’s about more than just your business’ cultural vision.

A big part of organizational culture comes from employee attitude. The right tools make your employees feel more engaged, supported, and connected to their organization. In a 2021 survey by Deloitte, the three top factors identified as most important to making remote/virtual work sustainable were:

  1. Introducing digital collaboration and communication platforms
  2. Allowing personal choice in determining how work gets done
  3. Establishing new scheduling and meeting norms
  4. Limit communications to standard work hours

First on the list - collaboration platforms - can be an excellent space for employees at all levels and work locations to come together to work and live out the culture. Business collaboration and communication platforms like Zoom, Teams, and Slack are great for work but also consider a separate and dedicated space to connect, communicate, appreciate and celebrate to focus on employee engagement, like Kudos.

The next three factors from the list above are great examples of specific practices that can be encouraged or even mandated to build a consistent employee experience, and thus a strong culture that aligns with your goals and realigning work-life balance. Canadian company Loblaw Digital provides a great example of putting this into practice. Loblaw recently shared their new meeting guidelines on LinkedIn, which include rules about meeting times and lengths and no meetings at all on Fridays (imagine!)

Once you've settled on a vision for your culture and determined some cultural norms that make sense for your organizational goals and your employees, set up a timeline and benchmarks to track your success. Using an employee engagement system like Kudos can help with built-in analytics that tracks which aspects of organizational culture are most prominent in day-to-day work.

Key Takeaway: Create a culture that aligns with your organizational goals and your employees' needs. Using the right tools (systems) for work and culture building is critical for success. [Click to Tweet!]

Reinforcing Culture

What can leadership do to reinforce and reinvigorate culture? The most important thing is to share the vision through a clear culture statement that employees can revisit often.

Another critical component to maintaining culture is how you hire. Gone are the days of hiring for culture fit. Instead, managers should be focusing on hiring for culture add. As Management scholar Adam Grant shares in this video, hiring for culture fit, where candidates are hired based on shared values, isn’t as effective as was once thought. He shares the importance of culture add and culture contribution. For example, if you feel your culture is stagnant and lacking new ideas? Hire someone with an entrepreneurial background.

But most importantly, what can you do on an ongoing basis? Reinforce your culture daily by living your organization’s values, making sure they’re understood and top of mind, and being true to the priorities you’ve laid out. Simply put, if your executives and managers are walking the talk, you’ll get better buy-in organization-wide.

Key Takeaways: Live your culture every day and hire for culture-add, not culture-fit. Leadership needs to be mindful of the “Say Do” trap – lead by example, not edict.

Organizational culture is a complex notion that can significantly impact the bottom line. A common misconception is that culture happens organically; culture should be deliberate and strategic. Take the time to reassess and refocus your culture for today’s workplace and your organizational goals. Then, start reinforcing culture daily and encourage all organization levels to do the same. A fantastic culture is within your reach!

Culture

5 min

5 min

How to Build Your Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist

How to Build Your Employee Engagement and Culture ChecklistHow to Build Your Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are four must-haves to get you started:

Revisit, Communicate, and Celebrate Your Values 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Communicate Intentionally

Effective communication is critical; especially in remote workforces. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dig into Your Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognize Your Employees Regularly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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