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Culture

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Culture

5 min

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 take action.

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 and more evidence indicating that organizations perform better when employees are happy. In fact, organizations with happy employees have reported increases in productivity (17%), higher sales (20%), and higher 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. That means that before you investigate, you must consider employees as individuals or small teams vs. 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, 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 one of your organization's core values.

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; here are some examples:

  • 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 of 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:

  1. A meaningful vision of the future: In a study by Annie Mckee, the number one thing that hindered happiness in her subjects was their inability to understand how they fit into their organization’s future. Happy employees can see a clear career trajectory within their organization. One easy way to fix this is to have regular 1-1 meetings with staff to understand their goals.
  2. 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 the greater good.
  3. Great relationships: A study by Gallup shows that women who have a best friend at work are over twice as likely to be engaged than those who don't. It doesn’t stop there. Beyond happiness, the same study reported 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 help encourage managers to prioritize the three points above, as well as your 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.”

Bonus tip for improving employee happiness and engagement:

One thing everyone can do to help themselves be happier is showing 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, has proven that gratitude can increase happiness and reduce depression.

Companies can use tools like Kudos as a hub for showing gratitude to prioritize and improve 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!

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

Culture

5 min

6 Ways to Live by Your Organization’s Core Values in 2021

6 Ways to Live by Your Organization’s Core Values in 2021

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 for 2021 Series:

In the last year, our resiliency as individuals and organizations was tested beyond what many of us could have ever imagined or prepared for. Even so, many of us have adjusted reasonably well to new safety measures, virtual meetings, and living in our 6ft bubbles. That's not to say that we aren't still mourning the loss of camaraderie, connection, and collaboration that comes from working in a communal space. So now that the dust has settled, how do we begin to get back to what we may have lost and forge ahead to achieve our goals in 2021? We need to get back to our core with a renewed 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 and a definition of success in every interaction and task. The right core values can drive belonging and wellbeing, improved employee engagement, and reduced turnover. But perhaps 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.

The only problem is, according to Gallup, only 23% of employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization's values to their work every day. Sound familiar? These six tips should help you start the work on bridging 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. However, chances are that substance and value can be distilled from the values your organization has chosen. Identifying specific behaviours tied to each value allows your team to truly see your values as their North Star, guiding them in making decisions in day-to-day tasks. This can be especially helpful in organizations where employees work remotely, with 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 you drive the culture and performance you’d like to see, your employees need to know them! Organizational values are often buried in employee manuals and/or deep in the corporate intranet. It’s likely that many of your employees don’t even know your values, which may be why just 27% of employees believe in their core values, according to Gallup.

Many organizations are getting creative about spreading the word, incorporating 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 live center stage. For a remote workforce, this could look like customer Zoom backgrounds, desktop background images, or on the homepage of your company intranet.

Try this: Why not make your values easier to remember by developing a clever acronym! But remember, this 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 work for our values, not the other way around.

3. Recruit and Hire with Your Values in Mind

After you've identified key behaviours and associated them with your values, start looking for people who display those behaviours as part of 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 are aligned with their values and repelling those who wouldn’t fit in.

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. Consider the Do/Say Divide

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 that they would continue to pay all hourly service providers their regular pay during the period of reduced service needs, embodying those values at a time when all employees were watching.

Try this: Next time you're faced with a difficult situation (a core employee resigns, 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,” so 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 is a 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! Showing you are committed to living your values helps get others 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 within your organization 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 your values every day. When values are distilled down from broad and aspirational statements to clear behaviours, employees are equipped with clear expectations, allowing them to do their job in a meaningful and valuable way, leading to improved organizational performance.

Ready to get your organization living your values every day in 2021? Book your demo at Kudos.com today to learn how we can help! Kudos is the modern employee engagement system the world needs today. Kudos is simple to set up, easy to use, and integrates with communication tools to put culture and recognition front and center. Our system allows you to connect, communicate, and celebrate everything that makes your organization unique and successful. With the simple power of a "Thank You" – you can increase engagement, connect remote teams, improve inclusion, enhance productivity, and reduce turnover.


Culture

5 min

Reassessing, Refocusing, and Reinforcing Culture in 2021

Reassessing, Refocusing, and Reinforcing Culture in 2021

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This article is part 2 of our 5-part Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist for the 2021 Series. Read Part 1 here.

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 in 2021

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?

The expectation is that once the pandemic is under control, many workplaces will 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 2021, 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.

In 2021, 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 in 2021.

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 in 2021

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 in 2021

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 in 2021!

Ready to take your culture to the next level in 2021? Book your demo at Kudos.com today to learn how we can help!Kudos is the modern employee engagement system the world needs today. Kudos is simple to set up, easy to use and integrates with communication tools to put culture and recognition front and center. Our system allows you to connect, communicate, and celebrate everything that makes your organization unique and successful. With the simple power of a "Thank You" – you can increase engagement, connect remote teams, improve inclusion, enhance productivity, and reduce turnover.

Culture

5 min

How to Build Your Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist: 4 Must-Haves in 2021

How to Build Your Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist: 4 Must-Haves in 2021

Evaluating and building employee engagement and culture can be a complex project to tackle.

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2020 was a year full of unexpected changes and challenges. Many HR professionals were at the center of the storm, having to transition, in some cases, entire workforces to remote work in a matter of days. You’re not alone if your role shifted to a daily scramble of managing things like the ever-changing needs of remote workers, administering unfortunate layoffs, and sending frequent mass communications to employees eager for direction and guidance.

But, as we wrap up the first month of 2021, and the dust has started to settle on a new normal, it's time to dig into how your employees are doing.

Evaluating and building employee engagement and culture can be a complex project to tackle. Why not start with jotting down some ideas in a simple checklist? Here are four must-haves for your list to get you started:

To-Do #1: Revisit, Communicate and Celebrate Your Values 

Do you know your organizational values? Are they well-known across your organization? Values are important, but unfortunately, people often dismiss them 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 and, just 27% of employees believe in their company's values. How do we fix this? Connect and communicate your corporate values and reinforce them daily - they are the foundation of your ideal workplace culture.

Any time organizations experience massive change, like what many have gone through in the last year, revisiting organizational values is vital. Why? Strong values help your employees guide their work and daily decisions. For example, if you emphasize and promote customer experience as an important value, your employees will know that customer needs will always take precedence when juggling many priorities. Alternatively, emphasizing teamwork will remind your employees to collaborate and make themselves available to help across all departments.

Where to start? Take stock of your current values – do you they still resonate?

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

To-Do #2: Communicate Intentionally

In 2021, effective communication within your organization will be critical, especially with 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 continuously be communicating to employees how and why their work affects organizational success. Gallup reports that many remote workers are likely to feel lost and/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!].

Another thing to explore is how personal milestones and life events can be communicated and celebrated remotely. Consider sharing employee birthdays, work-anniversaries, years of service milestones, and exciting life events, so everyone feels included and seen. 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 teams’ communication preferences.

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

To-Do #3: 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 what your corporate culture looks like. One practical example: consider whether or not you turn your camera on in virtual meetings. Is it only on with certain people or groups? That is part of your culture!

Small choices that managers make, like saying good morning every day, or allowing for a flexible work schedule, set the tone for the culture an individual employee will experience. According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement and directly affect how employees experience 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 equips you with the knowledge you need to mitigate unfavourable situations and hire the right people.

Where to start? Define and uncover your current organizational culture by interviewing employees at all levels. Start making a plan for what you would like 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. 

To-Do #4: Recognize Your Employees Regularly

Recognition is vital to foster employee engagement in 2021. Today's employees need to hear that 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 see employee recognition as a means to develop and 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: Establish a modern recognition strategy by implementing a platform that simplifies and normalizes frequent recognition in your organization and helps you track who is being recognized or recognizing most often.

And that's it! 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 the last year; let's make sure they feel engaged, connected, and recognized at work in 2021.

Ready to start tackling your 2021 Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist? Book your demo at Kudos.com today to learn how we can help! Kudos is the modern employee engagement system the world needs today. Kudos is simple to set up, easy to use and integrates with communication tools to put culture and recognition front and center. Our system allows you to connect, communicate, and celebrate everything that makes your organization unique and successful. With the simple power of a "Thank You" – you can increase engagement, connect remote teams, improve inclusion, enhance productivity, and reduce turnover.

Culture

5 min

We will not be silent. We will do better: a message from Kudos

We will not be silent. We will do better: a message from Kudos

When we started Kudos, we wanted to bring a diverse group of smart, respectful, and committed people together in an inclusive manner to help us change the world. Admittedly, we are not perfect.

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When we started Kudos, we wanted to bring a diverse group of smart, respectful, and committed people together in an inclusive manner to help us change the world. Admittedly, we are not perfect. We need greater diversity in our board and leadership profile, and we can always be more inclusive. For us, making the world better entails fostering cultural unity within organizations, and enabling individuals to realize their potential. Our plan is to increase global purpose and happiness.

Last Tuesday Kudos went silent on social media, as many people and organizations did. Giving Black people the space to be heard and amplify their voices is important. We also wanted to ensure we were being intentional, purposeful, and empathetic in our actions – so we listened, we are still learning, and today we have decided to break our silence, to openly commit to our path forward.

Creating meaningful and sustainable change is not easy. It only happens with commitment, growth (open and evolutionary learning), and stamina. This is not a race. This is our long-term commitment to make sincere, positive changes. These are our commitments:


Kudos stands in solidarity with the Black community.

We condemn racism in all its forms.

We will create a safe space for our employees, clients, partners.

We will reflect on and amend our own diversity and inclusion policies.

We will openly discuss, learn, and educate.

We will collectively show compassion if we make mistakes.

We will not be passive. We will not be silent. We will do better. We will not stop.

Black Lives Matter.

How did we come to our commitments and our action plan? We involved our team in the process and we focused on using our core values to guide us. Very quickly, concepts around transparency, inclusion, collaboration, compassion, and accountability became our focus. It was also important to us that our commitments represented a plan for both internal and external change because cultural change is all-encompassing.

We encourage other organizations to develop their own commitments and share them publicly. We need to hold each other accountable if we expect this world to see the change it needs.

Culture

5 min

How to Create Workplace Transparency in 4 Simple Steps

How to Create Workplace Transparency in 4 Simple Steps

There's been a lot of talk about company culture and employee satisfaction in recent years — with good reason! The more enjoyable your organization is to work for, the more effective your staff will be at their jobs and the longer they'll stick around.

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There's been a lot of talk about company culture and employee satisfaction in recent years — with good reason! The more enjoyable your organization is to work for, the more effective your staff will be at their jobs and the longer they'll stick around.

But here's the thing: you can't achieve peak employee satisfaction without true workplace transparency, as you'll see later in this article. The two fit together like a hand in a glove.

Keep reading to learn exactly what workplace transparency is, why it's so important, and how to achieve it at your place of business.

What is workplace transparency?

According to Glassdoor, workplace transparency means "operating in a way that creates openness between managers and employees.”

In other words, it's an honest, two-way conversation between a company and the people who work for it, which leads to greater levels of trust, better communication, and increased engagement amongst staff members.

Why is workplace transparency important?

So why is workplace transparency so crucial to business success? Are there any benefits to fostering openness and clear communication at your place of work? In a word, yes! Take a look at these surprising statistics regarding workplace transparency:

  • According to Forbes, 50% of workers feel that the organizations they work for are being held back by a lack of transparency.
  • Furthermore, 46% of employees state that a lack of transparent communication from leadership has driven them to seek a new job.
  • A Harvard Business Review study informs us that 70% of workers say that they're most engaged in their job when senior management communicates openly with them.

These three stats show us that the modern worker both craves workplace transparency and is more effective in their duties when they receive it.

How to create workplace transparency

Now that we’ve covered the what and why of workplace transparency, let's get to how to create and foster it in your workplace.

1. Commit to workplace transparency

The first step towards enhancing workplace transparency is to simply commit to it.

Fortunately, this doesn't need to be difficult. By telling your team what the direction of the company is, why their actions matter, even the financial standing of your organization, you'll be able to win the trust of your employees and improve internal communication.

So, commit to transparency, openly talk about the state of your company and/or department, and share organizational goals with each member of your team. This can be done in company meetings, one-on-one performance evaluations, team-wide emails, etc.

This is the first step towards true workplace transparency.

2. Empower your team members

Don't just encourage your team to communicate more often. Empower them to take initiative and make their own decisions. This will show them that you truly trust and respect their unique skill sets and decision-making abilities. It will also hold them more accountable for their actions.

For example, rather than having to approve every single business-related purchase, you could give your team leaders an annual budget and trust them to spend organizational funds wisely. This is a surefire way to boost workplace transparency.

A side benefit of employee empowerment is the boost in productivity that your team will undoubtedly experience. When your staff can make their own decisions without running them by you every time, things will get done quicker — guaranteed!

3. Invest in the right tools

Modern technology makes it easy to improve workplace transparency. Communication apps like Slack and Yammer and project management software such as Trello and Asana make communicating with employees a breeze.

One often overlooked tool that can also help with workplace transparency is an employee experience software like Kudos. It allows companies to foster company culture and boost employee engagement via recognition tools and analytical insights.

Want to know what your team thinks of a new organizational initiative? Send out a quick survey and then share the results with your staff. Ready to boost employee engagement and retention? Publicly reward exceptional performance by recognizing them in a team email, at your next team meeting – or with an online tool like Kudos.

When your team feels like their hard work matters, their voices are heard, and that management is comfortable sharing company details with them, workplace transparency will flourish.

4. Seek ways to improve communication

Finally, it's always important to seek new ways to improve communication. What can you do better? How can you increase organizational openness and transparency?

Perhaps it's as simple as investing in new software as we mentioned above. Maybe you just need to continually encourage openness at your place of business during team meetings and in personal evaluation sessions. It could be something more drastic like hiring new employees who are more naturally inclined to transparency.

Whatever your situation — even if you already feel like your organization is fairly transparent — be on the lookout for new ways to boost workplace transparency.

Boost workplace transparency today

Workplace transparency is important for modern companies to embrace and demonstrate. Doing so will increase employee satisfaction, reduce staff turnover, and boost team productivity. Fortunately, you now know exactly how to achieve true transparency at your place of work!

All you have to do is follow the four steps we listed above:

  1. Commit to workplace transparency
  2. Empower your team members
  3. Invest in the right tools
  4. Seek ways to improve communication

And don't forget about Kudos! Our employee experience software is equipped with many tools to help ensure workplace transparency at your company. Request a free demo today and experience the power of Kudos for yourself.


Culture

5 min

5 Generation Z values you need to know now

5 Generation Z values you need to know now

Just when businesses are getting a solid grasp on how to work with millennials, there's a newer and younger crop of employees you need to understand: Generation Z. And their workplace wants and needs are very different from their millennial counterparts.

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Just when businesses are getting a solid grasp on how to work with millennials, there's a newer and younger crop of employees you need to understand: Generation Z. And their workplace wants and needs are very different from their millennial counterparts.

Here's what you need to know about these talents born between 1996 and 2010.

Authenticity

In contrast to the millennial generation, Gen Z workers value authenticity over aesthetics. They respect companies that steer clear of gimmicks. Instead, they appreciate those that provide unpretentious and thoughtfully designed physical spaces.

And it’s important to understand that Gen Zers genuinely care about making a difference in the world. These no-nonsense tech natives want to move and shake industries for the better, and they want to avoid anything that might get in their way.

Disruptive Tech Competency

Gen Zers are the first generation that doesn’t know life without the internet. Born into a world filled with emerging technologies, almost anything tech-related is second nature to them. A survey conducted by InFocus found that 97% of Gen Z workers value technological literacy in the workforce. They like organizations that are on the cutting edge -- they desire a workplace that can ride the digital waves of AI, IoT, blockchain, and Industry 4.0 just as well, if not better than they can. No matter what your industry, expect Gen Zers to understand the impact of disruptive technologies you face.

Competitive Remuneration

Just like any generation, Gen Zers seek stability when it comes to their finances. CNBC reports that the top priority of Gen Zers is to make money and have a successful career. What makes them stand out from other age groups is how their high regard for individualism makes them determined to be self-reliant.  

So, salary will be important in attracting Gen Zers. But to really catch their eye (and avoid overcompensation) spotlight the bigger picture of their compensation by highlighting your company's retirement match, and the various benefits and perks they'll receive.

Flexibility

As a generation that grew up with abundant digital resources, Gen Zers thrive in environments that encourage versatility and flexibility. To get them on board, try to limit rigid rules and procedures. Avoid boxing them in and you’ll set their creativity free -- and that can lead to big rewards.

By offering flexibility for Gen Zers to grow in a rapidly changing digital age, companies can get a headstart on shaping tomorrow's leaders. Options like flexitime, extended vacation leaves and remote work maximize opportunities for Gen Zers. Give them choices and they will reward you with higher productivity and deeper loyalty.

Trust

A Kronos report reveals Gen Zers value trust above all else in a manager. This is a generation that values their independence and self-sufficiency. They do not want to be babied or managed too closely. Still, being supportive is the management trait they say is the next most valued management trait. And caring is number three, so you can see you have to walk a fairly fine line between giving them independence while being there for them.  

So, consider practicing supportive leadership instead of micromanaging. Help Gen Zers feel trusted and respected as employees. You can do this by having one-on-one feedback sessions, fostering a physical workspace that gives them privacy, and caring about their life outside work while still respecting their boundaries.

Gen Z is worth the effort

As with any generation, understanding and supporting Gen Zers takes some effort. Organizations that don’t make that effort are missing a vital opportunity. We can tell you that the sizable cohort of Gen Zers here at Kudos bring high levels of energy, enthusiasm, idealism and creativity. That means they are a big plus for our culture, productivity, the quality of our product, how well we deal with clients, and ultimately, our bottom line. Gen Z is worth it.

Culture

5 min

How Important Is Psychological Safety, Really?

How Important Is Psychological Safety, Really?

The emphasis on people in the workplace has become more prevalent in recent years as more organizations focus on the relationships teams have with one another.

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The emphasis on people in the workplace has become more prevalent in recent years as more organizations focus on the relationships teams have with one another.

Ask virtually any workplace culture or Human Resources expert, and they’ll likely tell you that people are a company’s greatest asset and that a positive employee relationship is a key pillar of organizational success.

But no team, regardless of the relationships they have, can thrive in a toxic work environment. That’s where many HR professionals and workplace experts begin to examine psychological safety.

It may not seem like the most crucial element of one’s organizational culture, and yet, with burnout, high turnover and disengagement such common issues for companies today, psychological safety is more important than ever for the health and success of your organization.

What is ‘psychological safety’?

The notion of ‘psychological safety’ was first introduced in the late 1990s by Harvard researcher, Amy Edmondson. The crux of this concept pertains to employees feeling safe in their work environments when it comes to interpersonal risk

A workplace or team is psychologically safe when they are able to speak candidly, productively disagree with one another, and freely exchange ideas without the fear or threat of being humiliated or ostracized by their team members.

In psychologically safe work environments, you can voice your opinions, share your perspectives, and even fail without the worry of being judged or punished for doing so.

What psychological safety isn’t

Surprisingly, psychological safety isn’t about being nice. Nor is it about constantly agreeing with one another for the sake of avoiding hurt feelings.

Instead, what this type of safety accomplishes is a state of trust and confidence where people on different sides of a conflict can be transparent with one another and arrive at a productive solution.

Think about your last unproductive team meeting: a team member has an idea that the majority of the team may disagree with, but everyone nods politely and agrees to go along with the idea simply to avoid hurting a colleague’s feelings. After, the other team members talk amongst themselves about their grievances, but nothing gets resolved because of the lack of candor and transparency.

While it may be uncomfortable to voice your opinion or ask a question to clarify your concerns, psychologically safe workplaces can actually foster more productivity because of that discomfort. It allows for growth by sharing different perspectives and shows other team members that it’s okay to speak up.

The world’s top organizations harness psychological safety

More than just a trend, many of the world’s top companies have for some time been assessing the psychological safety of their organizations to determine how it impacts their teams’ work and output.

Google is a classic example; with Project Aristotle, the company’s attempt to unearth what, exactly, makes their teams most productive, they found that psychological safety was at the top of the list.

Like Google initially did, it’s easy to assume that the most productive teams are built on hard-working individuals who all share common traits and hard skills. But the opposite can be true, as Google’s experiment found.

The power of psychological safety lies in the ability to openly admit when we’re making mistakes and how we can improve, essentially viewing ‘failure’ as the opportunity to learn, grow and evolve within a company.

What psychological safety looks like

No two workplaces are the same, but you can tell a psychologically safe team from one that is psychologically unsafe by a few key characteristics.

For example, psychologically safe teams feel free to be themselves, where individuals feel safe taking risks and speaking their minds in a way that drives conversations forward in a productive and respectful way.

If employees feel safe being themselves and asking questions, chances are they’ll feel confident enough to take direction over their tasks and contribute ideas to projects that benefit the entire team. Imagine the productivity that could ensue if your teams spent less time worrying about their psychological safety and more time working cohesively to achieve goals!

How do you know if your team is psychologically safe?

When considering the psychological safety of your teams, there are a few key questions you can ask yourself to ‘audit’ the existing state of your teams. For example, you may wonder…

  • Do we feel safe asking questions and proposing ideas?
  • Are we free in taking risks and taking lead on projects?
  • Can we openly discuss conflict(s) or issues among teams?
  • Do we trust one another?
  • Are we encouraged to ‘think big’ and explore possibilities?

Alternatively, you may also consider the following questions when it comes to your teams’ relationship with leadership…

  • Do we feel safe voicing our opinions or perspectives to our leaders?
  • Are we able to have candid and open conversations with our managers or C-suite?
  • Are we free to pursue ideas without micromanagement from leadership?
  • Do our leaders trust us and do we trust them?

How can you approach the topic of psychological safety with your team?

While simple questions like those above are a solid starting point, each team is unique, so it’s important that you actually ask your teams how they feel about their working environment!

By discussing the topic of psychological safety with your team, you have a better chance of discovering what they need from you as a leader, and what they need from one another, in order to nurture a psychologically safe team.

Consider the following...
  • Have one-on-one meetings with your team members and ask them how they feel about inclusivity, trust, transparency and autonomy at work
  • Get your whole team together to share feedback on how everyone can improve their interactions with one another
  • Provide your team with a survey where they can answer questions about how free they feel to be themselves, admit mistakes, share ideas, initiate candid conversations, ask questions or ask for help, etc

The goal of talking with your teams is to gather feedback about whether they feel safe being themselves at work. Do they trust you? Do they feel at ease speaking their mind or sharing their perspectives? Do they trust their teammates?

As a leader, there are a few key things you can do to foster a psychologically safe work environment!

But don’t just take our word for it. If you’d like to nurture truly productive teams of people who feel safe bringing their whole selves to work and contributing their talents to their team, try a few of our top tips.

Encourage risk-taking

The only way to truly evolve is to try new things and take creative risks that drive innovation. At the same time, it shouldn’t just be leaders or those in positions of authority that have the room to take risks but, rather, all team members should have the opportunity to try and fail. I call this ‘freedom to fail,’ which means giving teams the confidence and freedom they need to experiment and explore new ideas without fear of ‘what ifs’ or ‘buts.’

Reinforce team values (not just goals)

Each team within an organization typically has its own goals or targets for what it would like to accomplish, but reinforcing goals without reiterating values can cause team members to feel like cogs in a wheel as opposed to valued contributors.

You can easily reinforce team values by creating a team-specific statement unique to your team or outline the characteristics and mission of what your team sets out to do. By focusing on the values instead of just goals, targets, or KPIs, teams can feel like part of something bigger and may interact more openly, honestly and consistently with one another.

Admit your own mistakes

No leader is perfect, but when you fail to admit your own mistakes or appear untouchable, it makes it more difficult and sometimes even scary for team members to admit their mistakes. By admitting your mistakes, you’re signalling to your teams that it’s okay to fail, and that you probably make mistakes that you hope they’ll call you out on.

This approach is less top-down and more vertical, meaning you’re showing that you’re part of the team rather than the ‘boss.’ Even if you are the boss, knowing they can admit to mistakes because you do, helps make your teams feel psychologically safer at work!

Make room for growth

Not every idea will be a winning one; sometimes, initiatives will fail and projects may not result in the outcomes you were hoping for. However, failing to take a breath to learn from what went wrong, rather than rushing onto the next task and sweeping the failures under the rug, doesn’t actually help your teams grow and evolve. It certainly won’t help them adapt to change!

It’s important to give your teams the time and space to pause and analyze what went wrong. Was it in the conception phase? Maybe something went awry during the development or execution of an initiative? It could be that the follow-through was poor. Whatever the case may be, your teams likely have a ‘gut feeling’ as to what went wrong, and how it can be fixed.

By allowing room for assessment and reflection, you’re inevitably making room for growth, and that’s crucial!

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Sometimes, being comfortable with your team means embracing discomfort. It may sound odd, but when you address discomforts and encourage team members to be open with one another about them, there’s a lot of growth and inspiration that can come from it.

For example, you may be uncomfortable with letting go of control and giving your team the ‘reins’ to try something new, but without embracing that discomfort, you’ll never know whether a crazy idea could just work out beautifully.

Similarly, some conversations are going to be uncomfortable, but acknowledging the discomfort and giving your team the confidence to tackle it head-on will only result is growth, both personally and professionally!

Ultimately, you want to create an environment of curiosity

Curiosity is a key element of a productive and psychologically safe team. In environments of curiosity, teams feel more free and comfortable proposing ideas, pursuing and exploring new objectives, and (most importantly) asking questions!

Given asking questions is part of being curious, it makes sense to create, then nurture, this kind of environment for your teams. For example, consider how you word your own questions as a leader or a team member to others on your team.

Good: “What’s hindering us from completing this project, and how can we work together to remove the roadblocks?”

Bad: “We need to prioritize our time better. When can we have this done by?”

Good: “Your social media management strategy looks great. I’m curious about the times you chose for posting content; do you have data to back this up, and can you share it with us?”

Bad: “Is this a waste of time, or are you going to do more research? I’m not sure there’s value in the posting strategy you have.”

The key takeaway here is ensuring people feel safe both asking and answering questions. When team members feel that asking a question would put them in an uncomfortable position, or feel uncomfortable providing an answer or solution, it hinders productivity. Instead, carefully consider how you word your own questions before asking them! In doing so, you can show others how they can create an open dialogue and give one another a voice in the workplace.


Culture

5 min

Here's Why Millennials Want More Diverse Workplaces

Here's Why Millennials Want More Diverse Workplaces

‘Diversity’ is undoubtedly one of the most significant organizational buzzwords of the last decade.

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‘Diversity’ is undoubtedly one of the most significant organizational buzzwords of the last decade.

When it comes to tackling the challenge of diversity in the workplace, many organizations are turning to their millennial workforce for the insights and understanding they need to nurture and encourage diversity across their companies.

While it’s not just millennials who support the argument for more diverse workplaces, they are the most prevalent generation of workers set to dominate the global workforce by almost 75% by 2025. Not so surprisingly - and as we’re about to discover - this generation of employees not only wants more diversity in the workplace but expects it.

But diversity can encompass more than just one ‘type,’ and most organizations are challenged by a range of diversity issues.  

Let’s take a closer look at the key types of diversity that can present challenges for organizations and why millennials demand more diverse professional environments.

Cultural vs. Generational Diversity

When it comes to choosing a place to work, 67% of people consider diversity a significant factor.

Diversity as a term has a simple enough definition: the condition of being comprised of different elements. But as an organizational challenge, diversity isn’t so simple.

Take, for example, cultural and generational diversity.

Whereas cultural diversity embraces a range of elements, such as religion, ethnicity, race, language, and more, generational diversity typically refers to a wide representation of different age groups.

Today, most organizations are at least generationally diverse, where, for the first time, there are 4-5 generations existing in the workforce at once. This doesn’t mean, however, that all are culturally diverse or otherwise.

Both of these ‘types’ of diversity bring unique perspectives to the workplace, but it's the responsibility of organizations to consider the needs of their diverse workgroups and how they can nurture harmony between culturally and generationally diverse teams.

Thought Diversity

When we think of diversity, we’re likely to think of differences among people, such as age, race, gender, language, and more. As it turns out, however, diversity can also comprise how you think.

Thought diversity is almost as new a concept as workplace diversity itself but is something millennials consider more than previous generations, which could explain why differences in logic, rationale and thought have only been considered a type of ‘diversity’ in recent years.

Simply put, thought diversity refers to the experiences and ways of thinking that people from different backgrounds - whether culturally, generationally, experientially or otherwise - bring to a group. Future generations are likely to view diversity through the lens of experiences and opinions, rather than the traditional definitions or ideas of diversity.

According to Gallup, millennials view diversity as including everything from cultural, gender and sexual differences, to thoughts and perspectives. In the workplace specifically, millennials want to hear more voices and ideas from different people to help foster transparency and inclusivity.

Similarly, studies by companies like Deloitte have found that millennials view traditional diversity (like age, gender, race, etc) as a given, and now consider cognitive diversity (thoughts, values, philosophies, approaches, etc) as an equally important organizational component.

Inherent and Acquired Diversity

Some research posits that there are two types of diversity: inherent and acquired.

Inherent refers to traits you are born with, such as your gender, race or ethnicity, while acquired involves traits you develop from experience (like working in another country, or selling products or services to a specific demographic).

Both may sound similar to cultural and generational diversity, and to some extent, that’s true. However, organizations need to recognize how each diversity type presents its own unique challenges when it comes to establishing diverse workplaces where people feel confident sharing their experiences and ideas; ones which are born of many factors, including age, gender, race, thought, and more.

Now that we’ve broken down some of the common diversity types and their relevance to the workplace, let’s look at why it all matters to millennials

Compared to previous generations, millennials are the most diverse when it comes to the workforce, with 44.2% of millennial workers categorized as belonging to a minority.

Though diverse workplaces may seem more common nowadays compared to previous decades, the first look into diversity in organizations only occurred in the early 2000s. This means millennials have grown up with the idea of diversity as both a critical factor to organizational success as well as an ethical and professional imperative.

Diversity, as it applies to race and gender, is more prevalent among generations like Gen Y (millennials) and Gen Z, which tend to think of diversity as encompassing different identities, including LGBTQ, women, and first-generation immigrants.

Diversity means better workplace cultures for millennials

Recent studies have found that a majority of millennial workers are dedicated to supporting fellow employees in their workplace who are different or diverse from themselves.

And that’s not all.

When it comes to the millennial workforce, young people are reportedly more tolerant of races and groups than older generations (47% vs. 19%), with 45% agreeing with preferential treatment to improve the position of minorities.

Diverse workplaces have a significant impact on how millennials feel about their organizations and their work. For example, 69% of millennials whose leaders or senior management teams are diverse feel their workplaces are both more stimulating and motivating.

Not only that, but those same millennials believe diversity in the workplace can lead to fostering better ethics, developing talent, and promoting creativity.

Diversity can also foster collaboration, a key factor of organizational culture that millennials often look for when considering potential employers.

While fostering diversity in the workplace can attract millennials and deliver on many aspects of the employee experience they want, there is yet another important factor that can contribute to a great workplace culture for millennials.

Inclusion and belonging matter

According to Gallup, diversity represents “the full spectrum of human demographic differences” and inclusion,” but there are inclusion and belonging, as well. Whereas inclusion is “the invitation to join a conversation,” belonging refers to the “experience of being appreciated as a full unique person - when you're comfortable speaking up and exercising your capabilities.”

If the latter sounds akin to psychological safety, that’s because belonging and acceptance are important to millennials, and psychological safety can encompass that.

In other words, where there is diversity in the workplace, there is an opportunity to better one’s organizational culture.

Millennials prioritize diversity

47% of millennials prioritize diversity when considering organizations as a future employer. And, if that weren’t surprising enough, roughly half of millennial workers report diversity as tantamount to creating the ideal workplace.

That means a significant proportion of millennial job seekers are closely examining companies and looking for signs of diversity and inclusion.

That could also explain why more organizations are taking action to create strategies that not only attract but retain diverse teams.

SHRM found, for example, that 64% of C-suite execs have a diversity and inclusion strategy, while the number of C-suite executives who cite diversity and inclusion as a top priority rose 32% between 2014-2017, according to Deloitte.

Studies have found that leadership, such as the C-suite, has to be involved in all aspects of diversity and inclusion in their organization, reflecting the values of their diversity and inclusion initiatives! When 57% of employees feel their organizations could be doing more to increase diversity in their workplaces, having leadership buy-in is a must.

Diversity can positively impact engagement

Employee engagement is a key concern of many organizations, where disengagement and poor productivity costs companies upwards of $600 billion each year.

However, when diversity is prioritized and promoted across organizations, millennials experience improved workflow and engagement. For instance, studies show that millennial employees are more productive in diverse workplaces, as they are able to learn more about and support one another.

Further, teams that are more diverse also solve problems and develop solutions more quickly than employees who are cognitively similar, which speaks to the necessity of nurturing thought diversity among your teams.

While previous generations were 31% more likely to focus on things like equity, millennials are 71% more likely to focus on teamwork and 28% more likely to place emphasis on a person’s business impact.

And let’s not forget about customer satisfaction. The Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict found that diversity in the workplace also benefits customers, where employees develop more skills to better serve the unique needs of diverse customer bases.

That’s important, given predictions that, by 2020, customer experience will become a top priority for companies, overtaking both product and price in importance.

What about the benefit of diverse workplaces for businesses?

You’ve likely heard that improved employee engagement, recognition, and experience all benefit a company’s bottom line, but what about diversity? What are the benefits for businesses when it comes to fostering more diverse organizational cultures?

Consider a few key factors:
Consider competitive advantage

When your workforce is homogenous, it ultimately suffers from a lack of distinct and varied skill sets, thought diversity, and collaboration. It may also impact how your teams solve problems and approach organizational objectives. Forbes’ Global Diversity and Inclusion study found that 85% of enterprise companies believe diversity drives innovation and organizational success.

Diversity can also place your company in a better position for attracting top talent, given millennials consider diversity and inclusion as key components of a successful organization. As 50% of workers want their companies to increase diversity, offering a diverse culture could just give your company a one-up on the competition.

Diversity benefits organizations through both employee experience and business results, but the perceived positive impact on one’s bottom line shouldn’t be the main motivator in nurturing a diverse workplace.

Taking into consideration how your employees and potential hires actually feel about, and perceive, your company is equally important.

In a survey conducted by PwC, for example, 71% of female employees feel that, while their organization talks about or tries to foster diversity, opportunities aren’t equal for all. Similarly, many millennials feel that diversity can quickly lose its meaning when organizations hire for diversity without any intention of following through on inclusion.

How can organizations improve their diversity and inclusion strategies?

Consider training for diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion training helps both employees and senior executives understand how cultural, generational, and thought diversity can impact the way in which people interact and perform their tasks while at work. It can also provide actionable solutions for improving communication among your teams so everyone across your organization can feel equipped to work together (even when there are diverse differences).

Prioritize team collaboration

When people work with the same team members on a daily basis, they can become almost too comfortable with the work dynamic, and may not know how to navigate working with other teams or employees when they need to. By bringing together a diverse cross-section of talent across your teams, you can encourage employees to collaborate with one another while learning from each other.

This not only benefits productivity and output but employee relationships and experiences, as well. You’ll prevent homogeneous work teams that ultimately don’t help drive your business or employee experience forward.

Ask yourself if your organization fosters psychological safety

Diversity reaches beyond cultural and generational differences to include things like thought diversity. But in environments where people don’t feel psychologically safe, they are unlikely to share their perspectives, provide constructive feedback, or have open and transparent discussions about their work.

Creating a workplace wherein people feel safe being their authentic selves with the ability to share their perspectives without fear of rejection or retaliation, especially from diverse thought processes, is key to ensuring diversity thrives in your organization!

Embrace multilingual teams

Today, it’s common that many workplaces will have employees who speak different languages and bring different cultural experiences to the table. This is something you should embrace rather than be fearful of.

When team members find new ways of communicating with one another and learn from the different barriers that multilingual workplaces can present, there’s actually a unique opportunity to develop better interpersonal skills and an appreciation for other cultures. This positively impacts everyone, both from a work culture perspective and professionally, right down to your customer experience!

Make recognition inclusive and accessible

The traditional top-down model for recognition in the workplace is no longer enough to keep employees engaged and ensure they are acknowledged for their contributions!

By making recognition visible and accessible to everyone across your organization, you can begin to develop a more inclusive workplace where all employees feel empowered to recognize one another and communicate appreciation of each other’s work, skills, and contributions!

Don’t forget inclusivity statements

When hiring new talent, many companies can forget to make applicants aware of the fact that they have diversity and inclusion policies. Given that millennial workers consider diversity as a key organizational factor when looking for new roles, a D&I statement is key. For example, when posting a new role to a platform like LinkedIn or advertising a new position externally, don’t forget to include a statement about accepting applications from those with diverse backgrounds.

Here’s a sample of a D&I statement you can use in your next job posting:

“At (Company), we not only accept diversity, but celebrate, support, and thrive on it. We’re proud to be an equal opportunity employer and are committed to nurturing an inclusive environment. We encourage all qualified applicants to apply and thank you in advance for your interest.”

Culture

5 min

10 Ways to Celebrate Your Employees During the Holidays

10 Ways to Celebrate Your Employees During the Holidays

The holidays are one of the most stressful and busy times of the year for many organizations. The C-suite is concerned with ensuring all outstanding business operations and objectives are in place prior to the start of a new year, while employees are gearing up for days off and vacation time.

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The holidays are one of the most stressful and busy times of the year for many organizations. The C-suite is concerned with ensuring all outstanding business operations and objectives are in place prior to the start of a new year, while employees are gearing up for days off and vacation time.

While everyone struggles to complete their tasks and deal with last-minute changes, recognition, engagement and appreciation can quickly fall to the wayside. And yet, this time of the year presents a unique opportunity to nurture your employee relationships and focus on morale so that all team members feel excited to come back to work once the holidays draw to a close.

If you’d like to keep your teams engaged during the holidays but are tired of traditional office parties or Secret Santa games, try a few of our following tips to mix things up and make your workplace a fun environment during a stressful time!

Take your office party outdoors

The holiday office party is typically held indoors towards the end of a workday, and most employees feel obligated to stay for the party or engage because they “have to.” For some companies, the traditional office party can be held at a restaurant or local venue to get employees out of the office, but you can also take the party outdoors!

Consider taking a trip to the mountains with your team for a day of skiing, or go for a group hike and end the day with a campfire where employees can drink hot chocolate and roast marshmallows!

Depending on the climate and weather, you could also host your party at a nearby park and have a barbecue where everyone contributes a dish, or take your teams on a local brewery tour.

Tip: If you’re not sure what everyone in your company would like to do, survey your teams to ask them where they’d like to have the holiday party take place.

Host a holiday scavenger hunt in your city

Instead of the traditional Secret Santa games, give your teams a break from their desks and let them explore the city where you’re located by hosting a city-wide scavenger hunt.

Divide your employees up into teams and provide them with a list of clues or riddles they have to solve that will lead them to different locations around your city to find secret prizes.

Encourage your teams to carpool or use public transit, and give everyone the day to complete the scavenger hunt. You may be surprised to see that this type of activity acts as a great team-building exercise, especially if you create teams of employees from different departments!

Tip: Make the prizes company focused, such as team lunches, a beer or coffee with the boss, office dog days, extra days off, a new piece of work technology, etc.

Have a secret holiday food taste testing

If you’d like to give your teams a good laugh and get everyone on board with a quirky activity, consider a secret holiday food taste testing.

Have a few employees volunteer to be taste testers, where they’ll try dishes other employees have made that reflect traditional holiday foods from around the world. But, switch it up by blindfolding the taste testers!

When the taste testers guess a dish or flavour correctly, they can collect points that can be ‘redeemed’ for an office-wide prize from a set of choices. For example, you could give the winning taste tester the option of letting everyone leave a few hours early on a Friday of their choosing, or hire a barista to come to the office for a day.

Tip: Ensure you’re aware of any allergies in your office before having employees participate in any food-related holiday activity.

Do a movie day at the office

Whether your workplace is business casual or startup chic, most employees would welcome the opportunity to dress down for a day at the office.

A great way to help people unwind and relax during a typically busy and stressful time of year is with a movie day at the office. Take a poll among your teams and ask them which three movies they’d love to watch, then let them wear their sweatpants or pyjamas to the office!

You can supply snacks or lunch (like popcorn or pizza) and set up an area of your office where employees can grab a pillow or comfortable chair and catch a flick or two. This is a simple yet fun way to get everyone together and take a breather from work!

Tip: Make the movie options related to your business. For example, if the majority of your teams are in Sales, consider giving movie options like Office Space and Jerry Maguire.

Take a spontaneous day off

What if your employees got home after a long, busy day at the office and received an email from their boss that they had the next day off to do whatever they wanted?

It sounds like a small gesture, but most people are swamped with personal tasks and errands during the holiday season that they have to spend hours doing after work and into the weekend. If they had one extra day to accomplish all of those chores, it could just make them more productive for the rest of the workweek!

Tip:  Set up a quick meeting with your team managers and ask them when the best day for a spontaneous day off would be. This way, you’re not forcing employees to push back important tasks or crucial deadlines - they may end up having to work from home on that day off, which defeats the purpose!

Book a surprise activity or trip

Have you overheard your employees talking about a local activity or festival they want to go to over the holidays? Maybe there’s an event happening just outside your city that would be perfect for a day-trip?

Once you decide on a day trip or activity that all employees can participate in, send out an office-wide email a few days in advance, notifying teams of how to dress or what to bring on the day you plan on surprising them with the secret trip.

For instance, you could book a trip to a local maple syrup farm where your employees can bottle syrup or tap trees. Or, there may be a spa nearby that has group rates for massages or outdoor hot springs where everyone can go for the day to relax!

Tip: Plan this surprise trip or activity enough in advance that you can take advantage of group rates or discounts.

Prank your boss (nicely, of course!)

Even when employees love their bosses and appreciate their leaders, sometimes playing a fun practical joke on them can be a way for teams to loosen up and let out some steam!

Without going overboard, organizing a prank for your boss can be a simple way to get into the holiday spirit while having some good-natured fun!

Wrap your boss’s desk in wrapping paper, for example, or put their most-used office accessory in jello (like a stapler) to evoke a few good laughs without harming anyone.

Tip: Get a few employees together to work on the ‘prank’ and keep it a secret from the rest of your team; this way, fewer people can spoil the surprise!

Have a cookie contest

The holidays are always filled with delicious treats that employees will bring into the office to share with their team members. Why not make things fun with a cookie contest?

This is one of the more simple, cost-effective and fun ideas to implement, but can bring everyone together and may just make everyone laugh!

With your cookie contest, instruct everyone to bake their most inventive/creative holiday cookie - this could be anything from a uniquely flavoured shortbread to a funky twist on chocolate chip cookies. Have every employee then taste one another’s cookie and score each one based on taste and creativity.

The most inventive holiday cookie can win a prize of the employee’s choice!

Tip: Don’t forget to let your teams know that the prize, while the winner’s choice, must be inclusive of all team members. In other words, whatever prize they choose should involve all colleagues!

Give back with a community gift

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the holiday spirit and forget that there are those in your community in need of help.

Your teams can give back to your immediate community with a simple gift. But, in addition to something like a monetary donation or a day of volunteering, switch things up by creating an ‘essentials box.’

It works like this: ask each employee in your company to contribute one item they use every day, like deodorant, socks, reusable water bottles, etc. Add all of the items into a box, and deliver the essentials box to a local homeless shelter or charity. Not only does this provide people with items they need, but it can bring your own teams together to do something good for someone outside your organization.

Tip: Consider keeping the donation confidential. It’s the thought and act that counts, not the glory!

Celebrate a different culture

Most of us are used to traditional holiday parties that revolve around Christmas, and yet not everyone celebrates Christmas. It may be fun to get everyone together for food, drinks and some fun, but you don’t have to celebrate Christmas specifically. In fact, you can celebrate a different culture by hosting a party that celebrates a unique holiday!

For example, you could celebrate Hanukkah or Diwali, and ask employees to participate in a potluck where everyone makes a dish traditional to that holiday. This both supports the diverse range of cultures in your organization and allows other employees to get to know other cultures better.

Tip: Whatever celebration you hold for a holiday should be considerate of the culture which celebrates that holiday. So, if you’re going to host a celebration for Hanukkah, for instance, ask employees in your workplace who do celebrate this holiday for advice on how to honour it ethically and appropriately!

Culture

5 min

How to Disconnect After Work to Avoid Burnout

How to Disconnect After Work to Avoid Burnout

Most of us work a typical 8-hour workday (40-hour work week), which can encompass everything from shift work to office-bound roles and more. If we’re lucky, we may only spend one-third of our lives working, hopefully pursuing roles and careers we’re genuinely passionate about.

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How difficult is it for you to wind down after work?

Moreover, how hard is it for you to stop thinking about work after you leave it?

Most of us work a typical 8-hour workday (40-hour work week), which can encompass everything from shift work to office-bound roles and more. If we’re lucky, we may only spend one-third of our lives working, hopefully pursuing roles and careers we’re genuinely passionate about.

Between overtime, work events and checking in after the usual ‘work hours,’ that one-third increases, which means we may spend a significant portion of our lives tuned into work (even when it's over for the day).

All of this can quickly result in burnout, a now common syndrome stemming from chronic work-related stress and anxiety. Burnout is growing increasingly more prevalent among larger workforces like millenials, where 7 in 10 millennial employees report experiencing some level of burnout at work.

If burnout is so prevalent, how can we mitigate the risks and avoid taking those symptoms home with us at the end of each workday?

Start by looking at your relationship with technology

Workplace stress costs companies, on average, between $125-$190 million annually.

Further, 95% of HR leaders report burnout as a key sabotager for workforce retention; this results in a storm of chronic burnout issues which organizations have to mitigate to retain their top talent while prioritizing employee wellness.

Part of the problem with work-related burnout is the constant connection employees have with work-related tech, in addition to the tools they use for personal reasons, such as social media.

For example, many organizations supply employees with work phones, laptops, tablets, and other tech devices, and some expect teams to take these devices home with them. There may not be a ‘spoken rule’ of checking these devices frequently while at home, but many employees may feel pressured to do so, checking emails or accepting phone calls outside of regular working hours, which interferes with both personal and family life.

Surveys have shown that 80% of millennials take their phones and other devices to bed with them, checking both work and social-related platforms for an average of 75 minutes before sleeping. How can organizations ensure employees have a healthy relationship with their work tech?

It’s okay to say ‘no’ to burnout

Saying ‘no’ to burnout sounds ‘easier said than done.’

Most of us have probably said ‘yes’ to work-related commitments or tasks when what we’ve wanted to say is ‘no,’ even when we’re aware such commitments will contribute to our feelings of stress or burnout.

Saying ‘no,’ however, can be more beneficial than saying yes.  When it comes to goal-directed behaviour, not always expecting a ‘yes’ can encourage teams to achieve the behaviour their organization wants as opposed to performing work or tasks that employees aren’t truly passionate about.

The same can be said for disconnecting from work. There has to be a balance between productivity and burnout, which is why the language we use to turn down commitments or tasks is so important. For example, saying ‘no’ to checking emails after working hours, taking work tech home with us, or spending down-time on work-related projects.

According to the New York Times, using words or terms such as ‘I can’t’ sound excusable, whereas phrases like ‘I don’t’ or ‘I won’t’ denote certain limitations or boundaries you’ve set. This small yet significant change in how we say ‘no’ can be more effective than saying ‘yes’ even when we know we shouldn’t.

For leaders, this also means creating workplace environments where their people feel comfortable saying ‘no’ to those things that cause, or otherwise contribute to, their burnout and work-related stress.

Consider whether your team needs more tech

According to studies conducted by Gallup, just 19% of employees and managers agree that there’s a need to discuss new technologies and tools for workplace productivity. With all of the innovative tech solutions and devices available to us, it can be challenging to choose just one or a few to use.

But do we really need more tech?

For the most part, introducing new tech into the workplace fails to improve or increase productivity, as tech is often poorly integrated into established work patterns. With all of the existing tech that employees have to work with, it is unlikely teams will adapt to new tech, thus making their use less agile.

That may be why less than 28% of employees discuss the innovation and use of new tech among their teams!

If you’re considering introducing new technology or tools into your workplace, first ask yourself a few key questions, such as:

  • What is the purpose of the new tech, and how do you envision using it?
  • How will you integrate the new tech into your teams’ established workflows?
  • Will the tech benefit employee productivity and engagement?
  • Have you asked your employees what tech they need versus what tech you may want them to use?
  • How agile is this new technology? Can it adapt to and work cohesively with your existing tech or tools?

By assessing the pros and cons of new tech, you can better determine whether the use and cost will lend to the overall productivity and goals of your organization.

How can we ‘shut off’ after work?

The effects of burnout are not always apparent, both to leaders and the teams who experience this syndrome. Gallup found that 23% of employees report frequently feeling burnout at work, while employees who experience burnout in the workplace are 63% more likely to take regular sick days and 2.6 times as likely to search for a more balanced job.

Shutting off or disconnecting after work is not only crucial for the overall health of your organization but the individual well-being of its employees. If we’re constantly connected to work, we run the risk of growing more disengaged and less passionate about our contributions.

How, then, can we disconnect from work at the end of the workday?

Keep your work tech and personal tech separate

Many of us add our professional email accounts and work tools to our personal devices so that we can stay up to date outside of work. While this may be easier for some than others, keeping your work and personal tech separate ensures you can ‘shut off’ from work.

Embrace ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode

Push notifications and nudges are great, but when unwinding after work, receiving consistent work-related notifications can feel overwhelming or produce a sense of ‘guilt’ for not working around the clock. Consider putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode or disabling notifications after certain times in the day/night.

Create a ‘transition’ ritual

How often have you left work for the day and promptly checked your phone or email at home for any work-related updates? When we’re always connected to our tech, it can be challenging to unwind and ‘shut down’ for the night. A ‘transition’ ritual can help you disconnect and get the rest you need to be your most productive self, tomorrow.

That’s crucial, given that the average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep to function optimally! Transition rituals are any small tasks or habits you can do before resting or relaxing that remove you from those things that cause stress or anxiety. For example, washing a few dishes or going for a walk can help your brain disconnect from stress-related thoughts.

Take a break from media, but if you can’t, make it funny media

We’ve all heard the adage that laughter is the best medicine. While laughter can help to relieve stress, most studies and science point specifically to the positive results and benefits of laughter in and outside of the workplace. If you enjoy watching television or checking social media before bed, consider watching something lighthearted and funny, like a clip from your favourite stand-up comedian (or that cute cat-video you love). Inducing laughter can help us unwind, relax, and destress!


Leadership Tip: Ensure your teams know that they do not need to take their work home with them and that work-related tech is just that: work-related! Given that 1 in 5 engaged employees is at risk of burnout in the workplace, with burnout being a significant driver of employee turnover, leadership should proactively encourage their teams to disconnect from work at the end of each workday!

Culture

5 min

Here Are 7 Awesome Engagement Tips for Organizations

Here Are 7 Awesome Engagement Tips for Organizations

More leaders and organizations are paying closer attention to employee engagement, the spectrum of psychological, emotional and social needs employees have to meet in order to perform well, connect with their organization, and find purpose in their work.

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More leaders and organizations are paying closer attention to employee engagement, the spectrum of psychological, emotional and social needs employees have to meet in order to perform well, connect with their organization, and find purpose in their work.

And for good reason, too.

Employees that are truly engaged are more productive, make customers happier, and are less likely to leave their organizations. Moreover, companies with engaged teams have 12% higher profitability.

But engagement doesn’t always come naturally nor easily to organizations.

69% of professionals agree that engagement is a significant issue in their organization, and 96% feel strongly that it’s critical for their company to address these employee engagement problems. Here in Canada, where Kudos is based, 34% of Canadian companies aren’t doing anything to foster or implement recognition in their organizations while only 27% of Canadian organizations are succeeding at employee recognition and engagement!

What can organizations do to foster more engagement?

Check out our top tips and try implementing one or two (or more!) as part of an engagement strategy today!
  1. Set clear (but realistic goals) - By focusing on performance management as a key driver of employee engagement, leaders can help their teams set clear, achievable goals that allow them to truly contribute to the organization.

  2. Let employees own their tasks - Micromanagement is a serious issue many employees experience during their tenure with a company, and leaders who don’t allow their teams to own their tasks and achieve results end up stifling top talent. Give employees the room they need to grow and take on new challenges!

  3. Communicate with employees regularly - Forget annual performance reviews or monthly team meetings; in today’s modern workplace, employees want frequent communication, support, and mentoring from their leaders. Meet with teams or fellow employees in your department daily, or have regular ‘recons’ (short meetings) to ensure everyone has touched base, is aware of concerns, and is supported where they need to be.

  4. Don’t discount authentic recognition - A study by Gallup revealed that, while money matters to some extent, it isn’t the top form of recognition that employees appreciate. On the contrary, employees want frequent, meaningful recognition from their leaders for their contributions, which is why many organizations use Kudos! We make it simple and fun to give recognition wherever and whenever it’s due.

  5. Offer opportunities to develop and be challenged - Many employees crave the opportunity to learn, grow, and take on new challenges in their career, which is why more leaders should provide their employees with chances to spread their wings and grow both professionally and personally!

  6. Make it clear that you care - Beyond rewards, recognition, and development opportunities, employees want to know their leaders care about them. Leaders can show they care simply by listening to their employees, supporting them to the best of their ability, and nurturing their talents, skills, and goals.

  7. Practice what you preach - As a leader, you need to be willing to ‘walk the walk,’ not just ‘talk the talk.’ That means practicing what you preach; whether your company uses Kudos and you also participate as a leader, or you encourage engagement initiatives that other team members are nurturing. Your teams need to see that everyone values the same things and is committed to the organizational culture.
Here are a few other ‘quick tips’ you can employ!
  • Say ‘thank you’ every day
  • Celebrate employee milestones
  • Use your Kudos platform to send recognition
  • Treat your teams to something special, like an office lunch
  • Offer networking opportunities, like the chance to attend a tradeshow or conference
  • Let employees bring their dogs to the office one day per week
  • Consider flexible ‘work from home’ days

Culture

5 min

How to Make Employee Wellness a Top Priority

How to Make Employee Wellness a Top Priority

Employee wellness programs were once thought of as a ‘nice to have,’ something companies implemented once every other aspect of their organization was fully optimized.

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Employee wellness programs were once thought of as a ‘nice to have,’ something companies implemented once every other aspect of their organization was fully optimized. Often, these wellness programs were championed only by HR departments or a handful of employees who wanted benefits that extended beyond traditional ones (like medical, or vacation days).

Today, companies can no longer think of employee wellness programs as something 'nice to have.'

That’s because more employees are reaping fewer benefits from what is supposed to be a happy, healthy work environment.

We can think of workplace wellness as being inextricably linked to employee performance and thus, company culture. Without an organizational culture that takes into account the overall well-being of one’s employees, companies are more likely to experience rises in employee burnout and stress-related issues. In the US alone, 65% of employees cite work as a significant source of stress!

But no two employee wellness programs are created equal, so how do organizations create an effective strategy that actually yields results?

You may have to approach employee wellness differently

Wellness programs are now the norm, not the exception.

What was once a prototype for lowering healthcare costs and preventing employees from taking too many sick days, has evolved into an all-encompassing approach to ensuring your employees stick around.

This is especially true for millennials, the generation projected to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025.

Traditionally, corporate wellness programs focused around diet and exercise, exclusively. The idea was to encourage employees to be more physically active, thereby lowering the costs employers had to cover when it came to healthcare and medical.

That approach may have got people moving but did little to yield real results for either employees and employers. Even today, those employee wellness programs that focus on weight, diet or exercise often result in low ROI.

Why is that, exactly?

Organizations are now being forced to look towards what employees actually want to gain from wellness programs. Often, it has little do with an improved physique or better diet.  

Take millennials, for example. 53% of millennials value health and wellness, while 52% agree that living and working in healthy environments is key to their overall health. Many millennials view health and wellness in the workplace as encompassing more than just exercise or diet. It can include mental, physical, emotional, spiritual health, and more.

It's safe to say, then, that companies cannot approach employee wellness programs or initiatives traditionally.

Know what your employees want from a wellness program

If you consider that more workplaces are made up of millennials, a company’s wellness initiatives have to take into account both older and younger generations of employees. That includes ensuring employees have access to these programs.

Only 9% of the global workforce has access to some form of a wellness program at work, and just 25% of employees feel their employers offer a wellness program because they actually care.

In today's modern workplace, employees expect more from a wellness program. It's no longer sufficient to encourage regular exercise and healthier diets.

Employees, for example, may expect their wellness program to encompass things like:

  • Flexible work schedules to help prevent burnout
  • Access to healthy food options (like snacks) and amenities (like blenders to make smoothies) at work
  • Breaks for fitness classes or wellness activities (like meditation or yoga)
  • Medical coverage for therapist or psychologist appointments
  • Daily team-building activities

Wellness programs that take a more holistic approach can help foster engagement and also provide employees with the support they need to avoid work-related burnout!

Which leads us to our next point…

Wellness is more than just physical

At some point, 23% of full-time employees experience burnout on the job.

Those employees who experience burnout at work are 2.6 times more likely to leave their current employer, while 13% feel less confident in their performance.

Many of those burnt-out employees are millennials; 7 in 10, in fact. That could be a significant ‘chunk’ of an organization’s workforce.

It goes beyond burnout, too. Employees with low engagement and well being are 48% more likely to leave their company - that disengagement costs companies up to $550 billion annually. Worldwide, the cost of such unwell employees represents about 10-15% of total economic output - just look at the USA, where workplace unwellness costs the nation up to $2.2 trillion annually, or 12% of GDP.

A lack of workplace wellness costs, but can poor employee wellness be solved with diet and fitness, or is wellness far more complicated than that?

Recent research has found that to achieve total well-being, wellness has to encompass eight mutually interdependent aspects of wellness: physical, emotional, social, mental, occupational, environmental, financial, and purposeful.

While it may seem unrealistic that a company’s employee-wellness program could nurture all eight of those components, what it can do is set employees on the right ‘path’ towards achieving their own version of total well-being.

This might include mental and psychological well-being, emotional support, personal and professional purpose, and more. With overall healthier employees comes happier, healthier workplaces, which companies ultimately benefit from.

It’s why more organizations are investing in improved employee wellness programs, to the tune of $8 billion annually. Such investments make a difference, especially when you consider that those companies investing in employee wellness report a 28% reduction in sick leave and a 26% reduction in medical costs. From a financial perspective, those statistics are good news for companies who want tangible results from their wellness initiatives.

Want to step up your employee wellness program?

Try implementing a few of the following practices into your wellness program, then consider monitoring the results to discover what changes you see in employee engagement, employee wellness, and organizational culture!

Get your leaders on board (and involved) - it’s critical that the C-suite is on board and actively involved in any wellness program or initiative of a company; when leaders take part, it can inspire other team members to participate and see the true value in the program itself.

Practice gratitude and encourage support - practicing gratitude in the workplace has been linked to improvements in self-care and sleep, in addition to mitigating overeating and easing symptoms of depression. By encouraging teams to support one another, giving kudos, and practicing gratitude daily, companies are likely to see an improvement in the overall satisfaction and wellness of their employees!

Make work a pet-friendly place (seriously!) - a study conducted by Central Michigan University found that having pets in the office fosters collaboration. Pets can also reduce stress on the job and nurture productivity! Consider holding weekly pet days where employees can bring their dogs to work or make your workplace openly pet-friendly every day of the week! Take Amazon as an example of a pet-friendly company doing it right!

Offer wellness coverage - most organizations offer traditional benefits, but more companies are going above and beyond by providing coverage for meditation, holistic health, fitness classes, and more. Look at Patagonia, which has a daycare for its employees' use! By covering some of the more critical costs employees incur to foster wellness and balance, companies will see a positive ROI in engagement and productivity.

Let employees take the reigns - everyone has different interests and allowing employees to suggest or plan wellness activities can nurture collaboration while helping teams get to know one another. Here at Kudos, for instance, we follow our weekly team meetings with a group wellness activity, and any team member can suggest or plan an activity!

Culture

5 min

How To Use Laughter To Increase Employee Engagement

How To Use Laughter To Increase Employee Engagement

The laughter Guru, Madan Kataria, believes laughter promotes well-being and true mirthful laughter can have a liberating, transformative effect. Participants of what is called ‘laughter yoga’ start with fake laughter which evolves into real laughter as inhibitions dissolve and stress is released.

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During preflight safety instructions, Southwest Airlines flight attendants can be heard saying jokes such as, “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then on your child. If you’re travelling with more than one child, start with the one who has more potential or who is less likely to put you in the home.”  

Southwest Airlines is one example of a company that successfully incorporates laughter and fun into its organizational culture. Employees at Southwest Airlines are encouraged to have fun and engage passengers in that same spirit, not because they were told to, but because that’s how they do their jobs. While embodying the company’s values is the primary reason for incorporating laughter into daily interactions, Southwest Airlines has experienced considerable monetary benefits, as well.

An independent consulting group found that telling jokes during their safety demonstrations, for example, resulted in $140 million dollars of revenue per year. While other low-budget airlines are going out of business, Southwest Airlines boasts 44 consecutive years of profitability. On top of the monetary benefits, their fun-loving culture contributes to their low turnover rate of 4%, while 85% of employees say they are proud to work for Southwest Airlines.  

As impressive as the Southwest Airlines statistics are, you may be wondering how you can achieve similar results with your own organization. While creating a culture that revolves around laughter will help create a positive work environment, making even small changes to culture is challenging. Though you may not be able to change your organizational culture entirely, taking steps to improve engagement can help mitigate risks of disengagement among your teams.

After two decades of worldwide employee engagement research, Gallup discovered only one-third of employees are engaged. When both leaders and employees struggle to achieve a healthy work/life balance, any additional task can be overwhelming. Engagement shouldn’t be thought of as something organizations should do, but, rather, part of your everyday organizational culture. Engagement is about investing in everyday moments, and laughter is one approach that can easily be integrated into your engagement strategy with a few simple initiatives.  

Is laughter really the best medicine?  

The laughter Guru, Madan Kataria, believes laughter promotes well-being and true mirthful laughter can have a liberating, transformative effect. Participants of what is called ‘laughter yoga’ start with fake laughter which evolves into real laughter as inhibitions dissolve and stress is released. Participants describe the exercises as a life-changing physiological release where stress lifts from the body and soul.  

These types of laugher exercises are primarily self-initiated. While prolonged self- initiated laughter promotes the same benefits as spontaneous laughter, it originates in the nervous system. The nervous system is responsible for the communication between all parts of the body, including the brain. Self-initiated laughter provides added oxygen, which stimulates higher overall productivity of the system. This leads to cognitive skill improvements, such as emotional expression, problem-solving, and communication. Performing cognitive exercises, such as self-initiated laughter, can reduce mid-day fatigue and increase overall productivity.  

Dr. Andrew Weil believes laughter is a powerful intervention against illness. Laughter reduces stress levels and blood pressure, and can also boost the immune system. Each of these benefits can lead to the increased well-being of employees and can reduce the number of sick days each employee needs. Moreover, laughter has also been found to elevate mood.

According to Dr. Charles Schaefer, a psychologist who studied laughter, adults who act happy for one minute per day are likely to be happy. Laughter releases positive chemicals that help promote connectivity, and when team members feel connected, they not only work more cohesively but can develop stronger bonds. Cohesive teams are more confident in the abilities of their team members and often experience greater happiness than incohesive teams. Thus, happiness can be viewed as a key component of long-term job satisfaction, which increases employee engagement, retention, and productivity.

The answer as to whether laughter is the best medicine is a resounding yes. The stress reduction benefits alone may be incentive enough to incorporate laughter into your workplace daily routine, but when added to the benefits of team collaboration, productivity, and creativity, laughter becomes an impactful employee engagement tool.    

How to integrate laughter into your organizational culture        

Incorporating laughter and humour into your engagement strategy needs to be intentional in order for it to become a regular aspect of daily interactions. Implementing just one simple laughter initiative within your team can help to improve both engagement and morale. It’s important when integrating humour into the workplace to develop clear guidelines for safe humour in order to prevent alienation. The guidelines need to be presented to the employees at the onset of the laughter initiative in order to avoid confusion.

For example...

  • Avoid religious or political topics  
  • Avoid obscene references
  • Avoid malicious material
  • Avoid making fun of clients, competitors or individuals

Once the guidelines are established, start by integrating one simple laughter initiative. Choose an initiative based on the current workplace culture and the methods your team members would benefit most from. Laughter exercises that last 10 minutes are more likely to improve engagement surrounding creativity and innovation. Shorter exercises, such as a joke, will still help improve engagement involved with cognitive skills.

Here are three laughter initiatives you can try implementing within your teams today

Don’t be afraid to be creative and experiment with initiatives your team can relate to!      

Take laughter breaks

Laughter breaks promote inhibition and generate innovation and creativity. The more stressed an employee is, the less likely they are to contribute creative ideas with confidence. Give employees the opportunity to get together, socialize, and laugh during the workday. This has been shown to increase employee engagement in tasks and increase productivity. Nurturing an environment that encourages laughter and playfulness allows employees to feel recognized and valued while releasing tension and connecting with others.  

Practice Gradient Laughter

Gradient Laughter is an unstructured exercise that begins with silence, then slowly escalates into laughter. As momentum builds, the laughter becomes more natural and contagious. The end result is real, uninhibited laughter. The laughter provides oxygen the brain requires to function at the optimal level and relaxes the participants at the same time. If possible, this exercise is a great excuse for your team to take a break outside of their regular working environments.    

Insert humour into daily internal communications

There are many ways of inserting humour into daily communications. One simple way of introducing humour throughout the day is through humorous e-mails. These e-mails can be a joke, a funny picture, funny motivational quotes, or even memes. Starting off the day with a humorous e-mail to your team is a great way of ensuring everyone’s day starts on the right foot. Finding images and jokes can be time-consuming at first, but you can create a digital folder of images and jokes over time to pull from. Not every team member will find the same jokes funny, but the attempt to add humour will help to ease tension and stress, creating an open communication channel. Remember to keep the humour lighthearted and non-offensive!

Harnessing the power of laughter can stimulate employee engagement and increase the overall well-being of your employees. Southwest Airlines serves as a great example of the benefits of integrating laughter and humour into the workplace. Work cultures that encourage fun lead to happier, productive, and engaged employees who are excited to come to work every day!

Culture

5 min

How to Prevent Employee Burnout: 5 Tips to Keep Your Team Happy and Healthy

How to Prevent Employee Burnout: 5 Tips to Keep Your Team Happy and Healthy

Employee burnout is quite common in the modern workplace. In our "get it done yesterday" world, many employees are pushed too hard in the name of company profits. But in the end, overworked team members aren't the only ones who lose. Research shows that the effects of employee burnout represent an estimated 125 billion to 190 billion in healthcare costs each year. And that's just in the United States!

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Employee burnout is quite common in the modern workplace. In our "get it done yesterday" world, many employees are pushed too hard in the name of company profits. But in the end, overworked team members aren't the only ones who lose. Research shows that the effects of employee burnout represent an estimated 125 billion to 190 billion in healthcare costs each year. And that's just in the United States!

In this blog post, we'll explain exactly what burnout is and give you five tips to prevent it at your place of work. Sound like a plan? Great, let's dive in!

Employee Burnout: A Definition

Let's start at the beginning and define what burnout is. According to the Mayo Clinic, employee burnout (AKA job burnout) is, "a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity."

As you can tell from this definition, burnout is more than just a high level of stress. While stress produces feelings of "too much," burnout is characterized by feelings of "not enough." Employees affected by this phenomenon often feel emotionally exhausted and may lose their sense of purpose and motivation.

There are many things that, left unchecked, could eventually lead to employee burnout. But a few of the main causes include unrealistic expectations, a lack of communication, and bad management.

How to Prevent Employee Burnout

Knowing what burnout is and actually avoiding it are two very different things. To prevent employee burnout at your place of work, follow these five tips.

1. Assign the Right Tasks

Prevent Employee Burnout: Tasks

First, it's important for all employees to be assigned both the right tasks and the right amount of tasks. A sure-fire way to introduce employee burnout to your workplace is to give your team a mountain of work they hate doing and force them to complete it in an unrealistic amount of time.

Instead, be mindful of each employee's workload. Are you putting too much on any one staffer's shoulders? Also, do your best to match team member interests and skill sets with the duties you ask them to complete. Your team will work harder, be more productive, and have more joy at work when they're given the opportunity to accomplish tasks they're good at and enjoy.

2. Equip Your Team

Prevent Employee Burnout: Equipment

Few things are as frustrating as being given a task by your boss and feeling like you aren't able to complete it. If your team experiences these feelings often, they'll eventually experience employee burnout as well.

Fortunately, there's a simple fix: equip your team to accomplish the work you set before them. Give them the proper tools, provide them with any necessary training materials, and make sure they have the resources at their disposal to achieve what you've asked of them.

3. Focus on Company Culture

Prevent Employee Burnout: Culture

A positive company culture will go a long way toward banishing employee burnout from your place of work. Do what you can to foster it! Make sure your team supports one another, both in the office and outside it. Encourage socializing between co-workers as company culture is built on relationships. And don't be afraid to get your staff outside the office to have fun together.

If you're able to build a fun working environment that your team enjoys being a part of every day, they'll be much less likely to experience employee burnout.

4. Allow Time to Rest

Prevent Employee Burnout: Rest

You may think that in order to get everything done, you need to ask your team to work more, not less. But this probably isn't the case. Studies show that overworked team members are actually less productive. They're also better candidates for employee burnout.

So do your team and your company a favour and promote rest. Allow your staff to take breaks throughout the day, give them a healthy lunch break, and encourage them to take a summer vacation. Also, refrain from asking them to complete work after hours if it can be avoided.

If you allow your team to rest, they'll be better workers, get more done, be more joyful, and be able to better avoid employee burnout.

5. Recognize Your Employees

Prevent Employee Burnout: Recognition

Lastly, to prevent employee burnout, you need to recognize your team for their contributions. The kind of recognition you give will vary depending on your unique company and circumstances. But in general, make sure that your team is being recognized on a consistent basis, for specific jobs well done. Random, general praise is much less effective.

One of the best and easiest ways to consistently recognize your team in meaningful ways is to use a software tool like Kudos. Our platform makes the entire process incredibly simple. Request a demo and see for yourself today!

In Conclusion

Employee burnout is a serious, widespread condition in modern workplaces. Fortunately, you now have the tools to prevent it. Follow the five tips listed above and your team will be much happier, healthier, and productive. Good luck!

Culture

5 min

The Anatomy of a "Thank You"

The Anatomy of a "Thank You"

There are few things as simple and as powerful as the act of saying “thank you.” Studies have shown that daily gratitude benefits individual mental and physical health while also improving organizational health and business results.

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There are few things as simple and as powerful as the act of saying “thank you.” Studies have shown that daily gratitude benefits individual mental and physical health while also improving organizational health and business results. In fact, research by Harvard Business School and Wharton showed a 50% increase in productivity when frequent appreciation is given in the workplace.

While a thank you is enough to make someone’s day, here at Kudos, we’ve seen that our most successful clients tend to follow a recipe for giving recognition to team members. Follow this recipe to start giving amazing recognition today:

Anatomy of a Thank You

Express Gratitude & Appreciation - The first step in a thank you should immediately show the level of gratitude. The range of recognition could go from appreciating a thoughtful gesture like bringing in cookies for the office to recognizing an act that benefited the entire organization, like speaking at an event or hosting a webinar. Your first sentence could start with any of the below example options:

“Thank you…”

“It really made my day when…”

“You did an amazing job at…”

On the Kudos platform, you can choose from four distinct levels of recognition and appreciation. This proprietary approach to recognition provides valuable insights into individual and team performance. Learn more here!

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Be Specific - Details highlight the action's value, strengthen professional bonds, and increase the likelihood of the action being repeated. Everyone loves to be recognized for their contribution, big or small, and they’ll appreciate the spotlight on their actions. We’re all a little curious, so when gratitude is given, we want to know why and we want to know all the details.

Describe the Impact - Let the recipient know how their contribution affected you or the organization. The goal of this step is to provide perspective on the breadth of their actions. When you’re in the moment, you may not realize the full effect of your contribution, and it’s even harder to gauge in larger organizations, so be sure to highlight how a small act can have big results.

Connect to Values - Tie three or four of your organization's values to your message to highlight how that individual is living the organization’s culture. This has the added benefit of keeping those values at the top of the minds of your team members. Employee experience platforms like Kudos make this easy by providing a built-in selector for your organizational values whenever you send recognition.

Deep Dive - Once you’ve tied corporate values to your employee recognition program, you can begin measuring your culture and changes in your culture quantitatively. Book a call with us, and we’ll show you how to do it!

Try following this recipe the next time you give recognition and see for yourself how effective it is to give more meaningful appreciation. Better yet, get your entire team or company onboard with giving better recognition - you’ll see an incredible difference in your organizational culture and performance.

Culture

5 min

Communicating Culture: 7 Steps to Success

Communicating Culture: 7 Steps to Success

Take a moment to think about your last meeting: maybe it was with your team, maybe your superiors, maybe your board. Try to remember what you talked about. Most likely it was the “hard” side of business such as product/service enhancements, financials, and corporate goals.

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Take a moment to think about your last meeting: maybe it was with your team, maybe your superiors, maybe your board. Try to remember what you talked about. Most likely it was the “hard” side of business such as product/service enhancements, financials, and corporate goals. Of course, these aspects of the organization are most often discussed as they are crucial to maintaining (or establishing) your organization’s place in the market.

What is not as readily discussed is the “soft” side of business. The soft side of business refers to the company’s culture, morale, and employee value proposition. Creating and nurturing your culture is extremely important, but is rarely given the same emphasis as its counterpart. This is too bad, as your company’s culture is its guiding beacon. Without direction, your team can fall off course or drift culturally, potentially leading to disengagement and turnover. While there are numerous suggestions for what your culture should look like, I’d like to focus on how you’re communicating it. So, let’s crack open a textbook and go back to basics.

According to Organizational Behavior: An Experiential Approach there are seven mechanisms to transmit culture:

Statements of Principles: Hopefully, your teammates have reviewed your company’s mission, vision, and values. But is it safe to assume that they can explain them, or the company's purpose and direction? Finding a simple tool that reinforces your company’s values is great way to help steer the ship.

Socialization: Consider how your employees are brought onboard. Are there platforms where they can learn about the people, the company, and the culture? Ensuring you have an effective onboarding process is crucial for creating a foundation, and making your teammates’ first day a great one.

Stories: What’s on your organization’s highlight reel? While I don’t suggest belabouring old stories, explaining how the organization came to be, the highlights, and its history is a great way to gain understanding, appreciation, and commitment. Why not have the CEO or founders create a short video discussing some of these highlights? Not only would this preserve your stories, but newbies could gain a better understanding of the corporation during their socialization phase. Remember to keep the communication flowing afterwards with leader’s blogs or town hall meetings.

Symbols: What do you think of, and what do you want to think of, when envisioning your corporate culture? If you don’t have a symbol or a mascot, it’s never too late to adopt one. In fact, often the funniest company stories and/or minor mishaps can create symbols the whole team can rally behind. Once you have a symbol, consider adding it to company swag to further engrain it into your culture.

Jargon: Every company has its lingo. Try identifying words and phrases that connect your team to your vision and values. You can further reinforce your uniqueness and ensure that everyone is singing from the same song sheet by actively using these words in meetings and around the office.

Rituals and Ceremonies: Regular events spark engagement and interest for your team. Bonus points if these take you out of the office and delve into your communities. Volunteering projects, local functions, and if you’re in Calgary like us, a Stampede event never hurt. Afterwards, you may even be left with new stories, symbols, and jargon.

Heroes: Knowing who your team idolizes is extremely important. If you don’t know who their role models are, you should ask (preferably before they become an employee!). There’s a big difference between Jordan Belfort and Elon Musk.

There’s a saying in our industry that, “if you allow your culture to develop on its own, you will get what you deserve.” I encourage you to focus on your culture and how it is being communicated in order to better illuminate your direction.

Do you think that there are other ways to communicate culture? Has technology changed the mechanisms for transmitting culture? Let us know in the comments, or by emailing support@kudosnow.com

Culture

5 min

The Kudos Happiness Project

The Kudos Happiness Project

we believe that happy workers are loyal and engaged in an authentic way with their workplace - so the idea now is how best to implement KUDOS into your company’s daily pursuit of Happiness? Ms. Rubin has developed a month-by-month Happiness Project for 2011, that we can interpret using Kudos: What types of "kudos" can you send as a deliberate and authentic message of happiness and gratitude to a colleague this month? I’d love your feedback!

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I’m not sure if everyone is aware how much the idea (and the pursuit) of happiness is most definitely in the air as part of the zeitgeist of the moment, and how exactly Kudos fits so seamlessly into this narrative:

In 2009 @Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, and his Chief Happiness Officer, Jenn Lim began the process of creating what was to become the @DHMovement - "Delivering Happiness" by books, bus tours, and town halls. As we well know, Zappos Inc. is an incredibly successful online shoe-delivery business HQ'd in the middle of the Nevada desert, that no one [really] saw coming, let alone succeeding in deploying a movement out of delivering happiness. However, what they have built is pure gold in terms of branding and corporate culture (not to mention a profitable multi-billion dollar enterprise!) - and I'll write more about this in a later post, I'm sure!

2010 also gave us ‘The Happiness Project’ and its “Mythbusters” of what truly makes us “happy” in our day-to-day:

  • Myth No. 7 = 'Do random acts of kindness really bring happiness?' - offers an interesting debate on the merits of  “random” acts of kindness vs. the expected sort, with the former being perhaps not as effective. The debate centres on whether or not, if you don’t know where these acts of kindness are coming from, and why, you might become suspicious of their integrity? (See also The Science of Subjective Well-Being.)

Ms. Rubin and her "Mythbusters" play right along with our Kudos program, as we fully believe in all sorts of acts of kindness - especially where recognition in the workplace is concerned. There is so much literature and so many Webcasts online right now devoted to happy and engaged employees, that I'll be writing more & more on this topic in future posts as well!

And its not just in the workplace, but governments too are getting behind developing programs to increase GNH (Gross National Happiness) along with GDP - just like Nicholas Sarkozy, president of France, who in 2008, directed two Nobel-winning economists specifically to help enhance the French GNH - an idea way-before-its-time, first developed by the King of Buhtan in 1972: http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com

Sarkozy wanted a measure of France’s well-being to correspond w/ the GDP analytics often used as a base-line by countries, and others, to establish how “well off” they are in the order of things, as a Nation. Just last year, the new UK coalition Government of David Cameron, also announced that Britain would begin tracking well-being as well - not sure how well this has turned out? Especially if you look at all the recent riots in the streets of London and other cities across the UK...but that's another (unhappy) story...Of course, the Founders of the USA, wrote in their 1776 Declaration of Independence, that every American citizen has the right to the pursuit of happiness = which is a beautiful thing!

We at Kudos just love these ideas, as they fit right into what we are trying to do too: Using our effective and authentic tool can  help organizations track the well-being of their teams. Helping to spread happiness, and well-being in the workplace is not just a touchy-feely pursuit, but an important idea with real merit for the positive-sum-bottom-line most corporations and organizations that are looking to achieve, while maintaining strong teams of workers, staff, employees and stakeholders of all kinds.

In the end, we believe that happy workers are loyal and engaged in an authentic way with their workplace - so the idea now is how best to implement KUDOS into your company’s daily pursuit of Happiness? Ms. Rubin has developed a month-by-month Happiness Project for 2011, that we can interpret using Kudos: What types of "kudos" can you send as a deliberate and authentic message of happiness and gratitude to a colleague this month? I’d love your feedback!

The Complete Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide

Everything you need to choose the best recognition partner for your organization, from budgeting strategies to identifying stakeholders and much, much more.

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