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Culture

Culture

5 min

5 min

Workplace Culture: Why Recognition is Important

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

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

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

Workplace Culture: Definition

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

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

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

Workplace Culture: Importance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defining your workplace culture 

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

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

Looking ahead

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

Culture

5 min

5 min

How to Build a Culture of Recognition

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

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

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What Makes a Great Workplace?

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

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

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

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

What is a Culture of Recognition?

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

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

Employee Engagement and Wellbeing

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

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

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

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

Building Your Culture of Recognition

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

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

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

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

Culture

5 min

5 min

Why People Leave Their Jobs

Why People Leave Their Jobs Why People Leave Their Jobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Lack of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policies

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

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

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

More notable findings:

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

2. Low Job Satisfaction, and Pessimistic Outlook

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

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

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

More notable findings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Their Mental Health is Suffering

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. People Want a Work Style to Match their Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

Making the Case to Stay

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

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

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

Culture

5 min

5 min

Employer Branding: Everything you need to know

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

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

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

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

What is employer branding?

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

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

The benefits of a strong employer brand

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

Cultivate your employer brand

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

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

So, who should oversee employer branding?

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

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

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

How to build a great employer brand

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

Take aways

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

Culture

5 min

5 min

Why People-First HR Strategies are the Future

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

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

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Why People-First HR Strategies are the Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defining culture

Positive intentions produce positive results

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

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

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

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

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

What makes a culture toxic?

Why HR strategies need to transform

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

Disrespectful

Being consistently disrespected at work is soul-crushing.  

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

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

Noninclusive

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

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

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

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

Unethical

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

Cutthroat  

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

Abusive

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

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

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

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

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

What makes a culture healthy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culture

5 min

5 min

What is Servant Leadership?

What is Servant Leadership? What is Servant Leadership?

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

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

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

First, who are servant leaders?

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

The history of servant leadership  

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

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

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

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

What’s a traditional approach?

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

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

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

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

The benefits of servant leadership

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

Servant leadership in action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you become a Servant Leader?

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

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

Looking ahead

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

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

Culture

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5 min

Managing Employee Morale with the Return to Office

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

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

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

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

What is Causing Low Morale?

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

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

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

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

Why Return to the Office?

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

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

How to Manage Employee Morale

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

1. Clearly Communicate any Policy Changes

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

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

2. Listen to Employee Feedback

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

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

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

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

3. Take it One Step at a Time

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

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

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

4. Create Opportunities for Socialization

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

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

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

5. Be Proactive about Providing Support

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

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

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

Entering the New Normal

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

Culture

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7 min

6 HR Trends to Watch for in 2022

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

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

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

1. Building Critical Skills Within the Organization

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

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

2. Organizational Change Management

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

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

3. Creating a Healthy Work Environment

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

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

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

4. Flexible Work Arrangements

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

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

5. Pursuing vs. Established and Thriving Workplace Culture

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

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

6. Regular, Meaningful Recognition

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

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

What does the future of work look like?

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

Culture

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5 min

Is Happiness at Work Important?

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

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

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Are Your Employees Happy?

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

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

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

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

How to Spot an Unhappy Employee

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

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

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

So, what can you do to improve employee happiness?

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

Make Happiness a Core Value

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

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

For example:

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

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

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

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

More Tips for Improving Employee Happiness and Engagement

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

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

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

Culture

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5 min

6 Ways to Live by Your Organization’s Core Values

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

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

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

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

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

Organizational Values and the Bottom Line

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

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

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

Here’s how to do it:

1. Define What Your Values Look Like in Action

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

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

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

company core values chart

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

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

2. Communicate Values Consistently and Often

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

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

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

 Transparency
 Happiness
 Accountable
 Nnovation
 Kollaboration

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

3. Recruit and Hire with Your Values in Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Work and Play by your Values

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

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

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

6. Recognize and Reward Value-aligned Behaviours

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

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

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

Culture

5 min

5 min

Reassessing, Refocusing, and Reinforcing Culture

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

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

How would you describe your organizational culture these days?

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

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

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

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

Reassessing Culture

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

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

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

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

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

Refocusing Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reinforcing Culture

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

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

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

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

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

Culture

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5 min

How to Build Your Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are four must-haves to get you started:

Revisit, Communicate, and Celebrate Your Values 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Communicate Intentionally

Effective communication is critical; especially in remote workforces. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dig into Your Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognize Your Employees Regularly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culture

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5 min

How to Create Workplace Transparency in 4 Simple Steps

How to Create Workplace Transparency in 4 Simple StepsHow 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. 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 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!

Culture

5 min

5 min

How Important Is Psychological Safety, Really?

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 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 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 taking risks and taking lead on projects?
  • Can we openly discuss conflicts 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

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5 min

Here's Why Millennials Want More Diverse Workplaces

Here's Why Millennials Want More Diverse Workplaces Here's Why Millennials Want More Diverse Workplaces

Organizations are turning to their millennial workforce for insights. Understanding they need to nurture and encourage diversity across their company is a must.

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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 of 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 to 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

5 min

10 Ways to Celebrate Your Employees During the Holidays

10 Ways to Celebrate Your Employees During the Holidays10 Ways to Celebrate Your Employees During the Holidays

For many organizations, the holidays are one of the most stressful and busy times of the year. Your leadership team wants all outstanding business operations and objectives in place before the new year, while employees are gearing up for days off and vacation time.

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For many organizations, the holidays are one of the most stressful and busy times of the year. Your leadership team wants all outstanding business operations and objectives in place before the new year, while employees are gearing up for days off and vacation time.

While everyone struggles to complete their tasks and 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 in January.

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:

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 is held at a restaurant or local venue to get employees out of the office, but why not take the party outdoors?

Consider taking a trip to the mountains with your team to ski, hike, and enjoy hot chocolate and marshmallows by the campfire.

Depending on the weather, you could also host a barbecue at a nearby park. Everyone could bring a dish, and you could treat them to 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 by hosting a city-wide scavenger hunt.

Divide your employees up into teams and provide them with a list of clues or riddles they must solve that will lead them to different corners of 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. This type of activity is 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, and soon.

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 collect points that can be ‘redeemed’ for an office-wide prize of their choice. 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 most 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 must spend hours doing afterwork and into the weekend. If they had one extra day to accomplish all 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.

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.

Play Harmless Pranks

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 it brings everyone together for a laugh.

With your cookie contest, instruct everyone to bake their most inventive holiday cookie — this could be anything from a uniquely flavoured shortbread to a funky twist on chocolate chip cookies. Have every employee taste one another’s cookies 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 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, and so on. 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 all Cultures

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

5 min

How to Disconnect After Work to Avoid Burnout

How to Disconnect After Work to Avoid BurnoutHow to Disconnect After Work to Avoid Burnout

Most of us work a typical 8-hour workday and 40-hour work week; anything from shift work to office-bound roles and more. If we’re lucky, we may only spend one-third of our lives working. Hopefully, we pursue roles and careers we’re genuinely passionate about.

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How difficult is it for you to wind down after work? Or worse, how hard is it for you to stop thinking about work after you leave it?

Most of us work a typical 8-hour workday and 40-hour work week; anything from shift work to office-bound roles and more. If we’re lucky, we may only spend one-third of our lives working. Hopefully, we pursue roles and careers we’re genuinely passionate about.

Between overtime, work events, and checking in after the usual 'work hours,’ that one-third increases. Meaning, we may spend a significant portion of our lives working .

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

On average, workplace stress costs companies between $125-$190 million annually.

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

Part of the problem with work-related burnout is the constant connection employees have with work-related tech. Not to mention 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. It may not be a ‘spoken rule’ to check these devices after hours, but many employees may feel pressured to do so. Eventually, work seeps into their personal and family life.

Surveys show 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?

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 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 because tech is often poorly integrated into established work patterns. With all 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; to leaders or 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.

So, how 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.

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. 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. Inducing laughter can help us unwind, relax, and destress.

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 all we’ve wanted to say is ‘no.’

Though, saying ‘no,’ can actually be more beneficial than saying yes.  When it comes to goal-directed behavior, expecting a ‘yes’ can discourage teams from being proactive about their work.

The same can be said for disconnecting from work. There must 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’ indicates 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 contribute to their burnout and stress.

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

5 min

Here Are 7 Awesome Engagement Tips for Organizations

Here Are 7 Awesome Engagement Tips for OrganizationsHere Are 7 Awesome Engagement Tips for Organizations

There’s a 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. More leaders are paying close attention to this spectrum. And for good reason, too.

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There’s a 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.

More leaders are paying close attention to this spectrum. And for good reason, too.

Employees that are truly engaged are more productivemake customers happier, and are less likely to leave their organizations. Companies with engaged teams have 12% higher profitability, but engagement doesn’t always come naturally to organizations.

69% of professionals agree that engagement is a significant issue in their organization, and 96% feel strongly that the issue needs to be addressed. 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, 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. Leaders who don’t allow their teams to own their tasks and achieve results end up stifling top talent. So, 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’. A simple and short meeting can ensure everyone is aware of concerns and 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. Employees want frequent, meaningful recognition from their leaders, 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 try:

  • 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 trade-show or conference
  • Let employees bring their dogs to the office one day per week
  • Consider flexible ‘work from home’ days
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