Discover insights on employee recognition and engagement, workplace culture, performance management, people analytics, and more.
Employees are often more loyal to their company if they know their work is valued and appreciated. However, it’s not uncommon for employees to be caught up in their workday and forget to thank their peers for their hard work. While a simple “thank you” is certainly always worthwhile, a formal employee recognition program is a great way for everyone to celebrate wins big and small.
Download our free eBook, Recognition Done Right, for more information on how to drive success through the power of recognition.
According to Gallup, 40% of employees report receiving recognition just a few times a year or less. Implementing an effective employee recognition solution can have a massive impact on your organization. Organizations with formal recognition programs have 31% less voluntary turnover than organizations without one.
Employees at companies that have an effective recognition solution are five times as likely to be connected to company culture and four times as likely to be engaged. Implementing an easy-to-use recognition program for your employees is key to making recognition the foundation of your company culture.
Recognition should not be limited by who can send it –everyone in your organization should have a channel to give recognition. Here are the types of employee recognition:
Peer-to-peer recognition is when any employee can give praise to each other. Peer-to-peer recognition helps employees establish and maintain good relationships with their coworkers.
This is when a leader or someone at a manager or supervisory level gives recognition to someone on their team. Leaders who provide recognition establish a positive environment and relationship within their team. Leading by example will also encourage your team members to send more recognition messages to their coworkers.
Simple messages expressing gratitude keep employees constantly assured and motivated. This is when that simple “thank you” to someone on your team can go a long way.
Birthday's, years of service, promotions, onboarding progress and learning and development achievements. Ensuring all of these important moments are recognized is a central part of building a culture and habit of recognition.
Awards and Nominations allow a leader or peers to identify someone who meets specific criteria for an award or nomination. Nomination programs can highlight the skills that drive your organization to success and can help strengthen your overall recognition strategy.
To learn more about nomination programs, you can read How to Get Nominations Right in 2022.
Being able to recognize your team in a variety of ways is what will take your employee experience and culture to the next level.
The Kudos platform offers all types of recognition – gratitude, performance recognition, communicating good news, and celebrating achievements so you can build stronger connections with your team. When sending a message of recognition, users can select one of four distinct levels:
This is an everyday appreciation moment. A simple act of appreciation at work where the behavior stood out or made your day.
A “good job” is used for recognizing someone who has performed better than average or expected, or for acknowledging the completion of a milestone in a larger initiative.
An “impressive” is for someone who made a noticeable difference or impact and raised the standard of delivery expectations. This can also celebrate the end of a large initiative that took significant time and effort.
An “exceptional” is when someone has exceeded delivery, job responsibility and expectations. This could be used for someone going above and beyond, exceeding a goal or KPI or any other outstanding achievement.
“Recognition is a reward in itself. Any form of appreciation, even a small word, is important.” - Vikrant Massey
No matter how simple the message, you should never hesitate to recognize a colleague, but when your message is meaningful, it has the most impact.
Sending recognition doesn’t need to be time consuming. Crafting a meaningful message that really demonstrates your appreciation can be easy when you keep these tips in mind.
Sending recognition to your peers can have a big impact – even a simple thank you can go a long way. If you need help crafting the perfect recognition message, we’ve given 20 examples of recognition messages your employees will love:
Employee recognition should be a vital part of your business. However, narrowing down the right recognition solution for your company can be challenging. We’ve made it easy for you in our free Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide to help you find the perfect partner.
When you’re recognized for accomplishing something great, where does that feeling go after the moment has passed?
According to a study on autobiographical memories (moments that make up your life story) each of our memories serves different functions. Here are three important things to know about the nature of memory:
The first, and most evolutionary function of our memory is directive. This function helps us problem solve, plan, feel inspired, and get motivated. This function zeroes-in on the central conflict of a memory, so we can find a clear solution.
“Negative events would cause the individual to focus on and encode the aspects of the events that are necessary in order to solve the problem and prevent future mistakes.”
The study finds that our brains take longer to recall directive memories, and in many cases, they need to be triggered.
When you make a mistake at work, for example, forgetting to include an attachment to an email, you’re probably less likely to make that mistake again in the near future.
This function gives our life-events context, meaning, and purpose. Self-memories are the most central to our identity.
We use these memories to gain a better, more cohesive understanding of our identity over time. They act as reference points throughout our lives to judge where we’ve been, where we are, and where to go from there.
Self memories include things like how far you’ve come in your career, goals you’ve achieved and milestones you’ve accomplished.
Possibly the most self-explanatory of the three, the social memory function helps us connect with others. In fact, social memories can only be created by connecting with others — through conversation or otherwise.
The last time you told someone a story about your life, chances are you wanted to find common ground — shared interests. You were sharing memories for the purpose of creating new ones. Telling your story to persuade, provide comfort, bond, or draw out empathy is part of the social memory function.
Social memories can include times you’ve bonded with friends and family or when you first felt accepted by coworkers, for example.
The study’s participants’ most negative memories had more directive function, while their most positive memories had more self and social functions.
It’s easy to dwell on our weaknesses when they could make or break our chances of employment. This may ring even truer for today’s young workers (millennials and gen z), who often feel the need to “make it,” or prove their worth among more established coworkers.
Although it’s in our nature to take direct, clear lessons from negative memories, we should be more proactive about learning from positive ones.
Rather than making comparisons — either to competition or to our past selves — to feel motivated, we need positive social recognition. And we need to make it a habit.
Recognition should always be accessible. Platforms like Kudos keep each moment of social recognition in one place. Instead of waiting on directive memories to trigger motivation, you can access a bank of positive inspiration.
“If you think about recognizing someone in person, giving them a pat on the back, they disappear into the ether after the moment’s passed.” says Muni Boga, President and CEO of Kudos. “When you’re working with a recognition platform, you’re creating a record of it happening. That record belongs to the person receiving the recognition, the person giving it, it’s something really special that people have.”
Dedicated recognition platforms provide built-in opportunities to create and document positive directive, self, and social memories.
Each recognition message is a great source of joy and reflection on your work. The right employee recognition platform is an archive of empowerment for every team member involved, and it can be added to every day — for every contribution.
Beyond pick-me-ups, recognition messages can be used to reinforce your value to an organization. In your next performance review, for example:
A lack of recognition in any work environment creates siloes, or isolated groups. In a culture where recognition is few and far between, people revert to gaining motivation or lessons from negative memories. And without positive social recognition, people use their self-memories to judge if they’re in the right place to achieve their goals.
“Employers have flagged the fact that their people aren’t feeling recognized.” – Muni Boga, CEO of Kudos
In a culture of recognition, not only are people more aware of acts of kindness, but they’re more aware of their coworkers’ strengths. When each member of an organization supports the others for what they bring to the table, the result is dynamic, adaptable, and resilient.
Before the shift to remote and hybrid working environments, employees weren’t feeling recognized, and the same problem exists through the screen. It’s just as, if not more important for a company’s culture to translate in virtual spaces.
An employee recognition platform that can be accessed from any device, anywhere, and at any time is an invaluable asset for teams who can’t be in the same room. Kudos is an innovative, and intuitive social tool to bond your teams and create memories.
With built-in analytics, leaders can see the evolution of their teams’ skills, and uncover strengths that would otherwise go unnoticed. Kudos’ built-in dashboards give deep insights into the dynamics of your teams, without human oversight. What sets Kudos apart is a care for both individuality and community.
Recognition is many things; a statement, a feeling, and something we all deserve. A thoughtfully designed program nurtures the experience of recognition, so you can truly be part of something worth remembering.
Let’s get this question out of the way: Who doesn’t love having options? More importantly, what’s worth understanding is that people have different tastes and opinions. After all, what you like or enjoy might be the opposite of the person sitting next to you. This is especially true when it comes to recognition. Authors Gary Chapman and Paul White spoke to this in their book, 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.
At Kudos, we believe that recognition is the key to a happy team and stronger workplace culture. And while we are passionate about regular, meaningful peer-to-peer recognition, we also know people might prefer a more extensive celebration for their hard work and accomplishments. Let’s go back to the beginning: Who doesn’t love having options?
Recognition can take many different forms and being able to recognize your team in a variety of ways is what we’re all about.
Employee Nominations allow leadership and peers to identify a colleague who meets specific criteria. After a reviewing process, a significant reward is granted.
Now, as you probably already know, nominations are a small piece to a bigger solution. At Kudos, we’d like to think of nominations as an added feature to your recognition strategy and not as a one-size-fits-all.
So, why is it important to consider a nominations program in 2023? If you like history as much as I do, this next section is for you.
During the American industrial revolution, plenty of innovative ideas to improve productivity and efficiency were introduced. One of those innovative ideas came from Frederick W. Taylor, who created Scientific Management Theory. Taylor spent many years figuring out a way to keep productivity levels high.
By watching his employees very closely and taking notes, Taylor would then analyse and remove any unnecessary steps to their workflow, making their job more straightforward. His idea was simple but significant - overworked employees won’t perform as well.
Additionally, Taylor realized the simple promise that his best employees would have a job the following day wasn’t enough to keep them motivated. So, after a close review, Taylor would categorize the type of work his employees were doing, he then selected the top performers and rewarded them with higher salaries. This selection process can be considered the first nominations flow to ever exist in a work environment. Taylor understood very early that the cost of hiring a new employee would impact the productivity and overall prosperity of his organization’s culture.
Although nowadays we know that money isn’t a long-term solution to keep employees motivated, Taylor’s innovative approach to an employee’s experience, showed us that being able to meet the demand of top performers can lead to better retention and help increase your organization’s productivity. And that, has not changed.
With Taylor’s approach in place, methods to keep employees motivated became more prevalent. Programs such as Employee of the Month (EOTM) and President’s Club are clear examples of that. Employees who have received this recognition in the past still rank it as some of the most memorable recognition they’ve ever received.
Why? Because it’s exclusive, appreciates their hard work and commitment to the organization, and singles them out as a high performer.
However, years of learning about what makes a healthy work-environment tells us that a solo nomination program for the Presidents Club or EOTM can often be seen as “out of reach” and doesn’t motivate employees to strive for this recognition. Kudos has lots of ideas to support you here, and when it comes to nominations, we recommend creating a diverse nomination strategy. After all, Taylor observed his employees and top performers, plural. Nothing stops you from creating nomination programs, plural, that highlights the multiple types of behaviours and skills that drives your success.
Here are some points we recommend when creating your diverse nomination strategy:
Having a consistent and diverse recognition program in your organization is a solid strategy to improve employee productivity and retention – giving your organization a competitive edge. Adding a nomination program or two is just one of the ways you can strengthen your strategy and Kudos is here to help you.
Most people have an idea of what they want their life to look like at a certain age. Work anniversaries prompt employees to reflect on their career, and job-hunting tends to spike due to people assessing their career and making a change if they’re unhappy. Milestones offer a great way to celebrate and acknowledge every individual in your organization, however, implementing other milestones into your recognition program can help reduce employee turnover and strengthen retention.
Work anniversaries shouldn’t be limited to 5 years, 10 years, etc. as is the case with many traditional programs. These days, the average person only stays at their organization for approximately 4 years. Recognize every year of an employee’s commitment and don’t limit it to years of service. Other important milestones to consider include completing onboarding training, achieving more education or certifications, learning a new software tool...all of these are important and often massive contributions to people reaching new career goals or life achievements.
While celebrating a work anniversary shows you value your employee’s dedication, celebrating a birthday or other milestones demonstrates taking a personal interest in your employee’s lives. A Great Place to Work survey had 37% of respondents say that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work.
We know employee recognition helps retain talent, increase engagement and encourage higher performance, but understanding the impact of recognition culture on the overall employee experience provokes many growth opportunities. Employees who feel consistently recognized at their place of work are two times more likely to embrace innovative thinking and are willing to go above and beyond in their work. Recognition consistently emerges in studies on improving workplace culture and has proven to be a primary driver in motivating employees to do their best.
It’s important to define your employee lifecycle – what are the various stages your employees will experience in your organization? The average employee lifecycle has 11 stages, all of which recognition can play an important role. Defining the celebratory moments in each stage will help you structure your employee milestone program, and ensure it stays consistent and contributes to your culture of recognition.
Your employee milestone program should have:
Kudos has the tools to make your employee milestone program a culture success. Having an automated system like Kudos to keep your employee milestone program organized and up to date makes giving everyday recognition easy and simple.
Celebrating milestones is only one form of recognition, and it’s important to remember that employee recognition should be regular and meaningful. Recognition is essential in creating a lasting company culture that values its employees' contributions, dedication and celebrates successes, no matter how big or small.
Employees have been through a lot these past few years.
Most recently, in addition to the regular pressures of everyday work life, today’s employees are coping with several difficult external circumstances (recession, inflation, supply chain issues, global uncertainty). For many, today’s uncertain times are contributing to increasing levels of stress – which can have far reaching implications for your company. In particular, with the Great Recession of 2008 still fresh in the memories of many employees, fears of layoffs, financial hardship, and general economic uncertainty could soon be impacting employee mental health and wellbeing.
The good news is that by following some key guidelines you can help your organization successfully navigate this unpredictable era.
Uncertainty, Stress and Productivity
Cutbacks and the fear of a recession cause employees to feel insecure about their jobs, causing stress. Feeling stressed is a factor in lower productivity.
Let your employees know where they stand. By recognizing their contributions regularly, you’re telling them they are seen, they are appreciated, and they are safe. Now is the time to ramp up recognition.
Even in more stable times, employee stress is a major contributor to reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, presenteeism, as well as high turnover. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 American workers have quit a job because of stress related issues.
Stress is also associated with higher accident rates, higher injury rates, and more days taken off for doctor visits.
And regardless of how your company is affected by worsening macroeconomic conditions, studies have shown a “clear negative effect of general unemployment on subjective wellbeing among the employed”. One study focused on the recession of 2008 showed that 55 percent of employees felt that their workplace had become more stressful during that time. A large part of this has to do with a perception of insecurity which is fueled by increased unemployment – even if that increase is occurring outside one’s own company.
In other words, being exposed to the negative effects of a recession makes everyone uneasy – not just about unemployment, but also about the potential for unfair treatment.
Interestingly – employee productivity can increase during a downturn. During the Great Recession of 2008, some studies actually showed an increase in worker productivity resulting from increased effort – in part because “When the alternatives are poorer, say because job search is less likely to result in success, it is optimal for a worker to respond with increased effort.”
On the surface, this might sound like a benefit to employers. However, with that increased effort comes the increased potential for burnout – another major concern when it comes to the impact of stress on employees.
“When an employee’s work is recognized, the likelihood that he/she will experience stress is lowered by 22.1%, whereas if his/her work is not, it rises by 16.7%. - BioMed Research International
By recognizing employee contributions and acknowledging the impact of their efforts, employers are able to directly – and dramatically – reduce the negative effects of stress on employees. Recognition can provide certainty and reassurance for employees who are feeling uneasy due to the volatility of the times. This reduction in stress can translate in turn to lowered turnover, absenteeism and more productivity.
Uncertain times demand transparency, open communication and a crystal clear focus on core values.
Whether you have had to make cutbacks or slow your growth, organizations need to do everything in their power to ensure that they maintain a reputation as an employer worth working for - because eventually, they'll be hiring again. For example, at the outset of the pandemic, there were several high-profile stories about leaders callously letting hundreds of employees go without warning, context, or clarity. This lack of transparency (and humanity) can permanently damage a company’s reputation, hobbling future efforts to grow and expand, and potentially causing irreparable harm to consumer (or investor) confidence.
The unfortunate reality that many companies have to face during an economic downturn is that growth will slow – and in many cases there could be cutbacks. Regardless of your situation, maintaining clear, thoughtful and open communication is absolutely essential and will have a lasting impact.
Critically, even when companies are forced to downsize, employees that remain have been shown to benefit immensely from that clarity of communication. One study noted that “employees who felt that the downsizing process was fair, and that communication was open and honest, reported fewer medical symptoms, lower survivor syndrome, and more job security than their counterparts [at other similarly affected companies].
An extremely powerful part of maintaining clarity of communication during times of economic upheaval is demonstrating commitment to core values. In showing that the organization is “walking the walk” with respect to core values, companies can provide employees with a tangible sense of stability, as well as a shared sense of purpose to help guide them through troubling times. To learn more about the importance of core values, check out our webinar on how to How to Drive Employee Performance Through Core Values.
When the future is unclear, it’s more important than ever to understand how your employees are feeling, and to be able to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of your workplace culture.
In this article, we’ve looked at a set of tools that companies can use to help mitigate some of the impact of economic uncertainty: reducing stress through recognition, living and demonstrating one’s core values, and maintaining open and caring communication between leadership and employees.
In and of themselves, these methods are absolutely essential – but without a way to measure the well-being and strength of a culture, leaders can only guess as to whether their efforts are succeeding.
Tools like Kudos, who’s proprietary, recognition-first approach to employee engagement provides clients with a clear view into the health of their culture, the performance of their employees, and allows them to gauge how connected employees are to the core values of the organization.
Though nobody wants to experience the negative side of an economic slump, by following the basic guidelines laid out in this article, companies have the opportunity to prove their character, and in doing so build loyalty and trust with their employees, their customers, and their stakeholders.
Kudos can help you build and maintain your culture, and keep your employees focused during what many experts believe is an imminent recession. Get in touch today to learn how.
Think about a time when a friend or family member said “thank you” for helping them. It may have made you feel appreciated and motivated to do more for them – this same concept applies equally in the workplace.
When employees feel appreciated, they become motivated to do more and better quality work. For customer-facing employees, that means providing an experience that clients appreciate and remember. Studies show that companies with at least 50% employee engagement retain more than 80% of their customers. That is the impact of employee recognition.
“There’s no CEO on the planet who’s responsible for the customer. They’re just not. They’re responsible for the people who are responsible for the people who are responsible for the customer.” -Simon Sinek
Employee recognition describes any formal or informal acknowledgment of an employee’s contributions to a team or organization’s success. It can come from a peer, direct report, manager, or leader.
Organizations approach employee recognition in different ways. Some do it in more informal ways: a shout-out during a meeting, on social media, or through the company’s intranet; thank-you notes, or an employee lunch. Others are using robust employee recognition platforms like Kudos to streamline the process and make sure everyone benefits.
Employee recognition matters because it directly impacts critical aspects of the organization. Several studies have shown that employee recognition is a powerful driver of retention, productivity, and motivation. For example, let’s consider the following facts:
When structured efficiently, recognition can reinforce a company’s organizational values, which in turn helps to keep employees aligned with their objectives and their coworkers.
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen Covey
Customer service teams play a crucial role in driving profitability in many industries, such as retail, hospitality, food service, and technology. According to PwC’s Future of Customer Experience Survey, 73% of customers agree that customer experience is central to their purchasing decisions. Among U.S. customers, 65% find a positive customer experience more influential than great advertising.
Therefore, you need employees – especially those in customer-facing roles – to prioritize customer satisfaction by offering “speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service.” These employees assist customers by anticipating concerns, preparing solutions, responding quickly, and going above and beyond to ensure that customers are satisfied.
Consistently and effectively Recognizing your customer service teams for their contributions can yield incredible results:
Building a culture of recognition comes down to the common-sense practice of not taking your people for granted. To keep your customers happy, make your employees happy by recognizing them with Kudos’ help.
In 1943, Abraham Maslow theorized that human beings are motivated to make decisions based on a hierarchy of needs. This hierarchy can be viewed as a pyramid, with basic physiological needs like water and food setting the foundation; then our need for safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. A core requirement in the esteem level of this pyramid is appreciation.
Human beings feel the need to accomplish things, and be appreciated and recognized for those accomplishments. In addition to feeling accomplished, we need to know that our contributions to the world are valued. Without this recognition, we begin to feel our hard work has no purpose. And without purpose, we feel unappreciated, undervalued, and unmotivated.
Human beings are wired to crave connection, belonging, and acceptance. When we experience appreciation and gratitude, our brains release dopamine and serotonin. These are crucial neurotransmitters responsible for making us feel ‘good,' regulate our emotions, and respond to stress. Gratitude acts as a catalyst for these neurotransmitters, and actively experiencing gratitude and appreciation allows us to manage our stress levels better.
Feeling and expressing gratitude activates several parts of the brain. Verbalizing thoughts of appreciation and gratitude activates the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for positive emotions and decision-making, as well as reward and motivation. The more we practice expressing appreciation, the more we activate these gratitude circuits in our brain. Overtime, it takes less effort to stimulate those pathways.
Scientists also suggest that by activating the reward center of the brain, gratitude exchange alters the way we see the world and ourselves. When we give and receive ‘thank you’ notes, our brain automatically produces motivational thought patterns. This means that practicing recognition in the workplace improves employees' mental well-being, and increases their motivation to contribute value to their organization.
Employee recognition promotes positive psychological functioning (PPF) and its absence worsens it. Positive psychological functioning is comprised of the positive feelings that lead to self-acceptance, personal growth, and social contribution. The absence of recognition can deteriorate an employee’s psychological health, and ultimately their performance.
Feeling unappreciated affects not only your emotions, but also how you think and act. It’s no surprise that a lack of appreciation can influence your mental health and lead to mental illness. If others ignore what you do for them, it can feel devastating. You might start to wonder why you bother putting effort into a task, or worse, you’ll lose sight of how your work contributes value to your organization.
In a UK study, 78% of respondents said they would work harder if they had more recognition. In that same study, 94% said that employee recognition is critical in retaining talent. The solution to keeping your employees is simple — recognize them.
A study conducted on over 1800 employees found the effect of recognition is two times greater with peer recognition than with top-down supervisor recognition. The study highlights the importance of promoting employee recognition in organizations for the impact it has, not only on well-being, but also on the positive psychological functioning of the employees.
Technology now exists to make recognition accessible, simple, and impactful for any organization. Cloud-based platforms that work in browsers and mobile apps allow remote, field, and in-office employees a place to regularly share meaningful recognition.
Kudos, an employee recognition and engagement platform, harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition to boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Employee recognition isn’t just becoming an industry standard, it’s an essential requirement for an employee’s well-being, motivation, and performance.
It’s been almost 80 years since Abraham Maslow theorized that human beings require appreciation. The science behind employee recognition was always there, now it’s time to take it seriously and implement the recognition your employees not only deserve, but need.
A nomination is an official endorsement for someone to receive an award or prize. The first step in a nomination program is for the organization to determine and communicate the criteria for their program. Employees can then nominate colleagues they feel meet the criteria, with one nominee being selected as the final winner. Some organizations have employee nomination programs for awards like “Employee of the Month,” “Most Hard Working,” “Most Innovative,” and so on. While nomination programs seem like a simple solution to employee recognition, they need to work in conjunction with a more robust suite of tools to deliver results.
Traditional employee nomination programs give employees an opportunity to tell a story about their peer’s accomplishments, and how they impact the business. Nominations can bring acknowledgement of standout achievements in a workplace where they may otherwise go unnoticed, especially by outside members of that team. They can bean opportunity to communicate expectations, or curate awards and prizes that tie-in your company values. Nominations can also deliver a morale boost, especially for those employees who win.
Nomination programs are not without their challenges. Why only allow employees to give recognition whenever there’s an award involved? These types of programs are only one piece to a complete solution. No need to abandon your nomination program altogether, but simply include it in a deeper, more impactful employee recognition strategy.
For employee recognition to be effective at motivating and communicating the value individuals offer your organization, it needs to be consistent and meaningful. Nomination programs are often monthly, quarterly, or yearlong initiatives; your employees are not being nominated frequently enough to create lasting meaning. When you nominate someone for an award, you’re not directly recognizing them for their work — you’re only giving them a chance at recognition. If someone deserves recognition, they should receive it day-to-day.
When you nominate employees for an award or prize, you compare their accomplishments to someone else’s instead of celebrating and appreciating their work individually. While being nominated is considered recognition, it can cause unhealthy competition and resentment between employees. Your employees deserve to be recognized constantly, not only when an award is up for grabs.
Nomination programs build a barrier between you and the wider benefits of recognition. When your organization partakes in a nomination program, it’s usually comprised of certain award categories, which over time can become disassociated from what employees are working on or dealing with. If an organization implements an Employee of the Month program, only 12 employees will receive that recognition in a year. Also, these programs only focus on one person winning something atone time; why limit employee recognition to just one person? Recognizing teamwork or collaboration amongst a group of people is just as important as recognizing an individual.
Using an employee recognition platform will allow your employees to be recognized regularly. Platforms like Kudos allow employees and leaders the freedom to recognize anyone, for anything, at any time. Adding a peer-to-peer recognition program to your strategy offers a more consistent and accessible motivational experience. Enabling all your employees to recognize impactful moments regularly, timely, and specifically ensures that recipients know the value they bring to the organization. No matter how small the achievement is, peer-to-peer recognition has a better overall impact on improving employee morale and engagement.
A recent Forbes study found that 66% of employees will leave their jobs because they do not feel appreciated. A strong company culture is an increasingly crucial factor for employees, and a recognition solution builds an impactful company culture where employees feel recognized and appreciated.
An employee recognition platform does not mean leaders can no longer create employee awards or prizes, but they shouldn’t take away the chance for peers or leaders to give and receive constant recognition. Offering more nomination options by building levels of nominations with high-level prestigious, and quarterly or monthly nominations can still exist, but should be supported by regular recognition. Add more social or community nominations that bring creativity and fun to your employee recognition solution, instead of focusing on traditional nominations centered around recognizing select employees. Nominate employees for awards like “Most Likely to Be Late for a Meeting," or “MostCreative Zoom Background” and have them for entertainment or enjoyment purposes instead of just performance.
Nomination programs are a small piece to a bigger solution. Giving regular recognition should become a habit within your organization and should be used as a building block to help retain talent, form healthier work relationships, and strengthen company culture.
We know that selecting the best recognition solution for your organization can be challenging, so we’ve made it simple for you with our Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide. Our guide gives a comprehensive overview of how to choose the right employee recognition solution for your company’s culture, goals, and budget. Remember that consistent and authentic employee recognition should always be the priority, and the awards and prizes should come secondary.
Working toward a return to normal, however, is just as probable and effective as hoping for a return to the good old days. The reality is that a new normal is unfolding in front of us – and there’s no shortage of opportunities for organisations that are adapting to it.
At the heart of the Great Resignation there is a fundamental need that has gone largely unmet: the need for employees to go beyond simply existing in their job roles and thrive. The talent of today’s world wants to be treated well and to be recognised for their contributions. The benefits for companies that realise this and take the steps to act on this are massive in terms of employee engagement, retention, and ultimately organisational growth.
Conversely, the organisations finding themselves bearing the brunt of the Great Resignation are often the ones offering outdated solutions to modern problems. A common one is focusing solely on compensation to solve deeper issues. When attracting talent, money is a huge part of the equation, but a strong company culture is an increasingly important choice factor. Many struggling companies overlook the importance of fostering a strong, recognition-filled work culture. Increasing compensation may be a quick fix, but if money is the primary thing keeping talent motivated, they’ll be easily lured away by better offers. But while improving company culture takes a greater commitment from leadership, it has a lasting and more substantial effect on those factors organisations worry about most today: retention and engagement.
It’s both as complex and as simple as this: The desire for fair and robust recognition in the workplace will define the future of work during the pandemic and post-pandemic. Here’s how.
To help inspire employees to work toward a common goal, companies must have clear core values that employees know and care about. But it doesn’t stop there. Companies must also associate behaviours to these values, with leadership demonstrating these behaviours every day. With that in place, all employees should be given the tools and much needed support to recognise their colleagues when they see moments that exemplify these values. The old way of recognition was sporadic and top down, but a strong value-based culture seeks to make this recognition a daily habit among peers as well as managers.
This practice not only reinforces the behaviours that move organisational goals forward, but it makes employees feel they are direct contributors to an irreplaceable company culture.
In addition to incorporating behaviours and values in recognition, there is a slightly different connection between monetary rewards and recognition. If the recognition system is set up to be predominantly monetary, so is the employee’s motivation. Employees who feel empowered to give and receive continuous recognition in their workplace will not only feel a strengthened commitment to the organisation, but they will be incredibly difficult to poach with monetary incentives alone. Instead, they will see their everyday contributions in a far more meaningful way than they might at companies where recognition is sporadic, scarce, or nonexistent.
Motivation can come in many forms, but employers today must learn to spot the difference between intrinsic motivation and traditional motivation through rewards. Traditional incentives get people through the day, but it rarely makes them care about their work beyond a paycheck. It doesn’t motivate them enough to fully engage and innovate. It’s why a rewards-centric approach can backfire on companies where incentives can be seen as an opportunity reserved for the elite few.
On the other hand, when people feel a deep connection to the company’s values and their coworkers, their inner motivation kicks in. That’s when we see creativity, innovation, and growth unfold in the organisation. The cohesiveness and connection within teams doesn’t have to be limited to small groups either. It can be shared across the organisation by creating a space for everyday recognition that can come from anyone. A robust recognition ecosystem among teammates and managers is an invaluable catalyst in promoting a culture of trust, self-confidence, and innovation.
In 2021 48% of American workers actively looked for jobs. We are facing a historic challenge of retention and recruitment. The pandemic is one factor, but the causes of the talent drought go deeper than that, and the effects are not going away once we are through the worst of it. Millennials make up the majority of today’s workforce in the United States, and they are unafraid to leave a bad workplace for a better one, with 21% reporting that they switched jobs in 2021. For employers and HR leaders, retention efforts are more critical than they have ever been. Holding on to talent is not only important because it helps organisations innovate and grow, but having a constantly understaffed organisation raises the risk of employee burnout, which directly translates to a negative employee experience.
A strategic, values-driven approach to culture increases employee engagement, happiness, and performance, but the benefits go beyond that. Word gets around about great culture at an organisation, and recruitment efforts suddenly become easier for HR. With Gen Z changing jobs 134% more now than they did in 2019, the talent pool is open – and looking for better work prospects.
As the internal culture improves, and employees begin to feel like they are truly a part of the company, it naturally leads to an excellent client and external stakeholder experience.
It’s time for a new approach to recognition – one that helps organisations and employees adapt to today's reality. For companies looking to learn crucial lessons from the pandemic, rather than hoping for a return to the old ways, the path to sustained success involves investing in a recognition-centric culture where all employees feel connected and valued. In other words, embodying ‘the future of work’ is actually just answering the call of the present day.
This article was originally published on HR.com
Employee recognition is an age-old practice dating back to the Industrial Revolution when employers sought to make employees more efficient at work. While much has changed since then in terms of management styles, organizational structures, and workplaces (the last one especially, given the last two years) – many organizations still haven’t adapted their recognition practices to meet changing employee expectations, relying instead on dated, rewards-focused, infrequent recognition for a select few employees.
Employee recognition is a powerful tool that, when used correctly, leads to better employee engagement, improved organizational performance, and reduced turnover, among many other benefits (Gallup).
So, how can you modernize employee recognition at your organization this year?
As Muni Boga, President and CEO of Kudos®, a popular employee recognition platform, put it, “it’s not as simple as getting your managers to check recognition off their to-do lists – it’s about building a culture of recognition, where recognition has a deep-seated place in your organization.
Ideally, its value is understood by your people so that it can flow freely and frequently across all areas of your workplace.”Here are some key things to consider when building your strategy:
Historically, employee recognition used to be the responsibility of leaders and managers, or what many know as a top-down approach. Managers would highlight “top performers,” leaving many employees feeling passed over and unappreciated. On the other hand, enabling and encouraging peer-to-peer recognition allows for the democratization of recognition. This approach is not unlike 360 performance evaluation that boomed in the last two decades.
When employees of all levels are empowered to recognize – and receive recognition from – colleagues in all directions (up, down, laterally), organizations see increased employee engagement, reduced turnover, and improved productivity. A study quoted by Gallup found that 66% of employees agreed with the statement, “If I get recognition, I would also like to give others recognition,” the impact is exponential.
Studies have shown that teams that share recognition often create oxytocin responses in their team members, which was strongly correlated to more productivity, innovation, and better work enjoyment ratings.
We’ve all experienced the effects of the Great Resignation. In the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the overall turnover rate in the US was 57.3%, but that number drops to 25% when considering only voluntary turnover. That still means a staggering 1 in 4 employees left their job voluntarily in 2021.
Interestingly, studies show that globally, only 1 in 4 employees report receiving recognition in the last week. The urgency to build recognition into daily life at work is evident. Gallup believes that shifting the dial and moving from 1 in 4 having received recognition, to 3 in 5 would deliver employers a 28% improvement in quality of work and a 31% decrease in absenteeism rates.
Another significant trend here is revisiting milestones and anniversaries.
With such high turnover rates in the market, employers should celebrate anniversaries from the first year, recognizing loyalty and hard work. Anniversaries can also be used as a retention tool, incentivizing employees to stay with bonuses at each annual milestone (please, no mantel clocks – see next point).
While recognition itself carries many benefits, it often comes hand-in-hand with rewards. The days of rewarding employees with wildly expensive company pens are gone (or at least, they should be). More and more organizations have realized that historic one-size-fits-all approaches no longer cut it; this is evident through the prevalence of flexible work schedules, remote work, and discretionary health care spending accounts.
You hire employees for their unique skills and individuality – why aren't you factoring that into your rewards strategy? One way to do this is to allow employees to choose gift cards for popular retailers or vouchers for local businesses of their choice. This approach is simple, yet it tells your people that the reward is truly for them, which has a more significant impact.
Who says work and fun don’t mix? Gamification is an incredibly efficient but sometimes forgotten lever that you can use to encourage engagement in building your culture of recognition. Some friendly competition can help kick-start a sustainable habit of free-flowing recognition in your organization. Gamification expert Yu-Kai Chou shares dozens of gamification examples for you to sift through here.
This is why many modern recognition platforms have leaderboards for both recognition received, and recognition sent to spark everyone’s inner competitor. This philosophy isn’t new – the age-old employee of the month award is a great example. The difference is, when the person sharing the most recognition is the one crowned, everyone wins.
Sometimes, the best way to recognize someone is by presenting them with the opportunity to take on more responsibility via a well-deserved promotion. Publicly acknowledging dedication and hard work via a promotion can lead to higher employee retention and engagement. It shows employees that their efforts will be rewarded, and their careers can flourish with your company (Forbes).
There are many benefits to internal promotions beyond morale, such as reduced recruitment costs and less downtime in open roles. As we migrate to more distributed workplaces, identifying top performers may not be as easy as it once was. A recognition platform can be a great tool in this instance, allowing the organizational leaders to easily see who is receiving consistent positive praise from peers at every level.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Most HR professionals know by now that employees don’t leave companies – they leave managers. Keeping a pulse on employee-manager relationships can be tricky, but recognition can serve as a lens into your employee experience at all levels. Some of the most sophisticated recognition platforms provide dashboards that illustrate who is giving and receiving recognition, who stands out, and who might be left behind.
Analytics can also help HR leaders demonstrate the value of recognition to their finance and leadership teams to secure the budget they need to develop a robust program.
As Muni Boga from Kudos explains, “the ROI of employee recognition can be significant in terms of recognition’s ability to improve absenteeism and turnover. An organization’s bottom line can dramatically improve not just in terms of those metrics, but also through the impact of those metrics on your organization’s productivity and innovation. Today, in a world where ESG and DEIB measurement is necessary and needed, recognition also plays an important role in illustrating social impact and inclusion.”
In 2022, an employee recognition strategy is a must-have. Building a culture of recognition is not a simple task, but it pays big dividends if it’s approached in the way your employees want.
Each time you receive recognition or gratitude, your brain releases a chemical called serotonin. This chemical helps regulate your emotions and enhance your mood. Appreciation positively impacts your personal world, as well as your professional one.
Recognizing and appreciating your employees should be a year-round priority, but sometimes you need to go above and beyond. This Employee Appreciation Day, March 4, make sure you have a plan to celebrate your team.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
This day is about celebrating your employees. Give them an opportunity to express what would make them feel appreciated. There are many tools to distribute surveys to your employees. Plan to send the survey well before Employee Appreciation Day, so that you can plan the day around the responses.
Thanking your employees for the simple things they do every day has a great impact on your organization. Try celebrating each employee for their unique contribution to the team by sending personalized notes. Remind your employees that they are valued, and that their work does not go unnoticed.
Let your employees pursue their passions by giving them a paid afternoon off. What better way to appreciate your employees’ dedication than allowing them some much-needed time off to relax, be with their family, or take an extra-long weekend?
Some organizations don’t consider the sheer cost of commuting to work. Some employees can spend up to $5,000 annually just transporting to and from work. You may not be able to cover all transportation costs, but you could reimburse your employees for bus and train passes or offer them a paid parking pass.
Don’t just celebrate internally – tell the world you appreciate your employees. Work with your marketing team to build a plan for spreading the recognition on all of your social media platforms.
We know that showing appreciation in a work-from-home environment can be a struggle, but you can still host virtual lunches or happy hours with your employees. Send pre-paid Uber Eats gift cards to your employees and celebrate together virtually.
Dedicate an afternoon for planning remote games. This is a great way to promote virtual team building, while giving your team the opportunity to bond outside of work.There are many online games you can play to make remote socialization creative and engaging.
Work with your Human Resources team to create internal awards to honour your employees. These could be awards like Employee of the Month or Best Team Player. Go the extra mile and create customized engraved trophies for the winners.
Coffee mugs, t-shirts, and customized pens don’t send a genuine message of appreciation to your employees. Instead, give your employees options to choose from – not everyone wants a gift card or free food. Discover how to meaningfully reward your employees by offering multiple choices.
When was the last time you checked in on your employees' work-from-home equipment? Do they have everything they need to be productive and successful? Show your appreciation by ensuring their equipment is up to date and reliable. A new standing desk, new chair or better monitor could demonstrate your gratitude to your employees.
Appreciation should be built into your culture – not just set aside for one day out of the year. If you’re wondering how to incorporate ongoing employee appreciation, here are some solutions to investigate:
One of the most common reasons employees’ leave their jobs is because they feel unrecognized. Meaningful recognition allows employees to see their organization’s values in action and feel appreciated for their contributions. Employee recognition solutions, like Kudos®, make it easy for managers and peers to recognize employees regularly.
Don’t let these moments go unnoticed. Your employees deserve recognition on birthdays, anniversaries, and each milestone in between. Simply sharing an e-card for team-members to sign
It might be time to review your organization’s values to ensure they still align with your employee’s. Forbes research finds that more than 50%of employees will leave their jobs if company values no longer align with their own. Lead by example and incorporate recognition into your brand’s core values.
83% of employees feel more loyal to their employers if flexible work arrangements are available to them. This can include working from home, flexible hours, part-time options, and paid leave. Start focusing on results and deadlines, instead of how many hours your employees work.
Appreciate your employees for the dedication and time they invest in the company. It’s important to give your employees the opportunity to open-up about any stress or burdens they’re feeling. Teams perform better when members believe their leaders respect and appreciate them.
Don’t shop for a product. Shop for a solution.
Employee recognition is a key pillar of your overall business performance. Finding the right tool to keep employees engaged can be overwhelming, so we’ve created an Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide to help you make the best decision.
Our guide is a comprehensive overview of how to choose the right employee recognition solution for your company’s culture, goals, and budget. You are the expert on your needs and what makes your workforce unique. Complete with self-assessment worksheets, ROI calculations, platform evaluation checklists, and so much more, this guide will help you find the perfect partner.
What is a Buyer’s Guide?
A buyer’s guide helps customers make purchasing decisions. Our guide will simplify each step so you can make the best decision for your organization’s needs. We’ve broken it down into 5 simple sections:
Employee expectations have changed. Today’s leading organizations understand that money, time off, and rewards are no longer a primary driver in a desired workplace. Today’s employees expect meaningful and memorable recognition. The focus has shifted to building a strong culture through engagement, shared values, and performance-centered recognition. Our guide will walk you through the impact of employee disengagement and the benefits of a formal recognition program.
There are many great employee recognition solutions on the market; it’s up to you to determine which one is right for your business. Our guide includes a self-assessment worksheet to help you decide which platform best suits your organization’s needs. Each answer to our strategic questions will identify the main problem you need solutions for. Our self-assessment exercise contains insightful topics like:
Many important factors go into selecting a recognition platform; key stakeholders, timelines, and budgets just scratch the surface of what to keep in mind. Our guide will help you answer all these questions, and more:
Who are the key stakeholders in my organization?
Deciding on an employee recognition platform impacts many parts of your organization.It’s important to identify who your key stakeholders could be in the decision-making process. In our guide, you will find key takeaways to consider when reaching out to your stakeholders about an employee recognition platform. It’s important to remember your HR team will have different questions and concerns than your CFO or CEO.
When should I launch my employee recognition program?
Our guide includes all the questions and topics you should discuss with your key stakeholders about a timeline. Whoever you choose to partner with will help you develop a realistic plan – including us. Kudos has a team of dedicated Onboarding Specialists who can assist you in all aspects of your program launch.
How should I budget for an employee recognition program?
Building a budget can be difficult – that’s why our guide includes important factors to consider when evaluating quotes from different employee recognition platforms. For more solutions on building your budget, you can also read our article on budgeting for employee recognition.
Our included worksheets make it easy for you to compare different platforms and ultimately find the right solution for your organization. You’ll be able to measure ROI, the cost of disengagement, and use detailed checklists to keep track of the various features each platform offers.
Even if you’ve selected a platform that satisfies all your organization’s needs, you’ll need a compelling presentation and business case for your executive team. We included a simple, but informative framework for successfully presenting your solution to stakeholders. These suggestions will help you create a convincing business case to win over your executive team, so you can move forward with your purchasing decision.
Successful organizations understand that employee recognition matters more than ever before. You’re already on the right track to creating a positive impact on your organization’s culture, and we want you to find the right solution. Make your decision easier by downloading your free copy of our Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide today.
This is part 3 of our 3-part “Making the Case” series, dedicated to helping you make a business case for employee recognition in your organization. Make sure to check out part 1 (Budgeting for Recognition) and part 2 (Calculating the ROI of Employee Recognition).
You've done your research, determined that recognition is an excellent solution to some of your organization's biggest pain points, and found a vendor you like (hopefully Kudos®).
It’s time to pitch to your leaders to get approval.
While this can be a nerve-wracking process, it's also an incredible opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise and impress your leaders with a solid business case.
In this article, we share a simple framework that will help you make a case for an employee recognition platform. That said, the framework presented can be used for virtually any business proposal.
Prefer Video? The content in this article is covered in a recent webinar you can access for free on-demand here. By accessing the on-demand webinar, you’ll also be able to download your customizable pitch deck.
Tip: Give an early preview of your pitch to a key stakeholder and get their advice and feedback. This does two things: (1) It allows you to address some issues that might come up before the larger presentation, and (2) it converts that stakeholder into a friendly face so that during the main presentation, they will already be on your side and may even jump in to answer questions from other stakeholders in the room.
Now let’s jump into the 8 steps you’ll need to cover to successfully make the case.
Capturing the attention of your audience is critical. The key to doing this is clearly explaining your mission and the purpose of your pitch. Lead with the business need, define what you’re proposing and why you’re proposing it.
Creating a mission statement for the initiative is a powerful way to do this. In the context of employee recognition, you could say, “my goal as an HR leader is to build a thriving culture based on measurable results. To achieve a thriving culture, we must reduce turnover, increase engagement, improve performance, and provide the tools for a more inclusive and happier culture.”
Another great way is to connect your pitch to your company’s core values. For example, you could state that although your organization values innovation, your employee recognition practices are stuck in the past.
Finally, a powerful way to set the tone for your presentation is to tell a story. Share a personal experience or anecdote that will resonate with your audience while showcasing the reason behind your proposed initiative.
When covering your organization’s current state, it’s crucial to create a sense of urgency.
Clearly illustrate that things are changing beyond the control of the company, and there will be winners, and there will be losers. This sets the stage for your leaders to want to be winners, and that not addressing these outside forces will cause the business to become less competitive unless they find a way to navigate these shifts effectively.
Another important component of this is the cost of doing nothing.
In the second article from this series, we present how to calculate the cost of absenteeism, turnover, and disengagement.
Using hard data like those numbers is a great way to demonstrate where you are today, where you want to go and how you’ll measure success. Comparing your organization to your competitors using benchmark data is also a great way to capture your executive team’s attention.
Clearly describe how the problem presented affects the business and impedes corporate success. Bring in actual data from your organization. When you finish this section, your audience should be convinced that doing nothing is not an option and should be eager to hear your proposed solution.
What exactly are you hoping to achieve? How will you measure success with your proposed solution?
These are questions you need to answer in this section of your presentation.
Another way to approach this section is to consider what outcomes you’re looking for and the drivers that can get you there.
What is the one most important thing that your manager or company could do to make a meaningful and far-reaching positive impact? In the case of employee recognition, you want to demonstrate that you’ve considered all possible options (or drivers) but have determined that recognition is the best solution to achieve your organization’s specific goals.
Describe the approach you’re proposing and the known benefits of that approach.
Now is the time to make your specific strategic recommendation. You’ve answered what will get you there; now it’s time to answer how.
This is where you propose your preferred vendor.
When recommending a vendor, it’s essential to show that you’ve compared various solutions to make the most strategic choice for your organization.
For employee recognition software, make sure to show that you’ve compared important features, including: Price per user, Rewards Markup, required integrations, support, analytics, mobile application, are rewards optional?
Show that you’ve done your homework, identified the most important qualities in a vendor, reviewed multiple options, and have a decision matrix that led you to your recommendation.
This Buyer’s Guide is a great resource; it includes an employee recognition vendor comparison checklist.
Once you recommend a concrete solution, the next thing you’ll need to address is the cost.
When approaching cost, a good starting point is to share benchmarks. For example, for modern employee recognition programs, the key cost benchmarks are:
Next, present the actual cost of your proposal. Our budgeting spreadsheet is an excellent tool for this step. Following the spreadsheet will ensure that you consider all inputs such as your employee count, whether you’ll be including rewards and additional fees. Using the spreadsheet will allow you to show that you’ve compared vendors based on the total cost of ownership and are presenting the actual cost difference between your proposed solution and its competitors.
Demonstrating the bottom-line impact of your proposal is often the most impactful part of the presentation.
The good news is that the financial benefit or ROI is undeniable with the right metrics when it comes to employee recognition platforms.
The ROI formula itself is relatively straightforward, and many of the required metrics should be readily available to you (e.g., turnover rate, engagement survey results, and absenteeism rate). You can see a step-by-step walk-through of how to calculate ROI here.
Beyond the ROI, demonstrating that your chosen solution has worked for other organizations is a powerful way to further support your case to a risk-averse executive team.
Examples you can use include:
A vital component of a business proposal or business case is to present what your solution will look like in practice.
Make sure your presentation identifies the internal champions (likely yourself) and that you have buy-in from the most critical stakeholders for this initiative, for example, in the case of employee recognition, the CHRO, or Head of People (if that’s not you).
Ask your preferred vendor for an implementation plan and timeline so you can accurately predict and plan for a suitable go-live date.
This part is the simplest but most often overlooked step. After working through your presentation, and answering any questions along the way, don’t forget to ask for permission to proceed with the initiative.
If your executive team indicates that they need more time to make their decision, make sure to immediately schedule another time to ask for the decision again.
Reminder: The content of this article is covered in a recent webinar you can access for free on-demand here. By accessing the on-demand webinar, you’ll be able to download a customizable pitch deck.
Equipped with accurate budgeted costs, a persuasive ROI, along with a compelling and easy-to-follow presentation, you’ll be well on your way to getting the approval you are looking for to move forward with your plan.
Remember that if you are confident and committed to your proposal, you’ll foster confidence within your executive team. They want a reason to say yes; it’s up to you to make the case.
Company Name: Cultural Vistas
Industry: Non-profit Organization
Head Office: Washington, D.C. & Berlin
Kudos Champion: Laura Gross, Director of Administration, People + Culture
The American non-profit organization, Cultural Vistas, believes, "understanding our evolving world is the first step toward changing it." This philosophy is the driving force behind Cultural Vistas' work.
They facilitate internships, professional exchange programs, and services for visitors to the U.S., American students, and professionals seeking experiential learning opportunities abroad.
Founded in 1963, Cultural Vistas offers over 30 unique exchange programs and partnerships with more than 130 countries. They believe that international professional experiences create more informed, skilled, and engaged citizens. They equip the next generation of global leaders to solve complex challenges by connecting lives to exchange knowledge, values, and perspectives.
This challenging, but rewarding vision requires a team of passionate and hardworking employees to fulfill. Before the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Cultural Vistas had offices in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Berlin, with board members and stakeholders worldwide.
In an interview with Laura Gross, Director of Administration, People + Culture at Cultural Vistas, she said, "generally, a lot of people on our staff have lived abroad or grew up abroad, speak other languages, and are very curious about the world. They understand the value of interacting with different people's perspectives and ways of life and have a broader understanding of how to connect with other people."
Unsurprisingly, when the pandemic hit in 2020, all exchange programs were frozen due to international travel bans leading to a halt in global movement. Like many organizations worldwide, all Cultural Vistas’ employees transitioned to working from home. Laura and her team were faced with the challenge of maintaining employee engagement within their fully remote workforce.
Laura said, "as a non-profit, we don't have the highest, most competitive salaries; we need to find other ways to add value for our employees." This is a common trend – Cultural Vistas is not alone in the struggle. Salaries at non-profits are often not competitive with those offered by private-sector corporations.
The stakes for maintaining the passion and drive that brought employees to Cultural Vistas in the first place are much higher, given today's competitive job market. Fostering a culture that celebrates the mission and vision that attracted employees to their roles is imperative now more than ever. Recognizing the impacts of employees' individual and collective efforts is also critical to keeping employees happy in their non-profit roles.
With culture and employee engagement top of mind, the team at Cultural Vistas focused on fostering a virtual environment just as enriching as their previous office life. Above all, they wanted to keep employees happy and passionate about the cause.
The social committees of each office quickly merged into one powerhouse committee; made up of employees from all departments and levels, holding weekly meetings that anyone could contribute to. This resulted in a variety of virtual events, ranging from art classes to trivia nights to pet show-and-tells.
But of course, beyond social cohesion is another critical aspect of engagement – employee recognition. That’s where the platform Kudos came in.
Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform that fosters peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication. We help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance.
Cultural Vistas decided to implement monthly awards using data from Kudos to help their employees see the impact of their contributions. Each month, three people are awarded:
1. The person who received the most recognition messages on the Kudos platform
2. The person who sent the most recognition messages on Kudos
3. The person who was recognized on Kudos for displaying the most qualities related to Cultural Vistas corporate values.
The last award is perhaps the most powerful and something unique to the Kudos platform. Every time someone sends a recognition message to a colleague on Kudos, they also select which qualities the person they’re recognizing has displayed. These qualities are directly tied to the organization’s values – something essential for non-profits that often have unique and distinct values and missions.
And, of course, the rewards offered within Kudos don’t hurt.
Laura explained that because of the challenge of competing with the private sector for talent, the casual financial incentive of Kudos points helps. In Kudos, employees earn points that they can redeem for gift cards or other custom rewards chosen by the organization. A typical employee will earn hundreds of dollars a year in rewards through Kudos.
It’s a program they are proud of.
“We’ve added the Kudos platform into our official benefits offerings,” Laura said. “It’s promoted and discussed in offer conversations as both a cultural and financial inventive.”
"In a surprising twist, a global pandemic that jeopardizes the future of our entire field has also boosted staff morale," Laura said. "Before the pandemic, there were three distinct office cultures, based on geography. Now that we're all working remotely, it's equalized the experience of being an employee at Cultural Vistas – we all have collaborated so much more organically and naturally than before."
Recent Pulse surveys indicate that the number one thing the employees like about working at Cultural Vistas is the team – a great sign that the effort is working. Simply put, "a happy community of people is good for business," Laura said.
"Our staff is a passionate, dedicated, really hardworking group. They care a lot about their participants’ experiences abroad, but they also care a lot about their coworkers’ experiences. And, they work together as a team. There's a lot of shared drive and passion. It's a really great group of people to work with."
So, while the competition to attract and retain top talent may forever be a challenge for non-profits like Cultural Vistas – they can still compete with higher-paying for-profit counterparts by operating in a nimble and employee-centred way.
With a strong culture and emphasis on employee engagement through tools like Kudos®, the right employees will feel at home at Cultural Vistas – no matter where they are on the globe.
Employee turnover is on every HR leader’s mind these days as people leave their jobs at an unprecedented rate. So, what’s going on? And what can organizations do to curb this costly trend?
It’s all over the news – employees are leaving their jobs in droves. HR Leaders are struggling with unprecedented rates of turnover and a competitive war for talent.
And it’s true; the numbers are truly staggering. Gallup recently reported that 3.6 million Americans resigned in May 2021 alone, leading to a record-high number of unfilled positions. This was in all job categories across all industries. They’re calling it the Great Resignation. NPR explains that this Great Resignation is due to employees rethinking what work means to them in a post-pandemic world, how they are valued, and how they spend their time.
Some are leaving to avoid returning to the office, having enjoyed the flexibility remote work brought to their lives by eliminating lengthy and stressful commutes. And of course, some turnover can be attributed to people who waited for things in the world to calm down before making a job change.
But HR professionals are witnessing another interesting trend emerge from this wave of departures.
The people who are leaving are disengaged. In fact, Gallup found that 74% of people looking for a new job today, post-pandemic, are disengaged, “It's not an industry, role, or pay issue,” Gallup’s team says, “it's a workplace issue.” Employees are first and foremost now seeking a workplace that meets their needs in terms of flexibility but also one that makes them feel valued and appreciated.
Simply put, when employees leave, it costs a lot.
The actual financial cost of turnover varies by role and industry. Still, the general rule of thumb is that replacing workers requires one-half to two times the employee's annual salary. This includes the cost of time, money, and resources it takes to offboard, recruit, and onboard.
HR professionals and leaders also need to consider the opportunity cost of recruitment, interviews, and onboarding. When employees take time away from their roles to interview, prepare offers, and train, they take efforts away from their jobs and projects and initiatives that could help generate income for the organization.
What’s more, saying goodbye to high-performing long-term employees means letting go of valuable historical knowledge, which often helps with onboarding new employees and providing excellent customer service. By the same token, when employees have long-term relationships with clients, their departure can be disruptive and sometimes jeopardize a client relationship, in some more severe cases.
Finally, turnover can affect morale and culture through resentment of the time spent on recruitment and onboarding, close friends leaving, and a constant inflow of new colleagues. Long-term relationships between colleagues foster trust, respect, and support, which directly impact employee engagement. Research consistently shows that when employees have friends at work, they perform better, and the culture improves.
In short, no.
In Gallup’s most recent report on the so-called great resignation, they found that, on average, it takes more than a 20% raise to lure most employees away from a manager they feel engaged with. In contrast, the same study found that it takes next to nothing in terms of salary increase to lure away a disengaged worker. Another staggering study by Deloitte revealed that only 8% of businesses feel their rewards programs are effective at retaining talent.
It’s a job seeker market right now, which means the harsh reality is that most people in your organization could go elsewhere for more money if they wanted to - so what makes them stay?
Recognition leads to happy employees and better business results. Happy employees are more productive, creative, and supportive of their colleagues, but most importantly, they are more likely to stay. As Harvard Business Review (HBR) put it, “the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce.”
Performance-wise, HBR found that more than 40% of employed Americans feel that they would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.
In terms of retention, 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. The study did find that giving financial recognition (in the form of casual rewards) to the two youngest generations at work provides these workers with a greater sense of personal fulfillment and helps boost employee retention.
Gallup also surveyed a similar group and found that Millennials engaged at work are 64% less likely to change jobs in the following 12 months. Given that 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.
According to Josh Bersin, today, most recognition programs out there focus on tenure (over 85%). At first glance, that makes sense - reward people for staying, but it’s not the most effective way to use recognition to improve retention of good employees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor’s latest report indicates that the median years of tenure for employees 25 and older is 4.9 years, and 2.8 years for employees aged 25-34. This means that if your recognition program is based on years of service and starts at year 5, around half of your employees (and even more for millennials) will never experience any form of formal recognition.
Instead, your recognition program should be tied to what's important to your organization, your values, and your goals. High-performing employees will not respond to programs based on tenure where “everyone wins.” As Gallup put it, “seeing awards for mediocre work will only signal to your stars that your organization is not for them.” Evidently, the world has changed, and your recognition program needs to evolve too.
But exclusive programs only for high performers aren't the answer either.
That's why Kudos's employee engagement and recognition platform has four distinct levels of recognition built-in, based on both performance and contribution. Employees can be recognized with a “Thank You” for an act of kindness or selflessness, all the way to an “Exceptional” for significant accomplishments and initiatives with a deep impact on the organization. Modern recognition programs provide transparency and are accessible for everyone from day one.
The Great Resignation is another unexpected challenge that the 2020 pandemic presented for HR professionals. Not only are HR departments and organizational leaders working on planning what the future of work looks like (back to the office, fully remote, hybrid), but now they are also facing the added challenge of recruiting and retaining talent. Creating a culture around recognition with a partner like Kudos is a simple and highly effective way to give today’s employees what they need to stay.
Given their extensive research in the space, Gallup believes, “reversing the tide in an organization requires managers who care, who engage, and who give workers a sense of purpose, inspiration, and motivation to perform. Such managers give people reason to stay.”
HR Professionals in healthcare organizations have a complex portfolio of responsibilities. They serve an incredibly diverse group of employees in a wide variety of job functions.
From nurses and physicians to janitors and administrative staff, every employee in a healthcare organization is essential; they all directly affect the patient experience through the care and effort they put into their job.
One way today's HR professionals in healthcare can facilitate an excellent patient experience is by ensuring that their organization's employees are engaged. While employee engagement has many facets, one often overlooked opportunity for health care organizations is employee recognition. Incredible work is being done every day in healthcare and sharing those successes through a platform visible to all can significantly improve employee engagement.
But is the implementation of a formal recognition platform worth it for healthcare organizations? The data and studies show that it is definitely a worthwhile investment and is, in fact, critical to organizational, employee, and patient health.
Here are six specific reasons why healthcare organizations need to prioritize employee engagement through recognition:
Burnout has always been a prominent issue for healthcare workers, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, this issue was especially prevalent. The typical burnout worsened during the pandemic and even led to many healthcare workers reporting feelings of psychological distress. That said, even before the pandemic, a 2016 study by the ECRI Institute found that burnout was a problem for most healthcare workers.
One proven way employers can work to reduce burnout is through recognition. If employees feel seen for their work and appreciated for their efforts, they may feel less inclined to "prove themselves" by working unnecessarily long hours or choosing not to take time off.
Turnover is a costly threat to many healthcare organizations today. Beyond the financial cost of turnover (estimated at 33% of the employee's annual salary), there are significant effects on morale and the workload of the remaining employees. When colleagues leave, employees have to say goodbye to a friend, cover their responsibilities and shifts, and train new hires. These effects can create a cycle of turnover, which creates a heavy financial and emotional burden for organizations.
Employee engagement directly affects the likelihood of an employee staying longer. A study reported by Harvard Business Review found that only 17% of highly engaged hospital workers were interested in other employment opportunities versus 43% of the disengaged group. What’s more, Deloitte reported that companies with cultures of recognition have 38% less turnover.
A study by Gallup revealed that employee engagement directly impacts the number of accidents on the job. The more engaged the employee is, the more likely they are to follow safety protocols and subsequently experience fewer accidents. Recognizing employees for safety will also encourage others to adhere to those same practices.
But even more interesting is that the same Gallup study discovered that engaged employees who operate more safely contribute to enhanced patient safety. Gallup saw a 15% increase in patient safety in the groups studied when their health care team was highly engaged.
A common indicator of the quality of medical care at a health care organization is the rate of patient deaths. In a study of over 200 hospitals, Gallup compared patient outcomes to possible contributing factors. The study found that nurse engagement is the No. 1 predictor of mortality across hospitals.
Given these results, it is clear that employee engagement truly is life or death in hospital settings, especially for nurses. The American Nurses Association compiled the following list of activities that encourage nurse engagement, and recognition landed first.
Organizations with highly engaged employees consistently perform better from an operational and business standpoint. One example of this is improved NPS scores or, for hospitals in the US, higher Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores.
A study in HBR found when organizations saw improvements in their HCAHPS scores for patient experience or employee engagement, the average patients' global ratings of their care improved.
As Charla Garcia, the CHRO at UMHRO, put it in a recent interview with Kudos, "Patient satisfaction is our ultimate measure. We have a saying, "Happy employees equal happy patients." Because we focus on supporting our staff, they are free to support our patients. The local community then does an amazing job of supporting us in return.”
By prioritizing and streamlining recognition, HR Administrators can benefit from a consistent, transparent, and equitable program, and employees are happier. CFOs appreciate the cost controls built-in, and given the benefits previously mentioned, HR has to spend less time managing unhappy employees, turnover, and security incidents.
What’s more, recruiting top talent is easier when your organization has a reputation for being a great place to work. Basically, a focus on employee recognition helps HR Administrators excel at their roles and contribute to their organizations in a meaningful way.
The points above outline just how critical employee engagement and recognition are for today's healthcare organizations. Luckily, there are employee recognition platforms like Kudos that are designed to serve the unique employee population in healthcare organizations.
Kudos' unique platform allows employees to give and view recognition through a web browser, mobile app, or kiosk (Kudos TV) – a flexible option that is inclusive and accessible.
But don't take it from us, here is what longtime client University of Missouri Health Care had to say:
Company Name: Saxton Horne Communications
Industry: Marketing, Advertising
Head Office: Sandy, Utah
Kudos Champion: David Blain, President
“That’s the most fun I’ve had all day!” is what David Blain, President of Utah-based advertising agency Saxton Horne Communications, wants to hear from his clients after every meeting. Blain also loves to hear: “I want to work at Saxton Horne; you guys have more fun than anyone!” The latter is arguably much harder to achieve and has been on Blain’s mind, and to-do list for years.
Saxton Horne Communications is part of the LarryH. Miller Group of Companies, which includes more than 80 businesses located throughout the western United States. The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies has subsidiaries in automotive, entertainment, finance, auto insurance, real estate, health care, and philanthropy. What began as a single car dealership in 1979 run by Larry H. and Gail Miller, has grown into one of the largest privately-owned companies in the United States. The group’s primary mission is “To Enrich Lives,” and their vision is simple — to be “the best place in town to work and the best place in town to do business.”
About five years ago, Blain and his team sat down to develop a plan to take the agency’s culture to the next level, in part to live out that broader vision.
A culture of recognition is one where everyone’s contributions are celebrated and appreciated regularly.
“The conclusion that we came to was that you could just let culture happen and be what it is, or you can intentionally create it,” said Blain. “And we decided that we were going to create a culture of recognition.”
As a first initiative, the team decided to start Thank You Week. The idea behind Thank You Week was to celebrate Saxton Horne’s people over the course of a week every year. They would bring in lunch everyday and give everyone Friday afternoon off.
The thoughtful recognition component was even more powerful; every day, employees were asked to write five thank you cards to someone they didn’t typically work with. Every morning of Thank You Week, employees would come in to find thoughtful notes on their desks.
Another year, the leadership team wrote a thank you note to their colleague's spouses and significant others, thanking them for supporting their partner in what they did for the company.
The Saxton Horne team experienced the power of recognition every year during that week, and soon realized that they needed to expand the initiative beyond just 5 days per year. David Blain knew the solution — he called Kudos. He knew about the Kudos platform during his previous work with an organization that used it. He recognized that to build the culture he wanted, he needed a robust system in place to create a great, measurable culture.
Sometimes, implementing new software can raise brows. Still, Kudos was welcomed with open arms by the Saxton Horne team. The energy and sentiment of Thank You Week recreated daily through recognition messages, flowing between employees and leadership.
There were even some unexpected benefits of Kudos:
Unsure of what would happen to their business, David laid off staff, reduced salaries, and cut costs wherever possible — all with a heavy heart.
Unfortunately, that meant software programs like Kudos had to go.
And while the guilt of layoffs and salary cuts weighed heavily on management as the whole world watched the pandemic escalate, something unexpected happened at Saxton Horne.
While everyone on the team was working remotely, there was one resounding message coming from staff to David and the leadership team: “Bring Kudos back.” And that’s precisely what they did.
“Before our hiatus,” said Blain. “We didn’t entirely recognize how important Kudos was.” The pause from Kudos showed David and the team at Saxton Horne that everybody loved the platform.
“You want to see if something works? Take it away and see what happens,” joked Blain.“We took away Kudos, and they protested — that told us it was worth a lot.”
Essentially, the culture of recognition designed by the company’s leaders was lacking without Kudos.
The club was formerly known as the party committee before David heard Boy George’s Karma Chameleon on his way to work one day and was immediately inspired to change the name. The Culture Club’s mandate is simple — build culture. Made up of people from each department in the agency, they are responsible for managing and implementing all culture initiatives, including managing and running programs through Kudos.
The impact of Kudos has been significant, especially with the majority of the company working remotely. While other tools are used strictly for business purposes, Saxton Horne uses Slack and Kudos as connection points for the team. Most Kudos recognition messages are sent through Slack using the Kudos integration.
“Just like Kudos was an extension of Thank You Week, it’s also an extension of the connection our team would experience in the office. It creates the conversational, non-formal culture that we want,” said Blain.
And as for the famous Thank You Week that started it all? It’s still going strong, and this year, assuming the pandemic continues to improve in the U.S., it will coincide with many Saxton Horne employees returning to the office.
This article is the fifth and final piece in our 5-part Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist for 2021 Series:
Employee recognition is a continuously evolving space that has come a long way. Back when, most employees spent their entire careers working for one company and annual bonuses seemed to meet employees' recognition needs. Today, employee expectations have changed, and the organizations that want to remain successful are actively working to address these new expectations.
In today’s HR departments, you’ll find culture specialists, total rewards managers, employee experience architects, and even chief happiness officers all dedicated to improving employee experience. What’s more, today’s c-suite is discussing employer brand, employee engagement, and stakeholder capitalism regularly.
Employee recognition is an essential piece of today’s HR puzzle - especially if your employees have recently reported a desire for more or better recognition in a survey or if you are experiencing high levels of turnover, poor performance, and employee burnout.
Here’s a simple overview to help you get to know the recognition space today and how you can make your employees and colleagues feel proud of their contributions at work.
Recognition is vital to today’s workforce. Recent data collected by Gallup found that praising and recognizing employees can positively affect employee well-being and your organization’s bottom line. The report found that 66% of respondents trusted their colleagues more when they felt sufficiently praised. Adequately praised employees also produced better results and were more productive. A study on the importance of recognition found that today’s most progressive organizations use their recognition programs to consistently reinforce key behaviors and outcomes necessary to drive business success.
According to Forbes, recognized employees are “more satisfied, perform better, are more productive, and they’re more likely to engage with the rest of the team.” The Forbes piece explained that acknowledging employees for individual contributions reduces stress, absenteeism, and attrition. The previously quoted Gallup study found that employees who receive recognition also demonstrate increased collaboration through reduced self-protecting behaviors, such as information hoarding.
What we see at Kudos is that a good frequency and quantity of recognition, when all team members are sending between 3 to 5 messages per person per month, creates a culture of appreciation that leads to higher engagement.
Deloitte has identified five market factors that make recognition especially important and relevant today:
The ROI of recognition and employee engagement runs deep, but one of the most noticeable benefits to organizational culture and the bottom line is improved employee retention.
Employees who feel that they’re not adequately recognized at work are 3x more likely to quit in the next year, according to Gallup. Deloitte also reported that companies with cultures of recognition have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover. Another Deloitte report (The Talent 2020 Survey) found that recognition is among the top three most effective non-financial factors for retention.
The timing of recognition matters. For recognition to appear authentic, it should be shared as close to the event or activity being recognized as possible, which means recognition should be given frequently. According to Gallup, fewer than a third of workers have received praise from a supervisor in the last seven days. In fact, Gallup's Chief Scientist Jim Carter has stated, "Recognition is a short-term need that has to be satisfied on an ongoing basis - weekly, maybe daily."
In organizations with cultures of recognition, significant accomplishments and small favors are recognized often and freely. Praise and gratitude are both critical components of recognition and should be shared equally. Beyond that, inclusivity is key. Everyone's contributions, regardless of their role, should be acknowledged if the impact is meaningful; this fosters belonging and improved employee morale.
Both individuals and groups should be recognized to maximize the benefits. When interviewed by Gallup, David Grazian, the Director of Corporate Taxation at Granite Construction, Inc., shared that publicly recognizing entire departments can improve the department's reputation within the organization while also helping you "get more resources" when you need them.
At Kudos, we have found that while group recognition is important, one-to-one recognition has more impact on affecting an individual's performance, sense of belonging, and engagement.
Finally, recognition doesn't just need to come from the top-down, i.e., manager-to-employee; recognition should flow to-and-from employees at all levels, which is what's known as peer-to-peer recognition. In fact, in some cases, the Society for Human Resource Management found that employees prefer to be recognized by their peers over their managers or superiors because their recognition feels more genuine.
How you deliver your recognition can make a difference in the impact it will have.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Here are some templates to help you get started:
Finally, it's all in the delivery. To enjoy all the benefits of recognition discussed above, like increased productivity, employee engagement, and reduced turnover, the delivery method must be effective. Luckily, as employee expectations have changed, so has technology. Where recognition used to be more at the individual manager’s discretion and generally hidden from the rest of the company, organizations who want to build a culture of recognition have implemented employee recognition platforms to streamline the process and create more transparency and accountability surrounding who is receiving recognition and how often. The recognition platform leaders provide a system that facilitates peer-to-peer recognition driven by values and visible to the entire organization – and robust analytics to track and measure success.
Points are not the point. Today, recognition is often confused with rewards, specifically points that employees can use toward gift cards or other perks. While rewards are a fantastic tool to reinforce performance and contribution, they are not interchangeable with recognition and certainly don’t have the same long-lasting impact on employee engagement. In a Gallup study, money or financial reward ranked fifth as the most memorable form of recognition, after public and private praise, positive reviews, and added responsibilities. Simply put, if points are the central element of a recognition moment, that is a reward program, not a recognition program.
In 2021, recognition is a critical component of any organization's human resources strategy. The ROI of recognition is undeniable. With hybrid workforces as the new normal, having a plan for employee engagement regardless of geography should be top of mind for every c-suite. And if it isn’t, we challenge you to add it to your next management team meeting agenda to start the conversation.