Bersin by Deloitte tells us that “enormous changes are ahead” for the workplace. What’s the biggest change due to cause disruption in most industries this year? Employee engagement.

Employees are viewing work like pro athletes, moving from opportunity to opportunity. If their job and company culture don’t inspire, engage, and motivate beyond a paycheck, they’re “outie 5000.”

Is employee engagement part of your game plan? Now, more than ever, is the time to check in with how your company engages employees in day-to-day operations.

It’s not too late to get started. These next five actionable goals will help you engage your employees, strengthen your company culture, and inspire your team.


Goal 1: Follow the Passion

What causes employees to play their best and want to win all year-long? Passion. You can’t be engaged without some level of passion for what you do. More and more companies are starting to realize that it’s important to kindle an employee’s intrinsic spark with assignments or opportunities that excite them. We hear all the time, “Follow your passion.” And when we hear passion, we think, “The things we really want to do in life!”

Giving employees the time and space to “do the things they really want to do” at work is a way to nourish this inner fire in your employees. It is the reason why companies like Google allot time for Passion Projects, where employees can focus on work-related tasks or projects that inspire them. Personal Development Days are a great tool, too. At Kazoo, we’ve started to utilize them with our own team. Employees schedule a day where they can research ways to improve the company, their roles, or help another department. They run wild with their findings and return re-energized with valuable ideas and strategies that keep the internal fire burning and the content fresh.


Goal 2: Easy, Simplified Communication

In today’s modern world, everything is a click away. If you want to ask your boss a question, you can e-mail him, send her an instant message, track down his social media handle, or Google her. Some people scowl at such access to one another’s lives. But we’ve come to understand that this access exists because people, especially Millennials, crave faster and easier ways to connect.

The same rules apply for how we recognize one another at work. Using an employee recognition software is a way to simplify and organize the communication process. Employees need recognition—that’s part of building an engaged culture—but they also need recognition delivered on a platform that does not over-complicate or distract them with too much information along the way. Kazoo’s employee recognition desktop software and mobile app, for example, make communication easier and simplified. Shout-outs, thank you’s, virtual high-fives and other forms of showing someone you appreciate them can happen anywhere and in-the-moment, which is the best time to give and receive recognition.


Goal 3: Opportunities to Learn, Grow, Develop

Often times, engagement is synonymous with expansion. Employees remain actively engaged when they are challenged to develop their skills or to learn something new. The magic here is that, with anything new, there’s a learning curve; employees may get frustrated with the challenge, but this frustration is positive because it leads to something even more powerful: breakthroughs. Breakthroughs are HUGE when it comes to engagement because when they happen, an employee feels like they’ve finally struck gold. They get excited. They build confidence. Hey, they’ve learned a new skill! Providing employees opportunities to develop personally or professionally can help your team feel like winners. Positive reinforcement further supports professional development and this type of confidence building.


Goal 4: Fun With Fellow Employees

Because the lines between “work life” and “home life” are becoming ever more blurred, it’s important for companies to find—and nourish—the right balance. More and more employees, especially the younger generation of Millennials, want to work with people that they actually get along with. They want to hang out with one another, and make authentic, lasting connections. Companies are seeing this level of friendship as an asset, because they’ve experienced the benefits. When people get along with one another, they are much happier to show up to work! Communication and brainstorm sessions flow easier, and employees feel more connected to their team, as opposed to feeling isolated for 8 hours a day.

Within Kazoo’s customized rewards catalog, you can add opportunities for employees to connect and have fun together in ways that match your unque culture. Employees can redeem points for rewards like Rooftop Yoga, Happy Hours, or movie tickets that they can share with fellow employees. We even make it easy for employees to pool their points together for a shared experience, cause, or event. For the past two months, several members of our team have been pooling points to go towards private group yoga sessions.


Goal 5: Find the Right Employee Engagement Software

Employee engagement software systems are everywhere these days, but not all of them deliver what they promise. The best software systems:

  1. are easy to use, simple for leaders and employees of all generations
  2. reinforce company brand, company core values, and culture
  3. on the go; accessible on mobile apps as well as a desktop
  4. allow for recognition that is in real-time, right now
  5. do not mark-up items in their rewards catalog to make an extra buck
  6. have very high end-user adoption rates


These 5 goals will help make employee engagement center stage, where it belongs, so your culture and team can thrive.


We know that, if there’s anything that makes a manager’s job less stressful, it’s having a team full of engaged employees!

Engaged employees keep the fire of inspiration burning. They take initiative. They contribute quality work to the team and outperform disengaged employees, simply because they are invested in work that is of high value to clients, the company, their leaders and peers.

So what are some employee engagement goals that managers are pushing for, to make 2015 bigger and better than years past? Based on current HR Trends, we’ve come up with three.


Goal 1. Recognize Performance AND Attitude

We say that attitude is everything, but attitude is one of those qualities that can often be overlooked when formally recognizing employees, because it doesn’t seem as “measurable” as results like booking new clients, or cutting down the monthly budget by 10%. Attitude is everything, however, because it’s contagious, keeps morale high and helps motivate people  to excel in their jobs. If someone on your team has a positive  “team-player” attitude, managers (and peers) can recognize them publicly through the Kazoo software, noting how they always show up to bat, ready to “go big or go home” on behalf of their team and co-workers, and how this attitude encourages everyone to put their best feet forward.

Recognizing the more “invisible” qualities, such as a positive attitude, can teach employees how to 1) become more aware of their positive influence; 2) encourage productive team collaboration; 3) value this asset for what it is: a skill.


Goal 2. Consider Apps for Mobile Recognition and Rewards

Managers are pros at finding the best, most timely solutions for pending problems. This is why having a system that allows for recognition and rewards to happen “on-the-go” has become a hot HR trend for 2015. According to Bersin by Deloitte’s* top predictions for 2015, HR solutions that come to market as easy-to-use mobile apps will likely become more popular than web based applications over the next year or two.

A mobile app like Kazoo’s software lets you send recognition to employees from anywhere at anytime. It makes it easier for recognition to become timely, and thus most effective in motivating your employees, because it’s received in the moment, as opposed to when that moment is over. Managers who travel a lot can keep their team on task from afar by accessing the mobile app for individual and group recognition. This mobility is vital in turning recognition and rewards into a habit and a company culture, because it makes giving and receiving recognition easier for the user.


Goal 3. Rethinking Rewards as a Motivator

When done right, rewards motivate employees to do better. They can make your employee feel valued, and inspired to do similar outstanding work. Sometimes, when rewards are not motivating, it can mean that they are outdated, too impersonal, or do not support an employee’s goals, like work/life balance.

Meaningful rewards  can act as an antidote to the various types of stress that employees feel at work. Include activities that assist their well-being, like Yoga sessions, Spa trips, a Mental Health Day, nap rooms, mindfulness programs and so on. Make sure that whatever stress-management rewards you include are ones that your employees actually want.

Another way to spruce up your rewards program  is to include more energizing and fun activities for your employees to redeem. Offer vacations, or an open-ended time for an employee to get away from the daily grind and do something invigorating. Include opportunities for an employee to learn a new hobby, like guitar lessons, or tickets to a local comedy club. Updating your rewards to ones that your employees are actually excited about redeeming can greatly improve the impact of your external motivation efforts. An awesome rewards catalog can be just the right solution to decreasing burnout, turnover rates, and work-related stress. Check out these 25 Reward Ideas or these 50 creative (and Free) ways to motivate.


For more Manager’s tips to make  2015 your best year yet, check out: Manager’s Advice For Encouraging Collaboration, and our trusty Manager’s Guide for Effective Feedback.


*Predictions for 2015: Redesigning the Organization for a Rapidly Changing World