In recent years, wellness programs have been all the rage among HR departments, and for good reason – on paper, wellness program ideas promise to facilitate employee health, happiness, and productivity while saving companies money on health premiums.

Seems like a win-win, right? There’s just one problem: employees aren’t participating. In fact, a recent Gallup poll shows that while 85% of large companies have rolled out wellness programs, only 24% of employees are participating.

Challenge Accepted

For the team here at Kazoo, this sounds like an employee engagement challenge. We’re certainly not ones to shy away from those, so we teamed up with our friends (and healthy workplace experts) at SnackNation to profile companies of all sizes and bring you wellness program ideas that work.

They’re available now in our free download, 18 Awesome Wellness Program Ideas for Boosting Employee Participation:

Kazoo Wellness Ideas
Anyone can apply these ideas to their company’s wellness program today, but the info is also meant to challenge the common approaches to corporate wellness that bog down employee participation. Examples include:

  • A publicly-traded technology company using group-oriented wellness ideas to encourage more employee participation.
  • A brewery/restaurant chain that’s improving employee fitness while rallying people around their company culture.
  • A financial services company showing employee wellness means more than physical health (hint: their approach includes financial wellness 🙂 )


You’ll also get the skinny on Kazoo’s own award-winning wellness program. You didn’t think we weren’t using some of these ideas ourselves, did you?

Download this document to learn more about Kazoo's own award-winning wellness program.
Download these ideas now, and let us know if you have some of your own!
Enjoy, and be well.

It’s a concept that’s come into sharper focus within the past few years: the importance of organizational values. Once only mentioned in passing during new hire orientation (and never spoken of again), organizational values are now front and center, acting as guiding principles that employees now expect as part of the company milieu. Just because it is expected, however, doesn’t mean that employees relate their actions back to those same values (and in many cases employees might not even remember what they are!)

While HR leaders shout their values from the proverbial mountaintops, a question always remains: how do we reinforce our values and how do we cement them into our organizational culture?

One opportunity often overlooked is at the very beginning of the employee life cycle. By incorporating values into the recruiting process, organizations can simultaneously assess role fit and cultural fit while ensuring that potential employees are aware of and engaged with values before they’re even offered the job.

A way to incorporate organizational values into the interview process is to ask value-based questions. For example, a core Kazoo value is to “Decide with Data.” To prompt candidates to discuss this value, you could ask a question such as, “Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision and were missing the correct information and/or data you needed. How did you handle that situation?” At Kazoo we’ve created value-based interview guides that challenge hiring teams to be more thoughtful throughout the interview process. These guides also ask interviewers to provide objective, unbiased, role-relevant feedback that ties back to our organizational values.

By incorporating values into candidate assessment in this way, organizations are:

  • Reinforcing ideals internally. When interviewers are given value-based questions to ask, they are forced to think about their own attachment to them and may reflect on how they would answer the same questions they’re asking.
  • Making solid cultural assessments and priming candidates. Organizations are filtering out potential cultural mismatches while communicating to candidates the importance of the organizational values.
  • Understanding how actionable values truly are. Hiring teams are forced to reflect on the values and question whether they’re actionable, too “high level” or not accessible. They may sound great on paper, but employees need to be able to perform the values each and every day.

Through inserting values into the recruiting process, organizations have one more tool in the quest to create highly engaged employee cultures. When used in combination with other employee engagement tools like Kazoo, corporate values can emerge from new hire orientation and be reinforced from the very beginning through candidate assessment, and later, employee recognition and continuous feedback.

Are you asking questions during the interview process that assess if a candidate fits in with your organizational values? What other questions are you asking? Share your feedback in the comments below.

Everyone has challenges in their job. But it’s easier for employees to overcome them when they have a great employee experience.

We’ve collected some quotes that we hope inspire you to overcome your biggest challenges…. but you can also take a tour of our product to see how it can help motivate your employees to take on their biggest challenges.

The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. -Molière


It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. -Abigail Adams


Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss. -Ralph Waldo Emerson


The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people. -Randy Pausch


The key to life is accepting challenges. Once someone stops doing this, he’s dead. -Bette Davis


Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. -Robert F. Kennedy


But that’s the challenge – to change the system more than it changes you. -Michael Pollan


Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body. -Seneca


Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional. -Roger Crawford



Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. -Helen Keller
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. -Helen Keller


If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are? -T.S. Eliot


I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot. -Nadia Comaneci


The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. -Chinese proverb


When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. -Paulo Coelho


There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it’s not really there. -Bill McKibben


Our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. -Martin Luther King Jr.


Hope and change are hard-fought things. -Michelle Obama


A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it. -Ray Davis


I’ve learned that success comes in a very prickly package. Whether you choose to accept it or not is up to you. It’s what you choose to do with it, the people you choose to surround yourself with. Always choose people that are better than you. Always choose people that challenge you and are smarter than you. Always be the student. Once you find yourself to be the teacher, you’ve lost it. -Sandra Bullock


Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others. -Amelia Earhart


It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. -Albert Einstein


I like the challenge of trying different things and wondering whether it’s going to work or whether I’m going to fall flat on my face. -Johnny Depp


You see a mousetrap; I see free cheese and a fucking challenge! -Scroobius Pip


We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard. -John F. Kennedy


To be tested is good. The challenged life may be the best therapist. -Gail Sheehy


To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up. -Dalai Lama


If you are facing a new challenge or being asked to do something that you have never done before don’t be afraid to step out. You have more capability than you think you do but you will never see it unless you place a demand on yourself for more. -Joyce Meyer



 Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s a day you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it. -Margaret Thatcher

Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s a day you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it. -Margaret Thatcher


There are no great people in this world, only great challenges which ordinary people rise to meet. -William Frederick Halsey, Jr.


Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are. -Bernice Johnson Reagon

About Kazoo:

Kazoo amplifies company culture through its award-winning employee experience platform that delivers engagement, retention, performance management, and improved business metrics. As a dominant force in the HCM market with an industry-leading retention rate, Kazoo partners with more than 400 global organizations to build high-performance cultures and engaged workforces. Founded in 2013, Kazoo continues to revolutionize the employee experience with its platform based on the science of motivation, rewards, and recognition. To request a demo, visit

It’s goal-setting season and I’m sure many of us are putting off establishing them until the deadline arrives and it’s finally time to have a conversation with our managers. I personally have found this process to be arduous at times, so I am here to tell you that you are not alone.

Here is what happens to me. The week after I have set goals, I am all gung-ho, giving myself a pep talk every day about how I can achieve them and acting as my own personal cheerleader. Then two weeks go by, then three and soon four and I begin to realize I haven’t made much progress. You get the point and have most likely experienced the same thing. This lack of progress is what makes the goal-setting process demotivating and in a lot of cases, an extremely negative experience, which is why we dread the entire thing.

I recently listened to Michael Hyatt’s webinar, “The 10 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making With Goal Setting,” and found his advice to be very motivating. Here are some of the things I learned related to goal setting in the workplace and simple tips to make the process fun again.

Make Sure Your Goals Are Specific, Actionable, Measurable and Have a Deadline.
I know we have all heard this before, but there is a reason why we keep hearing it. That’s because so many of us, myself included, continue to write vague goals that don’t mean much, so we have a tough time trying to find ways to get started and measure the results.

Giving yourself a realistic deadline and defining deliverables will motivate you to meet your goals. When we don’t set a deadline we tend to move things to the bottom of the to-do list and things never end up getting done. Additionally, be open to adjusting the deadline if necessary. We all know business needs shift on a daily basis and things come up that we can’t prevent, which changes deadlines.

Extra tip: Here are some examples of specific, actionable, measurable and deadline-driven goals:

  • Take the HTML for Beginners Course at UIC by March 31, 2016.
  • Improve the June Benchmark Survey response rate by 5% by increasing employee communications to three per month.

Don’t Play It Safe. Stretch Yourself. But Don’t Have Too Many Goals.
It’s easy to want to set goals you know are attainable, but at the end of the day, if you want a promotion or to grow your skills in a new area, set goals outside of your comfort zone. I’m not implying you should set more goals so it appears you are taking on more work and deserve a promotion. I mean striving toward goals that stretch your current skillset. You can’t stay focused if you have too many goals and won’t accomplish any goals if you aren’t focused.

Extra tip: Try to stick to 3-5 goals with 2-3 key results for each goal.

Make Goals Visible.
In Michael Hyatt’s webinar, he talks about the importance of posting your goals where they are visible and in a place where you can see them often – whether it’s in a platform like Kazoo or through written notes on your desk. Ideally, your company has a technology solution in place to manage the goal-setting process so you can go back to reference your goals often and track the status of them.

Extra tip: A few other ways to make these goals visible outside of technology solution: put them as the desktop screen of your laptop; add them as a screen saver; or add reminders for them to pop up in your calendar.

Take Initiative.
I realize the goal-setting process is different at all organizations, but I would still encourage you to proactively go through a goal-setting exercise if your company doesn’t.

Before you meet with your manager to review your goals, define objectives that are aligned to department goals, which (hopefully) are ultimately aligned to corporate goals. You will stand out amongst your peers if you come prepared and you’ll have a better dialogue around achieving your goals. Keep in mind that they may change based on feedback from your manager, but be open to those changes. During your next 1:1 meeting, proactively discuss the progress you have made toward your objectives and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck and find yourself making less progress toward achieving them.

Extra tip: If you don’t have a recurring calendar invite for a 1:1, set one up. It will show you’re committed to your goals and they’re a driving force in your daily work.

Think Outside the Box and Set Personal Goals Too.
I am a huge proponent of having goals outside of our professional, work-related ones and adding at least one personal development goal to your plan. It’s ok to be a little selfish and think about yourself! Maybe you want to learn how to code or need to work on your leadership skills, so put that down and let your manager know where you want to develop your skills.

Extra tip: Schedule specific time on your calendar to research professional conferences and events in your area to help you reach any personal goals you set. There are affordable and free ways to expand your skill in any area.

Have you set goals for yourself yet for 2016? How do you keep yourself on track? Share in the comments below!

Employee engagement has been a hot topic for a few years now and organizations are finally taking a closer look at how to create a culture of continuous, real-time feedback. The infographic below shows how we got here and why 2016 will be the year that leaders focus on making sure their employees are happy, productive and sticking around.

To learn more about how Kazoo can transform your strategy, download the Continuous Employee Engagement eBook. 

Kazoo State of Employee Engagement Infographic

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The benefits of performance appraisals are tough to argue with. Conducting performance appraisals helps to decrease uncertainty about job requirements and manager expectations, opens the door for training and development opportunities, and offers a chance to reinforce positive behavior. Yet even with all those benefits, annual performance reviews are still despised by many. Let’s see how they can help your organization.

Let’s get on the same page. Sometimes I get managers and employees coming to me, saying they just can’t understand why their employee/manager doesn’t communicate with them. My first question is always, “Have you talked with them?” And (surprisingly or not) the response is “no” 99% of the time! Now I’m not saying a performance review is going to fix that poor communication. However, if you can work with managers and employees to use the opportunity presented by a formal appraisal meeting, then it can help to break through those barriers that exist. Employees really want to know what criteria they are being rated on. And managers really want employees to do well in their work. I have yet to meet a manager who hopes his/her people will fail miserably.

Kazoo Manager's Guide - 50 Employee Behaviors to Recognize & Reward
How do I get from here to there? One of the best ways to engage your employees to offer professional development opportunities. Not everyone wants to work to make themselves better at their job, but many people do. During the review process, find out where employees want to be in two years and work with them to get there. Maybe they want to take some classes in project management to contribute more on a team level. Maybe they are interested in developing some managerial skills and can supervise an intern. Maybe they want to be in a radically different position and you have some expertise to lend in the transition. Whatever the case, when the employee knows that you have their own long-term goals in mind, it gives them a deeper sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in their work.

Good job. Can you do it again? An often overlooked aspect of performance reviews is spending time on what went right. Sure, managers might say, “Way to go on Project X.” However, they do not always say exactly what they liked and what they would like to see again. If the person handled a touchy customer with finesse, tell them you appreciate their tact and cool head. When they know the specific behaviors that get noticed and/or rewarded, they can repeat them. Just hearing a generic “good job” is nice in the short run, but you need to provide more detail to help it become a repeated activity.

Employee Retention Strategies for 2016
The icky one. Nobody likes having to document poor performance, but it has to be done. In the next post in the series I’ll be looking at comments for performance reviews to help managers check the blocks while staying inside the legal boundaries. Documenting poor performance (whether in an annual review process or outside of it) is key for protecting the organization if the situation ends up resulting in a disciplinary action or termination. Managers prefer not to put things like this in writing, but that needs to be there as protection in case the employee (or former employee, if they are terminated) decides to pursue legal action.

Next time you are conducting performance appraisals, don’t lose sight of the benefits they provide throughout your organization. They can help foster communication, engage employees, and develop strong performers while still protecting from costly litigation.


Ben Eubanks

Ben Eubanks

SPHR. Analyst at Brandon Hall Group. HR Blogger. Passions: writing, reading, running, being a dad.

This article is by Ben Eubanks from