Employee engagement surveys are central to virtually every HR department. Good results show that you’re doing well. But for many companies, despite investing in programs, perks, and benefits — employee engagement survey numbers may stay the same, particularly on appreciation.

We hear about this all the time from potential customers. And it’s a serious concern.

Appreciation is a core human need. It is a critical part of a strong employee experience. For example:

  • 98.8% of employees in our survey of 750 employees across a variety of industries said appreciation is somewhat or very important to their employee experience.
  • 81% of respondents in a Glassdoor survey said they work harder when their boss shows appreciation.
  • A San Francisco State study shows that when recognition goes up, performance goes up too.

Generational Appreciation and the Employee Engagement Survey Scores

Without a set structure for showing appreciation, it can be hard to meet employees’ needs. The challenge of having five generations in the workplace exacerbates that difficulty.

Gen-X and baby-boomer managers grew up in a low-appreciation environment. Appreciation came in the form of a paycheck and feedback from a manager was more often about what needed to be fixed than what had gone well. It takes a mindset-shift for these managers to start looking for aspects of day-to-day performance that are going right and appreciate them.

In 1992, the field of positive psychology inspired a revolution in parenting and schools that created a generation of millennials who grew up in a culture of appreciation. Add in the rapid adoption of smartphones and social media in the early 2000’s – and that appreciation culture turned to regular real-time feedback.

As a result, millennials desire a much higher level of real-time positive feedback than previous generations. They thrive on authentic, specific, timely, positive feedback on what and how they’re doing. (And, it turns out, that feedback works well for all generations!)

No manager can be omnipresent. It is difficult for any manager, on their own, to provide ongoing, real-time feedback for every member their team. And employee engagement survey scores show it.

The answer: encourage real-time peer-to-peer recognition.

Real-Time Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Employee Engagement Survey
The Kazoo Employee Experience platform is a highly successful approach for redefining recognition to boost employees’ sense of appreciation.

Our social feed enables direct peer-to-peer recognition tied to corporate goals and values. Adding in points that employees can exchange for rewards of their choice encourages employees to engage with the platform and show regular recognition. Our database shows that an average of 81% of our potential users engage with the Kazoo on a regular basis. Some customers see 97% of their employees engage daily.

Managers can amplify that recognition by calling it out in one-on-ones or in team meetings to show others the importance of recognition and to encourage certain work behaviors.

The results are clear. Our recent Proven ROI Report showed that 100% of our surveyed customers had increased engagement scores after implementing Kazoo.

If you want to see how we can help you boost the appreciation scores on your employee engagement survey, take a tour of our platform, or request a demo.

About Kazoo
Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit info.kazoohr.com/demo-request

AUSTIN, Texas – July 25, 2017 – Today, Kazoo, a leading HR SaaS company that improves bottom-line performance metrics by enhancing the employee experience, announced that the company’s co-founder and CEO Autumn Manning will be on a panel at the HR Analytics & the Employee Experience Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at 4:20 pm PST.

The HR Analytics & the Employee Experience Conference runs from Tuesday, August 1 – Thursday, August 3, 2017 at the Hotel Adagio in San Francisco. The event brings together HR industry professionals from around the country to learn strategies and solutions that will help their organizations create an employee experience that will drive productivity and bottom-line results.

“Any time I get the chance to talk about culture and the employee experience, I jump at the opportunity,” said Autumn Manning, co-founder and CEO of Kazoo. “In today’s competitive talent marketplace, the employee experience is more important than ever. Our company is founded on the four pillars of the employee experience and I look forward to sharing how some of the best cultures in the world are prioritizing what it means to put employees first and how they are getting tangible results.”

In addition to Kazoo’s CEO, the interactive expert speaker panel will include Kimberly Hartnett, Managing Director of Workforce Strategy, Planning & Analytics for FedEx Office and Phillip Sontag, Director at Instinctif Partners and moderated by Preston Lewis, founder and CEO of Intactic.

To learn more about Kazoo and the company’s participation at the 2017 WorldAtWork Total Rewards Conference, visit www.kazoohr.com/totalrewards17.

About Kazoo
Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving employees’ lives one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform. The Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform center around the four pillars of employee experience: appreciation, impact, meaning, and connection. To request a demo, visit info.kazoohr.com/demo-request.

A recent job ad from a British theater company went viral after it took a rather aggressive approach to addressing Millennial job candidates. The condescending ad scolded Millennials for being lazy, unable to multitask and essentially unfit for the role before they even had a chance to apply for it.

In one especially defensive passage, the Tea House Theatre describes its upcoming “major projects” and recent influx of funding. In all seriousness, it sounds like the company is full of opportunity.

But Millennial or not, who wants to work for a company like that?

The Tea House Theatre isn’t unique. Unfortunately, bashing the work ethic of Millennials has become common in many workplaces. But all generations are saddled with (good and bad) stereotypes about their work ethics. A study from The American Psychological Association outlined some of the defining work characteristics for Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Here’s what they found:

Baby Boomers

  • Optimistic
  • Teamwork and cooperation
  • Ambitious
  • Workaholic

Generation X

  • Skeptical
  • Self-reliant
  • Risk-taking
  • Balances work and personal life

Millennials

  • Hopeful
  • Meaningful work
  • Diversity and change valued
  • Technology savvy

The optimism typical of Baby Boomers sounds pretty similar to the hopefulness of Millennials, right? And couldn’t the risk-taking associated with Generation X could easily be interchangeable with Millennials? The truth is that every generation in the workplace is associated with some unfortunate stereotypes. Today’s multigenerational workforce requires that organizations to embrace these differences and create a culture where groups aren’t pitted against one another.

Has your organization embraced generational differences and used them to your advantage? If so, what advice would you give other companies that might be struggling with a multi-generational workforce and adapting to each one’s needs?

Many companies are well beyond assuming an employee’s contributions to an organization can be fully understood from an annual performance review alone. To better assess and improve employee performance, conversations much happen much more frequently. For employees to understand their strengths and weaknesses – and for their managers to help them develop – feedback must be gathered continuously and in a variety of ways throughout the year. This could be via be things like peer-to-peer or anonymous feedback and recognition, project retrospectives, quarterly check-ins or even, yes, an annual review.

While savvy organizations use their employees’ collective brain power to understand the value of individuals, even smarter ones cast a wider net and ask external stakeholders to join the conversation as well. How do your partners, vendors and customers feel about your employees?

Here’s three scenarios where external feedback can provide insight that cannot be gained from within your organization.

In a competitive sales situation.

Whether your customers are in-store shoppers or enterprise software buyers, there are a finite number of them who have relationships with your sales team.. When employees are in a situation where they compete head-to-head against each other, it can be beneficial to look beyond the manager’s or co-workers’ opinions.

When an employee only interfaces with customers.

For employees who interact with clients solo (think call center representatives or those who install in-home systems of some sort, for example), customers themselves are better (and sometimes only ) firsthand assessors of performance.

If there’s a gap between current and historical perception.

If an employee traditionally received positive feedback and it changes drastically, or vice versa, it could be an opportunity to compare that to the external perception of the employee. Any number of internal factors could skew an individual’s assessment.

The bottom line is that while managers and co-workers have valuable opinions to contribute, those people that your employees touch while representing your company – customers, partners, vendors, etc. – should have an easy way to provide feedback as well. (One Kazoo customer, Echo Global Logistics, has even used external recognitions to help improve its internal training programs – read more about it here.) Whether it’s incorporated into an email signature line or a pop-up survey after making a purchase in a store, companies should never pass up an opportunity to collect external feedback and recognition.

What does measuring the employee experience look like?

We recently introduced Kazoo Surveys – giving our customers easy-to-use surveys within our employee experience platform that provide a quick view of their employees’ opinions and engagement levels. (This is just the start of what’s to come – the future will bring more tools to give your employees a voice, empowering them with ways to give and get the right feedback at the right time to fuel engagement and performance.)

The Pulse Survey survey is a simple tool with 8 pre-selected questions that you can use to measure your employees’ engagement.

Kazoo’s simple Employee NPS survey provides rapid feedback on loyalty and the overall health of your company culture.

The Custom Question survey is a custom poll option that lets you ask open-ended questions on things that influence culture or the employee experience.

Why, you ask, are the Pulse Survey questions preselected? Why can’t you customize them yourself?

Here’s the answer: Because we want you to have the best picture of the quality of your employees’ experience in the shortest amount of time. Just as important, we want to share benchmarks with you in the soonest possible way.

Measuring the Employee Experience

When you’re trying to build a quality employee experience, it is hard to get the results you want if you can’t measure them. But how do you best measure the employee experience?

Kazoo lives and breathes the employee experience. Our CEO, Autumn Manning, has extensive experience helping companies of all sizes, from startup to Fortune 500, develop teams, build culture and engagement programs, and create assessments and tools that measure engagement, cultural fit, and team performance.

We’ve delved into the science of motivation to identify the key indicators of a positive employee experience. And standards in the industry consistently point to common factors that are important to engagement: relationships with others at work, a connection to company goals and purpose, feeling appreciated and recognized for the work you do, and having flexibility with your work, for instance. Using our first-hand experience coupled with these industry best practices, we selected these 8 simple questions for you to use to gauge the engagement level of your teams:

  • I have a strong sense of pride for what we stand for as a company.
  • I have a positive, trusted relationship with my manager.
  • I have strong, positive relationships with many people on the team.
  • I feel good about the feedback and/or appreciation I receive for the work I do.
  • Goals and key initiatives are communicated clearly and often enough.
  • I feel I am growing professionally and learning regularly at {company name}.
  • The work I do makes a difference in our team success.
  • I’m afforded the flexibility I need to meet the needs of both my work and my personal life.

Why these questions? They measure the amount of connection, meaning, impact and appreciation that an employee is going to get out of their job. (If you want to see some of the extensive behavioral science behind our thinking, refer to this guide: Reward and Recognition Systems That Work.) Gallup, Gartner, and the Human Capital Institute all use similar questions in global engagement surveys.

Of course, there are always more questions you could ask. But the spirit of keeping it simple and lightweight for you, and impactful for your employees, these eight questions alone are designed to give you a good picture into areas of strength or areas of improvement as it relates to the engagement of your teams.

And by doing the same survey routinely, you can measure the changes in your employees’ perception of their experience. Our recent ROI study showed that 100% of Kazoo customers saw their employee engagement increase over time. This pre-programmed Simple Pulse survey helps you measure that increase.

Effective Results Quickly

It can be challenging to get employees to fill out an engagement survey. Stopping what they’re doing to open a survey tool takes time and interrupts their ongoing work. Many employees just won’t bother.

However, employees are already engaged with the Kazoo platform. Across our customer base, we’ve seen an average of 81% of the potential users engage regularly. Many customer’s usage rates are even higher than that – Bear State Bank, for example, has a 97% usage rate and 94% of their users check the platform every day.

That’s why we found the right questions and embedded them in the platform that your employees already use for engagement almost every day. Added together – that leads to a fast path to a high level of participation and accurately measuring the employee experience.

About Kazoo
Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit info.kazoohr.com/demo-request.

Depending on where in the country you live, the summer months are either a reward for suffering through below zero temps and blizzards all winter (ahem, Chicago) or a brief punishment of 120-degree days for having beautiful, mild weather the other nine months of the year (we’re looking at you, Phoenix).

No matter where you call home, summer is a popular time for employers to offer unique perks. While some companies might assume that providing summer perks leads to less productivity and decreased engagement, research has shown that the opposite is actually true.

Here are five companies that are taking perks to the next level to keep employees happy and productive.

Work-from-anywhere Fridays (Onboardly)

A recent survey found that the most requested summer perk is flexible hours (39% of respondents), followed by shortened hours on Fridays (30%). Onboardly takes the Summer Friday idea one step further, and has what it calls “work from anywhere Friday.” It’s exactly as it sounds – whether that’s from the pool or the couch.

A better company outing (Astellas Pharma Europe)

The 2017 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey found that 64% of companies offer an annual company outing to encourage camaraderie and celebrate successes. Atellas Pharma Europe takes this one step further, hosting a massive theme party each summer (like a Wild West theme). They also up the ante and host a variety of smaller get-togethers and activities all summer long.

A week-long, company-wide vacation (Adobe)

This perk isn’t new, but it’s not something very many people talk about. Adobe shuts down all of its offices for one week in the summer. It’s a bold move, but a smart one: instead of fighting against and working around your co-workers’ vacation schedules, the company is able to save money by closing the office and re-opening when everyone is back.

Expenses-paid vacations (Moz)

Moz takes Adobe’s highly encouraged vacation time and sweetens the deal; the company reimburses employees up to $3,000 for vacation expenses. Moz realizes the impact that short breaks with family and friends can have on an employee’s ability to be productive and happy at work.

Casual summer dress code (JPMorgan)

Many companies relax their dress codes during the summer months, to allow employees to be more comfortable during the warmer months. For those who working in the banking or legal industries, it’s a welcome change from mandatory suits. Even still, some companies are scrapping the formalities all together: JPMorgan announced last June that it would be allowing business casual attire all year long.

Does your company offer different perks depending on the season? If you do, have you seen any effects on engagement and productivity?