New year, new job? Employees will soon be internally evaluating what they want for themselves and their careers come 2019. It’s inevitable. Many unhappy employees wait until the end of the year to finally leave their jobs and start fresh somewhere new come January.

Let’s take a look at what today’s top talent really wants, and your performance management strategy’s role in making it happen for them.


How does your organization help employees feel like they’re connected? Building a feedback culture creates a situation where employees are encouraged to positively interact and communicate on each other’s goals, performance and achievements. Peer-to-peer feedback is critical to establishing a sense of teamwork and collaboration across an organization.

Employee Experience

In today’s fast-moving world, if you’re standing still you’re falling behind. This is certainly true in both creative and technical fields alike. Employees want to feel as though they’re getting something in return for the hard work and value they bring to their roles. Most often, this comes in the form of development opportunities. How does your organization ensure employees have plenty of ways to grow and improve?

Managers are on the front lines of this, ensuring that employees are getting what they need to succeed, whether that’s in terms of coaching or training. If your managers are simply checking the box on performance and missing ways to lift employees up, your top talent will likely notice and see your company as a dead end for their career.

Never, ever underestimate the value of a simple thank you. Or an extravagant THANK YOU! Recognition ensures employees feel their contributions are valued and important. One step further, a social recognition program essentially holds a megaphone up to those achievements and blasts them out to the entire company to share in that employee’s success.

Instead of wondering what you can do to convince them to stay, think about what you’re doing to ensure your employees don’t want to leave. In short, focus on the experience you’re delivering to your employees, especially your top talent.

In the wake of today’s talent challenges, having an engaged employee base is critical to success in any industry. As Baby Boomers retire, the need to shape younger workers to fill available management roles grows stronger. Function area leaders in HR and recruiting are subsequently looking to analyze employee feedback data to identify and act on trends in training and retention.

What is Employee Feedback Data?

Employee feedback data helps to retain top talent by keeping stakeholders engaged, happy and productive, and also plays a role in shaping the professional development of young workers looking to ascend the corporate ladder through continuous feedback.

Employees crave ongoing positive, constructive feedback—in fact, 98% of employees will fail to be engaged without adequate recognition and feedback from an employer. Further, companies that implement a regular feedback program have a decreased rate of voluntary turnover of nearly 15%. This means that deploying a thoughtful, cohesive engagement plan is a key part of any retention strategy.

Key Metrics

Analyzing qualitative data can be difficult if you aren’t sure which aspects to emphasize. Depending on the needs of your business, as well as the industry, these metrics can vary, but they should all focus on the happiness and engagement of your workforce. Common benchmarks include:

  • Personal and Professional Growth – Growth, in all its forms (salary, title, recognition), is an intrinsic motivator for the majority of people. Tracking and measuring growth for each individual should be at the center of any employee management program since it helps establish a career trajectory and keeps a finger on the pulse in terms of retention.
  • Value Alignment – It’s important for businesses to hire and retain employees who share their values. Employees who authentically believe what you do, and understand and support your mission, are worth their weight in gold in workplace culture.
  • Ambassadorship – Alignment is the first step, but are your employees willing to be advocates for your brand? Are they excited to come to work, and equally as excited to talk about what they do to potential clients and future employees? If the answer is yes, then your company has achieved a level of trust and satisfaction with your employees to the degree that they feel comfortable serving as its ambassadors.
  • Relationship with Peers and Management – Collaboration is key. Successfully gauging the relationship an employee has with their peers has real-time project and client implications; it’s indicates a team’s level of cohesiveness and probability of success and retention over time. Additionally, having an open and honest relationship as a manager is important. You want your direct reports to feel comfortable using you as a sounding board, receiving criticism and bringing up concerns.
  • Satisfaction – An amalgam of factors including the above, employee satisfaction can be the hardest but most critical metric to consider. A company can more directly quantify this by measuring employee happiness with different aspects of the job including compensation, workplace environment and role clarity.
  • Recognition – A 2015 poll of more than 200,000 global employees showed that workers placed appreciation for their work at the top of a list of the 10 most important job factors –   including base pay, which ranked towards the bottom of the list. In the years since, the idea has been seconded by organizational psychologists and HR pros. Employees need to be paid a fair wage, sure, but they more often than not value appreciation and recognition amongst their peers above all else.

Measurement Methodology

As stated, subjective metrics are notoriously difficult to aggregate, but professionals have a variety of methods at their disposal in order to collect the most actionable information possible from their employees.

  • Goal Management – Goal setting is a useful method because of its iterative nature; you can work with employees to set personal, time-specific goals that reflect their professional aspirations, help them measure their efforts against it, and then ultimately re-evaluate and re-set their markers for success.
  • 1:1 Check-ins – Employees value one-on-one interactions because it’s a way to get constructive feedback and positive reinforcement from a respected manager. He or she knows that the company is personally investing time into hearing their concerns and offering support in a private setting.
  • Surveys and Polls – Surveys are a great way to collect a larger amount of feedback data at one time. In certain cases, anonymity is beneficial in that employees might feel more comfortable providing more transparent feedback.
  • Recognition and Rewards – Employees value recognition over other forms of gratification, including base compensation. Publicly recognizing top performers, as well as rewarding them commensurately – be it in a title change, incentive or another type of reward – will keep employees positively engaged and satisfied.

HR professionals are moving towards enterprise-level performance management software to tie all these disparate aspects of employee engagement together in one place. Using a comprehensive software platform can also help predict future trends impacting retention, training, and development.

Application for a Younger Workforce

Employee feedback data is one of the best ways to collect and analyze employee sentiments about workplace culture and their role in it, which in turn will help you build a growth plan reflective of younger employees’s diverse needs. Quantifying employee experience also offers the opportunity for continuous growth and has the added benefit of scalability as your company itself grows and adapts to a changing demographic. Leveraging technology like a performance management platform helps to train a critical eye to parse data and isolate key metrics to set young workers on a clear path of professional growth and success.

Maddie Davis is the Co-Founder & Editor for Enlightened-Digital. An avid amateur website designer, she writes primarily on how tech and society intersect, and responsible technology usage in an increasingly digital world.

Two things we love here at Kazoo? Technology, of course, and giving back. Our newest initiative combines both. We’re so excited to participate in our first Hour of Code event later this week, with a special school that is close to my heart.

What is the Hour of Code?

The program’s purpose is to expose students of all ages and backgrounds to computer science in an approachable way. As the name suggests, the tutorials are one hour long, and can be taught virtually or in person. They range in complexity and are available in a variety of themes, such as StarWars, Minecraft and even Frozen. The goal is not to make any one person an expert in coding, but rather to show that it is fun and accessible for everyone. The Hour of Code has over 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide – and growing.

Why it matters

According to U.S. News & World Report, the software developer is the best job of 2018 – and likely beyond. The article predicts that available jobs in the field will increase 30% by 2016. Yet, there’s question over who will fill those roles, based on this shocking number – 60% of schools in the U.S. don’t teach computer science. Initiatives like the Hour of Code that raise awareness for STEM careers help ensure that anyone with an interest can enter the field one day.

About the school

hour of codeWhat we’re most excited about is our partner school in South Africa for this initiative – Molo Mhlaba. I have personally been inspired by the mission and vision behind Molo Mhlaba, which translates to “Hello World” in Xhosa, from my time volunteering in Cape Town. This community is relentlessly focused on providing quality STEAM-focused education in a safe development environment for girls in Khayelitsha.

The Kazoo team will be conducting the virtual JavaScript tutorial with the students via Skype, and will also be sharing a bit about what it’s like to work in technology. As part of the initiative, we’ve also created a GoFundMe page for the school, and you can donate here.


It’s Never Too Late for New Goals: Looking Ahead

Now that our morning coffee order has switched iced americanos to pumpkin spice lattes, it must be Fall. And once the weather changes, performance and learning goals are usually put on the back burner. As employees we often feel like athletes trying to beat the buzzer, wrapping up end-of-year projects and meeting final deadlines.

Analyzing Professional Goals

What successful professionals have realized is that October is the perfect time to pump the breaks and think about employee performance goals. Working hard in Q4 has its benefits. First, you’ll start the new year with a few more things crossed off your to-do list, freeing you up to achieve even more. Second, you’ll stand out amongst those who aren’t giving it their best effort. Managers notice these things. And third, well, having a growth mindset is never a bad thing.

Yes, it’s October. But there’s still time to make a dent in both your personal and professional 2018 goals and map out what you want to accomplish in the year coming ahead. Let’s take a look at two different kinds of goals, and what you can do now to have the best year yet in 2019.

Looking Back: Measuring Performance Goals

When we think of goals, most of us are thinking about performance. Hitting a sales quota, increasing a customer’s work with your company, writing a certain number of business cases, or even just meeting all set deadlines. All of these goals are meant to measure an employee’s level of performance within their existing role.

At this point in the year, it’s a good time to look back at what you’ve achieved as it relates to your performance goals. Ask yourself:

  • What can you do over the next remaining months to demonstrate your competence or proficiency in your role? Be specific.
  • How can you make the biggest impact on your team or department goals? Think about how your contributions affect your peers.
  • If there’s one performance goal that has evaded you all year, is there anything you can do to chip away at your progress to ensure you hit it next year? Set yourself up for success.

Looking Ahead: How to Set Goals for the Role You Want

Let’s switch gears away from performance. Apart from how well you do your job, we are judged as employees on our ability to grow and develop in our careers. Setting goals focused on our professional development is just as important as measuring success in our current roles.

No one wants to remain in the same role forever, right? To be promoted, we must demonstrate that we’ve taken the initiative to go above and beyond our current job to learn what it takes to succeed in the next. This can be done in the form of taking on extra projects, shadowing others, or enrolling in special courses to gain new skills.

To set goals for the role you want, ask yourself:

  • What new skills do I need to gain to accomplish my performance goals for this year? Take the steps necessary to ensure you hit your goals.
  • Similarly, what new skills do I need to gain to be considered for a promotion? Consider seeking additional perspective from your manager or career advisor.
  • Is a lack of an educational degree or certification holding me back from my dream job? If this is the case, plan for how to make it a reality in 2019.

Use the rest of this year wisely when it comes to your professional goals. Your future self will thank you.

When developing strategic employee rewards programs, organizations run into all sorts of advice and options. One principle is true for all of them, however.

There is no one-reward-fits-all when it comes to employee motivation.

Do cash and bonuses still appeal to many employees? Sure. But recent research has continually shown that for sustainable, long-term employee motivation, cash isn’t king.

Below are three simple ways to change up your rewards in order to boost employee motivation.

Simple Ways to Boost Employee Motivation

1. Add Variety

Even if the majority of your employees say they’d like cash or gift cards as rewards, simply offering a variety of options along with these — for instance, a spa package, tickets to a family-friendly event, or a catered lunch for their team — will make the reward more meaningful and boost employee motivation.

The results of a study of Israeli semiconductor workers proved this. After offering a mix of cash and other bonuses to employees:

  • Non-monetary bonuses boosted performance slightly better than monetary ones
  • Monetary bonuses affected performance more when the employee had a mix of options and chose them
  • When an employee incentive option was taken away from the mix, the impact of the remaining bonuses went down

2. Offer More than Monetary Items

It should come as no surprise that many factors affect employee motivation — so why don’t your rewards reflect that?

Go beyond monetary rewards and incorporate causes or employee motivations that are more meaningful. Your employees may be passionate about supporting local businesses, charities, or their teams at work for instance.

Adding local business gift cards, charitable donations, or the ability to “pool” individual rewards into a team experience is a way to find the sweet spot when it comes to employee motivation and rewards.

3. Tie Rewards to (Spontaneous!) Recognition

Recognition is a power tool when it comes to boosting employee motivation. Unlike a trophy or pre-determined bonus, spontaneous recognition for great work isn’t something that an employee can anticipate.

It sends a message to an employee that the work they’re doing is something that they should do more of. It builds a connection between the people giving and receiving recognition. It can build meaning and show an employee their impact.

Supporting that recognition with employee rewards — even small ones relative to common end-of-year bonuses — amplifies the employee motivation-boosting power of both rewards and recognition.

You don’t have to take a wait-and-see approach to rewards when it comes to employee motivation. Here at Kazoo, we’ve seen how rethinking rewards, recognition, and other aspects of the employee experience translates into real ROI at hundreds of organizations. Adding variety to your rewards, offering more than monetary items, and tying them to spontaneous recognition are simple ways to start.

Get a Demo of Kazoo


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

Listen to What Culture Could Be, a Kazoo podcast

Symbols connect to us emotionally.

They’re powerful tools in relating ideologies that convey, challenge, and create culture.

Gabe Krajicek, CEO at Kasasa, uses them to communicate a powerful cultural message that changes the work environment.

Learning the Value of Culture

Gabe attributes the beginning of his business culture understanding to his father.

His dad was a thought leader in an industry where you’d least expect it, but was a man who loved his employees and taught his son that leading employees meant more than just paying them to do a job.

It was about having compassion for human beings that you have a duty to take care of.

It’s difficult to place an ROI on culture, but it undoubtedly impacts your business in a positive way.

Gabe found himself outside his element in his first leadership role at Dealerskins, but he knew what he could do was create a great culture.

Listen to What Culture Could Be, a Kazoo podcast

This was more than values; it was a direction and a “why.

Connecting your employees with the company’s reason to exist is where the values find their purpose and the people find their motivation.

And even then, without a robust understanding of how culture is perpetuated, it turns out that no amount of love and respect can save a culture that isn’t sustained when the key catalyst departs.

When he moved to the company we now know as Kasasa, Gabe quickly realized that it wasn’t enough to simply build great culture, but that this culture needed to transcend and outlive him.

Pursuing Great Culture

Gabe outlined four principles that help guide his employees in the workspace both as they interact with one another and engage their roles. They call the symbol for this the “Patch.”


This is where respect lives. Caring for others is one of the first principles and permeates the value system. Kindness is a key factor in work relationships.


For Kasasa, interdependence was originally symbolized by the skull and crossbones the pirate band formed together to pillage and plunder but eventually became a Spartan helmet to symbolize the strength of a phalanx.

Listen to What Culture Could Be, a Kazoo podcast

Five Star Leadership

They expect results, just like a general at war. It seems often that values tend to dismiss the fact that this is a business. Incorporating this is key.


Great work is a necessity; capable adults do work they’re proud of. There’s nowhere to hide from bad work ethic.

There’s wisdom in the disharmony of these attributes, Gabe says. Although they’re deliberately designed to interact with one another, these attributes don’t always sync perfectly.

This requires wisdom from employees.

Sustaining Culture

Gabe learned from past experiences.

He tells us the key components that would sustain this culture even if he walked away:

There has to be across-the-board executive buy in.

“You see cultures that are locked in the 1980’s despite having great people,” Gabe says.

He’s seen situations where innovative people come to him or others frustrated because executives are unchanging.

You need a very clear sense of why you company needs to exist.

What greater good are you doing in the world?

While a paycheck may meet basic needs, in order to tap into what motivates people to give you their very best creativity they must feel that their work matters.

The way you create purpose in their minds is to give them the reason the company needs to exist.

Listen to What Culture Could Be, a Kazoo podcast

Implement the changes.

It’s very important to know that this isn’t done all at once. Moreover, trying things that don’t work too often or over experimentation creates doubt. Gabe tries to avoid implementing too many things at one time.

Create onboarding programs.

Gabe sits down with each new hire to talk to them over a cup of coffee about the company’s history and why it’s important. He also gets to know them.

They’ve also tried to create programs where employees can have an active voice in things like hiring and benevolence. It can’t all be about the CEO. It works so much better when employees raise their hand and say this is a problem they’re going to solve.

Throughout all of this, Gabe continually stresses the value of communicating directly with employees.

“I noticed the closer I was with somebody, the better they thought I was at my job,” Chris observes, “And the less I knew them, the worse they thought I did.”

People are more likely to fill in gaps with someone they don’t know because humans have a natural propensity to protect themselves.

Gabe tries to have a “lean into style” where he spends as much time as as possible explaining why he made certain decisions.

In the end, you’re in charge and you must make the difficult calls. However, the manner in which you do this not only instills faith or doubt in your employees, but certainly informs the culture you’re attempting to create.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Gabe Krajicek from Kasasa. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to What Culture Could Be: Cracking the Company Culture Code.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can find other listening options here.