The latest episode of What Culture Could Be – a podcast by Autumn Manning – is brought to you by Kazoo.

Have you ever wondered how companies build and sustain their culture as they grow? In the latest episode of her podcast What Culture Could Be, Autumn Manning, co-founder of Kazoo, sat down with Mark McClain CEO and founder of SailPoint Technologies to discuss How to Build a Great Culture From Scratch.

In this episode, McClain shares his perspective on “where to start when creating a culture, how to keep it on the rails and thriving when growth is coming at you fast, and why starting with values when things are broken is critical.”

Culture is Built on Core Values

McClain kicks off the podcast by describing the soul of a company’s culture: its core values.

Core values are more than just a thing to check on your list — they’re the fundamental beliefs of your organization and what your employees use to connect with your brand.

It’s easy to piece together core values you think will appeal to potential employees, but the hard part is implementing them into the day-to-day activities of your company. That’s why your core values need to resonate from the top down — starting with your CEO and ending with your newest hire.

Speaking of new hires, having core values helps you filter out the wrong people when you’re in the process of hiring for a new position. It also helps people understand who you are, what you believe in, and what’s expected from them if they join your company.

Your culture is ultimately built on a set of values.

Build Culture Now, Not Later

You should think about your company culture the same way you create your business plan — from the start and with the highest priority.

Most people assume that culture develops after a company has officially kicked off, but that can lead to the development of a weak culture.

Ask yourself these questions to ensure you’re building the right culture for your company.

  • “Who do we want to be?”
  • “What behaviors will drive our success?”
  • “What values will stand the test of time with our customers?”

By defining your company culture from the get-go, you can make sure your company is on the same page when it comes to your values, what your brand looks like, and who your ideal employee is.


Fixing a Broken Culture

A broken company culture is not the demise of your company, but having one and not doing anything to change it can be.

The first step to taking control of your company culture is to own when things are bad — then focus on where the problems are starting.

Are people leaving because of bad managers? Or are employees unhappy with the lack of opportunities for growth?

Once you address the issue, you’ll need to investigate the cause of it, then develop a strategy to fix the problem. But this issue isn’t for HR to fix — it’s one for the CEO (with support from leadership and HR).

Want to listen in? You can check out this podcast and more on Autumn’s site.

We recently published a series of blog posts regarding inclusivity in the workplace, and we wanted to broaden the conversation to include people who practice different faiths. The purpose of these articles is to bring awareness to specific holidays or traditions that aren’t widely covered in the U.S. – and to give you tips to make your workplace more inclusive to employees who celebrate them.

Today’s focus is on Muslims at work, and more specifically Ramadan in the workplace.

Don’t know what Ramadan is, but want to learn more to be mindful about what your Muslim colleagues might be experiencing this month? You’re in the right place.


What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and it’s the holiest time of the year for Muslims. This year Ramadan starts on the evening of May 5 and ends on the evening of June 4. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown for thirty days, with a typical fast lasting 11-16 hours, depending on where you live. Fasting means no food or drink as long as the sun is up – and, yes, that includes water, too.


Screenshot of a tweet about not drinking water during Ramadan


Jokes aside – Ramadan is about a lot more than not eating or drinking. It’s a time for Muslims to reassess their spirituality, reflect on their blessings, and work on becoming better versions of themselves. As the saying goes, “Ramadan is a time to starve the stomach to feed the soul.”

But it’s hard to get into that spiritual zone without some hiccups.

Imagine waking up to eat before the sun rises (this meal is called suhoor or sehri, by the way!), then going to work at a 9-to-5 with no pick-me-ups between meetings, like coffee or a delicious snack.


Screenshot of a tweet about drinking morning coffee during Ramadan


On top of that, you’re juggling other priorities outside of the office, like giving your kids your undivided attention or taking your car in for a much-needed oil change. Many Muslims also attend late night prayers during Ramadan called Taraweeh that can last until midnight.

It’s no wonder that a lot of Muslims who fast during Ramadan can struggle with:

  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches (or worse, migraines)


Here’s the thing, though. Your coworkers don’t want you to pity them, but they do want you to understand where they’re coming from.

Ramadan may sound taxing, but it’s an auspicious occasion for Muslims that they look forward to each year. There are certain things you can do to make the month more comfortable for your fasting employees that will keep them engaged, productive, and most importantly, happy.


Ways to Accommodate Your Muslim Employees During Ramadan


1. Let flex workers pick their schedules.

This tip is for the employees who don’t work a typical 9-to-5. Muslims set fasts in the morning (again, called suhoor or sehri) and they break them at sunset with a meal called iftar. Let your employees schedule their shifts around these meals.

This flexibility allows workers to choose times that are convenient for them and when they feel the most productive. Some people may prefer to work early in the morning, right after suhoor, and others might work better late at night after iftar.


2. Customize a work schedule for the 9-to-5 crew.

It can be tough to work eight hours straight on an empty stomach. Let your 9-to-5 workers create a custom schedule for Ramadan. Allow them to work from home, or come into work after suhoor then leave earlier. Why not let them work their lunch hour and go home early, too, since they won’t be using it? The goal is to negotiate a timetable that works for both parties.


(P.S. If possible, avoid scheduling lunch meetings when someone is fasting! It’s not considerate.)

Gif of Fawad Khan shaking his head no


3. Provide private prayer spaces.

Here’s a fun fact – did you know that Muslims pray five times a day (even outside of Ramadan)? These prayers are scheduled at specific intervals throughout the day and usually take no more than five to 10 minutes to complete.

Some of your employees might already have delegated prayer spaces, but some Muslims use Ramadan as a time to become more religious and may be bringing this conversation up for the first time.

Give your Muslim employees a safe (and private) space to pray. It can be as simple as letting them book a meeting room to themselves for 15 minutes, or letting them go to a local mosque for prayers.


4. Give them PTO.

Sometimes it can be difficult for employees to balance fasting and work, and that’s normal. Allow your employees to take a bit of time off to settle into their new routine, and understand that sick days are inevitable for some of them. (Working from home is a useful option, too!)

Muslims also celebrate Eid-al-Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan, and it’s the equivalent of Christmas for them. They spend the day eating and drinking with friends and family. Just like you wouldn’t want to work on Christmas, they won’t want to work on Eid either! As a heads up, the rest of the world celebrates Eid for up to three days. Some employees may only take a day or two off, though.



If this article prompts a lot of follow-up questions, remember that it’s ok to be curious if your purpose is to educate yourself. It’s also important to remember that fasting affects each person differently and that some days are easier than others. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees questions (with respect and reason) to better understand their situation. Most Muslims welcome the opportunity to share their beliefs to bust stereotypes or misconceptions about Islam.

FYI – this is one of many reasons why it’s crucial for managers to keep an open and consistent dialogue with their employees, and vice versa. This method of communication ensures that a company will meet their employees’ needs, as well as their own. It’s a win-win situation!




Age Discrimination in the Workplace

We recently spoke about discrimination against women in the workplace, but unfortunately, gender bias isn’t the only prejudice found in companies across the nation.

Ageism is becoming increasingly common in organizations, especially those in tech industries based in Silicon Valley, where the median age of an employee is 30. Tech industry workers also often see a decline in their salaries and the number of jobs available to them once they turn 45.

Let us repeat that. Forty-five.


Minion from Despicable Me saying what


But before we continue, let’s address what age discrimination is and how it can affect your company legally and culturally.


Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Age discrimination is the unfair treatment of someone older than 40 solely due to their age, and it’s illegal for companies to do under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This law applies to all parts of the employment process – including age discrimination in hiring, which is a hot topic due to recent ageism lawsuits against a few big-name corporations.

In April 2019, an age discrimination lawsuit filed against PwC earned class-action status in federal court. The plaintiffs in the case allege that PwC discriminated against older applicants by recruiting mainly on college campuses and school-affiliated job sites.

That’s a big deal.

Recruiting on college campuses has become a common practice for a lot of organizations. And while recruiting on college campuses isn’t illegal, it’s a form of ageism if open job listings are only accessible to the younger workforce – like millennials and Gen Z.


The outcome of this lawsuit has the potential to change the way companies, like yours, hire new talent moving forward.


But unfair hiring practices aren’t the only trending practice of ageism. Google and IBM also faced claims of age discrimination after a large number of older employees were laid-off from both companies in what some call an attempt to make their workforce younger.


How Age Discrimination Affects Company Culture

After looking at these cases, it’s understandable why some older employees have a constant fear of being fired. This uncertainty hinders the employee experience and impacts company culture negatively. Here’s how different types of age discrimination affect a company’s culture:

Age Discrimination in Hiring
As mentioned earlier, age bias is a massive problem in hiring. By excluding an entire generation of candidates, businesses are limiting their talent pool and diversity, too. Older employees have years of experience to share with their company, and they also tend to have a network they can leverage for business opportunities. It’s a good idea to be openminded in hiring and make sure you consider a person based on their qualifications and not their age.

Age Discrimination in Firing
Wrongful termination due to age is not only illegal, but it ruins company culture by spreading fear and uncertainty – which are the opposite of what you’d want your company culture to be. Fear and uncertainty also fuel an employee’s decision to leave a company. The cost of onboarding a new employee is much more expensive than retaining one. You can calculate the cost of employee turnover specific to your company using this employee turnover calculator.

Age Discrimination in Promotions
Older employees often get overlooked for promotions, even if they are the most qualified person for a leadership position. Promoting an inexperienced employee over someone who deserves it creates disengaged employees. What’s the point of working hard if someone less certified than you will get the job anyway? Disengaged employees are the last thing you want at your company because they are expensive to maintain. A Gallup report found that the U.S. loses an average of $450 billion to $500 billion a year due to disengaged employees.


How can you put older employees at ease? Here are some recommendations:


  • Be transparent with lay-offs and hiring practices. Nothing feeds fear more than unannounced firings or questionable new hires. Trust is the core of all great organizations, and your employees deserve open communication, with no penalties, to develop trust.
  • Avoid labeling employees the “mom” or “dad” of the office. This can be hard to enforce because it depends on a person’s personal preference. Some people may find work nicknames fun, but others may strongly dislike it. Use your better judgment on nicknames and listen to an employee if they ask you to stop calling them a certain term.
  • Represent an all-inclusive workforce. It’s fine to use a specific set of images for design purposes, but try to make them inclusive of all ages, genders, and racial groups. Details like this matter particularly when you’re hiring or promoting your brand.
  • Embrace continuous feedback. An “always on” feedback system ensures your employees have a voice in the company. It alerts your managers on any issues or suggestions employees have to improve company culture and helps drive employee-centric decisions.
  • Recognize your employees often. Constant recognition makes your employees feel valued. It also lets them know that the work they’re doing matters – and it fuels their sense of belonging in the company.
  • Use performance management software. Performance management software provides clarity for promotions and firings. It also helps employees understand where they stand with the company in terms of opportunities for advancement, or if they’re at risk of being let go.


Ready to Engage Your Entire Team?

Visit Kazoo’s resource library for more information on how to make work meaningful or schedule a demo to redesign your employee experience today!



Get excited! The 2019 WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference is coming up on May 6-8 in Orlando, FL.


And guess what? Kazoo will be there at Booth #317!


Cue the confetti dance.

Man throwing confetti and dancing


This year’s Total Rewards Conference is focused on:

  • Innovating how you reward and engage employees
  • Exploring fresh perspectives for forward-thinking concepts
  • Putting your organization at the forefront of all things total rewards

Whether you want to redefine recognition or get a new perspective on purpose-driven workplaces, our team is happy to hear your thoughts and offer ways to help at the conference.


Bonus: Get a free t-shirt for stopping by!


Conference attendees who talk to our team at Booth #317 will get one of our incredibly comfortable t-shirts (and a super cool sticker!) for free. Score!


Can’t wait to meet us?

You can schedule a demo of Kazoo to get a sneak peek before the big event, and we’ll follow-up with you in person at the conference.

We look forward to experiencing the event with you! (P.S. Did we mention we’ll be at Booth #317?)

About Kazoo

Kazoo is the only all-in-one people management solution in the market that takes recognition, engagement, and performance and delivers them in one powerful platform. Through its Recognition & Rewards, Performance Management, and Surveys offerings, Kazoo is an award-winning, employee-first solution that increases productivity, retention, and revenue, and enables companies to build a purpose-driven culture of high engagement and high performance. With over 500 global customers, the Kazoo platform puts actionable analytics in the hands of business leaders, connecting them to what really matters. Kazoo is when work is working.



Have you ever had an experience or moment that stuck with you, to this day? It could be anything from a magical trip to a Disney resort, or a surprise birthday party. Now, imagine if you could recreate a moment like this on the spot and instantly make your day better, particularly at work. “The Power of Moments” teaches you how to make these moments happen to make work more fun – and more meaningful.

What is “The Power of Moments”?

Written by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact explores the idea of why some experiences are more memorable than others, regardless of how positive or negative they are. It also offers a framework for creating more of these moments in our day-to-day lives, instead of waiting for them to occur naturally.

The book lists four elements that contribute to memorable experiences: elevation, insight, pride, and connection.

Chip explains the four elements as follows (via Forbes):

  • Moments of elevation lift us above the every day, inspiring emotions such as joy, delight, and a deep sense of engagement.
  • Moments of insight rewire our understanding of ourselves or our world. These are the epiphanies, realizations, and “aha!” moments.
  • Moments of pride capture us at our best, achieving things we weren’t sure were possible or being recognized by other people for our work or our talents.
  • Moments of connection deepen our ties to other people, sometimes in personal relationships and sometimes in groups that bond by virtue of struggling together toward a common goal.

How Your Company Makes Work Fun with Kazoo

1. Befriend Your Co-workers with Customized Behavior Bonuses We all have co-workers we don’t know well because we work in different departments. They’re the people you awkwardly nod at in the break room when you go in for your third cup of coffee. Wouldn’t it be nice to branch out of your department and get to know them?

A Behavior Bonus encourages you to do just that. A Behavior Bonus is an action your company chooses to incentivize with points on the Kazoo platform. Companies can award a different number of points to each Behavior Bonus depending on how impactful they determine it is.

For example, one of our Behavior Bonuses at Kazoo is to go to lunch with someone from another department, in exchange for five points. You can also earn more points if you both walk to lunch!

Behavior Bonuses help your company create moments of connection that reflect your core values, like teamwork, in a tangible way. Companies that have multiple offices, or are physically fragmented, use Behavior Bonuses to help unify their teams into one organization. It’s an easy way for your company to enhance company culture because Behavior Bonuses are specific to your employees and what they value.

Shadow a Coworker Behavior Bonus


2. Offer Meaningful Rewards Rewards are a terrific way to boost employee morale because people look forward to them. And sometimes an experience-based reward can mean a lot more to an employee than an Amazon gift card (though we like Amazon gift cards, too).

That’s why we make it easy to customize your rewards on our platform. Experience-based rewards elevate an average day by creating joy at work. At our Kazoo office in Austin, for instance, our Account Manager Team Lead, Stuart, will clean a co-worker’s desk for only 500 points (he’s a neat freak, FYI).

Plus, it feels good to be a part of an inside joke at work. It makes people feel special and included, which creates a moment of connection between co-workers.

Coffee from the Boss Reward Elizabeth Returns a Package


3. Surprise a Co-worker with a “Point Bomb” For times when a basic recognition post isn’t enough, that’s where a “point bomb” comes in. A point bomb is a term we coined here at Kazoo, and it’s when we get a group of people to send one person recognition, but at the same time.

It’s like 20 people getting together and throwing a lot of joyful confetti on someone who deserves it, but with points. (Confetti is always fun!)


A point bomb highlights a moment of pride – you’re taking the time to recognize someone and make them feel special.


4. Use our Insights Feature for an “Aha!” Moment What better way to strike a moment of insight than with our Insights feature? Kazoo offers analytics on numerous factors, from the total number of recognitions sent in your company to the top core values being rewarded. This data can help you learn how to create a more positive experience at work for employees, by analyzing what gets them engaged and what doesn’t. Who says data can’t be fun?

We also offer an added survey feature for organizations who want to give their employees more of a voice in the company.


Are you Ready to Have Fun at Work?

These are just a few examples of how Kazoo can make any workday special. Are you ready to learn more about the Kazoo experience? Fill out a demo request today to get started!

The gender pay gap has garnered a lot of discussion in the past few years due to the shocking statistics behind it and the recent monumental women’s movements such as #MeToo.

Women are still heavily disadvantaged in the workplace despite strides to close the gap. And it gets worse with time. The disproportion between experience and pay increases for most women as they move further in their careers.

That’s why the National Committee on Pay Equity, a coalition of women’s and civil rights organizations, created Equal Pay Day in 1996 to bring awareness to the issue in the U.S.

But what should companies, like yours, be taking away from the Equal Pay Day conversation?

First, it’s important to understand what the day symbolizes and how it affects women differently in your company.

Equal Pay Day lands on a different date each year to represent how many more days, on average, American women would have to work to earn what their male counterparts made the previous year. This year it landed on April 2, which means women would have to work at least an additional 92 days in 2019 to earn what their male coworkers made in 2018.

A woman leads a meeting by presenting on a whiteboard

An Overview of the Wage Gap

Did you know that almost 97 percent of professions have a gender pay gap?

Even women who work full-time in lower-paying occupations earn roughly 85 percent of what their male coworkers make.

And the disparity is harsher for women of color. Native American, Asian, Black, and Hispanic women will have their Equal Pay Day even later in the year — some not until November. Out of all minority groups, Asian women have the hardest time breaking into leadership positions.


What Closing the Pay Gap Could Mean for the Economy

Studies have found that closing the pay gap could decrease global poverty, increasing women’s earning by $2 trillion overall. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported in 2017 that paying men and women the same could also cut the poverty rate of working women in half.

But it’s estimated that the pay gap won’t be closed for another 50 years.


So, How Can Your Company Help Combat Wage Inequality?

  1. Give your employees better benefits
    Work-life balance tends to affect women in the workplace more than men. That’s why the right kind of benefits are important to women at work because it helps them work without interruptions.

    Here are a few perks you can offer your employees to help them with their
    work-life balance:
    – Unlimited paid-time-off (including holidays and sick days)
    – Flexible work-from-home
    – Paid maternity and paternity leave
    – Onsite daycare services
    – Career development opportunities
  2. Start a mentorship program for women in your company
    Women’s mentorship programs pair younger females to experienced women leaders in your company. Women who are further in their fields typically have valuable advice to offer about common workplace problems that women face. These mentorship programs are intended to help women entering the workforce navigate challenging struggles in their careers, including the gender pay gap, work-life balance, sexism, and harassment.
  3. Recognize women in your company frequently
    Women often go unrecognized in the workplace and it’s one of the easiest places to make a difference. Using the Kazoo platform, your company can empower and recognize women often for their achievements and track their success with our performance management feature. Women can track their goals and ask for feedback in real-time, which can later help them negotiate a raise or ask for a promotion.
  4. Check yourselves
    The best thing your company can do to close the pay gap is to recognize if you’re contributing to the problem. Start by drafting an audit on the current layout of your company. Include a list of your employees’ job titles, experience, compensation, and gender. Do you notice a difference between salaries that shouldn’t be there? If yes, you should work with your HR department to address the matter.


While these are just a few examples of how your company can approach the Equal Pay Day discussion, there are many other ways to start an internal dialogue on the topic. The most important thing you can do to help is to give women in your company a voice to contribute to those conversations.