While it may not seem like it on the surface, the ability to effectively give and receive feedback is the most important soft skill to have today.

Why is feedback a career gamechanger?

Having the ability to give and receive feedback – and do both well – means that you’re coachable as an employee and able to coach as a manager. In today’s modern workplace where a feedback culture reigns supreme, this can mean the difference between success and failure.

Let’s examine the value of feedback, and its ability to make or break a career, from both the employee and the manager’s perspectives.


Receiving Feedback

A productive approach to feedback means being open to receiving it and adjusting your behavior accordingly. This includes both negative and positive feedback, as well as the many different types of feedback.

Negative feedback delivered in a constructive way is incredibly valuable to employees at all levels. It creates awareness around the actions and behaviors that are negatively impacting those around them and, in turn, an employee’s career. Those who use negative feedback as an opportunity to shift their behavior can speed up their path to promotion.

But it’s not just negative feedback that helps employees grow. Positive feedback can be equally beneficial. It can help employees identify the behaviors that make them stand out from their peers in a good way. After all, it’s just as important to understand what you’re doing right alongside what you might be doing wrong.

In addition to embracing positive and negative feedback, employees should also take advantage of the numerous ways to receive it. These can include:

  • Coaching which managers do during check-ins and 1:1s, offering in-the-moment constructive criticism, encouragement, and praise.
  • Mentoring where individuals can seek advice and direction on their career goals and aspirations.
  • 360 feedback which allows employees to identify what others see as their strengths and weaknesses and collectively see trends.
  • Anonymous feedback a safe, non-threatening way to hear from others in sensitive situations.
  • Project retrospectives for instant feedback after a major project ends, so employees can apply any lessons learned immediately.
  • Peer-to-peer feedback offers employees the chance to see themselves through their co-workers’ eyes and evaluate themselves as a teammate to others in the organization.

Feedback comes in all forms. No matter where you are in your career, whether it’s your first job or you’re an experienced executive, there is always room to grow and opportunities to improve.


Giving Feedback

Whether you have any direct reports or not, every employee has valuable feedback to give to others in their organization (and plenty of opportunities to do so, based on all the ways listed above). But how exactly does giving great feedback help you succeed?

If you are a manager, you are evaluated on your ability to lead a team. Being good at giving feedback:

  • Makes your employees better, which reflects your own abilities as a manager
  • Increases your team’s potential and value to the organization
  • Highlights your skills as an effective coach

If you are an individual contributor without direct reports, your performance evaluation is based on your own achievements. Being good at giving feedback:

  • Demonstrates to your manager that you have leadership potential
  • Makes you a better peer and collaborator
  • Increases your value to the organization


Quick Tips

To better receive feedback:

  • Maintain a positive mindset where you can appreciate someone else’s perspective for what it is – a way to help you see how others see you.
  • Ask for specific ways to change or adjust your behavior. It’ll help you get even more out of the feedback.
  • Set goals for yourself to put the feedback into action. For example, if a manager encourages you to work on your relationships with clients, set a goal to schedule coffee or lunch with a new client each month.

To properly give feedback:

  • Come prepared. Think through how you plan to deliver the feedback to ensure you’re specific and constructive.
  • Be solution-minded. Telling someone what they do wrong without sharing what they can do to improve can be a waste of everyone’s time – and leave the receiver of the feedback feeling down and unmotivated.
  • Find the positive in the negative. The “sandwich” technique is a popular feedback method, where the giver of the feedback starts and ends with compliments and praise and uses the middle of the conversation to deliver constructive criticism.



Let Your Employees Give and Receive Feedback


In today’s workforce, recognizing employees isn’t just part of good company culture – it’s a critical component of retention, productivity, and employee engagement.

Sound like fluff? Consider the fact that Gallup’s analysis shows employee recognition is one of the simplest ways to attract and retain top performers. Which begs the question, why aren’t companies doing it more?

Whether it’s a pat on the back, a personal note, or a public-facing announcement, giving recognition for behaviors that matter is easier than you think and benefits everyone involved.

And because managers in today’s workplace are either busy or not aware of employee behaviors they could quickly call out, Kazoo has created a list of 50 common behaviors anyone can easily recognize and reward.


50 Employee Behaviors to Recognize and Reward

Key Performance Indicators

  • Sales accomplishments and performance
  • Reach a department, team, or personal goal
  • Complete a project under deadline or budget
  • Perfect safety record
  • Perfect attendance or a certain % attendance goal

Rewarding employees for hitting KPIs is a fun and effective way to motivate them to stay-on-top of their goals! Engaged employees are also 17 percent more productive and have 41 percent lower absenteeism than disengaged employees, according to Gallup’s State of the Workplace.  

Learning and Development

  • Attend a training session
  • Get a specific score on an exam
  • Attend a lunch and learn
  • Shadow a coworker in another role
  • Go back to school for a degree or industry-specific certification
  • Learn a new language
  • Serve as a mentor to others

The best employees are always learning – what better way to encourage growth than by incentivizing learning and development opportunities?


  • Employee referral and hire for job vacancy
  • New customer referral
  • Receive a positive customer review
  • Share a great idea for new product or service
  • Recommend a new process to boost efficiencies

The most credible recommendations come from the people you know. Utilizing recommendations as a Behavior Bonus turns your employees into champions for your company.

Workplace Etiquette 

  • Brew the morning coffee
  • Take out recycling or trash
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Run dishwasher
  • Restock the coffee
  • Clean the break room
  • Bring a plant to work
  • Bring in donuts

We spend a lot of our time at work, which is why it’s essential to treat our workspace with respect. This Behavior Bonus is brimming with good karma (and points)!

Health & Wellness Related

  • Walk to lunch
  • Run a 5k with a coworker
  • Work out at the gym 4x in a month
  • Quit smoking
  • Get annual physical
  • Get dental checkup
  • Attend an exercise class
  • Teach office yoga

Studies show that employee health, well-being, and engagement are increasingly interrelated. Plus, a healthy workforce is happier, more productive, and takes fewer sick days.

Be the Brand

  • Share the company’s social media via personal accounts
  • Train a new hire
  • Attend meetings prepared and on time
  • Live out company core values
  • Show a new coworker around
  • Help someone out

Your branding is in more than just Facebook Ads or a snappy website design – it’s in your people. Treat your employees to points each time they advocate for your brand.

Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Volunteer on the weekend
  • Volunteer with a coworker
  • Donate blood
  • Donate to a charity
  • Participate in a fundraiser
  • Start a philanthropic effort
  • Organize an Earth-friendly activity

Many people already volunteer outside of work – why not reward them for being a good humanitarian? (There’s no shortage of kind-hearted people in the world!)


  • Reach company milestones
  • Years of service anniversary
  • Employee birthdays

Go shawty it’s your birthday! Or your anniversary or some other super awesome thing you did that deserves to be rewarded with points – and a lot of confetti. 🥳

(Note: The Kazoo platform can be set up to award these automatically!)



Recognition Starts at the Top

At Kazoo, we’ve seen firsthand how an employee experience platform can benefit managers while creating an overall culture of appreciation. Give your managers these tips to ensure you see effective employee recognition across the company.


Tip: Remember that effective recognition helps managers directly.

A third-party ROI study of companies using Kazoo for employee recognition found:

  1. Teams using Kazoo see a 10 percent increase in project delivery
  2. Managers see a time savings of 5 hours a month with employee recognition and performance evaluation
  3. 100 percent of teams studied see employee engagement increase


Tip: Keep these employee guidelines in mind.

When sending a piece of recognition, use these guidelines to make it simple yet effective:

Make it specific: What did they do, and how was it impactful?

Make it timely: The sooner, the better!

Make it personalized: Tag or mention the skills and core values exhibited.

Make it consistent: Over time, consistent recognition creates a culture of recognition.


Example: Creating effective recognition for day-to-day work:



Are you ready to increase employee engagement, amplify company culture, and improve bottom-line results with Kazoo?



Employee morale. Wikipedia defines it as job satisfaction or a feeling of well-being in the workplace. But morale offers more than just happiness. Research shows a clear link between employees’ morale and better job performance. Companies that use employee morale boosters see a benefit to their bottom line.

The opposite is also true. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees (i.e. low morale) cost the U.S. $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. In your company, that cost may take the form of absenteeism, lower productivity, and higher turnover costs.

The good news? Raising employee salaries isn’t the only, or even the best, approach for improving employee morale. There are more effective ways to improve employee motivation. Glassdoor reviewed their wealth of real-world labor data to find that culture and values, leadership, and job opportunity influence employee morale more than salary and benefits.

Here are seven employee morale boosters that cost you nothing.


1. Public Recognition Appreciation matters. According to a Glassdoor appreciation survey, 53 percent of employees stay at their jobs longer if they get appreciation from their boss. And 76 percent of employees in a Psychology Today study identified peer praise as extremely motivating.

Private recognition is great – but public recognition is one of the best ways to improve employee motivation. Not only does it tell a single employee or team what they’re doing well – but it creates positive peer pressure to boost other people’s motivation to do the right thing.

So, tell everyone when your employees are doing a great job. And encourage peers to do the same. Call out star performers or teams at staff meetings. Showing employees that you notice and appreciate their hard work transforms employee morale.


2. Let Your Employees Have an Impact Employee morale goes up when employees feel like they have an impact on the direction and success of their company. When you listen to and implement employees’ suggestions, you put in place changes that directly impact your bottom line. Oftentimes employees have the best sense of what changes help their jobs (and your company) flow more smoothly. And putting employee ideas in place serves as a great morale booster.

For example, one Amoco plant in Texas put in place a suggestion plan that saved the company over 18 million dollars in only two years. The company publicly recognized employees with winning ideas in front of the entire company (including executive management) and rewarded them with tangible awards and travel.

In the 1990s, Black and Decker introduced their “Everyone Counts” program – designed to get employees involved in decision making. In the first weeks, more than 85 percent of their employees volunteered. They were divided into 39 teams who were asked to come up with five good ideas every 12 weeks. Employees submitted more than 200 ideas, of which 59 were approved. One employee-driven idea to substitute new material in one of its product lines saved the company $700,000.


3. Encourage Continued Learning According to the Economist, the rate of technological change pushes lifelong learning from a nice-to-have to an economic imperative. On-the-job requirements change faster than they ever have before. From a business standpoint, helping employees master new skills ensures that your employees can continue to have an impact and that you have people in place to meet your company’s emerging needs.

It’s also one of the best ways to improve employee motivation. Forbes identifies continuous learning as one of the fastest paths to engagement. Giving your employees the ability to either learn more about their own job – or to attend meetings to learn from other departments – goes a long way to boost employees’ morale.


4. Show Employees that They’re Valued Sending a message that your company clearly values profits over people dampens employee morale faster than almost anything else. According to Inc., the people who stay with a company that prioritizes profits over its staff are likely to be under-performers. It’s not that profit or growth aren’t important, but keeping the people who make profit and growth happen ensures that your company will move forward. So, show them that you value them. Acknowledgment from an executive, a simple conversation at the coffee pot, or celebrating their birthdays are all good ways to start.

Take a tour of our platform to see how you can embed appreciation into your culture.


5. Make Rewards Meaningful When it comes to rewarding a job well done, many executives revert to giving their employees small cash bonuses. But once an employee earns a certain wage or salary, cash isn’t much of a morale booster. Once your employee spends the bonus, it’s gone. In order to get the same impact on employee morale, you might need to keep increasing the bonuses over time.

Instead, give employees the rewards that matter to them: experiences. Research shows that experiences build long term happiness more than money or things.

In our own office, for example, employees pick their rewards. One of the most popular rewards requires employees to pool points to get a keg of cold-brew coffee. I’m sure that we would still like the cold brew if the company just provided it, without any effort on our part. But somehow, each cup seems a little more special because we had to work together to get it; the experience of cooperation has value in its own right.


6. Communicate your Values Employees want to know that their work has meaning. Letting them know – on a regular basis – your company’s core values helps them connect their work to the overall company success. A 2015 SHRM Study showed that companies that tie recognition to corporate values kept employees around longer. 68 percent of respondents that used recognition tied to corporate values had better retention rates.

On top of that, millennial employees (who are soon to be half of the working population) care about their company’s values and ethics.

In her open letter to employers, Lisa Earle McLeod captures what seems to be a global sentiment among millennials:

“I was raised to believe I could change the world. I’m desperate for you to show me that the work we do here matters, even just a little bit.”


7. Make Employee Morale Activities Genuine Employees recognize inauthentic behavior. So, whichever morale boosters you choose to implement, genuine interest and concern for your employees need to be expressed. Forced office socials and cheap thoughtless gifts will be recognized as such, and you risk causing damage rather than the goodwill for which they were intended. We recommend that you focus on the four pillars of comprehensive employee experience (connection, appreciation, meaning, and impact) to authentically and sustainably boost employee morale.



Employee Disengagement

Disengaged employees have needs that are being neglected. As soon as they begin lacking motivation and become detached from their daily work, their productivity plummets. Many employers then think the best solution is to increase salaries, benefits, and perks.

Those tactics might work for a while, but in the long run, those solutions are doomed. Managers then become desperate and hire an outside consulting firm to come in and issue an employee engagement survey to the entire staff. They might then discuss various employee engagement best practices, staff retention strategies or employee recognition ideas.

But employee engagement programs and workshops won’t work if five key drivers are missing. As a leader in your organization you want to focus on the five key drivers of employee engagement to ensure that your staff feels they are:


  • Connected: building relationships with others
  • Contributing: doing something meaningful
  • Free: have a sense of choice and autonomy
  • Growing: developing personally and professionally
  • Having Fun: really enjoying their time at work


1. Connection Companies with employees who have strong personal ties to each other have far higher employee engagement rates than those who are lacking. To connect with your employees, create greater trust and loyalty by being more authentic. Great leaders connect deeply with their employees by paying attention to what’s important to them.

Carve out some time each week to grab lunch or a coffee with your key team members to get to know them personally. Finally, let them know that you and the company care for them. As their need to belong is met, they will give more of themselves.


2. Contribution We all want to be doing something significant with our lives and have those efforts recognized. Studies show employees are happiest when they know they are making a difference and helping others. Often their contribution goes unnoticed. Metrics for measuring an employee’s contribution should shift from measuring their individual performance to measuring their team’s performance.

To help your direct reports feel they are contributing something meaningful, share a client story that shows them the difference they’ve made in someone’s life. And don’t forget to recognize and publicly celebrate their accomplishments whenever you can.


3. Freedom Employees are far more loyal and productive in workplace environments that respect their freedom and encourage their self-expression. To ensure your staff feels a sense of autonomy, remind them that everything they do is a choice. Choice is power, and when your employees believe they have a choice they will become more engaged in the process. Decentralize whatever authority you can to give your workers more decision-making power. This will empower them and make your company much more efficient.


4. Growth If your staff feels they are not making progress in their own personal development they will soon become disconnected and seek opportunities elsewhere. Ensure that each employee is constantly challenged so that they can grow. The greater a person’s belief in their own power to influence an outcome, the more likely they are to succeed with a new challenge.

To help your employees grow, try building confidence. For example, if an employee thinks they aren’t experienced enough to manage a project you can remind them of their unique strengths and capabilities. Or have inexperienced employees watch other colleagues with similar skills perform more advanced tasks. Seeing others with similar abilities succeed at a task will help them develop positive, “can-do” beliefs.

Recognition and positive feedback are key to helping your employees feel more competent, motivated and open to growth. Negative feedback can devastate those with low self-esteem.

Finally, optimize the environment. Create a vibrant, energetic, stress-free workplace that encourages your employees to get the food, exercise, rest and water their bodies need so they can perform at their best.


5. Fun If work isn’t fun, your employees will eventually burn out. Companies like Apple and Google have taken the lead into turning their organizations into workplaces that encourage freedom and fun. Making your workplace fun will raise your employees’ morale and energy and is the key to stimulating their creativity and innovation. It will also help decrease stress and turnover, as well as strengthen the relationships of all of your employees.

Make your workplace a lot more fun by gathering your team together for a 30-minute brainstorming session, then voting and Implementing 3-4 fun new ideas.



The most successful leaders in the world unleash the energy and creative power of their employees not by mastering employee engagement best practices, staff retention strategies or employee recognition ideas, but by honoring those five key drivers. They know that what really motivates and engages their employees – once their basic financial needs have been met – is their desire to grow and develop as human beings, connect and collaborate with others, and contribute something to a worthy cause- all while having fun.

About the Author

Ascanio Pignatelli
Ascanio Pignatelli is an award-winning speaker, seminar leader, coach, and author of the forthcoming book Lead from Need, Raising Employee Engagement from the Core. He is the founder of ApexCEO, an employee engagement and leadership development group that helps C-level executives develop the leadership and communication skills to create more engaging workplaces.



Most people would agree that receiving extra money is a good incentive to work harder and stay motivated on the job. Maybe you offer an annual bonus but are looking for ways to reward employees for the rest of the year to keep them motivated. There are also people, however, who prefer to be recognized in a different way. The difference is employees want to be recognized, not rewarded.

Recent studies by the Incentive Research Foundation Resource Center suggests that non-cash rewards/awards are a very important component of recognition and are, in many cases, preferred over cash rewards.

There are plenty of ways to go about employee recognition without spending money. Whether you keep it simple or get creative with how you recognize those who do a good job, it’s important to be consistent.

The following is a list of ideas on how to recognize employees using non-monetary rewards:


1. Verbally Praise Employees It costs nothing but goes a long way with employees to hear how well they are doing. Practice boosting morale with words of encouragement and by catching people doing things right. Employees are used to hearing when things go wrong, but how often do you praise them for getting the job done right or meeting your expectations? Make it a daily practice to offer praise and help people feel valued.


2. Handwritten Notes go a Long Way Surprise your employee by placing a handwritten note card, sticky note, or stock thank you card on their keyboard.


3. Use Brag Boards Mention the employee’s good work on a brag board. Don’t place the board in the kitchen. Put it right as employees walk in for everyone to see. Get sparkly and add gold and silver stars to measure success. They like public recognition so everyone knows what a good job they are doing.


4. Print Certificates of Achievement Microsoft Office has a ton of certificate options that are free to download. You can create them as a yearly award. Many employees will know to expect them and will work harder to achieve their goals to get another certificate. This is a keepsake that employees can frame at their desk, office or cubicle and can hold onto for life.


5. Get Pot Lucky Provide a company luncheon to show your gratitude. Have each employee sign up to bring in a dish. It’s not even so much the food, as the camaraderie people experience at a work luncheon that makes it a hit. Socializing with management makes them feel like a valued part of the team.


6. Trust them to do Their Job For some people, the only reward they need is to feel valued and appreciated. You can show them your appreciation by allowing them some flexibility and giving them added responsibilities that you know they can handle.


7. Provide Clear and Regular Communication Be fair, objective and transparent. This can mean upper management visiting the sales team or the shop floor, for example. Be there to set clear expectations and let them know when they have met your expectations.


8. Send Ecards Thank an employee for going above and beyond with a social media post, or join an online service to offer employees unique recognition rewards.


9. Brown Bag a Picnic Take your employees out for the afternoon. Have them bring in their lunch, do business in the morning and at lunchtime, head to the nearest park. Assign someone to bring the grill, the horseshoes, and have fun.


10. Use Online Rewards Let your employees be your Facebook fans of the week and toot their horn on your page. This way, they can share their success with family and friends. Tweet the praise.


11. Make it Company News Acknowledge their efforts in your company newsletter and let it be a note from the CEO instead of the manager.


12. Lunch from the President/CEO Have the “powers that be” bring in their lunch as a nice surprise. It can be a home-cooked meal. Clear the conference room just for the achievers and have the President deliver the praise, lunch, and sit down with them to get to know more about them. All business aside! Just the thought would make them feel so appreciated.


13. Be Flexible Allow performing employees an opportunity to be more flexible with their time in order to meet family demands. Create summer hours with shorter in-office work days. Rearrange working times to an extra hour the first part of the week in exchange for lesser hours the latter of the week.


Who doesn’t like a pat on the back now and then? It doesn’t take a lot of money to show employees how much you appreciate their hard work. Use one or more of these ideas with your employees to foster a strong sense of trust and trust. These traits go a long way in satisfying employees and retaining them long-term. It doesn’t take a lot of money to run an employee recognition program. Little gestures and thank you’s are appreciated as long as they are sincere.


About the Author

Shenomenon is a company that builds brands through writing, content, and marketing while providing essential training and services that help you grow.



As any successful business owner will tell you, employees are the lifeblood of a company.

When they’re disgruntled or apathetic, they clog the arteries of your operations. But keep your employees happy and engaged, and they’ll help your business flow smoothly. The good news: The heart of employee appreciation is easy and inexpensive to roll out, yet impacts revenue, retention, and absenteeism in droves.

Ready for it? It’s simple appreciation.

Engaged, appreciated employees bring productivity to day-to-day operations and are more likely to stay with you longer and show up with their mind ready to work. Yet most office environments inspire more apathy than engagement. A high-stress environment, lack of regular feedback, and generally feeling purposeless can lead to employee burnout. Most engagement programs miss the mark because they aren’t targeting the things employees care most about.

In this case, recognition for their hard work.

So, to help you get the ball rolling as you reimagine your employee engagement strategy, we’ve put together a list of 26 employee apprecition programs that you can put in place for almost no cost (or if you’re ready, see how Kazoo can help you have best-in-class staff appreciation every day.)


Staff Appreciation Ideas

Here are 26 staff appreciation and employee recognition ideas that you can roll out with very little cost.

1. Time to Brag. Arrange for a team to show their work to upper management (or even the whole company!) Employees feel more engaged when they feel that their ideas and efforts are having an impact.

2. Employees’ Choice. Let your employees create their own awards program and vote on the winners. Create a “hardest working” award. Or best mentor. Just keep it from being a popularity contest –write out and publicly explain exactly what a certain employee did to get the award.

3. Use a Staff Appreciation Program.
Like a frequent flier program, Staff Appreciation Programs can award points for teamwork, showing company values, or any other behavior that you think is important. Employees can turn in points for experiences, time off (like leaving a half hour early one day) or even a small gift care. Putting that kind of program in place can energize your whole office.

4. Let Your Employees Pay It Forward. Sometimes employees get more out of giving budget-conscious appreciation than out of getting it. Direct some of your staff appreciation budget to small peer-to-peer recognition awards to get the most bang for your buck.

5. Surprise Appreciation Celebrations. With something as simple as a batch of chocolate chip cookies, spontaneous Nerf gun battle, or some great music blasting through the office, the employees you recognize will jump for joy (at least internally!) that their work was noticed and appreciated.

6. Reward the Whole Team. Studies show that rewarding an entire team builds everyone’s performance. So even if you have a top performer, make sure your staff appreciation is tied to the team’s goals.

7. Make it About More Than Work. Publicly acknowledge employees’ personal accomplishments. Did Cara’s organic garden get a bumper year? Did Emily have a personal best in the half-marathon? Or did Tim win a dance contest? Even if it’s just pointing them out in a staff meeting, your employees will appreciate your recognition of their personal accomplishments.

8. Gossip Can be Good. We don’t want employees dishing dirt on each other – but encourage positive gossip. If you catch a positive remark about a coworker, tell them as soon as possible. It can be a text or email if it isn’t live. And make it public — copying their manager or teammates gives the comment much more impact.

9. Spread the Success. Ask successful teams and employees to be “office consultants” – sharing their skills and knowledge with others.

10. Publish the Praise. Think about putting an employee highlights column on your company intranet or employee newsletter. Ask employees to submit examples for their peers.

11. Choose Your Own Assignment. If you can allow employees to choose their work, they will be more engaged and dedicated. (Everyone loves to have choices, right?)

12. Thank You Calls. Ask supervisors to bring employees into their office for a thank you. Most employees hear from their supervisors when something’s wrong. So, they will be especially pleased to receive honest, positive feedback.

13. Suggestion Box on Steroids. That good old’ suggestion box? It’s a great start – but you can take it further with company-wide surveys. Employees want to have impact. So, show them that their opinions and ideas are taken seriously – and you’ll see a boost in engagement.

14. Invest in Employees’ Professional Development. Even if you can’t pay for classes – you can still support your employees’ professional development. Free online courses, mentorship from executives, and giving them the chance to lead an office initiative all encourage their growth. Your employees will appreciate your interest and guidance.

15. Celebration Calendar. Posted on the wall or sent out online, it pays to mark important dates. Celebrate employees’ birthdays and employment anniversaries.

16. Make Lunch Count. Give employees an extra-long lunch break on occasion. Or other time off to manage their personal lives.

17. Show Your Employees They Matter. Take time to get to know all the employees in your organization. Listen actively and carefully to their thoughts. Use their first name. Even non-verbal recognition– like an honest smile or a handshake – can show employees they matter.

18. Build Connections Between Staff and Upper Management.
With or without day-to-day interaction, employees like to feel that they know upper management. Think about using a new employee lunch with the CEO to build connections across your organization’s hierarchy.

19. Recognize Long Hours. Think about sending a note to your employees’ home addresses to show them that you understand how much home-time the employee sacrificed to complete a critical project.

20. Meeting Madness. Even though we all spend a lot of time in meetings – make it a little more fun. Ask an employee to join a “special meeting” outside their group.

21. Use Thoughtful Praise. For employee recognition – the thought often counts more than the money. If an employee loves hiking, for example, maybe you’ll write your thanks on a guide to local trails. Or you can Photoshop a million-dollar bill with the employee’s face on it, as a way of saying, “Thanks a Million.”

22. Put Yourself Out There. While it may be easy to hand off recognition of birthdays or workplace anniversaries to an assistant, generic recognition can fall flat. Even if you automate and standardize employee recognition of key events, make sure that recognition has a personal touch.

23. Let Your Employees Take the Lead. When you’re planning on retreats, meetings, and other “fun” time, get your employees’ ideas. Including employees in planning company events can feel like a reward in and of itself (plus – they’ll look forward more to the next one!) It doesn’t have to be complex. You can go the full yard by collecting feedback from every employee, or just ask a dedicated employee to volunteer to help plan an event.

24. Make It Formal: Write a Letter. Here’s a simple, free, influential method for recognizing your employees: personal letters. Write a letter explaining in detail why a particular employee deserves praise. Deliver a copy to the employee and their manager(s). Place a copy of the letter in the employee’s file.

25. Don’t Just Recognize the Exception.
Often, employees get recognized for that one time they go above and beyond. But what about the employees who consistently do their job well? Encourage consistency by recognizing employees for the day-to-day challenge of doing their job well—after all, it’s not easy to find good employees. See our managers’ guide to giving effective feedback for tips.

And a bonus: #26. The Bulletin Board. Employees may want to connect outside work, too. They should have a place to recruit for their ultimate Frisbee team, advertise their dog sitting service, or let people know they have a room for rent. Setting up a place for them to connect outside work shows that you care about more than just their on-the-job selves.

Meaningful appreciation doesn’t have to be expensive. Using these tips (or check out our resources page for more!) you can make staff appreciation a regular part of your workday.

And if you like these staff appreciation ideas – you can download them as a PDF.


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 info.kazoohr.com/demo-request.

Your employees work hard every day – so don’t they deserve some recognition? When it comes to creating a more engaged workforce, nothing compares to a well-managed incentive and bonus program for employees. Whether your team is small or you have a large number of company divisions spread out across the globe, employees who have something to look forward to will work harder to achieve more for your organization. This improves your bottom line.

Employee Incentives for Maximum Productivity

This time of year can be the perfect time to take a closer look at your employee incentive plan and add some new perks to help maintain a high performance work environment. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Gift Programs for Employees – A nice way to say “thanks” to your employees anytime is by handing out gift cards and a personal note of gratitude often. Take the time to educate your executive team on the importance of regular recognition of employee achievements by giving them access to group discounts on gift cards and points gift programs.
  • Corporate Wellness Program – One low-cost way of giving back to employees and improving their health at the same time is through a corporate wellness program. When employees have access to wellness and spa services and support, they are more likely to participate. Employers who invest in wellness programs also help to reduce the cost of their health insurance premiums by as much as $3 for every dollar spent on wellness.
  • Certificates of Achievement – Employees beam when they receive praise from their supervisors, and especially in front of peers. Make a big deal out of achievements at work and provide printed certificates of achievement along with a photo of the employee to be displayed in their work area. Highlight these achievements at staff meetings and hand them out so that all can see how hard each employee has worked to earn this recognition.

Related Read: Total Employee Engagement and Training & Development

  • Educational Support – Oftentimes, employees are trying to grow in their careers, therefore having access to corporate educational support can become a major perk. Offer on-site classes to earn industry certifications. Provide a generous tuition reimbursement program for those who wish to earn college degrees. Make it known that this is part of your overall benefits package and encourage employees to achieve their educational dreams.
  • Free Beverages and Snacks – When employees have the nutrition they need to get through each day, they tend to be more productive. Give your employees access to healthy snacks and beverage choices, offered free as part of your wellness program. Ideas may include breakfast muffins from a local bakery, or vegetables offered mid-day.
  • Employer-Sponsored Benefits – The rising costs of health care benefits is on the minds of many employees today. You can offset these costs by offering supplemental benefits to your employees such as cancer care, vision and dental benefits, and hospital indemnity plans for employees and their families.
  • Flexible Schedules – Every employee is looking for a way to get work-life balance. Having the option to work a more flexible schedule can help make this a reality. Offer employees the choice of one day a week to work from home whenever possible, or be more lenient to when employees can arrive or go home during the week so they can be more productive.
  • Company Discounts – Your company is likely to have affiliations with leading retailers and community services that can offer corporate discounts. Why not pass those discounts along to your employees too? Create a list of company discounts and encourage employees to use this as a way to save money while supporting your vendors.
  • Celebrations and Birthdays – Every employee deserves some special treatment on their birthday. Therefore, have your company send out birthday flowers to recognize their day. Once a month, have a celebration to let your employees know how much you appreciate their hard work and efforts.
  • Updated Breakroom – It’s a great incentive for employees to have a comfortable area where they can enjoy some downtime at lunch or after a tough meeting. Set up an improved break area that includes soft seating options, a flat screen television, calming lighting, and games for blowing off steam.


Tess C. Taylor

Tess C. Taylor

Tess C. Taylor, PHR, CPC is the Founder and Managing Editor for The HR Writer blogazine, and the CEO of HR Knows – an HR Content, Coaching, and Consultancy firm in New York. Learn more at www.hrknows.com.

This article is by Tess C. Taylor.

It’s no surprise that onboarding is an important topic for many Kazoo customers. A great onboarding experience sets the stage for a great employee experience. Having a process for welcoming new employees ensures a unified culture and speedy employee ramp-up.

Beyond that, including a personal letter as part of the onboarding process creates a strong entry point into a positive employee experience. It sets up a new employee to build connections with their team, company, and core values from day one. And, more importantly, it is the starting line for their relationship with their manager. According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variation in employee engagement. A manager’s role in welcoming new employees is critical.

Elements of a Successful Letter for Welcoming New Employees

So what should go into this personal letter? A few elements:

  • Show appreciation that they’re joining.
  • Offer connections with their manager and team.
  • Communicate the company’s core values.
  • Set expectations for success.
  • Define first steps.

With these five elements, new employees arrive on their first day with an action plan for getting up to speed and will start off with a great employee experience.

Example of a Great Welcome Letter

What should a great welcome letter look like? Here’s an example:

Dear [Employee Name],

Welcome to Kazoo. I can tell that you’re going to be a great addition to our team. We’re all looking forward to having your energy and expertise on our projects.

There’s a lot to learn as you get started in these first weeks. The volume of training and new processes we’re throwing at you may feel overwhelming. So, please take a minute right now and review our company core values: open book, create happiness, adapt or die, eyes on the prize, and leave it better. You can find descriptions of these in your onboarding packet. By living these values every day, you will be successful in this company and in your career. They should guide everything that you do here.

I’m committed to your professional growth, and want that to be part of our ongoing conversations. We also have a company goal of providing connection, appreciation, meaning, and impact as part of your daily employee experience. If you feel like any of these aren’t happening (or if you just want to celebrate because they are!) my door is always open.

The rest of your onboarding plan is attached. It includes some basic office policies and identifies teammates who will get you up to speed. We’ll review it in a one-on-one later today. But in the meantime, let me (or other team members) know if there’s anything we can do to help you navigate your first few days.

Can’t wait to get started!

[Your Manager]

A Great Approach for Welcoming New Employees

Welcoming new employees with a letter that clarifies core values, sets expectations for success, gives an introduction to the culture, and creates connections sets a new employee up to be engaged from day one. It connects them to the manager, shows them how they can make an impact, helps them understand how they can get meaning, and offers appreciation for joining the team. And that’s an important part of a great 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 https://info.kazoohr.com/demo-request.html

One key to developing strong and effective teams is the ability to appreciate the benefits of the differences each team member presents. Those differences can confuse, frustrate and cause misunderstandings – OR – they can be illuminate, broaden our horizons, provide growth, and help us to gain new insights.

Achieving our organizational goals can often be best achieved when diversity of opinion, background, and skill are engaged.

We’ve all likely had the experience of being on a team where one or more members presented special challenges. They were negative and critical. They lacked skills or didn’t contribute. These, certainly, are all legitimate complaints, but they don’t have to lead to a negative outcome for the team.

Sometimes we can achieve a positive outcome by delving a bit deeper, gaining an understanding, and appreciating another’s point of view.

Tom Champoux of The Effectiveness Institute has shown how personal behavioral styles contributes to how we see the world, process information, and interact with others. Behavior styles are defined by how we make decisions, solve problems, and meet challenges. Each individual’s behavior tends to be consistent with their style. Unless we understand each others’ styles, we may get annoyed by how others act, or what they say.

Achieving our organizational goals can often be best achieved when diversity of opinion, background, and skill are engaged.

Some of us move fast, talk quickly, and make spontaneous decisions. Others are more deliberate and prefer to process information before making a decision. Still others are people-oriented, or perhaps more task-oriented. Some are more analytical and detail-oriented while others tend to be big-picture thinkers.

Teams that include a range of behavior styles tend to excel.

Conflicts can occur when individuals with different styles interact. A quiet person may be intimidated by someone who comes on strong. Someone who tends to hold back can frustrate a person with a more direct style. It sometimes helps to realize that the behavior is not aimed specially at the person on the receiving end; rather it is the way the other person relates to the world.

When we work through style conflicts, and value the advantages diversity brings, we maximize the quality of our team.

Kevin is decisive and takes quick action. He assesses information quickly and decides best courses of action. However, he has grown to respect a fellow teammate, Anne, who is much more methodical in her thinking. When faced with a big decision, he often seeks out Anne’s opinion because he knows she will consider factors that may not have occurred to him.

Ron used to annoy his teammates. When working on a project, he was quick to find problems. However, his teammates have developed tremendous respect for Ron because he sees things they often miss. His constant questioning is now regarded as a positive attribute. Utilizing each team members’ strengths can make for a highly effective team.

Teams that include a range of behavior styles tend to excel.

Overtly acknowledging and appreciating other teammates’ attributes will contribute to your teams’ success. When you appreciate characteristics that you admire in a teammate, you not only recognize the attribute as a benefit to the team, you also help that member see their value-add. Your acknowledgment may also serve to strengthen the quality in the person acknowledged.

As with our behavior styles, age, gender, race, cultural background, and ethnicity all affect who we are and how we interact with others. When someone behaves or speaks in a manner differently than what we’re used to, we may feel awkward or uncomfortable, or embrace the difference and gain an understanding for what we are unfamiliar with. Differences often broaden our perspectives and enrich our teams.

How do we make sense of people who behave differently from us? It helps to develop an attitude of curiosity. When we don’t take things personally, we are in a better position to gain understanding and learn from each other. If we are aware of having a negative reaction to how someone interacted with us, it’s helpful to pause and examine what just happened.

Gather the facts; eliminate the assumptions about the other person’s intent. Seek clarification. Stay engaged. It’s often the case that the person simply has a way of interacting and viewing the world different from yours.

What does your team do to benefit from differences? What can you do today to acknowledge the strengths and the value added by the diverse styles that your teammates present?

This article is by Margy Bresslour.

Quotes to Inspire Creativity and Innovation in the Workplace

Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. Innovation is the production or implementation of a creative idea. If you have ideas but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.” —Linda Naiman


Creativity is a function of leadership. It requires navigating uncharted territory and having the courage to face adversity to bring your vision into fruition.” —Linda Naiman


For innovation to flourish, organizations must create an environment that fosters creativity; bringing together multi-talented groups of people who work in close collaboration together — exchanging knowledge, ideas and shaping the direction of the future.” —Linda Naiman


The economic future of an organization depends on its ability to create wealth by fostering innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.” —Linda Naiman


(On Improv in business) “Improvisation frees us from being perfect, being in control, thinking ahead, and second guessing. It can feel like jumping into the abyss at first, but once you jump, fear turns into excitement, and your imagination kicks in.” —Linda Naiman (Fast Company Magazine Oct 2005)


Creativity is the power to create something new, to reach deep into our subconscious for that “aha” solution. Sometimes it happens in a nano second, and sometimes that solution can take a lifetime to reveal itself.” —Linda Naiman (Peopletalk Magazine Spring 2004)


Creativity has two parts: thinking, then producing. Innovation is embedded in the creative process. It is the implementation of creative inspiration.” —Linda Naiman (Peopletalk Magazine Spring 2004)

Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” —Howard Aiken


The organizations of the future will increasingly depend on the creativity of their members to survive. Great Groups offer a new model in which the leader is an equal among Titans. In a truly creative collaboration, work is pleasure, and the only rules and procedures are those that advance the common cause.” —Warren Bennis


Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” —Rita Mae Brown,  US writer, playwright


Innovation! One cannot be forever innovating. I want to create classics.” —Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971) French fashion designer


To be successful we must live from our imaginations, not from our memories.” —Steven Covey


We are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance.” —Benjamin Disraeli


Business has only two basic functions — marketing and innovation.” —Peter Drucker


Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration. I make more mistakes than anyone else I know, and sooner or later, I patent most of them.” —Thomas Edison


Access to talented and creative people is to modern business what access to coal and iron ore was to steel-making.” —Richard Florida


The more you think, the more time you have.” —Henry Ford


The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get to the office.” —Robert Frost


I sell ideas and visions. That kind of selling requires a different set of muscles from those that you need to sell products. The challenge is to help people see things that they may not be able to see for themselves. Now, I’m not a visionary from the blinding-flash-of-light school. Instead, I base my ideas on intuition, on facts, and on specific opportunities. The greatest resistance that I encounter from people whom I’m trying to sell to is grounded in discomfort — which really comes from a lack of understanding. So a great salesperson, in effect, knows how to sell understanding.” Phil Guarascio, GM’s vice-president for advertising and corporate marketing


The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.” Anthony Jay


If NATURE has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea… No one possesses the less, because every other possess the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.” —Thomas Jefferson


You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best.” —Steve Jobs


Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” —Steve Jobs


Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.” —Steve Jobs


Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.“—Steve Jobs


Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. The iMac is not just the color or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element plays together.” —Steve Jobs


You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” —Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech 2005


Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10.30 at night with a new idea, or because they realised something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.

And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” —Steve Jobs,  Business Week 2004


To be a successful entrepreneur one needs a vision of greatness for one’s work. If we dream extravagantly we will be inspired to forge a reality beyond the straight jacket of practicalities. There is a profound connection between art and enterprise which allows businesses to overcome the limitations of their existing visions.” —Sir Ernest Hall


Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet.” —Henry Mintzberg, author and professor at McGill University.


Those who have changed the universe have never done it by changing officials, but always by inspiring the people.” —Napoleon


Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom while discouragement often nips it at the bud.” —Alex Osborn


In the modern world of business it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.” —David M. Ogilvy, founder, Ogilvy & Mather advertising


Business isn’t some disembodied bloodless enterprise. Profit is fine — a sign that the customer honors the value of what we do. But “enterprise” ( a lovely word ) is about heart. About beauty. It’s about art. About people throwing themselves on the line. It’s about passion and the selfless pursuit of an ideal.” —Tom Peters


Written reports stifle creativity.” —Ross Perot


Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” —William Pollard


Ideas are not solutions; they are the raw material of solutions.” —Arthur VanGundy


Sometimes what we don’t know about a problem is more important than what we do know. By this I mean that we may focus on problem elements perceived to be known which may result in an unsatisfactory outcome. Problem knowledge is important, that is why it also is important to test assumptions to uncover what we ‘don’t know’ since that information can contain the keys to reframe our perspectives which, in turn, can allow potential solutions to suddenly ‘pop’ out.” —Arthur VanGundy


Focus on a few key objectives…I only have three things to do. I have to choose the right people, allocate the right number of dollars, and transmit ideas from one division to another with the speed of light. So I’m really in the business of being the gatekeeper and the transmitter of ideas.” —Jack Welch


Innovation is fostered by information gathered from new connections; from insights gained by journeys into other disciplines or places; from active, collegial networks and fluid, open boundaries. Innovation arises from ongoing circles of exchange, where information is not just accumulated or stored, but created. Knowledge is generated anew from connections that weren’t there before.” —Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science


The things we fear most in organizations–fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances–are the primary sources of creativity.” —Margaret J. Wheatley


Ideas won’t keep: something must be done about them.” —Alfred North Whitehead


The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” —Alfred North Whitehead

Quote Collection:


This article is by Linda Naiman from creativityatwork.com.

Linda Naiman

Linda Naiman

Linda Naiman is founder of Creativity at Work, and recognized internationally for pioneering arts-based learning as a catalyst for developing creativity, innovation, and collaborative leadership in organizations. As an innovation consultant, Linda advises senior leaders and managers on developing creativity and innovation skills in employees, and fostering an organizational culture that supports innovation.