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Employee Kudos: Taking Your Employee Appreciation Game to the Next Level

November 4, 2021
8 Min Read
Photo by
Frederico Jesus

Table of Contents:

What are employee Kudos?

You know employee appreciation is a key to employee morale, employee motivation, employee engagement, employee satisfaction, employee retention rates and overall productivity. You've planned elaborate appreciation initiatives, from employee-of-the-month programs to free bagels every Friday to an employee appreciation day festival. But are you missing the simplest move the one that, done right, can give you a ten times higher ROI than any of the above? Employee Kudos.

How employee Kudos works is simple: anyone in the organization just takes the time to personally acknowledge another employee for something specific they did. Maybe it was being on time every day last week, or helping an elder coworker struggling with her computer, or putting together a fantastic presentation on your latest project. All employee Kudos are based on specific actions employees take, but are generally not of any particular importance outside of how it makes other individuals feel. Kudos can come from managers, peers and subordinates alike, and everyone in between! When employee Kudos become an integral part of your workplace culture, you'll find employees eager to do great work and willing to go the extra mile for their colleagues.

Benefits of employee Kudos 

Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll see when you begin giving Kudos at your workplace:

  • Higher employee engagement & morale

Receiving praise makes employees feel appreciated and valued, especially if that recognition is linked to a specific accomplishment or action. 

  • Increased employee motivation & productivity

Being noticed is a huge motivator for employees to continue giving their very best work, and positive feedback often stimulates intrinsic motivation.

  • Increased job satisfaction

Implementing employee Kudos provides an easy way to keep employee happiness and satisfaction high, no matter what else might be going on in the employee's personal life or elsewhere in the workplace culture. 

  • Improved company culture

When done at the right time, in the right place and with the right intention, employee Kudos can help foster a positive company culture that keeps everyone motivated to do great work at all times. A company with a strong company culture sees employee turnover rates drop dramatically compared to those without it, and even more when employee Kudos is part of the equation. 

4 employee Kudos strategies 

Is that enough to have you ready to begin? Here are three employee Kudos best practices to keep in mind:

If you want employee engagement and morale to stay high, employee Kudos must be a regular part of your employee recognition process. The most effective employee Kudos strategies are those that implement employee Kudos in ways that happen often and feel authentic. So employees can receive them without dreading what might be said or wondering when they'll come (and if they're ever specifically targeted enough to mean anything).

  • Make it personal

Employee Kudos don't have to follow any specific criteria; rather, there should be no template or protocols surrounding how an employee does employee Kudos! The key thing here is meaningful recognition. You'll find the greatest success by making employee Kudos personal, genuine and relevant.

  • Make it public

While a personal note is sometimes appropriate, an accolade is especially meaningful if everyone can see it. Consider posting Kudos on social media, so your employee has something to boast about at home, or at least on the corporate social network. If you have a company publication such as a newsletter, consider adding in shout-outs where shout-outs are due. Extra bonus: your publication downloads might suddenly increase!

  • Go with the flow

Employee Kudos also shouldn't be seen as a way to make up for employee behavior, employee appreciation doesn't function this way. If you catch an employee having a bad day and they aren't receptive to employee Kudos, don't push it! The purpose of employee Kudos is to show a person they're appreciated, so any employee should feel comfortable accepting them at any time. 

Employee Kudos for remote teams 

Just because you don’t see your digital workforce doesn’t mean they don’t need a little gratitude and recognition. In fact, employee appreciation strategies like employee Kudos can be even more transformational for businesses that are composed primarily of remote teams. A team Kudos culture can build strong connection, enhance productivity, and help your digital workforce to realize they’re all in it together

Remote teams can use employee Kudos just like in-office teams: it just takes a little more planning and coordination to ensure employee Kudos are being sent in the right way. Here are two tips to help you get started:

  • Incentivize employee Kudos sending

Making employee Kudos a reward system can help encourage remote team members to participate without making anyone feel uncomfortable. For instance, set employee Kudos sending as part of a weekly prize draw or offer an employee-of-the-month certificate that includes free lunch with the whole team! 

  • Streamline communication with the most effective tools

Employee Kudos apps enable employees to receive employee Kudos from anywhere at any time, and they're great for managers who need a quick way to send employee Kudos from their mobile devices or laptops. These employee apps also make it easy for you to integrate employee Kudos into employee recognition programs, such as employee of the month programs and employee of the week contests. 

Employee Kudos for large businesses 

The employee recognition process is tough to implement in large companies with many employees, but employee Kudos are still possible through various employee engagement techniques. 

A key is to ensure your employee Kudos plan covers everyone. At a midsize or large company with more than 100 employees, employee Kudos can get lost in the shuffle; make sure you have an employee app (like Matter) that helps gather and collate employee Kudos from across your entire business, and ensure they're coming consistently enough to achieve maximum impact. Decentralizing helps when you incentivize the giving of Kudos, your entire workforce can become a Kudos-machine, sending appreciation notes to each other all week long. But keep close tabs on what's happening where, and if any team or individual is falling through the cracks, step up and do some Kudos-sending of your own. 

The most important point to remember here is that employee recognition should always be personalized and frequent and employee-to-employees Kudos can do just that!

5 final tips on employee Kudos 

  1. Make your employee Kudos personal. While every organization has their own way of saying thanks to employees, it's especially important with employee recognition exercises like this one to make sure you're acknowledging specific aspects of what an employee has done rather than making general employee Kudos.
  2. The employee Kudos process should be seamless, easy, and rewarding. All three are important elements for employee Kudos to have the impact they're intended to have.
  3. There's no employee Kudos template -- employee appreciation doesn't work that way! Well, let me take that back, employee Kudos templates are a thing, but you don't want to use them without customization. Saying 'good job!' is nice, saying 'Good job on that report! You really nailed the call to action" is that much better. Have fun with employee Kudos by tailoring them to each employee that receives one.
  4. Employee apps can help you increase employee engagement within your entire workforce or even subgroups of employees who are working on specific initiatives. The free Slack app Matter is a great example of employee Kudos software because it helps you not only send employee Kudos, but also deliver constructive feedback in a non-threatening way.
  5. Have a plan. Employee Kudos can be a great way to boost employee morale and improve employee engagement, but only if the process is well thought out and consistently implemented. Collaboration is absolutely essential, especially if you need to scale up. Decide what employee recognition system makes sense for your business, make sure the entire company is on board with it, and then follow through. 

So give it a try! Flexible rewards are nice and pizza parties are enjoyed by more than just students, but neither of them is an end-all meet-all. Employee Kudos just might be that critical secret ingredient that knocks your company culture out of the park and changes your jaded, tired workforce into an energetic, engaged team ready to take on the world.

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