Inclusive Communication in the Workplace: Why it Matters and How to Achieve It
Inclusive communication is a language style that actively acknowledges individuals for who they are and demonstrates respect for people from various backgrounds. It ensures everyone's perspectives are respected and that each employee has access to equal opportunities.
Inclusive communication employs neutral, non-discriminatory, and unbiased language and communication techniques to develop a friendly, polite, and egalitarian environment where people feel appreciated and heard, regardless of their differences.
What is inclusive communication in the workplace?
Inclusive communication creates a work environment that feels supportive and genuine. This type of communication helps employees feel at home at their place of work. Companies that prioritize a culture of inclusive communication have a greater chance of success, often surpassing their competition in crucial areas like hiring, employee engagement, employee satisfaction, and business growth.
Communicating inclusively goes hand in hand with diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The more leadership commits to DEI initiatives, the stronger the culture of inclusive communication will become.
At the root, inclusive communication is about promoting an atmosphere of respect at work and fostering open communication where employee differences are honored and respected. Workshops on topics like unconscious bias and the harmful impact of prejudice and stereotyping can cut off hurtful communication habits at the source.
Other components that create an intentional culture of inclusion include routinely evaluating and eliminating barriers to inclusivity and actively working to promote a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Businesses prioritizing inclusivity position themselves for long-term success and have happier, more engaged employees.
A variety of inclusive communication modes exist in the workplace, including:
- Non-verbal: Body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice all significantly impact fostering an inclusive work environment.
- Verbal: Potentially the most prevalent method of communication at work.
- Written: All written communication, including emails, memos, and company reports.
“Isms” that undermine inclusive communication
Communication cannot be inclusive if the work culture allows prejudiced language or hate speech. Here are four common “isms” that actively prevent inclusivity:
- Sexism: Sexist language that degrades or stereotypes an employee based on their gender.
- Ageism: Terminology that singles someone out due to their age.
- Racism: Racially charged language that is insulting or stereotyping.
- Ableism: Stereotypes or insults someone due to their differing abilities.
Why is inclusive communication important?
Organizations can build an inclusive, respectful, and equitable workplace culture for all employees by promoting inclusive communication awareness and education.
Creating a culture of inclusive communication shows the company’s effort to utilize language that contributes to a more equitable world while condemning the misrepresentation and institutional discrimination that plague our workplaces to this day.
Inclusive communication breeds a culture of acceptance and opportunity for all. This triggers a domino effect that can improve productivity, employee engagement, and even customer satisfaction.
Multiple factors make inclusive communication in the workplace necessary:
- Respect: All people should be treated with respect, regardless of gender, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or ability, as demonstrated by inclusive communication. It produces a friendly and encouraging work environment.
- Diversity: Inclusive language shows a company values diversity within the workforce.
- Legal obligation: Companies are required to provide a work environment free from harassment and discrimination. Inclusive communication is a crucial part of cultivating an equitable company culture.
- Communication: Everyone can better comprehend one another and collaborate more successfully when speech is free from bias.
- Reputation: Businesses that prioritize inclusive language are more reputable in the eyes of potential employees, investors, and customers.
- Employee engagement: When employees feel valued, metrics like engagement, morale, and productivity improve.
How to communicate with inclusivity in 2023
Here are some actionable ways to make workplace communication more inclusive this year:
Replace stereotypical and culturally insensitive language with inclusive alternatives
Many expressions commonly used in the workplace are exclusive in nature. Encourage employees to consider what language they use that, while not overtly offensive, does not reflect everyone in the office. People often use slurs without even realizing it.
Even the most seemingly innocuous words can be rooted in discriminatory language. For example, the word “dumb” is commonly used to reflect someone who isn’t intelligent but is actually defined as someone who cannot communicate verbally. And while commonly used to say someone behaves erratically, the term “spastic” actually references the muscle tightness and contractions resulting from cerebral palsy and/or multiple sclerosis.
Commonly used idioms like “blind leading the blind” and “falling on deaf ears” are also exclusive in nature.
Understand employee identities
People's identities are primarily shaped by their race and ethnicity, meaning misidentification can be damaging and invalidating.
Make an effort to understand and learn whatever race, ethnicity, or national origin employees identify to avoid making assumptions and lumping everyone into one racial group, such as Asian or African. Encourage employees to communicate openly about the language they do not perceive as inclusive.
Communicate openly about language preferences
Ableist language can indirectly define a person by their disability status and propagate harmful stereotypes.
This is incredibly dangerous, considering the discrepancy between employment rates for people with and without disabilities. In 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 21.3% of people with a disability were employed. That is less than a third of the employment percentage for those without a disability (65.4%).
Companies can actively combat ableist language by communicating openly about what language employees with disabilities prefer. Some people prefer person-first language like “person with a disability”, while others prefer identify-first language like “disabled person”. Genuine inclusivity means recognizing that not every person perceives language the same way and prioritizes respecting each and every employee’s definition of what is and isn’t inclusive of their identities.
How to drive inclusive communication rewards and recognition software
Building a culture of inclusivity in the workplace is no small feat, but injecting inclusive language into rewards and recognition programs is a good place to start. You can make your organization a hub for inclusive collaboration by standardizing the process of rewarding and recognizing employees.
Qarrot empowers employees to nominate each other, all while providing managers with advanced insights that weed out any potential biases. Interested in learning more? Book a demo to see Qarrot in action!
5 Authentic Employee Appreciation Ideas, Backed By Data
Employee appreciation is vital. It fosters trust between employees and management, inspires teams to increase productivity, and reduces turnover by ensuring employees feel valued. But inauthentic appreciation accomplishes none of this.
Think about it. If your boss came up to you the day after implementing a new appreciation program and said kind words with behavior and body language that conveyed anything but gratitude, how would you feel? Without authenticity, appreciation can have the opposite effect.
Showing authentic gratitude doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. In this post, we’re covering 5 simple ways to show your employees authentic appreciation (and why you should).
Why authentic employee appreciation matters
A 2022 Gallup report shows that recognition has the most impact when it’s:
- Fulfilling employees’ expectations and needs
- Embedded in the culture
Despite their demonstrated importance, data shows recognition is lacking in these five areas. Only 23% of employees strongly feel they receive the right amount of recognition for the work they do. One-third of employees strongly feel the recognition they receive is authentic. One quarter feel it is given equitably. 19% feel it is embedded in their company culture, and just 10% report being asked about their preferences for receiving recognition.
Reports show that employees who receive effective recognition are:
- 73% less likely to experience burnout “always” or “very often”
- 56% less likely to keep an eye on job boards
- 5 times more likely to feel connected to their company culture
- 4 times as likely to be engaged at work
- 5 times as likely to see a path to growth within the organization
- 4 times as likely to recommend the organization to friends and family
And, most shockingly, these employees are 44% more likely to report “thriving” in their life overall.
1. Edible empathy
Food brings people together. Giving employees the go-ahead to group order whatever they want for lunch one day might check that box on paper, but it lacks the empathy component that makes sharing a meal together so powerful.
Instead, spend time getting to know your employees while scheduling the lunch. Find out what they like. Be considerate of dietary restrictions, whether they’re religious, medical, or simply a choice.
Pick a location that makes for easy conversation. That could be in a restaurant or in the workspace. In an ideal world, find a round table in a spot quiet enough so that everyone can hear each other, but not so quiet that people will be hesitant to speak freely.
Once everyone is comfortable, strike up a genuine conversation. It doesn’t have to be wholly centered around work. While this is a good time to discuss what is and isn’t working within the team, chatting with your team about their unique interests and sharing your own nurtures the empathetic connection that affirms the genuineness of the gesture.
2. Let feedback go both ways
Your employees need your support just as much as you need theirs. When you sit down to review performance, prompt them to do the same. When you tell them what to improve, ask them what you can do to help them get there. This turns what could be perceived as a scolding session into a productive, two-way conversation.
Not all employees will feel comfortable sharing honest feedback face-to-face. This could be due to sensitive subject matter or a byproduct of their personality. Create a system for employees to submit anonymous feedback, both on a macro and micro level. Ensuring the system is actually anonymous builds trust between you and your team.
Giving employees a vehicle to share their thoughts and ideas about the organization’s leadership, opportunities, direction, etc. shows not only that you want their voices to be heard, but also that you value the opinions they share.
3. Create a culture of appreciation through peer recognition
Peer recognition is almost as important as recognition from leadership. Employees recognized by peers just a few times a year (or less) are 3 times as likely to be actively disengaged, 39% more likely to plan on leaving the organization within one year, and 24% more likely to be struggling. For those recognized just a few times by leadership, the numbers increase to 5 times, 74%, and 27%, respectively.
When you don’t cultivate a culture of appreciation, the occasional reward or review sticks out like a sore thumb. This is part of the reason why stock appreciation messages don’t land. If words of appreciation and encouragement aren’t heard in the office on a regular basis, they will seem forced. To the ones being recognized, it could feel like you just pressed 5 a bunch of times on a customer service survey. Inauthentic and meaningless. That’s the opposite of what you want.
Create a culture where recognition from both leadership and peers is the norm, and the words of appreciation will feel natural. If recognition isn’t filling an annual requirement, employees will open their ears and actually absorb what you have to say as truth.
4. Stay consistent
Fairness is another crucial component of authentic appreciation. When you focus your recognition on one employee and short another with the same performance level, the employee experience takes a big hit. After all, fairness is a basic human need.
Only 26% of employees report receiving similar amounts of recognition as peers with similar performance levels. This number drops significantly for Black (19%) and Hispanic (21%) employees. The percentage of employees who report receiving the right amount of recognition and authentic recognition follow the same racial pattern.
Unless you want unconscious bias to derail your DE&I efforts, repel talent, and hurt BIPOC team members, equity needs to become a serious priority.
If the tips were ranked, this one would be near the top. Personalization is vital to showing authentic appreciation. Genuine recognition requires empathy. Managers have to consider what makes their employees feel appreciated as individuals. This won’t be the same for everyone. Some people prefer public recognition, while others prefer to be recognized in private.
Recognition feels more authentic when it is tied to a clear reason. Some people prefer action-based rewards or spontaneous appreciation in the moment. Spontaneous words of appreciation are easy to personalize– when you observe an employee performing well in the moment, thank them for that specific action either via email or out loud, depending on their privacy preferences.
Only 10% of employees report being asked how they’d like to be recognized. Asking your employees what will make them feel the most appreciated is the simplest and most effective way to ensure your recognition meets the needs of every individual employee. In doing so, you prioritize equity, combat bias, and improve the effectiveness of your employee appreciation program as a whole.
29% of surveyed employees report a preference for private recognition, with 7% preferring to be appreciated in public. Then, there’s the middle ground. Many employees are comfortable with receiving technology-mediated recognition visible by all team members, even if they dislike public displays of recognition.
Some employees place more value on monetary rewards than verbal appreciation. However, monetary rewards alone often miss the mark and appear ingenuine. Rewards should always be paired with a personalized message that resonates with the awardee.
The impact of authentic employee appreciation
Effective recognition doesn’t just improve outcomes within the organization– it has the power to improve your employees’ quality of life outside the office. What’s more authentic than creating a recognition program that helps employees live happier, more fulfilled lives?
Authentic recognition is even more impactful for Black and Hispanic employees facing racial bias. Black employees who receive authentic recognition are 79% more likely to be thriving, and Hispanic employees fall close behind at 69%. Black employees are also more likely to recommend the organization and see an internal path to growth.
Authentic employee appreciation improves business outcomes, helps employees thrive in and out of work, and promotes equity within the organization.
The Case for Employee Engagement
Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy US$7.8 trillion and accounts for 11% of GDP globally. Gallup’s analysis of 112, 312 business units in 96 countries found a strong link between engagement and performance outcomes, such as retention, productivity, safety and profitability.
In its Global State of the Workplace: 2022 Report, Gallup makes a compelling case for employee engagement. In fact, the research firm goes so far as to describe employee wellbeing as the new “workplace imperative”.
Whereas many organizations today measure ESG - their commitment to improve environmental, social, and governance metrics - the report asks if these same organizations know whether their employees feel respected or cared about. It’s a compelling question and one that is very much on the minds of human capital professionals as they struggle with the effects of poor employee engagement.
And while the global level of employee engagement was trending more highly until 2019, the pandemic brought about a significant increase in negative emotions felt by workers everywhere. In its report, Gallup reports how workers respond to questions about emotions like stress, worry, and anger to name a few. For example, 44% of workers reported feeling stress “a lot of the day” at work yesterday. Not only are the levels of negative emotions higher since the pandemic compared to previous years, but Gallup found these figures are 46% to 83% higher than for engaged employees
Globally, only 21% of workers are engaged at work. While marginally higher than in 2020, this level should cause employers who aren’t already focused on this issue to seriously reconsider their priorities. Poor engagement costs companies lost revenues, reduces worker productivity, increases involuntary staff turnover, worsens safety, and lowers customer satisfaction.. In fact, Gallup estimates that the aggregate cost to the US economy is $7.8 trillion dollars per year - the equivalent of 11% of GDP.
That is a shocking figure.
Put in simpler terms, the report states that business units with engaged workers have a 23% higher profitability than those with miserable ones.
Given the causal relationship of employee engagement on commercial outcomes, Gallup goes on to recommend that executive dashboards include wellbeing metrics in addition to the ESG, financial, commercial, and operational ones already in place. They also propose that wellbeing be part of organizations’ brand promise.
This recommendation isn’t entirely new, however. The business of measuring and tracking employee engagement is now well-established with tools like pulse surveys that aim to regularly gauge workforce sentiment. More sophisticated survey tools go so far as to enable their client organizations to ask specific questions and allow for anonymous comments so that staff can provide feedback about their work environment and manager without the fear of reprisal.
And while wellbeing metrics may not yet feature as prominently as commercial and operational ones in company dashboards, there is a growing body of evidence that leaders are paying attention. The sheer growth of employee engagement practices, tools, and solution vendors is proof of this.
But what should organizations do once they uncover poor engagement amongst their ranks?
The Gallup report isn’t prescriptive. But from the larger body of research done by the firm, it does mention the strong correlation between the caliber of their people leaders and the engagement levels of their employees.
Likewise, it outlines the most common causes for burnout, which not surprisingly also have much to do with people leaders. For example, themes such as “unfair treatment at work”, an “unmanageable workload”, “unclear communication from managers”, and a ‘lack of manager support” are amongst the top reasons cited by employees who experience burnout.
In that regard, the report does emphasize the importance of people leaders and managers as being at the core of a thriving workplace. And it proposes that successful managers are skilled at being coaches, listeners, and collaborators, amongst their other trademark roles and responsibilities.
This is a compelling vision for the next generation of people leaders and managers, who will find themselves responsible for an increasingly hybrid workforce. One which will be more geographically diverse in many cases as well.
In this regard, we believe it important to consider the tools that people leaders and managers will require to be better in the areas that Gallup identifies - whether or not staff are working in the same office location, at a coworking space in another city, or their living room halfway across the world.
And while team messaging, collaboration, and video conferencing tools have become commonplace in most organizations, they often lack some of the components that leaders and managers need to foster a strong organizational culture and the feeling - as an employee - of being appreciated.
This is where recognition programs can be of help.
Recognition programs provide the ability for managers and, often regular employees, to easily express their appreciation for a job well done. Programs of this kind also often emphasize the organization’s core values and put them at the center of the recognition process.
The mere act of recognizing a direct report or a coworker can have a significant impact on their sense of feeling appreciated and respected within their work environment. Moreover, programs can target other critical and highly desired behaviors, such as collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and teamwork.
And like many of the tools that are now commonly used by geographically distributed teams, recognition programs like Qarrot are available as web and mobile applications so that workers can send and receive kudos regardless of their location or proximity to their coworkers.
To learn more about how Qarrot can help your organization improve employee engagement, click here.
Redefining productivity by prioritizing outcomes over output
How do you define productivity? Do you look at the hours worked, the effort expended, and the exhaustion incurred? Or do you look at results? If you’re in the first camp, you might be measuring productivity all wrong.
Prioritizing output has long been the traditional way of gauging employee productivity. But think about it this way: is the most effective person on your team the one who takes eight hours to complete a project…or the one who can bring about the same or superior results in half the time?
Don’t despair if you’re late to the “outcomes over output” party–but keep reading for a way of assessing employee effectiveness that’ll change your company for the better.
Burnout culture is on its way out
We’ve all been in careers where we felt a certain pressure to appear dog-tired from all the work we put in.
Late nights and early mornings were glorified, and coming in on our days off was a badge of honor. These were habits we adopted to show our bosses that we’d work ourselves to the bone to hit company goals. We were expected to be grateful for the opportunity to wear ourselves down in exchange for a paycheck.
But there’s a major cultural shift taking place, one that places employee wellness and satisfaction above burnout.
A record number of American workers left their jobs in November 2021–4.5 million, to be exact. These employees weren’t leaving the workforce; they were breaking up with their employers. And with 11.3 million positions waiting to be filled across the U.S., the unhappy and overworked have plenty of options at their disposal.
Long gone are the days when employees had to take whatever job they could find. And companies who want to minimize turnover and avoid staffing shortages would be wise to change how they gauge productivity.
A new take on an old concept
When we talk about prioritizing outcomes over output, we mean shifting the focus away from individual behaviors and onto specific results. In other words, as long as the job gets done and gets done well, your employees have fulfilled their obligations.
To put this into perspective, consider your own company work model, and ask yourself which components are necessary and which aren’t.
Do your employees really need to report at 9:00 am on the dot and remain glued to their computers for five hours before their first break? Or does that rule exist because that’s how it’s always been done? If an employee knocks out all of the day’s tasks by lunchtime, why are they beholden to run up the clock all afternoon?
The purpose of growing your team is to see improved results, whether it be to increase revenue, secure new clients, or expand your audience. None of these things requires a workaholic mindset to come to fruition, yet all of them can still be achieved when you move away from output-oriented culture.
How this shift in priorities helps your bottom line
Transforming your company in this way requires effort, and it won’t be easy to get everyone on board. You may even have doubts yourself. But when you consider the far-reaching benefits, both in the short and long terms, it’s hard to argue against redefining how you measure productivity.
Reduced sick days
Absenteeism is the bane of any employer’s existence. Employees calling in sick, using PTO at inconvenient times, or not showing up at all can throw a major wrench in your operations.
If your staff has more control over when and how work gets completed, however, they won’t need to request time off nearly as much. Not only does this ensure that high-priority tasks are tended to on time, but it also means less revenue lost to employee absence.
Lower turnover rates
People stay where they’re happy, plain and simple. An employee with zero downtime, poor work-life balance, and a sense that the big bosses are always breathing down their neck is more likely to jump ship than the employee whose time and autonomy are honored.
We’re seeing this exact dynamic play out across the labor market, with workers ditching low-satisfaction jobs for positions that respect these employees’ inherent value. You want your company to be the one they’re running to, not from.
Counterintuitive though it may seem, prioritizing outcomes over output can actually boost productivity.
The reasoning behind this is almost too simple: when you measure productivity by results realized, you’re looking for efficiency. The most efficient employee, therefore, isn’t the one who takes all day to get back to a top client. It’s the one who calls the client and makes the sale right away. But if your staff knows they’ll be at work for eight hours no matter how well they manage their time, what incentive do they have to work harder?
By adjusting your focus, you also adjust how your employees approach their job functions as a whole, giving them a reason to get you those results faster.
How to change your productivity metrics
If you’re convinced that this culture shift is in your company’s best interest, you need to take concrete steps toward reconstructing how you measure productivity. Here are a few to get you started:
- Cut out busywork. Your employees should only perform work that’s directly linked to the company’s goals.
- Be clear about results. Your staff can’t hit a target they can’t see. Let your employees know exactly what results you expect to see from the work they do, and be as specific as possible. “Increase revenue” isn’t nearly as helpful as “increase sales by 10%.”
- Share timelines. It’s perfectly okay to give your employees deadlines, and in fact, it’s necessary. Setting a target date for when those aforementioned results should be achieved will only help your staff to manage their time appropriately and effectively.
- Loosen the reins. You’ve simplified job duties, communicated goals, and implemented timelines. Now, trust your team to get it done.
Defining productivity by outcomes over output may feel foreign, but it’s one of the best ways to maximize efficiency and improve employee satisfaction. Particularly in the age of remote work and employee empowerment, can you really afford not to make this shift?
How to take the right approach to solving workplace issues
Unresolved workplace issues disrupt employees’ workflow. A study on team conflict published by the Global Transitions Proceedings found that team climate and cohesion are directly linked to the outcome of a project. Thus, a positive climate and relationship among employees greatly improves the quality of their work. As such, whenever there are workplace issues, business owners must do their best to resolve them.
If you’re unsure how to start, take our guide on the right approach to solving workplace issues:
Diagnose the problem
The first step is to identify the root cause of the conflict. For some business owners, it’s convenient to suggest team-building activities to resolve conflict. However, generic band-aid solutions like this do not actually target the problem at hand.
For instance, Senior Vice President of global leadership solutions for LHH, Alex Vincent, shares his company experience when a team of the best employees was underperforming. While the CIO wanted Vincent to do anything and everything to solve the problem, he opted to talk to each team member. Doing this, he found out that the underperformance was caused by one member who did well alone but lacked in team settings. Thus, Vincent recommended that the CIO address that individual instead of the whole team. As a result, the team improved and performed better. Without this diagnosis, the cause of conflict wouldn’t have been identified and given a resolution.
Acknowledge everyone’s perspective
Conflict is between two or more parties. They will have different perspectives regarding the problem, which is why you should hear everyone’s thoughts regarding the situation.
Abdul Omar, a worker at the Office of the Ombudsman in Hawaii, says that the difference in perceptions is actually the cause of conflict. When you talk to all the parties involved, you start to see how their behaviors are causing the issue — not their personality traits. For example, an employee can be perceived as incompetent by others when they’re slow to finish tasks. It’s better to address the employee and ask if there are things going on in their personal life. When employees’ perceptions are acknowledged, business owners think of better solutions that would satisfy each of the involved employee’s situations.
Brainstorm workable solutions
Now that the problem has been identified and everyone’s perceptions have been understood, possible solutions can be formulated. It is in this stage that it is crucial to practice empathy, as mentioned in our post ‘Why and How to Cultivate Empathy in Your Organization’. Empathy allows you to relate to others, thus creating the best possible solutions for them.
Keep in mind what you’ve gathered from the diagnosis and employees’ perceptions. For example, an employee that does not participate in meetings is perceived as apathetic. Upon talking to the employee, you find out it is because they aren’t given chances to talk. As a result, a solution you can come up with to satisfy all parties and address the actual problem is to extend the meeting duration. This way, the “apathetic” employee is given the opportunity to talk, others won’t perceive them as such, and there won’t be a repeat of the problem.
Implement and monitor the solution
After formulating a solution that benefits everyone, it’s time for implementation. Inform the involved parties of your proposed solution and what each of them should do in order to achieve the desired outcome.
However, resolving conflict does not stop at solution implementation. As the person running the business, you should see to it that your solution is making progress. Monitor how the people involved are reacting or changing their behavior in accordance with your suggestions. If there is no progress or the situation worsens, it’s best to step in and redo some steps like brainstorming workable solutions.
Unresolved workplace conflict will affect your employees’ performance and your business as a whole. Thus, you should take measures in order to resolve them as soon as possible.
Meet the new Qarrot!
We’re excited. This is big. Really BIG.
On May 18, 2022, we look forward to introducing you to Qarrot 3.0. This 3rd generation of our employee recognition platform includes many updates and some very cool new features.
Plus, Qarrot 3.0 includes a whole new look. So if you liked Qarrot before, we’re confident that you’ll love what our customer success, product, engineering, quality, and marketing folks have been hard at work on for the past while.
Want to learn more? Keep reading.
Why are we making changes to Qarrot?
Since the inaugural launch of Qarrot in 2017, we have continually updated the platform by adding new features, functionality, beefing up the system’s infrastructure, creating mobile apps, fixing bugs, and more.
Along the way, we’ve learned a lot. A better way to build and manage Qarrot across its web, iOS, and Android applications. Better ways of organizing and presenting the app, so that it’s easier and more fun to use for administrators and employees, alike. More powerful solutions for managing and organizing employee data so that larger organizations can use Qarrot as successfully as smaller ones. And, we’ve learned a lot from customers and users like you, who have provided feedback about tweaks and improvements to Qarrot that would make it work better for you.
What is changing with Qarrot 3.0?
In short, a lot.
Apart from upgrades to our back-end infrastructure that aren’t readily visible to users, below are some of the improvements we hope will make Qarrot work better for you:
A brand new design.
With Qarrot 3.0, we’re introducing a new look to the entire application. Along with the clean layout, here are some changes you’ll notice:
1. The menu now appears along the top of your viewport, not on the left-hand side
2. Your points and badges are now more visibly presented to the left of the social feed
3. Your campaigns and any pinned announcements now appear to the right of the social feed
4. The social feed has also been upgraded with posts now presenting information more clearly
5. Plus, badges are now larger and have a new hexagonal shape, which we love!
Addition of Spanish and French!
If you prefer to interact with your program in another language, now you can change your display language to Spanish (International) or French (Canada) or stay with English:
Our menus, labels, instructions, and notifications will now display in the language you select.
New notification center and more control over communication preferences.
Now you can access your notification center by clicking on the intray icon next to your avatar from any section. Plus, we’ve added the ability for you to select which notifications you receive by push or by email so that you only receive the ones you want.
We’ve revamped campaigns so that it’s easier to view important details and have added a new global leaderboard so that participants can readily see how they’re doing.
Plus, you’ll no longer receive an award winner notification and social feed post every time someone earns points within a campaign. We’re replacing these with one consolidated award winner post and notification that will go out daily.
Easier way to view and sort rewards.
It’s now easier to filter and sort rewards - whether by country (if your account is multi-country), by type, and by value. Plus, newly added rewards have a new’ indicator on them and your most recent purchases are more easily viewable.
Improved reward management.
As a program administrator, you now can disable brands, specific gift card denominations (so that your rewards are only available above certain denominations), and entire categories.
Plus, if you create customer or company-provided rewards, you have the ability to set multiple people for fulfillment (previously, we provided just one person). And you can now set stock limits so that if you have a limited quantity of any item, this can be set for the reward.
A new way to organize and find your people.
As a program administrator, you can now create custom fields for employee profiles that allow for better organization and filtering of your people.
For example, you may wish to create the custom field “Department” so that each employee’s department can be added to their profile. This way, when you create a new campaign, you can easily filter the people you want to invite based on their department. Or if you’re an employee, you can filter people by department in order to more easily find the person you want to recognize.
Custom fields make it easier to filter people across all sections of Qarrot - whether you’re an administrator or a regular employee. And you can create as many as you need.
A new dashboard for people managers.
Now team leads (aka managers) have their own team dashboard. While appearing identical to the dashboard available to program administrators, it differs in that it only includes the data for the members of that team. If a manager is the team lead for more than one team, she can easily toggle between teams to view the dashboard for each.
And with so many other changes across Qarrot, we encourage you to take a moment on May 18th to review your account and familiarize yourself with the new look, layout, and feature updates.
And there’s more to come! Our roadmap for 2022-23 is packed full of new features, integrations, and other updates.
For now, we hope you enjoy the current updates and encourage you to contact our customer success team should you have any questions.
What defines a good employee experience in a hybrid/remote work environment?
In early spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic upended life as we knew it. Schools shut down, toilet paper disappeared, and thousands of employees suddenly found themselves working from the kitchen table. As many of these impromptu remote workers and their employers soon found out, however, not all work-from-home environments are created equal. Remote work sounds like a cushy gig, but it takes the right combination of factors to make virtual employment beneficial for both parties.
If you’re thinking about hybrid or fully remote work for your staff, take note of the qualities that make for a productive, morale-boosting virtual work environment.
1. Flexibility is a cornerstone.
Not everyone wants to work from home all the time, and some don’t want to work from home at all. Rather than dealing in absolutes, giving your employees a choice empowers them to make the decision that suits their needs and preferences.
This may or may not be possible, depending on your industry. Teachers, for example, can’t easily switch back and forth between the classroom and the home office. But accountants, attorneys, and even therapists can perform at least some of their duties without physically coming to work.
Consider how flexible you can be in extending remote work options to your staff. When you can, let your employees choose if and when to take advantage of the opportunity to work virtually.
2. Expectations are clearly defined.
Employees are more likely to perform at their best when they know what’s expected of them, especially when the work environment changes or when they don’t have managers or supervisors nearby for direct guidance.
If you opt for a hybrid environment, where employees are sometimes in the office and sometimes at home, your staff needs to know what days they can work remotely, when they’ll be required to show up in person, and what protocols to follow when they choose to stay home.
Even for a fully remote setup, make your parameters crystal clear. Do employees still need to report at a certain time? If so, how will they let you know that they’re “clocked in” from home? How will you ensure that they’re taking legally required breaks but not taking advantage of minimal oversight?
Figure out what a successful hybrid or virtual work situation looks like from your company’s and stakeholders’ perspectives. Then, develop easy-to-follow guidelines for your employees.
Make sure your expectations are fair, however. One of the great appeals of remote work is its freedom, so avoid micromanaging unnecessarily. Requiring staff to dress professionally for Zoom meetings is reasonable, but telling them not to wear pajamas while they send emails is a bit much.
3. Employers help with the logistics.
Especially if your company has only recently shifted to remote work, your employees might not be totally prepared. Believe it or not, not everyone has a computer or WiFi at home, nor does everyone have a distraction-free workspace outside the office.
Get ahead of these issues by directly asking employees if their homes are prepared for remote work, and take inventory of how you’d be able to help them get there. Can your company afford to give out remote work stipends? Is there any tech you can invest in, like wireless headsets or laptops?
It’s important, too, to be aware that W2 employees can’t deduct any work-from-home expenses on their taxes. If they have to pay for equipment, furniture, software, or extra utilities in order to perform the job they do for you, you’re the only one who can reimburse them for those costs. Take care of your staff–particularly if working remotely is a requirement–and they’ll take care of you in the form of company loyalty and heightened productivity.
4. Support is extended proactively.
Aside from stipends or reimbursements, remote employees need to know that the same resources they had in the office are still available from home. Don’t assume that no news is good news in a hybrid or remote work environment–your staff might be struggling but not be comfortable enough to tell you.
Periodically reach out to and check in with your employees. Let them know how they can access human resources, supervisors, upper leadership, and tech support. Ask how they’re doing and what would make the remote work experience better overall.
This is also a great way to keep tabs on if remote work is worth offering long term. If your employees adjust well and maintain or exceed their in-office performance, you will have successfully modernized your company’s work model.
5. Patience is a company pillar.
The transition to remote work, even in the best of situations, will inevitably come with hiccups. It also comes with an understanding that the lines between your employees’ personal and professional lives blur somewhat. Their Internet may go down from time to time, or the occasional toddler may waddle past the camera during an important Zoom meeting.
These things are bound to happen–even to you–so you may as well take them in stride. Your employees will appreciate your recognition of the fact that they are indeed human, and they’ll be grateful to see you acknowledge your own humanity, too.
This doesn’t mean that expectations for decorum and responsibility go to the wayside; it simply means that you intentionally cultivate a company culture that acknowledges the reality of a hybrid or virtual work environment.
By resisting the urge to wield discipline where you can use humor or compassion instead, you’ll improve the remote work experience for both you and your staff. By viewing these moments as opportunities to build connections, you’ll strengthen rapport, learn more about your employees, and make an unforgettable (and inexpensive) investment in your #1 resource: human capital.
Some companies have used a hybrid or fully virtual work model for the last two years, while others are just now making the switch. Either way, it’s become abundantly clear that remote work is here to stay.
Implementing virtual work options is a learning process, though, for leadership and staff alike. Don’t be afraid to innovate and adjust as you go. As long as you remain patient and flexible, you’ll ensure a good experience and healthy environment for employees working remotely.
Announcement: Vantage Circle makes strategic investment in Qarrot
The past few years have brought significant growth and development here at Qarrot.
We’ve had the good fortune to welcome many new customers from a wide range of industries with employees in dozens of different countries. We’ve continued to listen to our customers and add new features and functionality based on their feedback. Further, we’ve grown our team and entered into distribution partnerships.
And for the past year, we’ve been developing a relationship with the team at Vantage Circle, a global leading employee engagement solution. Its AI-powered employee engagement suite includes, Vantage Rewards, Vantage Perks, Vantage Pulse, and Vantage Fit. And its roster of customers includes well-known brands such as Wipro, Tata Communications, LnT Infotech, Airtel, and Bosch.
Though Vantage Circle and Qarrot focus on different market segments, we have a similar vision for the global employee recognition market and where it’s headed. Moreover, we have complimentary experience and perspectives.
And, so, I’m very excited to share that Vantage Circle has made a strategic investment in Qarrot. Read the full press release here.
This investment will bring both organizations closer together and provide further fuel for Qarrot to grow and better serve small to mid-sized businesses with its easy-to-use employee recognition solution.
With that in mind, the team at Qarrot is looking forward to a year ahead with many exciting product updates, lots of further growth, and a great new partnership with Vantage Circle.
How To Empower Employees To Take Charge of Their Personal Development
When you hear "personal and career development," you may feel a flash of dread. As a leader or manager, you know the importance of employee development. Time over time, statistics and studies show a lack of development is a leading cause of employee turnover.
Here are a few examples:
- Pew Research found that 63% of respondents who left jobs in 2021 gave the lack of advancement opportunities as the reason for leaving.
- According to a 2022 McKinsey study, insufficient career advancement was the most common reason for quitting a job.
- According to a 2022 SHRM report, 61% of respondents cited lack of career development and advancement as a top three cause of turnover, while 21% said it was the number one reason.
Despite the glaring statistics, for many managers, it seems impossible to prioritize. You know it's your responsibility. And, of course, you want to help employees grow their skills and careers. But your to-do list is overflowing with a million other tasks that are arguably more urgent.
Ideally, your employees would take an active role in their professional development. They would come to you with questions, sharing with you their goals and professional aspirations.
The reality is employee development should be a two-way street. Managers shouldn't bear all the responsibility. You can empower your employees to advocate for their professional development and growth.
In this article, we'll cover actionable strategies on how to empower employees to take charge of their own professional development. As a result, your employees will be given the tools and road map to take charge of their own careers. As a manager, your role will be more of a helpful guide rather than the primary driving force.
What is Employee Empowerment?
Would you rather have to micromanage your employees to get even the smallest of tasks completed? Or would you rather have them be self-motivated and independent? Of course, most managers would choose the second. Self-motivated employees mean less work for you as a leader.
Despite this, many leaders end up doing the opposite. The idea of giving employees more freedom can trigger a leader's biggest fears. In short, people taking advantage of company time and not delivering results. Many try to avoid this by doubling down on the opposite of autonomy. Control.
Like many things in human psychology, the answer lies in a counterintuitive approach. When leaders offer employees freedom and autonomy, they are motivated and perform better.
In an HBR article titled When Empowering Employees Works, and When It Doesn't, researchers explain what it means to empower employees. They state, "leaders who were perceived as more empowering were more likely to delegate authority to their employees, ask for their input, and encourage autonomous decision-making."
In essence, empowering employees is about providing a baseline level of guidance, support, and structure. But also give employees the opportunity to test their ideas and innovate within those set parameters.
In other words, it's not about letting employees run wild and free. But giving them a basic structure and letting them experiment within it. According to the researchers, this management style leads to employees who "are more likely to be powerful, confident individuals, who are committed to meaningful goals and demonstrate initiative and creativity to achieve them."
How does all this apply to employee development? Managers often act as the driving force of employee development. This places an undue burden on managers on top of all their other duties.
In reality, employee development has a greater chance of thriving when employees are empowered to advance their development.
With a few strategies, managers can enable employees to take the lead in their own careers. Managers are still responsible for high-level direction, support, and approval. But employees will be in charge of steering their own ship.
How To Empower Employees To Take Charge of Their Development
1. Understand employee needs from the start
Often, development talks begin before an employee starts their new job. If they didn’t occur in the interview, a great time to start is during the onboarding process.
By setting the tone from the start, you can show your employees that their development matters to you, and you can guide them through building a learning path to help them succeed in their roles (and beyond).
Here are a few questions to start these conversations:
- What are your long-term professional and career ambitions?
- What do you hope to achieve in this role?
- What skills do you hope to acquire or improve?
- Are you looking to grow your career quickly (i.e. take on management responsibilities) or deepen your knowledge as an individual contributor?
If you use skills assessments in your recruiting process, you can use those insights to identify skill gaps and areas for improvement.
Empowering employees to tackle self-development from the start of their time at your organization will show them they are in control of their future. This perspective shift can help them view their new role as a growth opportunity instead of feeling like they are a slave to your bottom line. The more in control of their future they feel, the more likely they will want to continue their journey at your company.
2. Embed it into your culture with a dedicated meeting
Work is busy. Our to-do lists are constantly growing with new and shifting priorities. By its very nature, “employee career development” is a forward-looking process. When you’re so busy thinking about the here and now, planning for the future can quickly fall by the wayside.
This is why it's crucial to carve out dedicated time for development discussions. Be realistic. Don’t set these meetings at a frequency that seems unattainable. That will only lead to cancelled meetings, and nothing kills employee morale like cancelling a meeting they were looking forward to. Start small, test out how employees respond, and adjust accordingly from there.
For example, you can start by booking a meeting every 6-month with each employee. By proactively bringing up this topic and dedicating time to it, you will demonstrate to employees that you are serious about their professional development. In turn, they will be more likely to be proactive on their side, come prepared for the meetings, and be an advocate for their own development.
3. Set clear goals and expectations
Getting a recurring meeting set up is a good start. But it’s not enough for employees to feel empowered to take charge of their professional development. They still have to consider important questions like:
- What long-term goals are you working towards?
- What type of projects are you enjoying or not enjoying?
- What skills do you want to improve?
Remember: Empowering employees isn’t about letting them run wild and free. Employees still need some high-level direction. This is especially true when they are more junior or at the start of their careers. In other words, clearly defining expectations and setting goals is crucial to ensuring employees start on the right foot.
For example, as part of your discussion for each meeting, you can establish one “career and professional development” objective to achieve.
This can take many forms, for example, working on a self-directed project, shadowing with another department, or taking an online course.
With open communication and asking the right questions, you can help employees develop a high-level objective to work towards. Establishing clear goals and objectives is the foundation of employee empowerment. The idea is to help employees with a general direction to work towards; how they get there is up to them.
4. Provide access to resources for development
A great way to empower employees to pursue their development is to set aside a budget for learning and development.
- Online courses
- Webinars, training programs, workshops, etc.
- Magazines, publications, books, etc.
- Conferences, events, etc.
Of course, some materials and resources aren't free. But many others these days are free or highly affordable. You can consider carving out a monthly "learning budget" where employees are reimbursed for any learning materials and resources above. Even a small budget can go a long way for online courses and learning materials.
As a way of motivating employees to take part in additional learning and development, you can create a channel in your local work chat where employees share any additional learning programs that they are undertaking, whether it be attending a webinar or completing an online course.
You can even make it a group challenge to get the ball rolling. For example, find an online course that appeals to your entire team and make it a quarterly challenge to complete the course. You can even incentivize and reward those who follow through with their final goal.
Providing access to these learning opportunities and materials will help establish a culture of learning and development among your team. Employees will feel their career development is being prioritized, empowering them to take action.
5. Help them identify their strengths (and weaknesses!)
As a manager, you know that no two employees are created alike. Some employees are amazing self-starters and need very little prompting. Others, however, seem impossible to convince to go beyond the minimum.
In the book Radical Candor, Kim Scott, author and management expert, proposes a model to help managers evaluate their employees' performance and guide them into roles which will allow them to perform at their best.
In other words, Scott truly believes that everyone can be an A-player employee. If they perform at average or mediocre levels, what she calls “B player employees,” it reflects a bad job fit. A manager's job is to steer employees out of this limbo. A new position may even be necessary.
The first step to empower employees is to help them identify their strengths, highlight what they are good at, and where their potential lies. But the other side of the coin is important, too; challenging employees by letting them know where their work is falling short or where their weaknesses lie.
Of course, it’s difficult to have these conversations. But challenging people shows that you care enough to point out when things aren't going well. And Scott believes the “discomfort is better than being labelled permanently “B Players.” Ultimately, it will benefit both parties (and even the entire organization) when employees' strengths are developed and utilized.
6. Help facilitate connections
As a manager or leader, you may have exposure or access to other leaders or departments that your employees may not have contact with. These connections can be a powerful way to promote their development and learning.
For example, during an employee's tenure, they might realize they want to develop skills they aren't using in their current role. They may also express an interest in learning more about another department or team.
This curiosity doesn't mean you must transfer a valuable employee to another team. You can, however, arrange an introduction and offer shadowing or mentorship opportunities. The goal is to empower employees to explore different areas of interest.
Ultimately, what’s better for the organization's bottom line? Having an employee unhappy and struggling in their current role. Or have the employee be more productive and feel empowered in a role that’s a better fit for their skills and talents.
In the end, allowing your team to explore other options and grow their skills will give them a sense of purpose in their work. More importantly, they will feel the company and leaders truly care about their long-term growth and happiness, which is the best strategy for employee empowerment.
7. Recognize & reward development efforts
Employee recognition is underutilized as an employee motivation and empowerment tool. It costs zero dollars to give recognition. By letting employees know what you value with positive reinforcement, you can boost their motivation.
In the context of professional development, giving employees recognition for completing an online course, meeting training requirements, or taking on a stretch assignment can be a powerful way to motivate employees to continue down this path.
Moreover, it can set the bar for the rest of the team. Using a recognition tool like Qarrot, you can easily post a recognition to a public social feed for everyone to see. When you give recognition for a specific achievement or embodying a certain value, it signals to the team what is important to you. As a result, this provides employees with the incentive to meet this standard as well.
Remember, the best type of recognition is specific and timely. Don’t wait too long until the goal is complete to offer recognition, and try to avoid vague or high-level “good jobs.” Shine a light on the precise accomplishment the employee completed and its impact on you and the team.
This type of detailed recognition is most likely to fuel a growth mindset among your employees and team. As a result, your team will be more motivated to continue to embrace challenges, seek learning opportunities, and invest in their development.
Being a manager involves more than guiding your employees through their daily tasks. It's about helping them become the best versions of themselves and giving them the tools to grow in the company.
But this duty doesn't have to fall on the shoulders of leaders. Employees should be responsible for being proactive about their development as well. First, leaders must provide some basic guidance and support—empowering employees with a roadmap to growth and success.
When employees are inspired to take control of their own development, it's not just good for them—it's good for the whole company. Setting clear goals and expectations, identifying employee strengths, and providing access to learning resources are critical steps toward empowerment.
As employees invest in their development, the positive effects spread throughout the organization. This leads to happier employees, better work, and a team capable of handling challenges. Ultimately, when organizations commit to helping employees shape their careers, it's a win-win.