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How 'Kudos' Can Transform Team Meetings, Culture, Morale, and Relationships

By | Published on | 7 min read
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >How 'Kudos' Can Transform Team Meetings, Culture, Morale, and Relationships</span>

You’ve spent months working on a project. You’ve dedicated countless hours on collecting data and organizing it into a swoon-worthy presentation complete with easy-to-digest handouts. You nail your presentation during a team meeting and in return, they give you a few sleepy claps and mutter ‘thank you’ as they rush off.

Talk about a buzz kill! 

You didn’t expect a standing ovation, but you did expect some kudos.

Why Kudos Play A Part In Employee Retention

Employee recognition, open acknowledgment, and appreciation go a long way. In fact, had your boss or peers given you the kudos that you deserved, you wouldn’t have disengaged from that one deflating moment onward. You now run the risk of becoming a costly detractor.

According to Kudos, a company whose sole purpose is to dish out employee kudos (because it’s that important), the number one thing that employees want at work is recognition. Recognizing employees is the most important driver of great work—not more money, perks, inspiration, autonomy, or education. 

Kudos. 

For 80% of the working population, money can’t buy happiness or engagement. Half of them want opportunities to prove themselves and further their careers. The other half wants to feel emotionally connected to their company and work.

What if kudos was the answer? Giving praise for achievements can be as simple as a boss or peer saying ‘great work!’ in an email, in person, or on a public forum. Such a simple solution has great power and can help companies avoid costly long-term issues. 

Let’s look at the facts: 

Organizations with disengaged employees are paying for their unhappiness. In fact, unhappy workers cost the North American business economy more than $350 billion per year in lost productivity. This doesn’t even consider the high cost of increased turnover rates, decreased employee happiness (which spreads!) and empowerment, poor team culture, and lower performance results. 

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Some organizations invest as much as 10% of their payroll on employee recognition programs. They reward significant accomplishments with awards, for example. Most organizations spend 1-2% of payroll toward kudos programs. Regardless, giving kudos is something that should be invested in, taken seriously, and it should be specific and consistent. 

How do kudos transform the company and team culture and morale, relationships, and team meetings? How can your company start giving out more kudos and high-fives for achievements?

Why Are Kudos And Positive Feedback So Important?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that the brain releases when we feel good. It’s a large part of how humans think and behave. Likewise, oxytocin is widely considered the love hormone. Both flood to the brain when positive feedback, kudos, or recognition is given. The best way to make people function at their highest potential is to reward them with those good feelings. 

It’s that simple. 

Reward achievements often and in different ways and watch your team thrive. 

Why Public Kudos And Great Team And Company Culture Go Hand-In-Hand

Rewind to your presentation. As your colleagues are leaving, your boss stops them to call out how great your research and presentation were. In that instant, several wonderful things happened. 

First off, your self-esteem, happiness, and engagement were restored. Whew! You no longer run the risk of becoming a detractor (for now—so long as the kudos keep coming!).

Secondly, you and anyone who heard your public kudos have just been incentivized in more ways than one. You’re inspired to continue to do great work and share it with the team. In that moment of recognition, you’ve been given autonomy, a nod to your mastery, and purpose. The holy grail of workplace motivation. 

You’ve raised the bar among your team members and your peers witnessed your public acknowledgment. Most likely, they want the same from themselves now too. They’ve just been incentivized to do equally great work and share their contributions with the team. 

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Your kudos elevated you, your team, and your company culture to a higher, more engaged level. Some friendly competition among peers may even ensue in the days, weeks, and months to come. In fact, productivity spikes by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees. 

Millennials Expect A Workplace Culture Of Recognition

Because highly engaged employees are attracted to companies that recognize achievements, more connected, top talent will turn out for career postings. For Millennials in the workforce, for example, employee recognition isn’t a perk, it’s an expectation. They are attracted to company cultures that celebrate individualism and autonomy—and recognize personal (and team) achievements. 

If you build a team and company culture that celebrates achievements, then you will attract and retain like-minded employees. 

Increase Team And Company Morale With Kudos

If everyone on your team was recognized often for their contributions, think of how positive your workplace morale would be! Your team members would be releasing good vibes often, which rubs off on everyone around them. And so the cycle continues. High fives all around for jobs well-done sounds like a great place to work, doesn’t it?

Higher team morale has so many positive benefits including:

  • Higher employee retention and satisfaction
  • Higher employee loyalty
  • Greater team engagement and connectivity
  • Elevated team productivity, which boosts sales and helps meet team and company targets (queue more kudos!)
  • Heightened team positivity, which often means better customer service (more kudos!)
  • Improved team spirit and company atmosphere 
  • Improved performance reports
  • Consistent employee attendance and greater health

How Recognition Can Improve Workplace Relationships

If you deep-cleaned your entire house and your partner (or roommate or friend) came home and didn’t notice your hard work or thank you, you’d probably be disappointed. You might even bring it to their attention in an effort to get the kudos you deserve. If this becomes a pattern, you might even start to resent them.

Why is your workplace any different? 

Sure, you get paid to do your job. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t want a pat on the back when you go above and beyond what was expected of you. 

Recognition can come in all forms and from anyone. In fact, peer-to-peer recognition is equally, if not more powerful than from someone in a leadership role. This is perhaps because kudos from your boss may feel somewhat expected. From your peers, however, the recognition may feel like a more meaningful gesture of gratitude or acknowledgment.

Try giving a meaningful ‘thank you’ to your peers today and see how it makes both you and them feel. Just like a boomerang, the kudos will likely come back your way soon (and improve your workplace relationships). 

How Kudos Can Transform Team Meetings

Okay, back to your presentation. Now that you’ve raised the bar on what your team can (and should) achieve and you’ve been recognized for it, your team members have equal incentives to share, contribute, and engage more in meetings.  

This will result in more well-rounded and inspired meetings, discussions, and ideas. More team members will be motivated to share their findings too, which brings fresh perspectives and ideas to the room. Meetings have been temporarily revived, especially if the kudos keep coming! 

Make a habit of giving public kudos during meetings. That way, everyone will be more engaged and keen to contribute. Plus, your meetings will have a positive spin on them and ensure that everyone leaves feeling good (and motivated). 

Ways To Incorporate And Encourage Kudos-Giving 

How can you implement kudos into your daily workflow? How do you encourage employees to high-five their peers for their achievements? 

Here are some ideas to consider implementing into your team workflow:

  • Start and end team meetings with public kudos 
  • Create a kudos public board to showcase your team’s awesome work
  • Make sure that recognition is timely, specific, and consistent
  • Express genuine thanks for a specific achievement in 1:1 meetings 
  • Take the team out for lunch. If your team is remote, send them a gift card to their favorite restaurant.
  • Offer reward programs for achievements
  • Offer flexibility and other perks in acknowledgment of the achievement
  • Reward teams for hitting targets by letting them off early on a Friday
  • Organize mini-presentations for high-achievers to show their work
  • Invest in platforms to share achievements and give high fives

Implementing tools and practices that support kudos-giving shows that this is something that is here to stay. Soon it will become a part of your workplace culture and feel natural to say thank you or reward outstanding achievements. 

With time and effort, your leadership and peers will learn how to praise individuals and teams in meaningful gestures that motivate and inspire them to continue doing great work. 


Good or bad, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Find us on Twitter (@trello)!

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