What Employees Want: A Satisfying Culture

What Employees Want: A Satisfying Culture

Written by: Rebecca Korsen

Does your company have a culture that keeps employees satisfied? If not, consider the impact to your bottom line. A Glassdoor survey showed that more than half the respondents valued workplace culture over salary [1].  That makes sense, right? Culture is a driver for current employees, new hires, and for fresh talent emerging in the industry–and directly affects your business performance. In this edition, we will explore several characteristics of a strong culture that will help attract and retain talent and drive results.

Employees want…Collaboration – 

Most can agree that collaboration fuels employee motivation. Employers can foster a collaborative environment by encouraging teamwork.  Holding weekly team meetings is a good starting point – establish a dedicated time for employees to ask questions and raise concerns, as well as connect with one another.  Consider using a business communication platform, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, to connect with all employees.  These platforms enable one-stop shopping for connecting colleagues.  A final key to collaboration is to encourage two-way exchanges between leaders and employees.  Creating this open dialogue allows employees’ ideas to be heard, increasing employee satisfaction. 

Employees want…Flexibility – 

Since the Spring of 2020,  workplace flexibility has become even more important in attracting and retaining talent.  During COVID-19, employees have struggled to juggle professional and personal obligations while working remotely.  Leaders can help by showing flexibility with employee work schedules.  Many organizations have allowed employees to establish a work schedule that accommodates their needs. Others have offered employee flex days. Flex days can be offered at some regular frequency so employees can dedicate additional time to personal care. This option also promotes employee wellness, creating a healthier, more focused workforce. 

Employees want…Innovation – 

Most employees want to make an impact within their organization. For example, Google allows employees to dedicate 20% of their time to innovation.  Leaders can foster a culture of innovation by encouraging employees to share their ideas.  It’s easy enough to stand up brainstorming sessions or online forums.  And recognizing innovation–big or small–is another positive step to take.  For example, an employee that proposes a small process improvement is showing innovation by striving for results-based improvement.  

Employees want …Growth – 

To improve engagement and retention, understand that many employees want to further themselves professionally and realize their potential. Consider how you can provide developmental opportunities to your employees.   Expanding assignments, and offering or sponsoring additional training specific to their role can further skill development that drives better business outcomes. Offering career rotational positions or special short-term assignments will allow employees to explore new and different areas within your business that may fuel long term career pathing for employees.  Creating online career navigation tools, and setting up monthly training on relevant topics will show employees your commitment to their career development.   

Employees want…Encouragement

Employees value an employer that values their hard work and determination.  Encouragement can take on many different forms. For example, you can provide verbal positive and critical feedback, so employees feel valued and have clear measurable expectations. Providing individual feedback should be scheduled consistently 1:1 to discuss career goals & objectives as well as overall performance. Teams can also provide feedback, or “shoutouts” highlighting individual positive performance. This can be accomplished through team meetings or through team emails. A second form of encouragement can be through providing rewards or incentives. Incentives/rewards can be in the form of providing certificates of appreciation, assigning an employee of the month, providing monetary rewards such as gift cards or vouchers, or assigning leadership/higher level tasks to recognized employees. 


By incorporating these aspects into your employee experience, you will enjoy the rewards. Once employees are offered collaboration, flexibility, innovation, growth, and engagement, they will consistently bring their A-game. And that investment pays big dividends that will boost your bottom line. 


Using Communications to Bridge a Divide

By KDH Creative Director Molly Russin


Want to bridge a divide?

Choose your words carefully.

I’m fascinated with a poll conducted by Frank Luntz and the de Beaumont Foundation called Changing the COVID Conversation. According to Dr. Luntz, “…our leaders need to remove politics and partisanship from their messaging and give Americans a better reason to comply other than because it’s good for them.


This hit home for me, and it might for you, too. I have a brother who refers to COVID as “the flu.” My neighbor divides our community into “maskers” and “anti-maskers.” And a former colleague calls those who won’t get vaccinated “entitled West Coast brats.” If we’re honest, we all use labels to identify certain behaviors but this year, especially, those labels carry strong and unmistakable political overtones.


As a communications aficionado, I firmly agree that when two sides are miles apart, the way to bring them together—or at least closer—is by paying careful attention to the words that we use and the labels that we assign. This may sound obvious but it’s no easy task.


Certain words put fuel on an already raging fire. You’ve seen it before in many different industries. For instance, the “Diet and Nutrition” industry morphed into the “Health and Wellness” movement. The former smacks of deprivation while the latter is positive and empowering. James Clifton notes in an article in New Food Magazine, that Weight Watchers’ recent rebrand to WW follows a similar “healthful” path. Purging the brand of the ‘Weight’ word presumably makes it feel more comfortable to a wider audience, not consciously on a diet. Similarly, the use of and reference to “big” models has morphed to the more politically correct (and kinder) “curvy” and “full figured”.


According to Dr. Luntz, in all conversations that seek to bridge a divide, it’s critical to

Focus on the benefits of success rather than the consequences of failure (Vaccines are coming soon; life will return to normal again)
Don’t expect people to go along because “it’s good for them”; rather, speak to what might happen if they don’t do their part (Just one infection can grow to shutter an entire city)
Keep politics out of it; ensure that messaging is neutral


In the deBeaumont poll, they published the following list of “This not That” words to help bring people together as we continue to fight this common enemy. Details are available at debeaumont.org/changing-the-covid-conversation.


The next time you’re seeking to bridge a divide, choose your words carefully. Need help thinking through your messaging? KDH Consulting can help.






*Changing the COVID conversation by Mark Miller, deBeaumont.org, 11/30/2020

What Internal Communications can Learn from Netflix: 5 things to consider to engage employees in 2021

By Guest Blogger Rebecca Korsen

With the promise of in person work still a distant glimmer of hope, employers should challenge themselves to continue to engage employees in 2021 in ways that connect and inspire them. There may be a lesson, or two companies can glean from streaming giant Netflix:


1. Everyone loves a story  Take for example, these hit series: New Girl”, “Stranger Things”, and or even an oldy, “Friends”. What do they have in common? A terrific story line that the audience connects with personally.  By the end of the first few episodes, the characters feel like family. Consider pushing story and friendships back into your organization. Give employees a story that they can bond over and share for seasons to come.

But where can you start? You don’t have to look far: your employees and stakeholders are the source for strong stories.  Putting employees work stories and successes center stage can unite and spark engagement. Employees are the backbone to any organization, why not let their work stories shape the company narrative? And don’t forget about customers.  Who do employees work for and to what end? Highlighting customer needs and solutions is another great story arc.  To capture this content, some companies dedicate a forum or webpage to make sure their stories and feedback are being shared to motivate and inspire collaboration.


2. On demand is in demand  Compelling stories readily available? Count us (and your employees) in!Netflix has excelled because it allows people to watch what they want, when they want. Consider how accessible your company’s content is. Just be mindful, working remote might put a wrench into individual user accessibility. With many organizations, working 100% remote, technology issues are bound to show up. So how can make the connection better? Measure accessibility to improve outreach. Possibilities include gauging employee activity through online surveys, clicks/likes per minute, or even by using email outreach to directly advertise available content!


3. Snackable content Grab a comfy seat, your popcorn, soda and candy; we are about to binge watch! Bingeable content is always in high demand because it is often short and sweet! Same goes for organizational trainings, announcements, and newsfeed content. All content should be straight forward and to the point yet entertaining and engaging. The window is small to capture your audience. Planning a series of bingeable content that is quick and easy to digest will maximize an employee’s workday.

Think about your own binging habits—if the content grabs you, it’s easy to tell yourself, “OK, I’ll watch one more episode; it’s only 23 minutes.” (We have lots of research that proves this.)  Now ask yourself: how bingeable is your organization content? Do you leave them craving one more story? One more “episode”?

4. Trending now – Users always have their preferences on what they like to watch. In an organization, same thing applies. How can we track user preferences to see what is trending? Data analytics can be extremely helpful to determinemost likes or most views narrowing down on personal preferences when it comes to most watched content. With this data, employers can highlight which organizational content is the most important and even consider which content should be the main focus. A simple 5-star rating of an article tells you employees accessed it, read it, and liked it! Even live events can provide important information about accessibility.  There are many response meters and ways to measure connectivity that will help create a clear connection that brings employees coming back for more. By measuring most views and most liked content, employers can provide personalized recommendations or even personalized watch lists to every employee. Everyone gets what they want and more!


5. What’s your “genre”? Netflix is ahead of the competition because it offers genres that attractevery user. If you had to pick what type of show your company is most aligned to, what would it be? While a company certainly is more than a Netflix series, considering an organization’s genre can spark some ideas on your storyline or “red thread” through communications. Take a look at some fun examples:


Mystery/Suspense:  Startup companies are an easy fit into this genre.  As companies work towards launching a big product, each day is filled with challenges (mysteries to solve) for smart, resourceful employees. Will the start-up make it? Will it succeed? The outcome is unknown, and it makes for some exciting, adrenalin pumping stories. Think Designated Survivor, Homeland, or Criminal Minds.

Heart-warming shows: Does your company focus on important social issues? Are you trying to make the world a better place? Non-profits are akin to the engaging, heart-warming series we love to watch.   Feel-good shows are watchable because they pull at our heartstrings and evoke an emotion that makes us want to join the cause and celebrate what’s good in the world. Somefavorites include Atypical, Babies, and Down to Earth with Zach Efron.

Rom-Coms: Romantic comedies make us laugh and feel good at the same time. This popular genre, often in movie format, is typically about bringing people together to find happiness and love–really to find a better existence. That’s an easy bridge to consumer good companies.  Consumer goods companies are focused on delivering products and services that make for a better existence for customers. So many favorites to choose from here, including When Harry Met Sally, The Notebook, or The Holiday.


Epic series: What type of company most aligns to the storylines we see in epic series? Large corporations are a best bet.  Epics are long sweeping tales that depict a rich history of characters, events, and themes. Established organizations with long histories and perhaps multiple divisions reflect the kind of grandeur and sagas often played out in epics.  The stories and the characters are complex and have lasting impact. There are so many examples to choose from, including Orange Is The New Black, The Crown, or The Last Czars.



It may seem like a stretch to mirror what employees are streaming during their off hours at home.  But as the lines between home and work continue to blend throughout quarantines and work-at-home mandates, you might find some of these watching trends useful as you tackle your 2021 communication plans. Looking for relevant content with impact, give us a call! We’ll help you create a great story!

Motivation Magic: Breaking Down What Good Looks Like

By Guest Blogger Rebecca Korsen

With current surges in the global pandemic and the fact that recently or soon-to-be- approved vaccines are not yet ready for widespread distribution, working remotely remains the norm. Most physical offices are still closed, and research points to the lack of social interaction negatively affecting employee drive. How can employers identify what good work looks like  in this remote workforce era? The answer may be as simple as prioritizing and measuring employee motivation. Why employee motivation? It’s a direct correlation to employee engagement. Engaged employees are happier and more productive, which limits company turnover and increases workplace satisfaction. And so, to reveal this “motivation magic ,” employers need to understand and utilize motivators. Below are a few motivators that employers can leverage within their organizations.

Recognition. Employees find satisfaction in being recognized for their accomplishments; a simple “thank you” or “you’re doing a great job” can positively change employees’ outlook, motivating them to forge ahead. For this reason, creating a recognition framework can boost employee work ethic. For example, employers can use a virtual platform to identify and recognize employee accomplishments. There is also power in peer-nominated recognition. Even remotely, peers often see things that managers and leaders do not. By encouraging employees to recognize their co-worker’s accomplishments, employers can also create a stronger team comradery.

20% Project. The 20% project carves out 20% of an employee’s work week which is dedicated to brainstorming projects that are beneficial to the organization. Research shows that innovative entities like Google adopted this strategy and validated that employees can be creative and still meet standards and deliverables. The results show employees are more engaged when they can tap into this type of creative outlet, leading to increased productivity and work ethic.

Growth. One of the biggest drivers of employee engagement is the potential to become better and excel within an organization. Employers can encourage personal growth by assigning new and challenging tasks to employees. In addition, dedicating time to discuss employee growth and career objectives motivates employees to continue to strive within their current position. Working with your employee to identify a career path shows that you care about their success, which will energize your workforce.

Feedback Matters – now more than ever. Preserving or setting aside time to discuss individual employee performance shows that you care. Providing positive and constructive feedback to employees not only helps them better perform, but it also lets them know you see and appreciate their strengths and accomplishments. Perhaps employees have developed a new skill during the pandemic? Perhaps they have demonstrated resilience or leadership? These are notable examples of employees staying engaged and adapting to the circumstances. By dedicating time to give feedback to your workforce, employees will become more productive and value the extra time you invest in their personal development.

Compensation. Financial compensation has always been a top motivator. However, employers don’t have to spend top dollar to show gratitude. Creating friendly competition, such as contests to encourage collaboration, can motivate employees to exceed expectations. Even handing out snacks, gift cards, or greeting cards to recognize accomplishments is a small gesture that can make all the difference.

In addition to leveraging the motivators identified above, employers can tap into employee feedback to identify other things that drive motivation. Consider some of the many ways to collect their insights:

  • create employee surveys
  • put an employee engagement platform in place to acquire feedback electronically
  • conduct one-on-one chat sessions to discuss and ask questions about their level of motivation.

Once perspectives have been collected, employers can determine which ideas to implement to improve employee engagement.

After diving-in and better understanding employee motivation, the motivation magic has been revealed. Employees will be satisfied, happier, and much more fulfilled when it comes to their careers and their future. We have learned that when employers promote and understand these motivators, their workforce can change for the better!