Emily Ciavolino

Emily is a former Director of Sales at Bonusly, where her focus was making Bonusly a great place to work and empowering companies of all types and sizes to build engaging workplaces.

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Thanks to the popular Netflix series "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo”, the KonMari method has spiked in popularity in the last month. KonMari memes are everywhere, there’s been a dramatic increase in donated clothes, and the principles have been applied to everything you can imagine, from your calendar, relationships, pet toys, and finances.

The KonMari method, originally published in 2011 by Marie Kondo, is a system for tidying your life. The process involves inspecting each item in your house by category, taking a moment to hold each item, and keeping only the items that “spark joy."

The KonMari method isn’t just about a clean home. Kondo says it’s about choosing joy, transforming your life, and looking forward. Can these transformative ideas be brought into the workplace too? Can you spark joy and look forward at work with the KonMari method?

The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.
–Marie Kondō

If you don’t associate “joy” with “work”, keep reading! Joy at work is important and achievable!

We’ve all had coworkers who have fun, stay engaged, and care about their work. They’re a delight to be around and do better work than people who are just there for the paycheck. Research backs this up as well. One study found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. When it comes to salespeople, happiness has an even greater impact, raising sales by 37%

It even works for Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, who sounds a bit like Marie Kondo when it comes to fun at work, "Have fun, work hard and money will come. Don't waste time—grab your chances. Have a positive outlook on life. When it's not fun, move on.”

Every day and moment at work might not be full of joy, and that’s to be expected. Getting rid of all negative emotions is both impossible and undesirable. Negative emotions signal risk and trigger helpful stress responses. The key is to achieve the right ratio of positive to negative emotions. High performing teams have a ratio of about 5.625 to 1, which means every criticism or frustration, there are six positive experiences like recognition or accomplishment.

Ready to apply the KonMari method and spark joy at work? We’ll start with something you could do this afternoon: your desk, and then we'll move towards some bigger KonMari projects.


Start small—your desk

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.
–Marie Kondō

The most intuitive workspace to apply the KonMari method is your desk, your “home” at work. Because the task is so similar, tidying a physical space, you hardly need to adjust the method at all. Here’s a quick guide:

  1. Take a moment to envision the ideal state of your desk. How would you like to feel at your desk? What would you like to be reminded of?
  2. Remove everything from your desk and sort it into categories. The categories might include books, chargers, pens, papers, and mugs, but this will depend on what is in your desk.
  3. Go through each item by category, starting with the easier categories, and only keep the ones that “spark joy”. Give away everything else. If there is something that doesn’t spark joy but is essential for work, see if there’s a way for you to keep that item in a way that could still align with your ideal space.
  4. Make sure each item that you’re keeping has a place it belongs on your desk.

Next step—your tools

What software and tools do you use every day? Which are frustrating and which do love to use? This includes software, electronics, physical equipment, etc. Anything you use to get the job done.

If you’re in a position to choose the software and tools your organization uses, don’t skimp on this. Find tools that will spark joy for you and your employees.

How will you know what sparks joy? You can look for two things: 1) tools that will truly make you or your employees more effective at their jobs, and 2) tools that provide a delightful experience and interface. After all, a tool is only effective if employees can easily figure out how to leverage and incorporate it into their day-to-day.

When you have things like security, reporting, scalability, and legal to consider, sparking joy might seem like a low priority, but remember that ultimately tooling is there to make employees effective. If it’s a headache to use every day, that’s taking away from the tool’s functionality and your employee engagement.

You might not get to choose all of your own tools, especially if you work in a large organization, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do with those tools that don’t spark joy.

  • Learn more about how to use them
    Ideally, you would only use tools that are user-friendly and delightful, but if you’re stuck with something complex and non-intuitive, you may be able to prevent a daily headache by setting aside an afternoon to really learn to use it. It’s hard to hate a tool if you’ve mastered it.
  • It never hurts to ask
    The tools in your company are presumably there to make you more effective at your job. If they’re not doing that, it’s worth giving that feedback to your company leadership.
  • Do you need to use that tool at all?
    If there are tools that are frustrating to you, it could be tied to the fact that you don’t want to be doing that process in the first place. Keep that in mind as you move to job crafting in the next section.

A bigger project—your job

Are there parts of your job that don’t spark joy for you? Unlike that sweater from your cousin twice removed that you never wear, you can’t just drop part of your job without consulting anyone, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with things the way they are.

It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day activities and forget the things you get to do at work, like making a real difference for customers, working with your favorite coworkers, and learning new skills.

Job Crafting is essentially KonMari for your job, and it has had similar life-changing impacts. Job crafting is a process to redesign your own job to enjoy your work more. There are three key parts: tasks, relationships, and purpose.



Write down everything that is part of your day-to-day work. What do you enjoy? What do you dread? Try to be honest with yourself. Just like our belongings, we might hold onto things that are sentimental. At work, that might look like holding onto a pet project or getting caught up on sunk costs.

Once you have a clear image of this, it might be easier than you think to make changes.

For the tasks you don’t like, there are a few approaches. First, does this need to be done at all? It’s worth asking before making any changes. If it does need to be done, are you the best person to do it? If you dread it, then there’s a good chance you’re not the best person to do it. Everyone has different strengths, and there might be someone who would love to take it on. If it needs to be done and you’re the best person to do it, then what can you do to make it better? Can you automate it? Can you promise yourself you’ll treat yourself if you can get it done in an hour? Can you change the process? Learn a new skill to make it easier?

Once you find the tasks you do like, make the most of that information. First, focus on being excellent at those things. You will enjoy your work more, and before you know it people will be asking you to do more of what you love. Also, get to the root reason you enjoy these things. Why do you really love party planning? Is it the collaboration? Creative process? Seeing the impact and getting positive feedback? Once you understand why you enjoy what you enjoy, you can find more similar rewarding work.



Write down the people you interact with at work. Who is a delight to work with? Are there people that bring you down?

People have a huge impact on how you feel and think, and it’s important to be conscious of who you spend your time with. Surround yourself with more people that make you feel great at work. You can do this by collaborating on work or through social connections. Developing friendships will make your work more engaging and satisfying. Even if you don’t want to spend time with colleagues outside of work, you can develop friendships by having a coffee during work hours or volunteering together.

If there are people bringing you down, look for ways to minimize time with them or improve the relationship. This might mean a radically candid conversation or changing a shared process. A relationship takes two, so it is likely that the relationship isn’t a delight for them either.

Frustrating customers might seem like the exception, but firing your worst customers is becoming a popular business practice. Whether you can fire your customers or not, explore ways to reduce friction or improve communication with customers. 



Last but not least, it’s time to address the purpose of your work. So far, we’ve focused on what you do every day. A huge part of sparking joy at work is focussing on why you do it. It can be challenging to think about, but it’s also highly impactful and completely in your control.

Purpose drives happiness, health, and engagement inside and outside of the office, and it’s accessible even if you aren’t working in a nonprofit or B-corp. Arthur Woods, Co-founder of Imperative, says, "Purpose is possible in any job, and the ball is in your court. As an employee, you're in the driver's seat. Your company, we hope, is in the passenger seat helping you navigate, but you're the one primarily able to control your destination.”

Start by asking yourself what is important to you. You can list general ideas, like helping people or learning new skills, and more specific interests, like fashion, travel, or cooking.

Once you know what is important to you, it’s time to look at that lists of tasks again. See how each aspect of your job contributes (or doesn’t) to your purpose and values. This might help you understand why some of your work sparks joy, and help you maximize that.

For example, let’s say you love knowing you’re helping customers. You could set up some ways to be reminded of your impact on customers during your day, prioritize the work you do that has the biggest impact on customers, and learn more about your customers’ challenges. 

Bonusly Love Bot

The Bonusly team keeps the impact of our work front of mind with the “Bonusly Love Bot”, which posts in Slack every Monday.

What's next?

If the KonMari method has helped you spark joy at work, we’d love to hear about it! Tag us on social media leave a comment. We’d love to see a desk before and after!

Why is inclusion important?

“Diversity” and “inclusion” are so frequently said together that they’re often used interchangeably, but they are two distinct (and important) ideas. In the workplace, diversity is representation: who is being recruited, hired, and promoted. Inclusion is about the environment and how each person experiences the workplace.

Diversity has been in focus in recent years, bringing bias-reducing hiring practices and representation metrics to the forefront. Creating an inclusive environment where diverse perspectives can thrive is the natural next step. 

Wondering how to do that? Watch a recording of our How to Build Inclusive Work Environments on Remote Teams virtual event!

In the words of Gwen Moran, “...once you’ve put the time and effort into building your multitalented, multifaceted A-team, you’re not going to keep them if they don’t feel valued, understood, and comfortable. That’s where inclusion—making employees feel valued, welcome and comfortable being who they are—comes in.”

Creating a workplace where employees feel valued, welcome, and comfortable will include offerings like parental leave, gender neutral bathrooms, equitable pay, and unconscious bias trainings, but it will also include something that’s not so easy to measure or check off on a list: an inclusive culture.

In inclusive cultures, companies foster a sense of equity, belonging, and psychological safety for all employees. When employees feel comfortable at work, they're happier and more innovative as a result.

How can recognition build an inclusive workplace?

Employee recognition can be the transformative force needed to build and sustain an inclusive culture. What and who is recognized (formally and informally) represents what is valued in your culture and will directly influence who will thrive. A modern, well-designed recognition system can build and sustain a culture that is inclusive and celebrates diversity.

Since most employee recognition programs are nominated awards, employee of the month, or annual reviews, it might be surprising to think of employee recognition as a powerful, essential tool for inclusion. Not all recognition will have this type of lasting impact; in some cases, recognition can even hold your organization back. Programs that reward non-inclusive behaviors or recognize a select group of people will suppress diverse perspectives and potentially lead to turnover.

Learn about the competitive advantage of diversity and inclusion for modern workforces in our easy-to-read fact sheet, 11 Diversity & Inclusion Statistics That Will Change How You Do Business!

Here are a few characteristics of modern recognition programs that can help create a sense of belonging, celebrate diverse contributions and perspectives, and develop culture around shared values:

  • 360-degree recognition, meaning that anyone can recognize anyone else in the organization
  • Timely recognition that’s both immediate and frequent
  • Interactive and visible recognition, similar to comments on social media platforms
  • Recognition tied to company values, intentionally building culture by promoting shared values
  • Insightful and data-driven recognition, so you can measure what your culture looks like and make thoughtful changes over time
  • And finally, adaptable recognition, so you can recognize accomplishments that are less visible or incentivize specific behaviors

It’s so important to engage all employees and help them feel appreciated and understood. Due to the nature of factory work, it’s much more difficult to regularly connect with factory employees than it is to connect with corporate employees. 

Since our employees can’t have their phones on the factory floor, we worked with the
Bonusly team to add the platform to kiosks in our breakrooms. With access to those kiosks and the Bonusly mobile app, everyone can easily give each other bonuses.
Andrew Schrader, Human Resources Manager at Chobani

With recognition of this caliber in place, you will be well on your way to building a more inclusive culture. Let's look at a few reasons why.

Show all employees they belong

A culture of inclusiveness is rooted in trust and respect, but it is much more than that. It's making sure that employees know that their contributions and opinions are noticed.

It's leaders and managers embracing individuality and diversity, celebrating each person's unique strengths and accepting their weaknesses. These are the work cultures in which employees feel that they belong. They feel valued and part of the conversation—empowered to offer their ideas and concerns.
Jane Miller, COO and EVP at Gallup

Culture Amp and Paradigm surveyed over 7,000 individuals from 35 organizations and found that a sense of belonging was the single metric that was consistently and universally tied to workplace commitment, motivation, pride and recommendation. Furthermore, the correlation between belonging and engagement was stronger for underrepresented groups.

Recognition shows employees that they are appreciated and highlights how their unique contributions further a shared purpose. Research from the WorkHuman Research Institute shows that employees recognized in the last month are 19% more likely to agree that they fit in at their organizations.

In order for recognition to make employees feel like they belong, companies need to ensure that all of their employees are being recognized. One way to ensure more people are recognized is to diversify the parties responsible for giving recognition.

If only executives are giving recognition, their limited number of perspectives, or value systems, will limit what is celebrated and rewarded. That’s because recognition is influenced by the recognizer’s value system. For example, in performance reviews, more than half of what determines an employee’s performance rating is a reflection of the rater, not the employee’s performance.

Companies that empower everyone to recognize and reward each other significantly expand the scope of what will be recognized and afford more employees a sense of belonging.

Companies can also improve inclusion by customizing a recognition program to different types of work. A one-size-fits-all approach could lead to entire teams feeling that their perspective and contributions are not valued.

For example, a great customer experience is essential for any business, but customers usually can't recognize individual employees. We've worked with customer-facing teams (support, sales, hospitality, etc.) to set up recognition programs that celebrate their contributions. Here are a few examples:

  • Share positive feedback and reviews from customers or partners
  • Highlight great metrics, like sales numbers or response times
  • Give employees the ability to recognize each other to capture day-to-day wins
  • Ask managers to recognize key accomplishments, especially those of less-visible employees

To magnify the impact of this recognition, it should also be visible to everyone in the company. With visible recognition, employees will witness a wide range of contributions and perspectives being recognized, showing them that their perspective is also celebrated.

Recognize helping out

Most organizations regularly assess individual accomplishments. Why not track acts of helping as well?
Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg

Teams with more "helping behavior" have better profits, sales, quality, effectiveness, revenue, and customer satisfaction, but in most workplaces, there are inclusion issues with who is helping out and who is being rewarded.

In today’s workplace, women are helping out more, being recognized less for helping, and experiencing significantly higher rates of burnout.

Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg did a joint piece on this for the New York Times, highlighting two key causes:

  1. Gender stereotypes have have created settings where women are expected to help more than men, so they’re not recognized for helping out.
  2. When men help out, they are more likely to contribute with visible behaviors—like showing up at optional meetings—while women tend to help out in private, time-consuming ways, like assisting and mentoring colleagues.

Nonexistent, minimal, or manager-to-employee recognition programs will not address this issue, so a visible, peer-to-peer recognition system is a good place to start. Peer-to-peer and 365-degree recognition programs help ensure that the behind-the-scenes work that managers might miss is appreciated. Making recognition visible will also encourage more employees to help out.

Drive cultural change to support your policies

Implementing inclusive company values and policy is a great start, but those policies need cultural shifts to support them. You can drive this with targeted recognition. Here are a few examples:

  • In the US, the average employee only takes about half of their vacation time. Even with a great leave policy, company culture needs to support it. With this bonus, a longtime Bonusly employee publicly recognized our CEO for taking his parental leave and living our company’s core values:

  • Inclusive core values are great, but only about 53% of employees know their company’s core values. Recognition tied to values integrates them into your workplace. In this example, one of our public-facing Customer Success Associates lets someone on our marketing team know exactly how a recent blog post embodied our #delight-the-customer value:
  • An inclusive hiring and onboarding process requires help from employees across many teams. Public recognition will reward employees who are already involved and encourage others to follow their example. Using a fund, like Interviewing Help, to give a bonus from indicates that the company especially values this kind of work:

Collect insights on your culture and drive change

Building an inclusive workplace is a complex, ongoing process, not a finite list of tasks to complete. Since inclusion and culture are hard to measure, many companies struggle to know what the next steps should be. Employee retention is one of the most concrete inclusion numbers, but by the time you notice negative employee retention trends, it’ll be too late—your employees will have already left.

Namely points out that Simpson's Diversity Index is a robust metric for "quantifying" diversity, but inclusion metrics aren't nearly as straightforward.

If employees are giving and receiving recognition frequently, their behavior is usually an indicator that they are engaged and feel appreciated. Is there a team or department that’s not being recognized? Are remote employees part of your culture? Is one of your A-players going through a rough patch and in need of support? Which of your company core values are rewarded most often? You can uncover these types of insights in real time with recognition data and make prompt, thoughtful changes.


Recognition in Bonusly shows which teams are being recognized and appreciated, enabling companies to continuously improve.

What does this mean for you?

Countless studies have shown that employee recognition is tied to engagement and culture building. Ignoring this connection could lead to excluding employees or promoting a non-inclusive culture.

There’s no quick fix for diversity and inclusion, but an intentionally-designed recognition program is a great first step towards creating a sense of belonging, celebrating diverse perspectives, developing a culture around shared values, and gaining insights to drive ongoing improvement. 

This can be a long, difficult process—So where do you start? And what does inclusion look like now, as COVID-19 has prompted many of us to work remotely? 

Tune into our special recording of How to Build Inclusive Work Environments on Remote Teams.

Giving back is an opportunity for employees to experience purpose, belonging, and camaraderie at work.

Deloitte’s 2017 Volunteerism Survey found that 70 percent of working Americans believe “volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours.” A staggering 89 percent of respondents believe companies that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment than those that do not.

We know for many companies it can be challenging to make giving back a priority. There are a few ways Bonusly can help you amplify your current initiatives or start a giving back program from scratch.

With Bonusly, you can build a culture that gives back in a way fits your company's values and work style. Similarly to recognition, giving back in Bonusly is led by your employees, which means the responsibility doesn’t sit with just one person, team, or committee.

1. Donate through Bonusly

The easiest way to give back in Bonusly is by donating your reward points. The donation section of our reward catalog makes donating points easy for employees and admins.


In addition to the recognition feed, donations are often highlighted on social media or your company’s chat tools.


Slack highlight


Twitter highlight

All of these donations add up quickly to have a big impact. Read about how Bonusly customers donated over 60k to hurricane relief.

2. Set up your own custom donation rewards

Many companies add in ways to donate points through our custom reward feature to make the experience of giving back more engaging for employees. Here are a few examples:

  • Donate to a specific charity that makes sense for you: Many companies choose a charity that they especially want to support, maybe a local charity or an industry related cause.
  • Host an event for charity: Offer tickets to a trivia night, banquet, yoga class, or summer picnic to support your charity of choice.
  • Donate to support employees: Have an employee or team that likes to run charity races? Set up a reward so their colleagues can donate their Bonusly points to support them.

Custom rewards in Bonusly

3. Recognize employees who give back

Recognizing employees who give back shows employees it’s something that you value and encourages more employees to follow their colleague’s example. When you start volunteer or other giving back initiatives, we recommend setting up a award and a hashtag in Bonusly to encourage participation.


Recognizing employees who are setting a good example


As a manager, how can you make the most of Bonusly? Here are just a few of the ways Bonusly can make your job easier:

  • Improve employee happiness and engagement
  • Effortlessly promote behaviors and values 
  • Boost collaboration inside your team and with other departments on Bonusly
  • Distribute responsibility of recognizing employees
  • Gain insight and visibility on each employee and your entire team  

Getting all of those benefits of Bonusly is nearly effortless for you as a manager. One of the best parts of Bonusly is that employees recognize each other, and all the responsibility isn't on you as a manager. That said, there are a few parts of Bonusly that are especially helpful for managers:


Use Bonusly Analytics to get a snapshot of who's receiving recognition on your team and what company values they are being recognized for.



Pro tip: Use the Bonusly Leaderboard to see if anyone on your team isn't being recognized or not feeling included. If there's someone not getting recognized, look into the situation to see why that might be and how you can support them. For example, it could be that their work is less visible than others' or that they don't have many opportunities to collaborate. 

You can also use Bonusly's Organization Graph to see how the people on your team are connected and how your team or department is connected to other groups in your organization. Use these insights to facilitate collaboration, promote inclusion, and identify de facto leaders as well as turnover-risk individuals.



As a manager, you know the efficacy of incentivizing desirable behavior. With Bonusly Awards, you can easily offer playful and programmatic incentives to your employees. Awards can help build trust between managers and direct reports by creating transparency around desirable behaviors and in turn creating employee buy-in.

A few of our favorite ways to use awards are sales team incentives (spiffs), team awards, and training completions. If you want to get crafty with it, rewards like lunch with the CEO, social media shares, and fun company culture contests are all fair game.


Don’t forget about Automated Awards, which help you seamlessly celebrate large employee milestones like start dates, birthdays, and anniversaries. Your employees will appreciate being rewarded and you will appreciate never missing a birthday or anniversary again. That’s what we like to call a win-win.

Pro tip: Awards are unique to your company culture. That’s why we made it so easy to customize award names, messages, and amounts.

Manager Digest

Bonusly's weekly Manager Digest gives you a quick and personal overview of your team's engagement. This email, which gets sent directly to your inbox every week, provides a weekly snapshot of bonus activity, your team's top hashtags, and upcoming birthdays and work anniversaries. With quicker access to your team's people analytics, you can gain valuable insights to boost collaboration, recognize employee efforts, and stay connected! 

Bonusly's Manager Digest shows your team's week in Bonusly


It can be hard to know what your employees are working on, especially if you have several reports or an autonomous work culture. You can access employee profiles find out what your employees are working on.


Pro tip: To reduce recency bias in performance reviews, check out your employees' Bonusly Profile and activity for the full period you're reviewing.


Recognize and reward anything you want to see more of on your team. You can also use Bonusly to announce accomplishments and promotions. Recognizing employees is the most important part of Bonusly! 



Navigating the nuances of management has never been a piece of cake, but any way you slice it, Bonusly can make it easier. With these resources at your fingertips, you can use data to support your management decisions instead of relying on gut feelings alone. Now, go forth and recognize, reward, and understand your employees. 

Want to learn more?

Company culture and the employee experience are not easy to get right, so it can be tempting to address them in a reactive way:

  • “Are employees asking for this?”
  • “Is this a priority right now?”
  • “Employees will tell us when something is wrong.”
  • “We have an open door policy.”

Problems will inevitably come up, and they will already have become pain points by the time you can address them with a reactive approach. It’s worth prioritizing and analyzing culture now, before employees ask.

It's important to proactively anticipate employee needs, and design an organizational culture that fosters mutual growth, trust, and esteem among all its members.

Why an open-door policy isn't enough


1. It’s hard for employees to speak up

There are many pervasive attitudes from both managers and employees that prevent individuals from speaking up, even in high stakes situations.

In a survey of 1,025 managers and employees, respondents provided at least one example of silence costing the company an average of $7,500. Even though silence has shown to be costly, employees are still staying silent:

  • 85 percent of employees recently failed to speak up
  • 84 percent of doctors and nurses have seen colleauges take dangerous shortcuts, yet fewer than one in ten mentioned their concerns.
  • 93 percent of organizations are at risk of an accident due to employee silence

2. The things employees need are hard to ask for

For example, only 24 percent of employees are satisfied with management’s recognition of job performance, but asking for recognition, or expressing their dissatisfaction puts employees in a vulnerable position.

An employee would need to be confident saying they deserve more recognition, while also acknowledging their need to be appreciated. Given that many workplace cultures discourage employees from showing emotion at work, this conversation is unlikely to happen.

3. Employees do not always know what to ask for

Employees may feel unhappy at work but lack the context to bring up their issues effectively. For example, they might be able to identify they feel unappreciated, but they likely won’t know that asking for a company recognition program would mean getting regular feedback, appreciation, and recognition.

4. It’s easier for employees to move on than create change

Ninety-three percent of millennials say they left their employer the last time they changed roles. Changing jobs is easier than ever, and unhappy employees may find it easier to find greener grass than ask for change.

Proactively building organizational culture


1. Design a workplace around employee needs

Since designing a great workplace is about creating a space for employees, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is great place to start the design process.


The principle of Maslow’s Hierarchy is that the lower level needs must be satisfied before higher-order needs can influence behavior. For example, an employee who does not feel safe in the workplace will not be focused on learning new skills, building relationships, and pursuing opportunities.

Some of these levels might have come naturally for your company, and some might be challenge. Here are some ideas to get started on each level:


Taking care of employees’ physiological needs is one of the easiest needs to meet with clear return on investment. Workers who eat healthy meals and exercise on a regular basis have better job performance and lower absenteeism.

  • Provide healthy snacks and lunches
  • Offer fitness subsidies or in office classes
  • Launch wellness campaigns for any issues affecting your employees specifically (sleep, stress, depression, exercise, unhealthy eating, drinking, inactivity, etc.)
  • Be especially supportive during high stress periods


Both physical and psychological safety are essential in the workplace and closely linked. Organizations who scored poorly in engagement averaged 62 percent more accidents. Building a company where employees feel safe means psychological safety, trust in management, and inclusive policies.

  • Evaluate psychological safety in your workplace
  • Include collaboration and people skills in your hiring and training
  • Build trust in leadership with clear, open communication
  • Be aware of the seemingly insignificant policies that shape your workplace, for example conference room names, dress codes, and air conditioning
  • Support all of your employees by offering a mother’s room, prayer room, and flexible working arrangements

Love and belonging

To meet this need, companies must support relationships inside and outside of work:

  • Make sure communication is effortless between employees with tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts Chat
  • Donut is a Slack app that introduces people who don’t know each other well and encourages them to meet for coffee, lunch, or donuts; it's a great way to engage people who don’t enjoy group social settings
  • Normalize healthy work hours so employees can invest in relationships and communities outside of work
  • Organize company events like happy hours, cooking classes, sports leagues, spa days, team lunches, etc.; because not every event will be exciting to everyone, ensure there are events for everyone


Making sure your employees feel recognized, respected, and celebrated is essential to driving performance.

Companies with recognition-rich culture have a 31 percent lower voluntary turnover rate. To build a recognition rich culture, recognition needs to go beyond top-down performance reviews and shout outs. Enable your team to recognize peers and celebrate achievements in real time throughout the day. It turns out that peers, not money, are the #1 influence on their colleagues, and the source of 20 percent of all employees going the extra mile.

Also, set up your promotion system in such a way that employees are not encouraged to compete against each other, but instead, reward employees who build up and support other employees.


People who achieve self-actualization are not only living and working at their highest potential, but also constantly growing and expanding their capabilities. This is your ideal, engaged employee.

With a solid foundation from the earlier steps, satisfying this step will be more about access to opportunities, removing barriers, and encouraging growth. Remember that all the other levels have to be fulfilled for self-actualization to be achieved.

2. Proactively seek employee input

Getting feedback from employees is essential part of culture-building, especially as you’re iterating and making gradual improvements. Waiting for employees to come to you will not give you the information you need.

Here are a few ideas for proactively getting employee feedback:

  • Ongoing communication — ask managers to get company feedback in one-to-one meetings
  • Pulse check — send employee surveys
  • Detailed feedback — hold focus groups or one-on-one chats about company culture

No matter the source, make sure you always respond positively to employee feedback. In a survey of 1,000 randomly selected Americans, 42 percent of those who spoke up at least once in the past year also decided not to speak up on other occasions, which is likely indicative of a difficult experience speaking up.

We’ve talked about how to stop silencing employees by mistake before, and this concept applies to culture building as well. Every time an employee does not feel heard, they are less likely to speak up again.

In conclusion

Many organizational cultures operate in a way that makes employees unlikely to speak up about workplace issues. Furthermore, they are also unlikely to have the context or motivation to address company cultural concerns.

You can help alleviate this in your own organization by actively seeking employee input and keeping human needs at the forefront of your organizational design.

Want help getting started? Request a Bonusly demo now:

Employee engagement isn't optional.

Modern workers expect autonomy, growth, and purpose. Companies failing to support this kind of employee experience are losing their top performers and falling behind the competition. When employees are empowered, encouraged, and working toward the same goals, companies report higher levels of success. 

What are the numbers? Companies with low levels of employee engagement report twenty-one percent less productivity than their competitors and twenty-two percent lower profits.

Recognizing employees is powerful.

Employee recognition is a highly-effective strategy for improving employee engagement. When they're well-implemented, staff appreciation programs have the power to boost many aspects of a business, from morale to productivity, engagement, and retention.

Bersin & Associates found that employee recognition programs can reduce turnover by 31 percent when they fulfill these five criteria: 

  1. Celebrate specific results and behaviors
  2. Facilitate peer-to-peer recognition, not just top-down
  3. Share recognition publicly
  4. Give recognition frequently
  5. Tie recognition to company values and goals

Bonusly brings high-impact recognition to companies of all types and sizes: in 2018 alone, users gave 2,760,606 bonuses and more than 75% of users were recognized at least once a month!

With Bonusly, you can make recognition more impactful by connecting it to your company’s core values and giving visibility to everyone’s contributions. You can build a scalable culture of recognition by empowering everyone to recognize their peers, direct reports, and managers.

Looking for an employee engagement solution? Try Bonusly for Free!