Colorful “Kudos Wall” motivates employees to connect with one another and County

FINAL

FMD Employees Janine Purdue, Judy Hairston and Elissa Benson stand in front of the colorful Kudos Wall.

Everyone loves to feel appreciated. Receiving praise is highly gratifying, and being praised in front of your peers or work group makes it that much more special. Facilities Management Division (FMD) has found an innovative way to do this and also engage employees in complimenting one another.

It all started at the December 2015 holiday potluck. FMD Secretary Judy Hairston remembers how the idea came to life, and was instrumental in helping it take off.

“Since it’s difficult for FMD as a large group to get together in one place, the holiday potluck planning team came up with several ideas to engage and recognize employees,” she said. “One of the ideas was to have staff submit compliments or ‘kudos’ for their co-workers, and some would be read aloud at the potluck.”

“There were too many compliments to read aloud, so I decided to write them all on the whiteboard wall for everyone to see.”

Located in the King County Administration building, the “Kudos Wall” is a space outside the main FMD entrance that has been turned into a giant whiteboard. It’s on this whiteboard that the kudos were written and since then, things just took off, with more people adding compliments and praise.

“You know, if you start doing it, people will just keep adding to it,” said Deputy Director Elissa Benson. “It makes me happy to know people appreciate it.”

The Kudos Wall has generated interaction and conversation between employees too. Those who may not normally connect are chatting about their work or praise received for it.

“People will come up to one another and go ‘Hey did you know someone wrote something on the wall about you?’” said Judy Hairston, FMD Secretary.

With the department so spread out, the Kudos Wall has been a positive gathering place for employees to informally receive updates and information about the department as well.

“It was intended to be interactive because we’re so dispersed,” said Elissa. “And people really like to see this and what’s going on in the department.”

Judy and Elissa plan to erase the wall and start over soon, as it’s quite crowded and space needs to be made for new kudos, as well as additional information. Employees were sad to see these original kudos go though, prompting a small celebration.

“We’ll have a little ceremony and food, and then start over with a revised Kudos Wall,” said Elissa. “We plan to write FMD priorities on one part of it. With those highly visible, people can see how the Kudos wall and our overall achievements align with them.”

With this consistent and highly visible encouragement, Elissa and Judy are confident staff will be able to positively connect with each other on a personal level in pursuit of both the FMD priorities and the overall King County missive of best-run government.

“Something like this can help you go a very long way, even if you’re taking small steps,” said Elissa.