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Employee Appreciation with Bonusly

March 4th is Employee Appreciation Day! With that in mind, how do we show appreciation for our employees at Meltwater? One of the most influential places to get feedback and gratitude is from our peers and colleagues. How do we make it easy to foster an environment where we feel encouraged to show our appreciation for each other? That is where Bonusly comes in.

Introduction

I think we’d all agree that receiving positive feedback and having multiple Hackathons and Unconferences per year is a great way for management to show appreciation (outside of salary reviews, bonuses and promotions). I also firmly believe that receiving appreciation from colleagues can potentially have a more positive impact on our wellbeing, mental health, motivation and satisfaction at work. The key is to create an environment where we all feel encouraged, safe and motivated to give feedback and appreciation to others.

Making it easy

How did we make it easy to show appreciation? We started using a service called Bonusly a few years ago, it essentially worked like this:

  • Every month you received a number of points/kudos you can give to colleagues

  • You gave any number of those points to one or more colleagues who you thought did some awesome work, helped you out or went above and beyond.

  • Provided a tweet-like sentence explaining why you were giving points

  • Specified a hashtag, based on our Engineering Values.

  • Every month the top receivers received some swag

In addition to these, Bonusly offer a Slack integration which means you don’t need to leave Slack to give some kudos to a colleague.

Implementation problems

I can be honest here, right? Good! Over the last couple of years, there was a decent uptake of Bonusly, but it became easy to forget about and there was a tendency for the same group of people to end up at the top of the receivers list. There were a few reasons for this:

  • A large proportion of R&D only remember about Bonusly when they received any kudos

  • Teams have a lot of autonomy at Meltwater and some teams adopted Bonusly heavily, whilst others didn’t have it embedded in their day-to-day process

How we improved

It was clear that we needed more people to use Bonusly and ensure that each month they showed appreciation, but also to ensure a wider spread to people that receive swag or other gifts. The way we achieved this was really simple… $$$!

Bonusly has the ability to attach a monetary value to the points (in our case about $0.10 per point). Depending on the country you’re in you can use your received points to get cash, vouchers or gifts to various charities.

This is the updated process:

  • Every month you get a set amount of points you can give to colleagues that don’t roll over to the next month

  • You give any number of those points to one or more colleagues who you thought did some awesome work, helped you out or went above and beyond

  • Provided a tweet-like sentence explaining why you were giving points

  • Specified a hashtag, based on our Engineering Values.

  • Employees can decide how to spend their points:

    • Give to charity

    • Gift vouchers

    • Cash via prepaid card or Paypal

From the day this change was made, the uptake has been huge. In the first month, we had double the participation of the entire previous year! All the teams now know that if you don’t share your appreciation that you are leaving points on the table, essentially missing out on giving $$$ to your colleagues.

Word cloud from the most popular words from Bonusly recognition

The biggest impact is that everyone is receiving appreciation from each other, which itself has a positive feedback loop of increased engagement, gratitude, appreciation and giving kudos to more people. We are also seeing an element of competition to receive badges for being the top receiver for one of our Engineering Values or the top receiver in a team. We’re all human, we all like to hear unprompted positive feedback!

Conclusion

It does take management buy-in to add a monetary value to points, but the cost is far outweighed by the mental health, engagement, motivation and productivity benefits.

Image credits: niceillustrations.com

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