Where it all began…

Work has changed.

This statement affects NovaTec as well as probably every other company out there. In our case more and more of our teams are working in a distributed or dispersed fashion. Therefore we had to adapt the way we interact with each other and also how we share feedback or recognition. A recognition rich culture (that includes empowerment, positive feedback, shared purpose…) is one of the most important drivers of employee engagement and can significantly reduce employee turnover. Through enabling employee recognition we are more likely to provide positive feedback and even praise our colleagues which in turn brings a greater satisfaction with our jobs, and at the end of the day means we are more likely to stick with our current company.

“…two of the most valuable psychological needs we have as human beings are the need to be appreciated and the need to belong. These needs are met through peer-to-peer thanks and recognition.” – Josh Bersin, Founder & Principal, Bersin by Deloitte

Maslow’s hierachy of needs helps visualise this, although the fact that esteem, love and belonging are a big part of our natural needs requires no big discussion, agree?

Maslow's hierarchy of needs with focus on recognition

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with focus on recognition (in general WLAN might be missing at the bottom).

When Kudo Cards might be not enough…

Currently we use Kudo Cards as a way to say thank you. But how do you give a colleague a sustainable “Thank you!” card when you’re working abroad? Are you going to go to the post office with your Kudo Card? That would be totally awesome! However I know myself too well and this would be an impediment for me! I want to give recognition as fast as possible. Let us follow this thought and collect more points that we should keep in mind when we deal with employee recognition. We should always try to make it…:

  • Frequent: Highly engaged employees are more likely to work for organizations that recognize employees at least once per month. Shouldn’t every day be a day to celebrate something?
  • Specific: It’s crucial for an employee to know which of their contributions are most valuable to their organization, and why.
  • Aligned with Values: Employees need to know where their contributions fit within an organization’s goals and culture.
  • Visible: Visible praise is not only a great motivator for the recipient; it’s an excellent opportunity for others to see the types of contributions their team values, and produce similar results.
  • Peer to peer: Without peers recognizing each other, lots of great work will go unnoticed or be recognized much later.

So especially considering the point of visibility, Kudo Cards might not be the best fit anymore in terms of dispersed and distributed teams. What could replace those lovely cards which made me smile so many times? In short: Nothing. Nothing will be as good as giving someone this card personally, in their hand and seeing the happiness rise up in his or her face. However I wanted to find a way to allow our remote workers to experience something close to this same thing. You might could use Kudobox for sending Kudo Cards online – but there is something better that makes things easier for mostly every aspect mentioned above (at least from my point of view). Let me try to briefly describe this alternative to you.

And then there was Bonusly …

Through the Happy Melly network I stumbled upon a online tool called Bonusly. It looked so promising, that we decided to start it as an experiment within our Agile Methods & Processes (AMP) team. Bonusly enables employee recognition in a “Twitter like way” and besides that a fun point system satisfies the gamification aspect. It’s available as mobile and web app and therefore accessible from anywhere at anytime – assuming you have an internet connection.

Bonusly Interface at NovaTec

Bonusly @ AMP

We can give each other 200 Points per month (we may change the amount in the future). They reset each month. With my earned points I can buy some rewards. Originally Bonusly offers rewards (like an amazon voucher or a book – small things) as a replacement for traditional bonuses. However we decided to keep it separately and introduced our own bonuses. We didn’t want to connect our digital “kudos” with an extrinsic motivator like money.

Custom Bonusly rewards from Novatec members

Bonusly Rewards @ AMP

Living your values…

“Bonusly has helped build a culture of recognition tied to our company values.” – Tom Freeman Culture Manager Headspace

The most interesting thing is the hashtag part. You can add any hash tag to your post. It should be a value that is related to that post, like “teamwork” or “awesomeness” or “respect”.. anything you can think of (it also can be more than one value). But what’s so great about this? Does your company have defined their core values as well? As long as you don’t prove that they are lived I would still call them wish values. With Bonusly you get the chance to see what values your teams or company are living – live! You don’t have to run workshops or surveys – the value system will be created on its own by enabling people to add the values via hashtag behind their post – you might could use them alltogether as part of your Value Stories for your team.

Chart of recognitions given by hashtag in last 30 days

Live core values!

Our team has used Bonusly now for around 3 to 4 months and we are all enjoying this tool. For sure we used it more intensivley in the first days (coool, a new tool!) so I’ll definitely write a follow-up post with a more statistically view on how things developed in terms of usage and value creation for our team.

More members of our company may follow and maybe one day we can offer Bonusly to the whole company. However we are still writing Kudo Cards and share recognition directly whenever we can – a tool will never replace individuals and interactions (at least in my opinion).

What should you start doing now? Find a way for your team to share happiness! (…and even if this means to wake up at 6 to deliver a delicious tasting smoothie to one of your colleagues!)

Sharing happiness with a smoothie as reward and recognition.

Share happiness! In this case with one of Glenn’s smoothies for Pascal =)

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