A #SHRM19 Interview with Bonusly


Many companies talk of being employee engagement recognition catalysts. Bonusly is a bit different. My chat with their CEO reveals their focus on how they can be a good fit into an already existing culture. To insure their customers attain their goals, Bonusly has a customer success teams. In addition, I love the add-on of training for leadership to make sure they are utilizing these tools to the fullest. Smart!

Find this Silver Sponsor in booth #505 

Julie Ann: Thank you. Hi, this is Julie Ann Sullivan reporting for the #SHRM19 Blog Squad and I'm here today with Raphael Crawford-Marks who's the CEO of Bonusly. Thank you so much for being with us, Raphael.

Raphael: Oh, thanks for having me.

Julie Ann: So the first question I have is why don't you explain to the people who are reading this blog, what is Bonusly and what is its goal?

Raphael: Bonusly is a platform for employee recognition and rewards. It helps companies build a great culture, retain their employees, and grow and develop their top talent. This is done by empowering all employees to give each other timely feedback and recognition. Then the data can be tracked by who is doing what, who is bringing what strengths to the workplace and who is collaborating with whom. These insights can help the whole company, management and leadership, so that they can identify successful areas of the company as well as problem areas that need more attention.

Julie Ann: Well, that's great, but you're not the only person who's in this niche, right? It would be nice to say you have no competition. What sets you apart?

Raphael: When we started, we were the only company doing this and now it's gotten a lot more crowded, which honestly, we welcome.  I think it validates that this is a very vibrant space and the culture and minds of HR and company leaders are being changed and they believe this is really important. It's a sign that the market is healthy and growing. What sets us apart are a few things. First, Bonusly is fun and easy to use and that is for every member of your team, whether it's the HR person administering the program, the C-suites who are looking for key insights or the employees who are using it every day to recognize those small wins that their colleagues are having. We see upwards of 90% participation month in and month out. That actually increases over time rather than decreasing. So, Bonusly really helps foster positive habits in your workforce around giving timely, specific, and meaningful recognition to one another.

Julie Ann: I love the words you used about fostering a good habit because C-suite leaders who have great cultures know this. The companies who don't have great cultures have forgotten about consistency. The idea of recognition for instance, is one you have to foster moving forward. You don't just throw it out there and go, "I hope it works."

Raphael: Absolutely. It's something that you come to work and you do every day. Setting examples, reiterating values, creating systems and incentives that allow people to do the right thing that build a company culture. It's not a one-time town hall meeting. It's not one-time company barbecue. It's an everyday thing.

Julie Ann: Is this done with an app on the phone or through a computer system? How's it done? Or is it done in more than one way?

Raphael: It's all of those. From the very beginning when we started building Bonusly, we wanted to build more than just an app. What we wanted to do was bring recognition into the workplace and meet workers where they were, on the tools that they were already using and integrate recognition into the workflows they already had. So Bonusly of course has a web app, which is easy to use for workers that are sitting at their desks on a computer all day. But then we also have a mobile app that is very easy to use for workers that are on the go. Then we also integrate with a wide variety of communication and collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Yammer. So wherever you are communicating with your colleagues, you can also plug into Bonusly right then and there. You don't have to switch to a different app or open the Bonusly website. You can integrate or you can use Bonusly through your company's intranet, through Slack, through Yammer, any of these tools that your employees are using.

Julie Ann: That's really wonderful because then basically you are creating a unique experience for each company that you work for instead of going in and saying, "Okay, you all need to have this."

Raphael: Right.

Julie Ann: It sounds like you're a bit more flexible.

Raphael: Exactly. We want to meet each company and each company's culture where they are. We want to bring recognition into that company's culture and into that company's workflows.  We don’t dictate how they should be working because each company is going to be a little bit different. They've already spent a bunch of time figuring out the best way for employees to communicate and to collaborate and we're not trying to impose changes on that, but rather enhance that with recognition.

Julie Ann: What do you do in the beginning? You must do some kind of research with the company. Do you do assessments or look at their assessments? How do you begin the process? I think it’s important how a company like yours “moves in,” so to speak.

Raphael: So it starts with our sales process which is extremely consultative. Our salespeople are experts in employee recognition and engagement. What they try to do rather than get to a yes as quickly as possible on Bonusly, is really understand how things are working at the company now, what their successes are with company culture, what their pain points are, and what goals they're trying to achieve. That involves a wide range of things including some that you mentioned.  We look at their previous employee engagement survey results, talking about their goals in terms of retention or reducing turnover.  Then we come up with a plan for implementing and launching Bonusly in a way that it will be most successful and most impactful for that company's unique culture and unique situation. So that involves not just the salesperson, but also our customer success team that works very closely in crafting a communication plan.   We also conduct trainings with management and leadership about how best to use and deploy Bonusly. Then we also offer measurement tools. So we can actually conduct pre and post launch surveys for companies if they want to get hard quantitative data on the impact of Bonusly.

Julie Ann: Sounds great. I know that some people who will come see you in the Exhibitors hall will say, "Well, I can't really use your services, but I might work with a company that could use your services."  It sounds to me like you definitely have your client in mind as opposed to your bottom line in mind first. I mean of course you want to make money, but what it sounds like to me is you want to sit down with the company first and figure out if you're a good fit.

Raphael: Absolutely. It stems from the belief that if we make our clients and customers happy, the bottom line success will follow from that. One of our core values, we have six of them, and one of them is delight the customer. That's something that we really take to heart and focus on at every level of the company and in every department. The other thing is about a third of our new business comes from word of mouth. It's one of our biggest new business acquisition channels, referrals from existing customers. If we didn't make our customers happy, all of that referral business would dry up. So it's really critical to us to put our clients first and make sure that they're happy and Bonusly is delivering for them.

Julie Ann: That's wonderful. Well those six values you talked about, we'll have to discuss those more when you come on the Businesses That Care podcast.

Raphael: Absolutely. I'd love to.

Julie Ann: So before we depart this little chat, if you were sitting down with someone in a coffee shop and they asked you what you did and you told them what you did and they looked at you and said, "In one sentence, why is what you do important?" What would you say?

Raphael: I'd say that most people, not just in the United States but in the world, spend more time working than in any other activity. If just add up the hours you spend at work, it's often more than sleep. Sadly, it's more than time with your family. It's more than time exercising. So, if you multiply all of the people in the world who work by all of the hours that they spend working, the reason I do what I do is I really think that Bonusly can make a small but meaningful improvement to the quality of those hours that people spend working. When you multiply that across all workers and all the hours they spend working, that adds up to a really huge impact. I am really inspired by the potential for that impact and really proud of what we've done so far.

Julie Ann: That's interesting because I end my podcast every week with simple solutions can create big results and that's exactly what you're saying.

Raphael: Absolutely. Yeah, we are I think when it boils down to it, a relatively simple solution, but one that can really drive some meaningful changes.

Julie Ann: Excellent. Thank you so much for joining us today, Raphael.

Raphael: Thank you. I've really enjoyed this.



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