Ayogo Silliness Seriously Good for Corporate Culture

When peers celebrate each other, sometimes the results get pretty silly.  But the playful elements are what build employee engagement.

In a recent article in Business in Vancouver magazine, Ask the experts: Companies need to use creative measures to inspire today’s workforce, here’s what Ayogo’s CEO Michael Fergusson had to say about the serious fun Ayogo employs to foster positive employee recognition:

Give your team the power to incent each other! At Ayogo we have a peer-reward program (we happen to use Bonus.ly, but you could imagine different ways to do the same thing – for instance, we used to have a simple “praise box” in the lunchroom). Each person on the team is given a monthly allowance of “micro-bonuses” to give out, and they can give them out to anyone, any time, for any reason. The goal is to have the recognition be totally immediate, driven by the team in the flow of their work. At Ayogo, these micro-bonuses ($1, usually) accumulate in an account, and recipients can then redeem them for small tokens: gift cards, donations or our own Ayogo swag.

In practice, our recognition uses hashtags to emphasize the trait demonstrated, and varies from project-specific help (Ian gave Mavis $2 for awesome work on that proposal #leadership) to shout-outs for making our office a better place (Adam gave Fay $1 for ensuring a cookie-fueled office by baking and buying #problem-solving) and everything in between.

One of the really interesting side effects is that reporting tools allow managers to observe who is getting praise and for what, so we have insight into what the team thinks is important and opportunities to “amplify” a particular reward or milestone. Just last week we saw in the report that there were three Ayogis who had each reached the milestone of receiving 10 bonuses in a specific trait. This gave their manager the opportunity to “amplify” with a special gift and shout-out that was unique to them. It’s one thing to say the company “values leadership”; it’s another to say a particular employee is being recognized for these 10 instances where they demonstrated that quality to their co-workers.”

The serious good this brings to the company is not only peer-to-peer, it helps preserve the flat organizational structure through transparency and positive accountability. At Ayogo we combine fun reward tools like Bonus.ly, with the transparency of the open communication channel (Ayogo uses Slack.com).  This helps everyone share in the relevant conversations for them.  There’s no Power Trips that come from withholding information, based on your status.  The combination also reduces the pressure on managers to provide all of the timely feedback and to conduct performance reviews.  The responsibility to communicate flows across all employees.

Here’s a visualization of 90 days of bonus.ly activity in our office.


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