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Bonusly CEO Talks Scaling Recognition and Prioritizing Analytics

Vanessa Kahn
March 28, 2023
0min

Bonusly's been busy lately. 

📈 We recently raised $18.9 Million in Series B capital, led by Ankona Capital. 

👏 Employees at more than 3,000 companies around the world collectively donated $2 million to charity through Bonusly's Reward Catalog. 🥳

🥇For the fourth consecutive season, Bonusly maintained the top spot in G2's Winter 2023 Grid Report for Employee Recognition software.

Wouldn't you like to know what's happening in the mind of Bonusly's Founder and CEO, Raphael Crawford-Marks, after reaching these significant milestones? You're in luck! Raphael recently joined Amber Mac and Michael B on The Feed podcast to discuss recognition in a remote world and how HR leaders can make more data-driven decisions.

The interview is below for your reading pleasure, but if you’re more of an auditory learner you can listen to the podcast here. Let’s dive in! 

Amber Mac: Bonusly helps companies build a scalable culture of recognition by allowing everyone to recognize their direct reports as well as their managers and coworkers. To talk more about this is Raphael Crawford-Marks who is the CEO of Bonusly. Hi Raphael, thanks for being on the show. 

Raphael Crawford-Marks: Hi Amber, thanks for having me. 

Can you explain to us how everyone can really participate in recognizing good work?

Bonusly is focused on enabling companies to recognize, develop, and retain high-performing, highly-engaged employees and the way we do that is in a very democratized fashion. So, every employee who’s enrolled in Bonusly has the ability to provide immediate, authentic, recognition to their colleagues. This is something that all workers want to do, but often there are barriers or friction to doing so, more so in remote environments. So, Bonusly removes all of that friction and enables appreciation to flow which creates this positive feedback loop of appreciating great behaviors and then seeing more of those behaviors from your team.  

 

Speaking of remote work, have you seen a shift in the way teams interact with each other and subsequently give each other feedback? 

Yes, I have. Not just in Bonusly, but in general the shift to remote work has been a pretty seismic shift. We’re still in the early innings of what this means and how we best create a remote environment. One of the things that’s lost when a team goes fully remote is all of those free opportunities for employees to bump into each other, have an open-ended conversation, share some ideas, build some trust and rapport. All of those go away, so we need to find something to replace those within a virtual space on a remote team. That is something that Bonusly can help with, but I don’t pretend we’re a panacea that immediately solves everything by ourselves. What Bonusly does is create opportunities for employees to have these positive interactions with one another, which are really foundational to building the trust and rapport that enable great communication and collaboration. 

 

What Bonusly does is create opportunities for employees to have these positive interactions with one another, which are really foundational to building the trust and rapport that enable great communication and collaboration. 

 

 

 

 

Can you talk about why it’s important that there are different ways to reward people?

Yes absolutely, there are actually two different things that Bonusly provides–one is recognition. Bonusly enables frequent, specific, timely, and effective recognition to flow between employees. Then, as employees receive recognition they actually accrue points and can redeem them for rewards that they find meaningful. So, that can be donations to their favorite charity, gift cards to their favorite brand, and so forth. So the benefit that companies realize is really from the recognition aspect, where when employees feel recognized they put forth more discretionary effort, they are less likely to look for work elsewhere, and they build additional trust and rapport with their colleagues through exchanging recognition. So, what you end up with is a higher-performing, more highly-engaged team.

 

I imagine something like this could create useful data for the wider decision making process for an HR department. How can this information help better inform HR departments and executives in a company to ensure they have a robust healthy team?

One of the things that we’re really excited about is we’re in the early stages of developing what we call people analytics tools for management, HR, and executive leadership to use to make better decisions about how they run their company. Just a few examples of what can already be done with Bonusly is you can look department by department and see engagement levels across departments and identify areas where specific teams or departments might have very high engagement and other areas that might have very low engagement. Then, we can start to figure out what participation or behavior characteristics are correlated with that and how might we intervene to improve engagement in the problem areas.

Another thing that people have to do, but no one really likes are performance reviews. Bonusly is extremely helpful to managers at mitigating recency bias in performance reviews. So, managers can very easily go to Bonusly and say hey I wanna see all of Michael’s biggest accomplishments in the past 6 months and then that gives me, as a manager, a much more holistic picture of your performance rather than just what I could call out last week. 

 

What is it like building a startup in this climate that we’re in right now when the technology sector is under a microscope and a lot is happening in terms of hiring talent and people laying off talent?

I would actually go back to early 2020 and say that running a company from early 2020 has been an intense roller coaster. Even more so than running a startup normally is. I started Bonusly well before the pandemic and it was a roller coaster then. You know, having to deal with the shutdowns and all the uncertainty from the pandemic and then all of the sudden everything shifted to remote work so we saw a huge spike in demand. And then inflation started climbing, interest rates went up and that triggered a big contraction in demand and layoffs. It’s been really challenging to stay on top of external conditions that are really buffeting the company. It has also been a real education and it’s made us a much stronger company being able to weather all of these different conditions and continue to grow and be successful. 

 

It has also been a real education and it’s made us a much stronger company being able to weather all of these different conditions and continue to grow and be successful. 

 

 What’s next? 

We hope this interview inspired you to invest in your most critical asset: your people. Thousands of companies worldwide rely on Bonusly to cultivate high-performing and motivated teams, regardless of their location, work setting, or industry. If you’re interested in learning more about Bonusly, schedule time to meet with an employee engagement expert today!

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It’s rare that you can change someone’s mind in an exit interview, but you can make improvements before employees leave!

Bonusly's been busy lately. 

📈 We recently raised $18.9 Million in Series B capital, led by Ankona Capital. 

👏 Employees at more than 3,000 companies around the world collectively donated $2 million to charity through Bonusly's Reward Catalog. 🥳

🥇For the fourth consecutive season, Bonusly maintained the top spot in G2's Winter 2023 Grid Report for Employee Recognition software.

Wouldn't you like to know what's happening in the mind of Bonusly's Founder and CEO, Raphael Crawford-Marks, after reaching these significant milestones? You're in luck! Raphael recently joined Amber Mac and Michael B on The Feed podcast to discuss recognition in a remote world and how HR leaders can make more data-driven decisions.

The interview is below for your reading pleasure, but if you’re more of an auditory learner you can listen to the podcast here. Let’s dive in! 

Amber Mac: Bonusly helps companies build a scalable culture of recognition by allowing everyone to recognize their direct reports as well as their managers and coworkers. To talk more about this is Raphael Crawford-Marks who is the CEO of Bonusly. Hi Raphael, thanks for being on the show. 

Raphael Crawford-Marks: Hi Amber, thanks for having me. 

Can you explain to us how everyone can really participate in recognizing good work?

Bonusly is focused on enabling companies to recognize, develop, and retain high-performing, highly-engaged employees and the way we do that is in a very democratized fashion. So, every employee who’s enrolled in Bonusly has the ability to provide immediate, authentic, recognition to their colleagues. This is something that all workers want to do, but often there are barriers or friction to doing so, more so in remote environments. So, Bonusly removes all of that friction and enables appreciation to flow which creates this positive feedback loop of appreciating great behaviors and then seeing more of those behaviors from your team.  

 

Speaking of remote work, have you seen a shift in the way teams interact with each other and subsequently give each other feedback? 

Yes, I have. Not just in Bonusly, but in general the shift to remote work has been a pretty seismic shift. We’re still in the early innings of what this means and how we best create a remote environment. One of the things that’s lost when a team goes fully remote is all of those free opportunities for employees to bump into each other, have an open-ended conversation, share some ideas, build some trust and rapport. All of those go away, so we need to find something to replace those within a virtual space on a remote team. That is something that Bonusly can help with, but I don’t pretend we’re a panacea that immediately solves everything by ourselves. What Bonusly does is create opportunities for employees to have these positive interactions with one another, which are really foundational to building the trust and rapport that enable great communication and collaboration. 

 

What Bonusly does is create opportunities for employees to have these positive interactions with one another, which are really foundational to building the trust and rapport that enable great communication and collaboration. 

 

 

 

 

Can you talk about why it’s important that there are different ways to reward people?

Yes absolutely, there are actually two different things that Bonusly provides–one is recognition. Bonusly enables frequent, specific, timely, and effective recognition to flow between employees. Then, as employees receive recognition they actually accrue points and can redeem them for rewards that they find meaningful. So, that can be donations to their favorite charity, gift cards to their favorite brand, and so forth. So the benefit that companies realize is really from the recognition aspect, where when employees feel recognized they put forth more discretionary effort, they are less likely to look for work elsewhere, and they build additional trust and rapport with their colleagues through exchanging recognition. So, what you end up with is a higher-performing, more highly-engaged team.

 

I imagine something like this could create useful data for the wider decision making process for an HR department. How can this information help better inform HR departments and executives in a company to ensure they have a robust healthy team?

One of the things that we’re really excited about is we’re in the early stages of developing what we call people analytics tools for management, HR, and executive leadership to use to make better decisions about how they run their company. Just a few examples of what can already be done with Bonusly is you can look department by department and see engagement levels across departments and identify areas where specific teams or departments might have very high engagement and other areas that might have very low engagement. Then, we can start to figure out what participation or behavior characteristics are correlated with that and how might we intervene to improve engagement in the problem areas.

Another thing that people have to do, but no one really likes are performance reviews. Bonusly is extremely helpful to managers at mitigating recency bias in performance reviews. So, managers can very easily go to Bonusly and say hey I wanna see all of Michael’s biggest accomplishments in the past 6 months and then that gives me, as a manager, a much more holistic picture of your performance rather than just what I could call out last week. 

 

What is it like building a startup in this climate that we’re in right now when the technology sector is under a microscope and a lot is happening in terms of hiring talent and people laying off talent?

I would actually go back to early 2020 and say that running a company from early 2020 has been an intense roller coaster. Even more so than running a startup normally is. I started Bonusly well before the pandemic and it was a roller coaster then. You know, having to deal with the shutdowns and all the uncertainty from the pandemic and then all of the sudden everything shifted to remote work so we saw a huge spike in demand. And then inflation started climbing, interest rates went up and that triggered a big contraction in demand and layoffs. It’s been really challenging to stay on top of external conditions that are really buffeting the company. It has also been a real education and it’s made us a much stronger company being able to weather all of these different conditions and continue to grow and be successful. 

 

It has also been a real education and it’s made us a much stronger company being able to weather all of these different conditions and continue to grow and be successful. 

 

 What’s next? 

We hope this interview inspired you to invest in your most critical asset: your people. Thousands of companies worldwide rely on Bonusly to cultivate high-performing and motivated teams, regardless of their location, work setting, or industry. If you’re interested in learning more about Bonusly, schedule time to meet with an employee engagement expert today!

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