The Unexpected Bonuses of Microbonuses

During the last year, we started a microbonus program. I was skeptical at first, but surprisingly, receiving microbonuses has increased my happiness at work and helped break down barriers between team-members

What is a microbonus?

A microbonus is similar to a regular bonus you might receive at work, except it is much smaller.

“Why would I want a small bonus?” Well the idea is that you get many small bonuses frequently, and they add up over time.

There are many different ways to implement microbonuses. For us, a microbonus is worth $5. You can give a microbonus to any of your co-workers along with a line of text explaining why you’re giving it to them (fun hashtags included).

“Thanks for the help with inject-resource.js and helping me come up with great names for my variables! #teamwork-working-together #teamwork-utilizing-experts #teamwork-supporting-me”

Then, you can redeem them for gift cards at a number of places (Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Donors Choice, etc).

Why are they nice?

As I mentioned before, I was skeptical at first. It seemed like a silly gimmick that no one would use. However, because the increments were so small and anyone could give them out, people started using them frequently.

People started using them to reward others for the little things that never get noticed. For instance, if you take 15 minutes out of your day to help explain something to me, I can say thanks by shooting a microbonus your way.

Other Benefits

For me, microbonuses have two surprising benefits:

  1. I feel less guilty about "bothering" people.
  2. I feel encouraged to go above and beyond for the people I work with.

Now, when I end up taking 20 minutes of someone’s time with what I thought would be a 30-second question, I am less likely to feel guilty about it. I know I can thank them for their help in a forum that is visible to everyone and has a monetary reward.

Also, because of the incentive of receiving a microbonus, I find myself wanting to do more things that are beneficial for my team, like documenting issues that have tripped me up or cleaning up code that is outside of the scope of my project.

It's not just about the money

The nice thing about microbonuses is that they’re not just about the money (although that doesn’t hurt). I get the most pleasure out of being recognized for all the little things that I do for my co-workers on a daily basis. It’s nice to know that someone appreciated the 15 minutes I spent helping them, and it makes me feel like they enjoy working with me. And in my opinion, there’s nothing like feeling appreciated.

Ben Gibson has been at Edmunds for one year working as a Front End Engineer. He is currently working on a User Generated Content project that aims to improve user experience submitting reviews for consumers, auto repair services, and dealerships. In his spare time he enjoys recording music and traveling with his wife.

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