#Bringoutourbest recorded 6,118 times in a single quarter proving it's their most important company value
97% average participation rate maintained, giving and receiving Bonusly recognition regularly
One of the most transformative experiences of my life happened when I went to visit my sister in Nepal. She runs Conscious Impact, a nonprofit organization that hosts volunteers from around the world to support rural Nepali communities through organic agriculture, youth empowerment, and sustainable construction projects. Living in a tent off the land while volunteering in service of others was a complete change from my day-to-day life back in the States, where I worked as a Hollywood stunt performer. When I returned home a month later, I knew I was ready for something bigger.
I’d also been working at a media company, Victorious. While I was away, Victorious was acquired by Headspace, whose main product was an app to make meditation simple for everyone. I returned from my trip with a desire to do something meaningful (particularly for people whose smartphones had become a distraction from their lives), and it felt like this new company aligned with my goals and values. I soon learned that my new CEO lived for 15 years as a monk in Nepal, among other places. I thought, “The universe heard me.” I wanted to be a part of Headspace, and when they offered me a front desk position, I took it. I went all-in on that role, putting my personal touch on everything. It was a great year.
The in-office culture at Headspace was the stuff people dream of. I’m not exaggerating when I say everyone loved each other. People would bring their kids into the office and bring home-baked bread to share. That culture started at the top, with co-founders Andy Puddicombe and Rich Peirson always willing to engage in conversations and roll up their sleeves when they saw something that needed to be done. The organizational structure felt flat, as if there was no hierarchy. Despite being a 300-person company, it felt like a family.
Another big part of this culture was our use of the peer-to-peer recognition platform Bonusly. Bonusly was a great perk: I got to give others points for great work, my peers could do the same for me, and we could all redeem the points for gift cards. What’s not to love? Some people would save their points for a pair of Nike shoes, and others would redeem them for a nice meal. And if I were having a bad day, it made me feel better to scroll through the Bonusly feed and read all the good things people had to say about each other. It was nothing but goodness.
Bonusly Kept Us Together When We Couldn’t Be Together
Given the family feel of the office, we felt a big disconnect when the pandemic hit. I was always the first to greet people walking in the door; when we were all sent home, people told me, “I miss your smilingly ‘Good mornings.’” How do you translate that into the virtual world? No one needs front desk staff in a digital work environment.
But I’d run a few in-person company events, so Headspace's leadership asked me to take over virtual events and the employee experience. I aimed to recreate those moments in the office we all loved. I started creating digital experiences like virtual Lotería, as well as events around heritage celebrations like Women’s History Month, Black History Month, Pride Month, and much more.
Just as we were starting to settle into a new rhythm, there was another significant change—a merger with the on-demand mental health support app Ginger. Our Headspace family had been separated, and now it would expand to include about a thousand people. Where would we go from here?
With the announcement of the merger, Bonusly was one of the core things many of us wanted to keep. The questions were: Who would own it and how would we roll it out to everyone? When the new leadership team came to me with the task, I admit it felt a little scary because I’d never done something like this before. But Bonusly is so vital to our culture that I decided I’d learn whatever I needed to learn and do whatever I needed to do to make sure it became an integral part of everyone’s experience at the new Headspace Health.
Bonusly Is at the Heart of Our Post-Merger Culture
I soon met Sara, our Bonusly rep, who gave me the lowdown on the platform’s possibilities. That’s when I realized we had only scratched the surface of what’s possible with Bonusly, and we had a lot of work to do.
When someone tells you, “You’re really awesome for doing that,” you get a little confidence boost.
Word of mouth had spread about Bonusly, and people from Ginger couldn’t wait to get access. And rather than being about the gift cards, it was more about the recognition. When someone tells you, “You’re really awesome for doing that,” you get a little confidence boost. I wanted to spread that feeling to everyone. My boss learned alongside me, and within a few months, we were ready to open the platform to everyone. Our CEO gave everyone $100 in Bonusly points as part of the launch. Then I took the reins, and we were off to the races.
You never know what you’re going to get in a merger. Everyone at the legacy Headspace family and Ginger loved their existing brand, teams, and values. What would the new space look like? Our exec team produced six new company values with the help of both Headspace/Ginger teams and landed with these six:
Bring out our best
Put members first
Be courageously curious
Act with integrity
Seek out diverse perspectives
I wanted everyone to feel part of a merger, not part of an acquisition, and while reviewing these new values with our new, larger family, we realized how similar we were. We all love what we do, and when we saw the bigger picture, we understood why our companies had merged.
The idea for a Bonusly Values Month originated as a way to embrace our merged culture and our new values. We have six hashtags on Bonusly, representing each of our six values. Every time someone recognizes a colleague, they must use one of these hashtags. In August, we highlighted these values in Bonusly, and gave employees 100 points to distribute each week instead of the usual 250 per month. Before the program launch, employees completed a survey about how well they knew our new values. When we performed the same survey again after Bonusly Values Month, it was clear that everyone was much more familiar with our new values and what they looked like in action.
Bonusly Values Month was one of the first activities Headspace Health had done as a collective team, and Bonusly was at the heart of it.
Recognition for Everyone, Rewards That Fit Everyone’s Life
Once I started managing Bonusly, I realized it was more than a tool to dole out gift cards. We could also create awards. Previously, I’d hosted company Lotería events, which were fun, but shipping and handling fees made it hard to offer prizes. We solved this problem with one-off Bonusly awards.
Once teams saw that we could create awards in Bonusly, it sparked their imagination. Our Care team specifically loved the idea. They are customer-facing, so they felt they lacked visibility among our internal teams and that their work went unseen. To rectify this situation, I worked with the Care team pod managers to find ways to boost the team’s profile and visibility. These activities included highlighting the recognition within each Care team pod and using awards. I’ve gotten so much feedback from the Care team managers about how Bonusly has boosted morale.
Bonusly fits into everyone’s life in ways that are so much richer than gift cards. One employee posted in our Slack channel that her daughter recently had surgery, and she had put her Bonusly points toward a flight so she could accompany her daughter back to college. Stories like that fill my heart. Each person gets to decide how they want to redeem their points based on their needs and desires. This employee used them to tend to a family member, while my manager prefers an Allowance Boost, which allows people to redeem their Bonusly points for an additional giving allowance. Still others prefer to donate to Bonusly's continually-growing list of charitable causes and nonprofit organizations (my favorite is The Trevor Project).
For these reasons, the Headspace Health team loves using Bonusly, and our stats are well above the norm. In Q3 2022, when we were adding Ginger legacy users to the platform, 77% of users gave recognition during that period, and 96% received recognition. I’m also very proud that our most popular reward is the Allowance Boost—12% of our users have chosen this reward option.
Headspace Health is data-driven, so it’s nice to have these numbers available from Bonusly to show how people are engaged and how much they identify with the new Headspace Health culture. And now, when I say the Headspace Health culture brings out the best in people, I can prove it: #bringoutourbest is our most beloved Bonusly hashtag—it was used 6,118 times in Q3 2022 alone.
Showing People They’re in the Right Place
Headspace Health has encountered several bumps on the road over the last few years, but Bonusly has been a constant presence. There are so few limitations to what the Bonusly platform can do, and the best way to take advantage is to get creative with it. I learned, for example, that if I include “Bonusly” in the subject title of an email or newsletter, more people open it. I know I want to use Bonusly to its full advantage, even though I’m still learning what that is. The Bonusly team helps us think outside the box to find activities that work best for our organization’s culture.
Building a culture of recognition allows people to show up to work as their most authentic selves. And when everyone is recognized as their most authentic self, a workplace feels much safer.
It feels like everything has come full circle: Bonusly reinforces Headspace Health’s company values, driving everything I do here, and living those values also reinforces my personal values. I see how Headspace Health stands for what I stand for, which tells me that I’m working in the right place. Building a culture of recognition where people feel like they’re seen allows people to show up to work as their most authentic selves. And when everyone is recognized as their most authentic self, a workplace feels much safer. That’s why Bonusly is the perfect fit for Headspace Health, especially considering our work.
I know I’ve landed where I’m supposed to be. Using Bonusly as our recognition tool gives everyone at Headspace Health a place to see each other, recognize everyone’s contributions, and become even stronger as we fulfill our mission to transform mental healthcare to improve the health and happiness of the world.