Servers Olivia Hale and Kayla Masson at CJ's

Servers Olivia Hale, right, and Kayla Masson send food orders to the kitchen at CJ’s Great West Grill in Manchester on Friday.

A little pat on the back can go a long way.

What's Working: 10 employee perks you wish you had

Employees at wedu, a Manchester digital marketing company, recognize co-workers by awarding “wedu bucks.”

One worker honored someone for helping to turn around a project quickly. Another got thanked for feeding office fish.

A digital platform by a Colorado company allows companies to set up employee recognition programs where the employees — and not just the bosses — give out praise.

What's Working

“The employees can then see who and why bonuses are being given out. It’s great for driving core values and peer recognition,” wedu CEO Sean Owen said.

Erick Shea at CJ's

Server Erick Shea carries a lunch order at CJ’s Great West Grill in Manchester on Friday. Employees at the restaurant take part in a rewards program that allows them to earn merits for taking extra shifts or giving co-workers a helping hand.

About 30 companies in New Hampshire with about 1,000 total employees have signed up with Bonusly, according to Raphael Crawford-Marks, its co-founder and CEO.

“The economic value of the currency is not what drives the benefits of the system,” he said in a phone interview from Boulder, Colo., where the company is headquartered.

“The benefit is just because of receiving the recognition, positive reinforcement of behaviors that drive the value of the company,” he said.

Dining room staff at CJ's

Dining room staff converge by the ordering stations at CJ’s Great West Grill in Manchester on Friday.

Companies sign on to offer a currency, such as points, that it awards to employees, who decide how much to allocate to deserving co-workers. That currency can be exchanged for gift cards or other awards.

Employers pay $3 to $5 per employee per month plus the cost of the prizes.

In Portsmouth, workers at C3 Metrics, a company that measures the effectiveness of advertising, have used Bonusly for more than a year. The Bonusly platform was integrated with the C3 Metrics internal messaging system. Company leaders were looking for a way to break up people sitting and staring at spreadsheets.

“We find it’s great for encouragement,” said Jeff Greenfield, C3 Metrics’ chief attribution officer and co-founder.

The Bonusly program serves as “a very important piece of the employee retention pie,” Greenfield said.

“Millennials today are looking for transparency that historically has not been around in most workplaces,” he said. “Having an open recognition system like Bonusly goes along with the level of transparency that millennials want today, and they need it.”

People who are recognized have their names projected on large-screen TVs in the office. They also earn gift cards or can designate a charity for a donation.

“The return on investment is definitely there,” Greenfield said.

At Great NH Restaurants, workers can earn merits or “golden dollars” on their employee comp cards, receiving merits for taking extra shifts or giving co-workers an extra hand.

“It seems kind of silly, but they’re real cool,” said Nicole Barreira, director of marketing and menu development.

The chain employs 760 employees, at New Hampshire restaurants, known as CJ’s Great West Grill, T-Bones, Cactus Jack’s and the Copper Door.

Other employers are reaching out to workers asking them to prioritize the perks they would like to receive.

Eversource’s employee-led Young Professionals Business Resource Group developed a survey that its members are taking “to provide insights into the kind of work benefits that most appeal to them and would motivate them to stay with the company,” Eversource spokesman Kaitlyn Woods said.

Questions include whether workers would be interested in a carpool or rideshare program, whether they would take advantage of pet insurance, and whether they would prefer on-site child care or a stipend.

“We will be seriously considering the feedback we receive from our Young Professionals BRG members as we continue to develop programs, policies and creative benefits that will attract and retain young talent,” Woods said.

What’s Working, a series exploring solutions for New Hampshire’s workforce needs, is sponsored by the New Hampshire Solutions Journalism Lab at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and is funded by Eversource, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the New Hampshire College & University Council, Northeast Delta Dental and the New Hampshire Coalition for Business and Education.

Contact reporter Michael Cousineau at To read stories in the series, visit

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