This digital marketing agency motivated employees by replacing a monthly cash bonus with meaningful, memorable rewards.
“Employees have more fun with these rewards. It gives them something to look forward to. As a result, employees are doing the extra things we want them to do, and they’re having fun doing them.”
Digital Strike was founded a decade ago by its current President, Chris Westmeyer. What started out as a side project has grown into a thriving 13 person digital marketing agency based out of St. Louis.
Chris had been providing employees with a small cash bonus each time they beat their numbers from the same time last year. However, staff almost always hit their targets. The bonus soon became an expected addition to employees' base salary, rather than a special reward.
Chris was also dealing with another challenge. He wanted a way to reward employees for doing things that were hard to quantify, but that were necessary for a thriving company culture. This included things like earning additional certifications, giving talks, attending industry events, and spreading the word about the company on social media.
None of these things were part of anyone's job description, but they were all 'intangibles' that go into creating a great company. Chris needed a way to make it fun for employees to participate in extra activities that contributed to Digital Strike’s culture and brand.
Chris tells a brief story that highlights why he needed to replace the company’s cash bonus program. He was travelling between employees at their desks, delivering their monthly bonus in the form of a crisp $100 bill, as he did nearly every month.
“99 percent of the time everyone hit their bonus numbers. They’d take the $100 and shove it in their wallet, and I’d see there were other $100 bills in there, untouched since the last time.”
When Chris saw this, he realized that his bonus program was not having the intended impact. Instead of having fun with their rewards, employees treated them like a part of their salary, delivered as cash. They spent their bonuses on the same things they spent their salary on: mortgage payments, utility bills, and groceries, or saved it for a rainy day.
“I wanted them to get that $100 and not spent it on a car repair bill,” Chris says. “I wanted them to do something fun for themselves, and have a better memory of getting that reward.”
Chris needed a system where employees had no choice but to spoil themselves and have fun with their rewards. Chris also wanted his employees to reward and recognize each other for things that happened when he wasn't around to see them. “I want my employees to feel like they can get credit for being a good team member,” Chris says.
Chris was struggling to motivate staff to participate in culture and brand building activities that fell outside their job description, including things like posting about the company on social media, and attending industry events. “Most of the team didn’t bother to share anything on social media. Most people would only attend an event after-hours if I begged them to go,” Chris says. He needed a way to reward these activities that would make staff excited to participate in them.
Chris decided to introduce the Arcade platform at Digital Strike. Here are the results:
Chris has been able to completely replace the company’s ineffective cash bonus system with Arcade’s dynamic rewards. In Arcade, staff earn reward ‘tokens’ which can be used to purchase rewards of their choice from a huge range of fun and varied options like gift cards and charity donations.
This change brought excitement and fun back to Digital Strike’s reward system. Chris says that allowing staff to choose their own gift card rewards has made the company’s rewards program much more impactful. Staff choose rewards that make memories and build positive associations, rather than diverting cash bonuses into bills and expenses. The difference is simple, but powerful. “They have more fun with these rewards. It gives them something to look forward to,” Chris says.
Arcade has also given Chris an effective way to incentivize culture-building activities by making them fun. By tying these activities to micro-incentives in Arcade, staff can make progress toward earning rewards by posting on social media about the company, giving internal presentations to their colleagues, or by attending industry events outside of hours. These activities are customizable, and new activities can be tied to rewards as company priorities change.
Chris says he has seen a noticeable lift in these kinds of activities and no longer has to beg staff to participate. “Employees are doing the extra things we want them to do, and they’re having fun doing them,” he says. Chris believes it’s only a matter of time before this extra activity on social media helps the company to land a new client.
"Arcade has given me the chance to stop what I'm doing and really think about what each of my teammates has done during the week and reward them accordingly. This not only allows me to congratulate those who have had exceptional weeks, but also gives me time to take stock of how much the company as a whole is achieving." — Hailey Yeakle
Chris says that his Arcade account manager did the bulk of the heavy lifting during the onboarding process, freeing him up to be relatively hands-off during the setup of the platform. With Chris’s busy schedule, this freedom was essential. He says that he would not have had time to integrate the platform on his own without the excellent support and assistance he received from the Arcade team, who managed the process end-to-end.
Chris has replaced a cash bonus program that wasn’t working with a dynamic rewards program that is proving incredibly engaging to staff. Staff are empowered to recognize and reward each other through the platform.
"I think Arcade is a great system for companies that have been split between offices and locations. It allows remote teams and larger companies to really demonstrate how well their teams are doing." — Seanna Tucker
Culture has also seen a lift, with staff participating in culture and brand building activities that had previously been difficult to incentivize.
“Overall, we love Arcade,” Chris says.
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