April 30, 2015
By Marc Fogarty, CPA, CFE
How would you feel if work became an open competition where your achievements and your failures were known by all company employees? There is definitely an upside and a downside to such a system; but BetterWorks, a two-year-old company headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, is betting it is a good idea.
BetterWorks makes software that encourages employees to publically post their goals so their coworkers can give encouragement or 'nudges' to help them achieve those goals. All employee achievement profiles are publicly displayed, and everyone can see everyone else’s progress. By turning the workplace into a competitive game-type setting, businesses hope to engage today's electronic game-playing generation in a way that's fun while improving company-wide performance.
This could go two ways. Some employees might enjoy the competition and accolades for their accomplishments, whereas others might be made anxious and consider it bullying. For shy or modest people, having a system show their accomplishments rather than personally bragging is an acceptable way to reward their efforts.
BetterWorks originally sold their product to nearby tech companies and then expanded to a broader range of customers. They recently raised $15.5 million in venture capital. As I said in a recent article on tech innovation, technology companies are often built around innovative “new” ideas, or at least creatively re-imagined ones. Time and patience will be needed to see if this idea takes off.