What's the payback on a $50 gift card? We think it's quite a bit.

Gridium software is designed to turn mountains of energy data into actionable savings for our customers. Of course, Gridium’s software doesn’t save any money on its own. The engineers reacting to our diagnostics and implementing fixes do. And largely, their efforts go unnoticed and unrewarded. They are simply doing their job.

Properly trained, tooled and motivated engineers can easily pay a large portion of their salaries in energy savings.

Recently, we’ve started to see a change with some customer-led programs pointing to an increasing interest in motivating engineers. A large property owner has a spot bonus system for energy savings. Commercial REITs are signing up for energy reductions, and putting targets in annual plans. More customers recognize the cost of an unmotivated engineer is typically tens of thousands of dollars a year.

The challenge? Facilities management is often a remote and specialized affair. You may only see key engineers a few times a year if your portfolio is large, and you’ll never know as much about the facility as your remote team members. So how do you do it? How do you hire the best engineers and keep them motivated to do the right thing and save energy and money? Most of the time you may not even know that they went the extra mile.

Many companies, including Gridium, want to recognize excellence. And so we decided to build a little software tool to help our team members recognize each other. We call it “Kudos” and we’re open sourcing it for users of the communications software Slack.

Gridium's !highfive tool

The idea is very simple. We let employees with the best knowledge of the situation recognize peers for doing something extra cool. We implemented this in Slack, a popular enterprise messaging systems that has become our virtual water cooler. And we wired it up to a gift card service so that you could, at your option, add a gift card. An example is on the left.

Our rules are sparse. We have a daily limit on the kudos, and you can’t recognize someone for simply doing their job. It’s a bit of an experiment, but in the first two weeks since launch we’ve had 30 separate public recognitions. That’s more than I can ever remember being said publicly. You can high five up to $500 with each kudos, but the average is just $14, the biggest is $50. Nothing that’s going to break our budget.

That’s how we roll. How do you motivate and recognize your best engineers? If you had this technology available, would you use it?

About Tom Arnold

Tom Arnold is co-founder and CEO of Gridium. Prior to Gridium, Tom Arnold was the Vice President of Energy Efficiency at EnerNOC, and cofounder at TerraPass. Tom has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College. When he isn't thinking about the future of buildings, he enjoys riding his bike and chasing after his two daughters.

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