SALON 200: Gordon Salon Team Uses App to Show Appreciation—To Each Other
SALON 200: Gordon Salon Team Uses App to Show Appreciation—To Each Other

Team dinners, “Gordon Game Night,” praising people on a blog post—all fine ideas to express appreciation for a job well done, but not quite what the management team at the Chicago-area Gordon Salon group was looking for. Some senior stylists simply began tipping their assistants who were staying late and going the extra mile.

“They felt we should do more for our support staff,” recalls Operations Manager and Master Stylist Alexis Lopez. Management agreed but felt everyone, not just the support staff, deserved something more. The management team also wanted to strengthen the connection among all the employees. When they discovered Bonusly in spring 2022, they thought maybe they’d found a way to both appreciate and connect while staying true to their values. The app promotes itself with the statement: “It pays to invest in employee engagement.”

How Bonusly Works

Each month, every employee gets a set number of “use ’em or lose ’em” points to allot to other employees. With a few clicks on their phone, they can identify the recipient and specify the number of points, and then they add a quick explanation of what the points are for. They can thank one or more people for something such as helping to sweep up hair or offering to bring coffee, or they can use the points to highlight excellent work—“Loved the vibrant red I saw on your client today!” The points can go in any direction, from management down, support staff up, stylist to stylist—everyone can award points to anyone. 

The app integrates with Slack, where every employee is notified in real time of the points awarded, along with the explanations. The appreciation can end there, but at Gordon the points add up and can be redeemed for gift certificates to health and fashion stores like DSW. 

Hashtag: Company Culture

Along with the explanations, the person awarding the points assigns a hashtag to each gift of points. Gordon staffers have a choice of hashtags that represent the company’s values: #creativity, #customerservice, #education, #initiatives, #leadership, #love, #problem-solving, #rockstar, #support, #teamwork, plus a catchall—#thankful. 

“There’s also a hashtag called ‘grind,’” says Gordon Salon Owner Tony Gordon. “I’m not sure about that one!” But he gives an example of a recent multiple-hashtag compliment that used it: “Thank you for dealing with our power outage #customerservice #grind.”

Gordon notes that the giver can insert emojis and pictures. In that way, it’s similar to a text. 

“It gets fun!” Gordon says. “But the thing is they’re really supporting each other, and this supports our mission. Our company is extremely team-oriented. Bonusly encourages proper behavior and supports accountability from person to person at all levels, rewriting the tradition that the accountability structure has to be top-down.”

Benefits All Around

Lopez says the new habit has changed behaviors and generated more attention to problem-solving, and team members like that the app notifies everyone about their achievements. Lopez recalls one assistant who would frequently pick up the shifts that were open for one reason or another. 

“Upper management saw that she was getting a lot of Bonusly points,” Lopez reports. “This helps us with promotions and reviews. When we’re considering leveling someone up, it gives us added information that the person is a great team player. Our staffers see this as a benefit of working here, because they feel recognized and appreciated.”

While verbal compliments are nice, Gordon says this makes appreciation tangible and worth the monthly fee plus the $1,200 the salon pays out each month in gift cards when points are redeemed. 

“When I send you points, I’m telling the whole company, including your boss, what a great job you did,” Gordon explains. “I think this is a big deal for a lot of employees, especially young people. It’s easy to feel unrecognized in a company of 80 people spread across several locations, but with Bonusly they feel recognized.” 

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