July 18, 2023
Read time: 8 min.

Motivate, engage, surprise. Why do IT companies create their own corporate currencies, and how it works

by Anastasiia Hovorun, Head of PR at Boosta

Having a closer look at Boosta Coins & Shop case implemented by the international IT company Boosta

How to motivate employees? How to engage them in new activities? Every company striving to achieve high-performance indicators and sustainable growth must find ways to motivate and engage its team. It is hardly surprising: according to statistics, companies that have engaged their staff are 43% more productive. 

What motivates employees the most?

Of course, many people are driven by financial gain, career growth, training and development possibilities, and good working conditions. For the tech sector, building a strong foundation is crucial in establishing a positive relationship with employees. But the world is changing, and nowadays, such aspects of work satisfaction as being a part of a like-minded team, understanding their value, and recognition have been added to the list. To meet these needs, companies come up with different activities. One such activity is the introduction of an internal currency, which allows employees to earn and spend money exclusively within their workplace. At Boosta, this currency is called Boosta Coins, which can be spent at the corporate online store – Boosta Shop.

It is safe to say that our specialists find this system to be in high demand. At the beginning of 2023, we conducted a survey to gauge the level of satisfaction among our employees with regards to the company and its activities. The Boosta Coins & Shop system was the most preferred activity among all others. To provide some context, two years ago, it ranked 9th in the survey.

On internal currency and awarding system

Boosta introduced an internal currency six years ago, in 2017. Boosta Coins are virtual money that are credited to each employee’s account.

Specialists can earn Boosta Coins in various ways, including through the following options:

  • Becoming a mentor. Experienced professionals who agree to become mentors for their colleagues (such as junior specialists, switchers, or those who want to improve their knowledge) are awarded Boosta Coins. This creates additional value for engaging in the mentoring process.
  • Sharing expertise. This is demonstrated through the preparation of expert materials, giving speeches at professional conferences, reading lectures for students, and conducting in-team training sessions. The number of Boosta Coins varies depending on the activity. For instance, giving a speech at a conference is worth 40 coins. By doing this, we show that we value our specialists, their knowledge, and their time.
  • Learning and teaching. We encourage our specialists to develop professionally in various ways. In addition to participating in many educational activities such as external training, Boosta provides both an online and offline library. Specialists can receive Boosta Coins for reviewing a book they have read. Another way to earn coins is by becoming a lecturer for one of the courses offered by Boosta Academy.
  • Suggesting ideas. We value the opinions and ideas of every Boosta employee. We consider all proposals, regardless of the position the person holds within the company, their experience, or the number of years they have been with us. To collect ideas, we have created an email inbox where people can submit any proposal, from installing a new refrigerator in the kitchen to launching a project in the international market.
  • Giving and getting thanks. Every year, Boosta hosts a Thank You Day dedicated to the company’s birthday. On that day, we activate a special form for 24 hours, allowing everyone to thank an unlimited number of their colleagues by writing kind words. Each ‘thank you’ received is worth 1 coin. Last year, one person expressed their gratitude 86 times, which was the highest number of thanks by far. For reference, one can buy a coffee machine for 72 Boosta Coins.

In fact, there are even more possibilities, each with a different purpose, but all of them carry value. These activities may involve learning or preparing materials, expressing gratitude for a presentation or an idea, and more.

Equal exchange: what can you buy with Boosta Coins and where?

The desire to earn Boosta Coins is equally matched by the desire to spend them on something valuable. Boosta Shop is our online store that offers a wide range of items, from merchandise such as branded hoodies, eco-bags, and backpacks to various devices like laptops, smartphones, coffee machines, and headphones.

The rules we follow when developing or updating the Boosta Shop assortment are as follows:

  • Diversification: Products must appeal to any gender and age. Therefore, we try to create several design options for each product. For example, we have both a minimalistic black hoodie and a bright bluish-orange one. The same goes for devices; we offer Apple items (iPhone, Apple Watch, MacBook, AirPods) and Samsung smartphones and watches, RedmiBook laptops, headphones from JBL, Samsung, or Redmi, etc.
  • Quality: Good materials and user-friendliness are of great importance. Our fundamental point is to add only proven, high-quality items. 
  • Uniqueness: By offering one-of-a-kind products, we can surprise our specialists and popularize the store. After a large-scale rebranding of the company last year, we collaborated with the Ukrainian fashion brand KSENIASCHNAIDER, resulting in two denim jackets in the Boosta Shop assortment. One is light blue denim with chunky front pockets, and the other is minimalistic black. Both jackets feature colorful sleeves made entirely from recycled materials.

Shop evolution

Many transformations have taken place over the six years. Boosta got rid of physical currency, making it entirely virtual, and changed the processes within Boosta Shop and its platform.

The first stage of development began in 2017.
At that time, Boosta Coins were physical tokens that were custom-made and imported from abroad. Since everyone worked at the office, we rewarded specialists by transferring tokens from hand to hand. It was a unique experience, and we even had a safe where we kept those tokens.

The first variation of Boosta Shop was a closed Facebook group where we published product descriptions. People could order items by writing private messages. At that time, employees could also purchase health insurance or an ATV ride.

But we have realized this system had many drawbacks, such as the inability ‘to split’ one token, complications when keeping records, etc. In addition, there was a pandemic happening that made us all go online and introduced long-term ‘remoteness’ to our lives. So we abandoned the idea of physical coins, and it marked a beginning of a new, second stage in the development of the system.

We turned Boosta Coins into virtual currency and relocated the online store to our corporate Wiki space. To order an item, employees can send an email to a dedicated address. Additionally, we expanded our merch offerings to include popular appliances and devices, catering to a wider spectrum of people’s needs.

However, today we are moving to the third stage, which is an introduction of our own online store. Actually, it is almost ready to go – it is under final testing. This all-new online store will be an easy tool to learn about the products we offer and to place an order. Our specialists will also have their personal cabinets where they can check their Boosta Coins balance.

Implementing corporate currency and the store: step-by-step instructions

Step 1. If you came up with an idea to introduce a similar system, first answer the question, ‘Why do we need this?’ The response will determine not only how exactly your store should look and function but also whether you need it.

Step 2. Assess your resources. You need to understand that designing the store and implementing a currency requires a lot of resources, both in funds and time. If the store grows and is in high demand, you will have to acquire new skills or hire someone. Procurement of goods, warehouse accounting, and logistics – these are just some tasks you would need to deal with. 

Step 3. Generate a list of possible ways to award ‘money’. Select those activities that are either already in demand among employees or that you want to promote. Each action should be supported by a goal and bring value to employees and the company.

Step 4. Select products. Ask your employees what items they would like to see in the store, and come up with something interesting and original. It doesn’t have to be very expensive. For example, at our first stage, we offered a branded yo-yo toy, and many people bought it.

Step 5. Clearly determine processes. Who awards ‘money’, who keeps the records and where, where can your employees see goods and how can they order them? It should be convenient and fast.

Step 6. After implementing such an activity, keep analyzing the results and ask for feedback. What products do your employees like? Is it easy to place an order? What is to be improved?

The work on enhancing and developing such activities never stops. Currently, we are considering designing an additional Boosta Coins award program correlated with professional achievements, such as when employees overperform their KPIs. Additionally, we are preparing to launch a website. Is it costly? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely! After all, the feedback and results we receive are invaluable.

So go for it, motivate, and surprise your employees.

Motivate, engage, surprise. Why do IT companies create their own corporate currencies, and how it works

by Anastasiia Hovorun, Head of PR at Boosta Having a closer look at Boosta Coins & Shop case implemented by the international IT company Boosta How to motivate employees? How to engage them in new activities? Every company striving to achieve high-performance indicators and sustainable growth must find ways to motivate and engage its team. […]