Popularity contest or positive reinforcement?

About a week ago, I wrote about the email alternative Slack. Another feature that was not previously discussed is that Slack allows employees/employers to install plug-ins like HeyTaco or Growbot to share and track praise within the company. Growbot seems to be the more professional alternative, it recognizes words like ‘thank you` in a message and attaches its own to reinforce the praise, while HeyTaco allows you to pick from a number of animated tacos to share. Another feature is the leaderboard, where employees are ranked by amount of received `thanks’, which many argue could be a huge cause of competition in the office.

Jeff Bates, a manager who supervises multiple offices, believes HeyTaco is not only useful for boosting morale but also checking in on his other locations. He can monitor what work is being done and by whom, just by seeing who received a taco and when. Mr. Bates claims he now feels more involved in his employees’ day-to-day lives.

However, many believe this kind of system could have a negative effect on morale and productivity.  Alfie Kohn, an expert on human behavior, believes this software isn’t anything more than a silly gimmick. Mr. Kohn says if such a system is in place, employees stop working to work, they work to get the recognition they crave.  Further, he claims that HeyTaco and similar programs do not really address any of the three main problems happening in the workplace. According to Kohn, these are “the work itself isn’t meaningful or [employees] didn’t have any choice or they don’t feel part of a collaborative community.” Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University agrees, saying employers should be wary of giving too much praise; it should never come to the point someone is getting a trophy for coming to work.

Taking these comments into consideration, HeyTaco chief executive, Mr. Dosberg says he created HeyTaco to “inspire people to be more appreciative, not to get people fired or promoted.”

So what do you think? Leave a comment below!

Read more here: www.wsj.com



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