Giving out gratitude with a 25$ envelope

Written by Sarah Spitz, on 05 April 2018


Kristin lives in Austin, TX and has been working at InVision for the past 3 years. This company doesn’t work like most companies: its 400 employees all work remotely, usually from home. And unlike most distributed companies, there is no annual retreat where employees can meet in person. As you can imagine, it wasn’t an easy start for Kristin… How can InVision make sure its teams are motivated and maintain a sense of belonging?

InVision isn’t your average company: in addition to operating without offices, it has decided to maintain motivation and gratitude at work without organizing annual retreats, which are usually crucial for distributed companies. Instead, InVision has implemented a very simple system.

Each employee gets 25$ every month, that are to be handed out to coworkers. The cash can be used to thank someone for their help. Or to congratulate them on a project. Or just to introduce each other.

You’re not entitled to a good work culture, you’re responsible for it - Kristin, employee at InVision for 3 years

This is far from being a system that works halfway or leads to abuses. Kristin says it is a habit that values her, motivates her and, above all, strengthens her sense of belonging to InVision. Of course, these small amounts of dollars are symbolic and the money is often given away with a joke. It’s a pretext.

And it works. Dollars circulate, good work is rewarded by peers. It is also often a good excuse to start a conversation and break the ice.

Kristin for instance is used to distributing her envelope in 5 instalments of $5, congratulating 5 (usually) different colleagues every month.

As a result, thanks to this system which adds up to daily team communication on Slack and by video conference, Kristin now recognizes that she feels part of a unified team. She had just met one of her colleagues for the first time, and she felt she had known him for a long time: "it turned out that we were just talking in real life.