We’re going to disappoint many people out there looking for the next big cryptocurrency to invest in! We’ll have to apologize but please continue reading. EverQuote’s Goatcoin is not a cryptocurrency, it was created and launched for internal use only on May 15, 2020. Goatcoin is a peer to peer recognition program that requires no approval from managers or leadership. A colleague, a friend at work, or a stranger from another department can acknowledge you and others through a small gesture by sending Goatcoin to that person. Through a simple command in Slack, an individual can send coins that they have to another person and leave a memorable, meaningful, and fun message that is then broadcasted to a public channel #praise that hundreds of employees are part of. Everyone can publicly see people recognizing others and being recognized. #praise was already an amazing Slack channel within our EverQuote culture even before Goatcoin and now it’s become an even better place to see all the thank you’s, recognition, and praise that everyone is giving to each other.
I joined EverQuote in March of 2020. I was lucky enough to have been able to meet my team members in the office before transitioning to a fully remote world. I was drawn to EverQuote by its culture and leadership, but mostly by the engineers. EverQuote’s technology stack was different from all of my previous companies. Despite being a good fit for the role of engineering manager and working with engineers everyday, I still felt unequipped to appreciate the complexity and issues that engineers encountered in their day to day. With that realization, I knew I needed to spend time outside of core working hours to learn the new programming languages and technologies that my teams were using. I believe that managers should have the skills and capabilities necessary to understand and be able to appreciate the work that their team members perform, and thus, the EverQuote Goatcoin journey began.
We built EverQuote's Goatcoin for 4 reasons
1) I wanted to upskill myself in languages and technology that my team was using that I was unskilled at. (Golang, Serverless framework). In a leadership role, I personally feel that if you don’t understand the work that your team is performing day to day how can you empathize and/or recognize the hard work they are putting in.
2) Lead by doing, we can’t ask for a culture of excellence and innovation if we just talk about it. To encourage others to continuously learn and build, I teamed up with another engineer (Josh Merritt) to help build the Goatcoin we know today.
3) Recognition is almost always never about the “prize” or some monetary value. It just feels good to be recognized by a simple thank you!
4) There was no current tool available that was low friction and gamified in a way that was fun to engage with. Since everyone in the company already uses Slack, we wanted to allow users to easily engage with the program.
There are plenty of reward recognition programs across all different companies and they usually entail a long write up from a manager, then some lengthy approval process. Then finally when all is said and done the manager gets to present the recognition to the individual, sometimes publicly, other times privately. Goatcoin eliminates that entire process and puts the ownership on each individual to acknowledge their peers.
When we launched, we had hoped to see that employees are recognizing each other and that it was a continuous activity not a one time thing. We were floored by the adoption, and we continue to develop new features and functionality into the tool.
We continue to be surprised by the level of engagement from new and existing employees.
How does EverQuote Goatcoin work?
Goatcoin has some concepts to understand, savings and allowance. Savings is what you receive from others and that will keep accruing until it's spent (redeemed). Allowance is the amount of Goatcoin each person gets at the beginning of the month at 8PM UTC. Every single month the allowance will be refreshed to 50. If you do not use it, you lose it. You can never have more than 50 Goatcoin for allowance.
A fun aspect to Goatcoin is the website where Employees are able to spend their hard earned Goatcoin. We worked with our People Operations team and got their support to have gift cards available that employees can redeem to purchase EQ Swag in our Swag store. Other redeemable options include giftable coins when team members run out of their allowance, they can spend savings to redeem coins that they can give out.
We built this feature to allow for future items to be added easily so that employees can redeem a wide range of rewards.
We didn’t stop there, we solicited from the EQ community, team members for ideas for new features that could be added to grow the experience. We eventually launched Goatcoin Bounties. Bounties are missions, a problem, an ask. Anyone can create a bounty and a reward amount in the form of Goatcoin. When someone completes the bounty the reward is then distributed to all the participants. Only the creator of the bounty can mark it as complete and select the participants.
To summarize our experience building and rolling out Goatcoin and supporting the application today. We had fun pair programming, we learned a new programming language, and we got experience with other technologies like lambdas and serverless. We had a great time conceptualizing the idea, creating a plan and working with other people to make it happen. It was a community effort.
In true servant leadership style, we were able to provide for our team members the tools that traditionally were under lock and key at the management level. We have removed managers from being the bottleneck to recognition. Recognition can be done by anyone to anyone.
The culture of innovation is alive here at EverQuote, one of the most rewarding places to be an employee, especially as an engineer. If you are looking to hone your craft, have autonomy, and be pushed to continuously learn and challenge yourself this just might be the right place for you. Come join us and let's build the next tool in an unknown language or framework together!!