Every corporate social network worth its salt acts partly as a forum for recognizing achievement. The Kudos service adds the element of keeping score, with a distinction made between a polite thank you (5 points) and an exceptional job (50 points).
Kudos started as an internal employee recognition application created by advertising and marketing agency Rare Method, which would enter the top-scoring employees into a drawing for a trip anywhere in North America, Kudos CEO Tom Short explained in an interview. The software was built around principles of reinforcing employee performance taken from business books like "First, Break All the Rules," which includes a list of 12 essential things employees need to be engaged in their work.
Rare Method clients who saw the application at work soon began asking if they could use it, too, and Kudos was first introduced as a separate product in 2007. However, Rare Method was busy with its primary work as an advertising agency, and its board saw the software-as-a-service application as a potential distraction. Yet even in the years when Kudos wasn't getting a lot of development attention, the initial crop of customers stayed with the product, Short said, making him think it had potential to amount to something.
Since it was spun off from Rare Method more than a year ago and became a separate company, Kudos has been developing the updated version of the service unveiled last week at the Motivation Show in Chicago.
The original service was modeled on Twitter, with communications limited to short text-only messages, but the new version released this week is a richer, more Facebook-like experience, Short said. "We said, let's jump on this corporate social network pattern. We'll just add the rest of the Facebook thing, and combine it with this recognition and communication engine we know people dig, and we'll see what happens."
To the extent that Kudos has built out its own company social network, it could wind up overlapping with other products of that type, or maybe needing to be integrated with them. "In some situations, we could plug and play with a product like Yammer," Short said, but for other organizations Kudos could become their primary internal social network.
Other companies applying social recognition to employee motivation include Rypple and WorkSimple.
Kudos gives each user a limited number of points that they can award to others, and companies can design their own allocations of how many points are assigned to managers at different levels and to ordinary employees. One virtue of the point system is that some organizations choose to convert those points into cash bonuses or other tangible rewards for employees, Short said. Kudos is also interested in partnering with organizations like Maritz, an employee-rewards specialist that offers a catalog of product and travel awards employees can earn for high performance, he said.
On the other hand, some companies operate on the principle that public recognition as a top performer can be its own reward--and perhaps a factor to be considered at salary review time, even if not in a straight monetization scheme, Short said.
Kudos offers a free plan for less than five users. Paid plans start at $49 per month, plus $1 per user.