The corporate culture at BL Companies has a wonderful reputation. As a 100% employee-owned company, it has a highly collaborative environment in which employees actively and openly contribute—and feel that their contribution is valued.
In fact, BL Companies has won multiple awards for being a Best Place to Work in Connecticut and Pennsylvania and has been recognized for its workforce practices by the MetroHartford Alliance and Hartford Business Journal. This is a unique place. It should be no surprise that such a unique place has put a unique twist on its company web store.
Like many web stores, employees can buy company branded clothing and other items. But BL does things a bit differently says program manager Jane Maskell, “We give employees what we call ‘BL Bucks’ that they can use to buy items on the BL Companies store.”
BL Bucks are like gift cards that are used to welcome new employees, thank interns, acknowledge achievements, celebrate employee anniversaries and more. “The program is a great way to provide recognition and show appreciation,” notes Maskell. “As employee-owners, we’re very proud of our company. We love our BL tchotchke. So, the program a great way to make employees feel valued.”
The program is managed through adform’s company web store software. When BL Bucks are issued, employees receive a code. BL Companies specifies a dollar amount that is associated with each code. Employees enter their code on the web store to buy everything from bike jerseys and backpacks to totes and umbrellas. The software keeps track of the BL Buck balance for each code until it’s used up. Employees can top-off purchases with their credit card, if needed.
“When you visit the BL office, almost everyone is sporting their BL-branded gear with pride. It’s unique to see so many enthusiastic employees,” notes Barnaby Forbes, adform Executive Director who works with BL Companies.
The key to the program is support from senior leadership. They are the ones that make the investment. In its third year, the program shows no signs of slowing down. “BL Bucks is a great reflection of our employee-owned culture,” says Maskell. “Our management is 100% behind the program and will continue to support it.”