What’s the best way to cultivate your team’s talents while propelling them towards their personal dreams and enriching their lives? We think granting everyone a betterment bonus is the ticket. Instead of the usual year-end bonus, we’ve crafted a more meaningful experience: Each team member gets $1,500 for a project to better themselves.

Here’s how it works: A team member proposes how their project will better their life or those of others. Once approved by the culture team, their project is funded and worked on throughout the year. Upon completion, they share their experience with the whole team during aour culture lunch using our A/V setup to present our progress, challenges, and successes.

As you take a look at how a few members of our team has used their allotted funds, maybe one resonates with you, maybe you’re inspired to chase a dormant dream, and maybe there’s an opportunity for your company to adopt the practice. Let us know your reflections in the comments!

Gaining US Citizenship

Jamie | DeveloperA photo of Jamie with his wife and daughter after he got his citizenship.One of our trusty developers became a US citizen with his betterment bonus. Jamie is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, and he wanted to share the same citizenship as his wife and daughter. Back at digital-telepathy HQ, we celebrated with hot dogs, classic rock ‘n’ roll, and 4th of July decorations.

For the coming year, Jamie’s getting into running with a personal trainer and new equipment (like sweet customized shoes, and a heart rate monitor to track his progress).

Learning Carpentry

Shawn | Product DesignerA photo of two wooden boxes with latches.You might recognize Shawn from DT-tv and his Internet Hoarding column. He did a lot of carpentry last year with new tools. The results include these chairs and the boxes shown above.

This year, Shawn’s getting a mountain bike, joining a club, and planning to compete.

Playing the Violin

Jessica | UX DesignerA photo of Jessica presenting her violin knowledge and skills at a team lunch, holding her violin, about to play a piece.For her betterment bonus last year, Jessica took violin lessons. Here’s a still shot from her lunchtime explanation about playing a string instrument, followed by a performance of a few songs.

For 2014, Jessica’s working on illustration techniques and creative freedom via a touchscreen drawing tablet, the Cintiq 22” HD touch.

Biking the Canary Islands

Orville | UX DesignerA photo of Orville wearing his biking gear, with rocky hills in the background.In 2013 Orville traveled to the Canary Islands to do an extensive bike trip. The photo above shows him above Gran Canaria in Fataga.

As a logical extension of his enthusiasm for biking, he’s learning to repair his bike at a bike mechanics school this year.

Exploring San Diego

Laurence | General ManagerA photo of Laurence's young daughter and son riding in the bike trailer.Our general manager, Laurence, bought mountain bikes, a bike rack for the car, and a bike trailer for his little ones. This past year he’s explored San Diego & made great memories with his family.

To continue the family’s adventures, Laurence is using his betterment bonus to figure out how to travel better with two young kids.

Speaking French

MK | UX DesignerA photo of MK standing in front of the Eiffel Tower on a sunny day.Because her sister studied abroad in France (resulting in a French husband & a niece and nephew that only speak French), MK decided to take her French skills from zero to a working vocab & understanding of the language. She can communicate better with her family and even navigated Paris without her sister translating.

This year, MK’s taking a physical approach to betterment with a Crossfit membership. She has goals to gain muscle, lose body fat, run an obstacle course race, and eliminate back pain.

Equipping Your Team to Follow Their Dreams

Our aim is to help our team reach their goals, whether it’s in the athletic, family, hobby, artistic arena. We’re passionate about our employees having great experiences in and outside the office, so we’re excited to see what the team comes up with each year for their bonuses — and seeing the results.

Share with us how you’d spend a betterment bonus, and consider running with that impulse to take up a latent hobby 😀