Yelp Love started out as a Hackathon project back in 2013 as a way of recognizing employees for doing a great job at something. Now, it is one of the most widely used employee recognition tools across the company, and is an important cultural component of our weekly engineering meeting. Today, our engineers are open sourcing the technology that powers this tool so that others can use it to spread positivity within their own companies. In honor of this announcement, we sat down with the “most loved” employees at Yelp to give us the 411.
Kenneth Mitton, Anthony Sottile, and Yoann Roman are regulars on the Yelp Love leaderboard and are known for giving and receiving the most “love” at the company. They helped give us the insider scoop on this unique cultural tradition.
What’s the deal with Yelp Love and why is it so cool?
AS: Yelp Love is a system where we pat each other on the back all day. It’s weird to tell people, but once you experience it and get love, you get it. It just feels great.
YR: If someone is helping me out or is doing something good for other teams, it’s important they get recognized. We also use it for work anniversaries (or, Yelpiversaries). It’s a way for us to say, “Thanks for being you.”
KM: When I was working in the San Francisco office, it was easy for me to tap people on the shoulder and say, “Thank you!” or “Great job!” Now that I work remotely, it’s a way for me to do this from anywhere in the world.
How do you think Yelp Love has changed the way we recognize employees?
AS: It gives you an opportunity to recognize people where they wouldn’t necessarily see where their work is appreciated. Sometimes you don’t know that you did great work until you get that positive reassurance from your peers. Yelp Love gives people a chance to give that.
YR: Anyone in the company can send Yelp Love. I’ve sent and received Yelp Love from Jeremy (the Yelp CEO) himself.
KM: The biggest thing I’ve noticed is when we announce a new feature rollout to engineering, Yelp Love helps us tie in the 10-12 engineers who actually helped us work on this feature. It gives people respect and notoriety.
What is the funniest Yelp Love you’ve ever received?
YR: I enjoy baking and often bring baked goods into the office, so I’ve received quite a few food-related loves over the years. No surprise that people are fans of food here at Yelp!
I once brought in a three kings cake (Galette des Rois) at the start of the year and received this amazing love in response:
After moving back to SF from Hamburg, I brought in chocolate chip cookies for my teams. Luckily we have emoji support in Yelp Love!
KM: “Distressingly good bug finding intuition.” It was getting late in the evening and we were trying to get a newer version of the Yelp website out. There was one bug that we couldn’t track down. I saw some connections and correlations and pointed to one code that was causing it. A colleague was impressed and found it troublesome that I was able to figure it out. We were chasing it for hours and found the key.
Although most widely used in the engineering world, Yelp Love has gained traction in other departments throughout Yelp. Whether employees are in sales or community management, it has fundamentally changed the way we recognize greatness in one another.