I’ve recently been on a kick with my team to work on our psychological safety. For an agile team to really flourish, it is imperative that the team feels comfortable with each other enough to speak up when they feel there is an opportunity to grow if the team is headed down the wrong path. One of the ways I am tackling this is to provide opportunities for my team to really celebrate each other and our successes. I set out looking for a kudos/recognition app that could make the process easy for my team. After a LOT of researching and trial-and-error, I came across a web app called Hi5 that makes it super simple for our employees to give each other kudos.

I had a few criteria for picking a solution that would meet my needs:

  • Must be easy to use
  • Slack integration is required
  • Ability to have a wallboard so our kudos could be public and seen frequently
  • Low cost – we already spend so much money on software and technology, I wanted something that I could implement for free or cheap

There’s quite a lot of functionality built into Hi5, at the moment for our experiment we’re just using the actual Hi5 function – where you can give a fellow team member a virtual Hi5. Here’s an example of what a Hi5 looks like in our Slack channel (please forgive the blurred names):

With Slack integration enabled, you can see how visible it is to the rest of the team when a Hi5 is given. In the second Hi5 you can also see there is an ability to “back” another Hi5.

My ultimate goal, however, was a wallboard – a way to show our Hi5’s in our office in a public manner. This is where the Hi5 team really showed their colors. Hi5 did indeed have a wallboard mode, but the problem was that it required you to log into the Hi5 app and manually navigate to the wallboard to launch it. I wanted to be able to have this up-and-running 24×7 with no interaction needed by me to keep it going. I sent a quick request to Hi5 and asked for the ability to create a public URL for our Hi5 board that we could load up on a Raspberry Pi without having to log in. About a week later, the feature was implemented. AMAZING! Here’s our wallboard in action:

You’ll notice this is strategically placed next to the coffee pot and microwave. It’s hard to miss! If you want to build your own, check out my tutorial on how to set up your own Hi5 wallboard. All you need are a Raspberry Pi and a spare monitor!

We’ve been using Hi5 now for a couple weeks and so far I think it’s been doing exactly what I intended it to do. There are some definite pros and cons to keep in mind:

Pros

  • Free tier provides a TON of functionality
  • The support is beyond amazing. I really can’t express this enough – I haven’t paid Hi5 a penny, and they have still gone above-and-beyond to take and implement my suggestions and provide me support
  • Slack integration
  • Wallboard function
  • Did I mention the really powerful FREE tier? And paid plans are cheap too

Cons*

  • No ability to filter/control the slack notifications. With a big team your Hi5’s can end up being spammy if you have them in the same channel you do your work in. I definitely suggest integrating Hi5 into it’s own channel
  • The wallboard app is resource-intensive, I had to buy a case with a fan for my Raspberry Pi to keep up and not overheat
  • Some parts of the UI can be a bit clunky

* I have been in fairly constant contact with Hi5 about my progress building the wallboard, and they are aware of the items in my “Cons” list and have them on their roadmap to address.

I can’t recommend Hi5 highly enough. Try it out. You’ll like it. If you want to set up your own wallboard, follow my tutorial here – it’s easier than you think!

One last thought. If you want to see what true above-and-beyond support looks like, send the Hi5 folks a request or ask them a question. You’ll be blown away.

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