Bonfyre is Igniting Relationship Wildfires in the Workplace

Heather R. Huhman

Share this Post

In recent — and not-so-distant — events in our world, the call for unity and celebration of uniqueness is ringing louder than ever. From supporting strangers in other countries to issues at home and in our workplaces, we could all use more connectivity to those around us.

It’s a belief in the power of those connections that drove business leaders Chris Dornfeld and Mark Sawyier, the founders of Bonfyre, to create a workplace culture platform that placed a focus on building relationships to improve the work experience.

“Human performance drives the knowledge economy, and our feelings and relationships have the greatest impact on performance,” explained Chris Dornfeld, president and co-founder of Bonfyre.

With these relationships Bonfyre’s team is motivating companies everywhere to focus on their culture, team building, recognition, people intelligence, communications, events, and engagement.

Here’s their incredible story:

Bringing the workplace together one group at a time

Teamwork isn’t a new concept. All business leaders understand their businesses can’t successfully run unless employees are able to work together.

But is there a difference between simply working well together and bonding into a community?

There absolutely is.

Not only is there a difference, employees don’t feel they’re receiving enough collaboration with co-workers.

In fact, according to an August OfficeVibe report, State of Employee Engagement, 34 percent of employees don’t think they have enough social interaction with their colleagues. This lack of interaction could be one of the major reasons an overwhelming 57 percent of the same employees said they wouldn’t recommend their organization as a good place to work.

Bonfyre believes trust and camaraderie are a result of relationships built around more than just work — and that’s what inspires them most.

“We’ve heard personal stories about how our platform has been used to create specific groups for LGBTQ, veterans, and more. This helped employees feel a sense of inclusion and belongingness within their company,” Dornfeld said.

He went on, “We’ve also seen some pretty hilarious posts and initiatives companies have created through Bonfyre — whether it’s posting pictures with funny face filters or turning everyone’s profile photo into a gummy bear version of themselves.”

In order to create these lasting relationships, Bonfyre offers a digital space separate from productivity tools for employees to share interests and build lasting bonds. This allows for both shared personal experiences and a collaborative place where co-workers can brainstorm and problem-solve.

Employee teamwork is strengthened through real-time peer-to-peer recognition. In-app badges give co-workers the opportunity to recognize colleagues (regardless of their location) for both professional and personal wins — the project milestone you achieved on Friday and the marathon you ran over the weekend.

To top it off, business leaders can measure engagement with Bonfyre to make sure they’re receiving desired results. They can even see who’s using Bonfyre, what types of conversations their communities are having, how many people are accessing content, and more.

Making events count for more than attendance

“Not another mandatory company event.”

These are dreaded words that many business leaders hear throughout their halls.

As such, for their 150th anniversary celebration, Commerce Bank knew they wanted to make the event bigger, better, and accessible across all office locations. So, they teamed up with Bonfyre for their three week long event to maximize employee participation in the festivities and generate awareness and engagement in the institution’s rich history.

To make this happen, the Bonfyre and Commerce teams decided to focus on two things: culture and engagement.

With Bonfyre, employees were able to share photos, videos, and stories, regardless of team, branch location, and region. During the 150th anniversary event, employees did this by participating in a “green tubes of fun” campaign.

Each Commerce branch received a mailing tube with activity instructions and materials capsuled inside. The groups then followed activity instructions (i.e. “Take a photo of your team posing in a dollar bill with the face cut out”) and posted the results to Bonfyre to share and compete with other teams.

Through the platform, Commerce was able to keep employees connected, informed, and engaged in team-building fun — and they haven’t stopped.

Commerce Bank employees continue to use Bonfyre by creating subculture communities based on department, employee interests, and more. These subcultures, combined with pre-existing culture initiatives, drive deeper engagement with video contests, employee recognition spotlights, and extended event engagement.

Commerce’s use of Bonfyre’s intelligence helps business leaders see where the app is helping and where they can change up their strategy. In their latest check-in, Commerce found 73 percent of employees invited participate in the Bonfyre community, 57 percent engage by posting or liking content, and there are an incredible 6,800 total chats, photos, and videos shared.

Taking on the future one day at a time

“We are always working to improve Bonfyre as a whole, and we’re currently working on expanding our platform to offer more comprehensive data intelligence capabilities,” said Dornfeld. “We take feedback from our customers seriously and make sure that each new update or feature comes from an existing need that our customers have expressed.”

One recent example of these improvements is Bonfyre’s development of a proprietary machine learning algorithm. It automatically categorizes conversations to understand how people are using Bonfyre across relationship building, knowledge sharing, internal communications, and recognition.

According to Dornfeld, these four key categories are the drivers of culture and engagement and where most companies need to focus their energy in shifting the culture.

Dornfeld continued, “We love to watch the evolution of how companies think about culture and the impact it can have on organizations’ bottom lines. But at the end of the day, improving the work experience for everyone is why we created Bonfyre.”

Cool features:

  • Free
    • Download for Apple and Android users
    • Unlimited chat, photo, and video sharing for groups up to 100 people.
    • Basic push notifications
    • Photo exports and slideshows
    • Integration with social profiles
    • Unlimited number of Bonfyre communities
    • Unlimited chat content storage
  • With Enterprise Account
    • Real-time push announcements
    • Customizable and educational trivia games
    • Pulse surveys for employee feedback
    • Employee networking/discovery tools
    • Trackable photo contests
    • Customizable team profiles/directory
    • Custom recognition badges
    • Actionable usage data and intelligence for culture leaders
    • Live polling at events
    • Real-time, interactive company updates

Improvements we’d like to see:

  • Compatibility with existing HR systems
  • Ability to seamlessly share activity and events on company website

Heather R. Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.