Beyond Metrics: Celebrate Your Company’s Unique Culture Through Benchstones

Savannah Peterson
Kiwi Landing Pad
Published in
3 min readFeb 2, 2017


Benchstones are moments that feel good and indicate progress. They’re the result of a freudian slip I had on stage in New Zealand (Benchmarks + Milestones), and a broken performance system. When forecasts are set in stone and metrics are immobile, morale is destined to plateau or decline.

66% of American Workers are disengaged at work and only 13% of workers are engaged worldwide. What are companies to do to combat that? If earnings were down 70% you’d be focused on it. Culture and morale should be the same way. You never know what other numbers enthusiasm is affecting (stats thanks to gallup.)

This Xerocon Differentiators presentation I recently delivered dives even deeper and points out why every company should be paying attention to their culture now more than ever.

Special thanks to Rod Drury and the Xero team for letting me present this concept at Xerocon first

What people want is a sense of purpose, to believe what they’re working on adds value to the greater good, and that by doing excellent work, they can achieve a greater work-life balance. 52% of millennial workers see opportunity for progress as an attractive company trait compared to 44% who see a competitive wage the same way. Furthermore, 65% of millennials worldwide said the opportunity for personal development was the most important deciding factor in accepting their current role, compared with 21% who were most influenced by the starting pay (stats thanks to PwC.)

Listen and let go, to grow

If you want to continue to get the same results, continue to drive toward the same metrics. If you’re reading this because you’re trying to grow, you need to start with the company definition of value and how one adds that. It’s not just sales, or users, or site speed. It’s the synergy of all of these things, and sometimes that doesn’t take shape in a quantified form.

What do Benchstones look like?

Whatever is best for your team. Often Benchstones come in the form of a great piece of customer feedback or a recently discovered use case. KPIs are infrequently evaluated and even more seldom celebrated unless above and beyond a (likely already inflated) forecast. If that’s the only catalyst for inner-office joy, you’re neglecting the members on the team who can’t directly impact those numbers completely. It’s exclusionary and I’d argue antiquated. I’m not saying everyone needs a trophy, but you hired everyone for a reason. Celebrate that reason regularly. The more people feel committed to the company and team, the more they’ll put into both.

How do you define Benchstones?

Ask everyone what and how they want to celebrate. If you’ve never asked, you’re missing out on critical drivers and levers you and your team can benefit from. Not everyone loves bowling or booze. I happen to hate karaoke. Volunteer time and community involvement drives some, while getting time to work on a special project drives others to new innovation. Knowing what makes your people happy will drive the results that make you and your bottom-line happy.

If you’re not finding an excuse to bring everyone together over a shared cause at least once a month, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t get picky about perfect opportunity to celebrate, get busy finding ways to empower. Most importantly, have FUN! Host a brainstorm with beverages asking everyone to define Benchstones. Range from the serious (everyone on the team personally rates their job happiness above average) to the silly (no dirty dishes left in the sink all week!) Let your culture flourish.

Fabulous fellow Xerocon speakers Greg Kyte and Joanne Cleaver

What Benchstones do you wish your company would adopt?

Savannah Peterson is the Founder of Savvy Millennial and is passionate about helping companies with their internal and external storytelling. Please ❤ this story below if you enjoyed it and reach out if you’re interested in learning more. Special thanks to dear friend and inspiration Sian Simpson for convincing her “Benchstones” were more than just a dyslexic slip after days of public speaking.



Savannah Peterson
Kiwi Landing Pad

Trying to make the future less scary. Founder of Savvy Millennial, Forbes 30 Under 30, Speaker, Community Mgr, Dog Mom: