May 21, 2012 · 1 minute

All of the best Internet businesses come out of Arkansas, right?

Well, maybe not, but Rogers, Ark.-based Rockfish is busy proving that there is innovation outside of Silicon Valley. Today the digital agency launched YouEarnedIt, an employee rewards system that I hope my boss takes up soon.

YouEarnedIt is a platform that lets staff give their coworkers points for work well done. Rockfish calls them "virtual high fives." Employers create a rewards catalog, listing items of their choosing that employees can earn with a certain number of points. These rewards can be anything from gift cards to restaurant vouchers to Porsches. Meanwhile, users can track their points tally via YouEarnedIt’s dashboard, and administrators can track real-time data through an analytics system.

Rockfish – which was acquired by advertising giant WPP last August and also has offices in Little Rock, Dallas, and Cincinnati – developed the tool after the success of an internal program it called Rockfish Rewards. The idea is that companies allocate their employees a certain number of points that they can distribute to co-workers once a quarter. Those people can then either redeem their points immediately for lower value items, such as gift cards, or save them up for the bling-ier products (Rolex watches, Louis Vuitton shoes, small islands off Dubai) later down the track. Rockfish had been running its program through an Excel spreadsheet before deciding on the current initiative.

The program leans on research that shows employee recognition is vital to a healthy corporate culture. Studies suggest that meaningful, real-time recognition is crucial to staff retention, and peer-to-peer praise can be even more important than top-down praise.

However, few competitors exist in the digital employee-rewards space. Hallmark has a service called Business Connections, and there are other offerings from Online Rewards, Quint Loyalty, and Loyalty Works. But few offer the focused, peer-to-peer approach that YouEarnedIt takes.

Rockfish CEO Kenny Tomlin, who started the company by himself in 2006 after leaving a job as Walmart’s "strategy architect" says that YouEarnedIt has been operating in an invitation-only closed beta for three months. The company originally envisaged the product being used best for small businesses but since has found it scales well. The companies using it so far range in size from 25 people to more than 200 people.

Rockfish charges companies 99 cents per user, per month to use YouEarnedIt.