Think back to the old workplace water cooler. A place where co-workers once congregated to give pats on the back about landing that big, new account or making a tight deadline.

Or even just to meet the new guy or wish Bob in accounting happy birthday.

A Lincoln startup, AMPT, is a little like a modern-day, virtual version of that in app form.

The company, which took off in 2014, designs software that makes it easy for businesses to recognize and appreciate their employees, CEO Collin Caneva said.

Positive feedback only.

On a chilly Friday this month, a big-screen inside the AMPT office at 432 S. 11th St. played AMPT TV, a running thread of "nudges" and work anniversaries and funny GIFs to give online high-fives. Co-workers and bosses alike calling people out for good things they've done.

"We're really in the business of catching people in their moments of greatness and letting them know," Caneva said. "Whether we're around them or not."

The screen looks familiar to social-media users, a little like LinkedIn or Facebook. Easy to navigate.

But Craig Spilker, who is in business development at AMPT, said they're not trying to be either. The framework just helps them tap in to what employees already know.

And, so far, the response has been overwhelming, he said.

"I didn't know how much people were hungry for positivity," Spilker said.

He said the No. 1 reason people typically leave a job is because they feel like they're not being recognized for why they're there.

Spilker said employees who log on to AMPT even once a week are 48 percent more likely to stay with their organization for more than two years.

AMPT started in the health care industry, with accounts including Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings. But, Caneva said, the company's list of partners has grown, much of it by word of mouth.

Now, it's in 21 states and has expanded into construction and hospitality, and this month it dove into the automotive industry with Honda of Lincoln coming on board. More companies are seeing the value in happy, engaged employees, he said.

Caneva said the AMPT team does everything in-house and has brought on more people with more clients to keep the focus on user and partner engagement.

"Our growth is pretty exciting," he said.

Caneva spoke of a friend's mother, who recently celebrated a 32-year work anniversary and got to pick a gift from a catalog. She chose a weed trimmer for her son. All she really wanted was a genuine thank you.

They mean well, he said of her employers.

Spilker called it a disconnect between what employees want for their years of effort, for coming in even when they've felt sick and for staying late, and what employers think they want.

"It is just about simple, in-the-moment, real recognition," he said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.



Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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