Long before "American Idol" and "The X Factor" came "The Gong Show," an amateur talent competition where contestants performed their sometimes-dubious talents in front of a panel of celebrity judges. If a contestant was particularly bad, judges would strike a giant gong, forcing an end to the performance. The ultimate goal of the show was not to get gonged.

Not so at Billtrust, a billing solutions company based in Hamilton, NJ. There, CEO Flint Lane regularly "gongs" employees for a job well done. And it's a big deal, says Jeanne O'Connor, Billtrust's director of human resources. "Everybody wants to know who's been gonged. What did they do? What's the recognition? It's an informal way, and a way that plays with our culture to recognize folks," she says.

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