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How to make a "deposit" into your incentive plan

Associate Vice President, HNI

Whether trying to lower health care and workers’ compensation costs or attempting to increase quality and productivity, the key factor in success or failure lies in the hands of your employee’s individual behavior. While company-wide, group and team incentives can be effective morale boosters and often help you reach your goals, it can also leave room for underperforming employees to hide behind your top performers. These incentives or goals often have a shelf life and over time employees lose interest in them. If you endorse Pareto’s Principle that roughly 20% of your employees drive approximately 80% of your costs (health care or workers’ compensation), then adopting a system that addresses each of your employees behaviors is ideal. Negative employees have a unique ability to pollute the attitude of others.

 iStock goldenegg resized 600When incentive programs are used to propel an organization toward a goal, people increase their performance by 27%, according to a study by Society of Incentive and Travel Executives (SITE). Because this statistic is an average, you can ensure your company achieves even greater performance through identifying the right incentives and targeting the desired behaviors that will have the greatest impact on your costs.

If there’s one ingredient I have found most companies miss it is a proven system to increase desired behaviors across all levels of the company. I see some employees with large amounts of negative behaviors killing the culture of the company and CEO’s allowing it to happen. One CEO told me that if he tries to change his employees, they will “leave the company”. I disagreed and stated that if you let them work in the status quo, you will become paralyzed and unable to adapt to market competition. Staying the same in today’s world is definitely going backwards.

Rather than setting arbitrary incentives and throwing money at them, I prefer a more integrated approach. This approach is what I call THE BEHAVIOR BANK ACCOUNT. It is a process that involves most all of your employees starting with a management workshop. This workshop identifies the issues that truly affect profit and loss. Then, the employee engagement meeting is held to allow input and buy-in of the process as a value. We are now ready to monitor good and bad behaviors to welcome those that want to work within the system and address those that do not. It is likely that you will find some employees who do not want to engage in the process of improvement. Do you already know who they are?

In this program, a specific dollar amount is “deposited” into an account for each eligible employee. The employee is guaranteed the whole amount in one year based on having no withdrawals. The employee must be employed at the time of award. A withdrawal is made on their account whenever they have an occurrence of an unwanted behavior. At the end of the year, the company conducts a meeting to present checks so that everyone sees the amounts given out. This plan should be optional and employees should have the option to not participate. Employees cannot be charged if they have too many withdrawals. Many companies find that $500 is a meaningful amount. How much money do you award right now for targets that miss the mark? Can this amount be applied to a more meaningful outcome for the company and the employee?

Topics: Construction Transportation Manufacturing HR / Employee Benefits