Sweetening the Deal: What Types of Employee Inducements Are Banks Offering These Days to Encourage Valued Behavior? We Speak with Three Different Marketers

By Marlin, Brenda | ABA Bank Marketing, September 2007 | Go to article overview

Sweetening the Deal: What Types of Employee Inducements Are Banks Offering These Days to Encourage Valued Behavior? We Speak with Three Different Marketers


Marlin, Brenda, ABA Bank Marketing


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Everyone agrees that dangling a carrot in front of your employees can entice them to behave in the way that your organization desires. Deciding what type of carrot-incentive to extend is another issue. The right carrot will depend upon your goals, your employees and the amount of energy you are willing to invest to promote the chosen reward.

The success of an employee-incentive program is dependent on the quantity and quality of research done prior to the program launch. You need to ask questions of both employees and managers. Once the correct answers are obtained and the appropriate combination of incentives is formulated, success is dependent on the degree of consistency that follows. You also need to keep motivation "fresh" by periodically reviewing goals and the program's operations.

There are many effective financial-based incentive programs that you can tap into; however, many experts agree that money is not the only factor in motivating employees. The best incentive program offers a combination of both financial and nonfinancial payoffs. Also, don't overlook the fact that you can go beyond incentives for individuals; you can reward teams as well.

The starting block

Here are key questions that need to be pondered in advance by the management team:

* What is the desired goal that we want to accomplish for our organization?

* Who are the target employees that will help us accomplish this goal?

* What motivates this group of employees?

* Can the goal be met with a short-term incentive plan or does the incentive plan need to be an ongoing, long-term program?

* Who will manage this program?

* What type of incentives will be offered?

* How will we track the performance of employees?

* Do we need outside assistance in tracking this information of can a program be developed in-house?

* How much money will we need for program development or contracting with a vendor?

* How will we communicate goal expectations to employees?

* Do our employees need additional training in order to help set them up for success in the selling of the organization's brand, produces and services?

* How will we ensure a balance between customer service integrity and meeting sales goals?

* How much money do we want to dedicate to employee incentives?

Below are three case studies of banks that utilize different types of incentive plans. One is a plain-vanilla scorecard-based incentive program. Another is a more elaborate plan that includes sales rallies as well as nonfinancial incentives such as certificates and trophies. The third is an innovative program designed to encourage employee help in marketing the bank.

Like many banks, The Washington Trust Co. has had an employee bonus program in place for many years. Recently, however, the bank decided to modify the plan to make it more "goal oriented." The financial institution took the money that was earmarked for the old bonus program and redirected it to the new incentive plan.

Since the bank puts a high value on both service and sales, it took the same approach when developing a system of rewards. Ferrara says that the best way to manage this type of plan is to balance both sales and service. "I definitely think it is a necessity to have both with your employees. You don't want to lose track of either component," she states.

The bank utilizes a score-card approach in order to ensure that goals include more than just that of sales. Goals are based upon the position of the employee. For obvious reasons, branch managers will have different goals than that of customer service representatives or tellers.

For example, managers and assistant managers incentive compensation is based upon five areas of weighted performance:

* Deposits.

* Loans. …

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