It’s one thing to get off to a good start. But Tom Wagoner wanted to make sure Accelerated Benefits could keep it going.
“Trying to maintain consistent and excellent quality is difficult because you’re bringing new people in all the time and you’re growing,” says the company’s president.
Wagoner decided to provide an incentive to ensure consistent quality would be maintained at the 72-employee HR solutions firm.
“It’s called wildly important goals for your corporation,” says Wagoner, who calls the program WIGs. “It’s different than a mission statement. It’s really my mission and my goals and how you bring it down to the employees.”
Smart Business spoke with Wagoner about how to keep your employees focused on the details.
Q. How does the WIGs program work?
Every person in our organization gets a bonus every month based on what they did to perform excellently as a service component of our company and how they performed in helping us get new clients.
How do you motivate people? Make it a money thing. Once they have their job and they do their job description, I tell them, ‘The only increase you’re going to get every year is consumer price index.’ We’re not going to say, ‘Oh, you did a great job here, you’re going to get a 10 percent or 15 percent increase.’ The only way they get a pay increase is by bonusing every month according to WIGs.
Q. What’s the key to making it work?
It has to be monitored and public every month. You need to post who met their WIGs and to what degree so everybody can see that some people around them are getting points.
When we come up with their job description and their WIGs, the first thing I do is we outline a job description. We tell people that this is their job description and we want their input on things that they want to add or delete to that.
When we do the WIGs, we tell them, ‘These are my ideas on the WIGs. Can you buy in to it?’ You have to figure out something they will do or that person is probably not a good fit. So we do ask them to chime in on the WIGs.
Everybody knows their job security and their future is going to be 100 percent contingent on the company servicing its clients and the company growing our business. It’s a lot easier to get people to buy in to the fact that if we don’t keep our current clients and get new clients, their job is at risk.
Because if our revenues go down 30 percent, guess what? Somebody is going and it could be them. We’ve never had problems getting people buying in to this because they understand how I feel about it. Whether they are patronizing me and saying they understand it and they’ll do it or they do it just because of the money, it really doesn’t matter to me. It’s just that they do it.
If you have people that come into your office and say, ‘These WIGs are unreasonable and nobody can accomplish them,’ I can show them, ‘Well, last month, 14 out of 18 people hit all their WIGs. So you’re one of the four people who, for some reason, it’s not working for you. We either have to figure out new WIGs for you, or maybe you just don’t fit at this company.’
Q. How do you figure out who tracks it?
To me, it doesn’t really matter who does it. You just want to make sure somebody does it and that they are consistent and that you don’t get lazy on it because that’s what can happen. If you were just to do it one month, and then you don’t do it and don’t follow up with it, it loses half its effectiveness.
There is always going to be that effectiveness that each person understands that the way they get compensated is going to be dependent on it. It may not matter to them what other people are doing.
I have people in my office that say, ‘I’m going to maximize this every month guaranteed.’ They could care less if two-thirds of the people don’t even get one point. They are in it for the money. Then I have other people that say, ‘You know what, it’s not as important to me.’ Those are the people we are constantly trying to work with.
Q. Where does this rate when you are looking at cuts?
I would think it would be the last thing you want to cut. It would be better to cut excess fat. If you have some employees you can do without because volume is down, that would be the first thing I would do.
Now I’ve never been in that position, so I don’t like to fire people. I know in an economic time [like this], it’s hard to do that. If you were to take away the WIG program, it’s like raising taxes in a recession. It’s the last thing you want to do because it further contracts the economy.
If you’re losing 10 percent of your clients and you grow by 10 percent, the net effect is where you started. Why would you want to take away something that could offset the recession? I would do an across-the-board cut or try to find some fat I could cut out.
How to reach: Accelerated Benefits, (800) 600-4910 or www.accben.com