Monday, January 12, 2009

Dream On: Improving employee morale one wish at a time

Last week, the folks over at Incentive Intelligence featured a new and surprising incentive and recognition program one company is using to improve employee morale and engagement.

Appletree Answering Service, a Delaware-based telephone services and call center firm, has found great success with a new employee incentive program called “Dream On.”

The program is simple - employees fill out a “wish” request and management fulfills wishes.

From the Delaware Online article:

"We've always had a philosophy based on taking care of our employees," said Appletree founder and CEO John Ratliff. "Dream On grew out of a concierge idea, where we would use our resources to help employees meet their personal needs."

The program is based on the Make-a-Wish idea of granting an employee's special wish for themselves or others.

"There are no criteria for structuring a wish," Ratliff said. "It doesn't have to involve a serious personal or health issue. There are no categories or limitations on what the wish can be, nor is there a set budget."

Employees can even submit wishes for other co-workers. In one instance, an Appletree employee received football tickets after a co-worker overheard how much she wanted to take her husband, currently battling cancer, to a game. The employee’s wish was granted before she ever asked for it.

With the Dream On employee incentive program, the company successfully tackled a 90-percent turnover rate among frontline employees. After the first full month of putting the program into action, the company has seen dramatically lower employee turnover rates and the savings in new-hire training costs has completely covered the cost of wishes granted.

Why the program works: By mixing the element of surprise and involving employees in the process, Appletree has found a way to improve morale and employee engagement across the board. Who doesn’t love receiving a gift from out of the blue?

How it could go wrong: One potential downside to the program may be the lack of “wish” limitations. Management fulfills wishes at random and the value of each wish varies. Without any set limitations, spending may increase to a point where cost outweighs the benefit of the program.

We want to know - Why do you like or not like this employee incentive program? What added benefits and potential problems do you see cropping up?

1 comment:

Patricia van Bergeijk said...

I think it is a very original idea. But i see the use of incentives a bit difference. In your blog you are saying the management pick at random wishes. But why didn't they just pick the wishes of the employees who reached their targets? Then the incentive will be a real motivator and it won't be a casino. So, not who is the most lucky employee of the week but who is the best employee of the week.

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