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Employee Care Series #3: What an Employee Incentive Program Might Look Like in an Insurance Agency

For most insurance agency owners, they are open to the idea of creating an employee incentive program that helps the agency grow, but also provides a generous benefit to their team. Where we see the challenge in creating and sticking to incentive plans is finding the right one that works for your agency. I am often asked, “What is the best incentive plan?” My common response is, “The one that works for you!” All too often, I have seen one team take to a plan like wildfire and another team fail to be motivated by it at all. In this blog, we will break down your approach to designing an incentive plan and making it stick. 

What We Have Found on Employee Motivation

This may not be a surprise to you, but producers and account managers are motivated very differently. When you look to create an incentive program, we need to find ways to motivate the following types of team members:

Producers

Producers should be on the ultimate motivational plan – commission! When selecting producer compensation, you want to lean heavily on a strategy that keeps them hungry. A nice base keeps people nicely in their comfort zones and you don’t want that! However, from time to time, the agency needs producers to focus in certain areas that will help the agency as a whole. Examples of this may be hitting certain carrier goals, launching new niches, or coming into the home stretch on a big agency sales goal. For producers, you want to include in your budget some bonus items that fire them up. This can include a grand prize for the Top Producer of the Year, like a trip, or Amazon gift cards for personal lines producers, if they sell a certain number of policies by Friday. While commission is the ultimate motivator, we all like a target and some bragging rights to keep us focused. 

Account Managers Who Strictly Service (New Business Goes to Producers)

For this role, you want to remember that they enjoy the safety and security of their roles. They don’t want to be a leading lady, but are very important supporting actresses. We generally lean on reviewing book growth (mostly though, the book of business reports common in most management systems). As the book grows, they also get the benefits they are looking for. Generally speaking, a quarterly bonus of a % of the book growth does the trick. However, in addition, we want to motivate them to embrace change. This type of person can be timid when it comes to change and often likes to stick with old habits. If your agency is embracing change, having incentives around the change will make a difference. You do not want this to be cash-based, but more around bottles of wine, coffee gift cards, and instant gratification. 

Account Managers Who Sell & Service

Many agencies like to lean on paying commission on new business written. This can bring a series of challenges for the agency. The team can often focus more on new business than on saving business – and for a great deal of them, money is not their love language. Agencies also lean on time off, but this causes many more challenges as the team is often behind as it is. We also like motivating the team on the book of business growth, but adding in small incentives along the way. These goals should be team-based, as you want everyone working together to minimize challenges. Things such as gift cards, jeans days, and lottery tickets also work. 

Support Team Members

For many agency owners, they struggle to include support team members. Our philosophy is that they are important to the team being able to hit their goals and should be included. When the agency hits set goals, they should have a defined (but less than a licensed agent) reward. 

Universally, There Is One Thing That Motivates People in Insurance

It’s the easiest and most cost-effective thing you can give – recognition. We as leaders often have to deal with the burning fire of the day and miss a lot of the great things our teams do. For most roles inside of an agency, they thrive off of hearing they are doing a great job. We encourage agency leaders to make this an intention of your day. One tip is to avoid making your praise generic, such as “Jane, good job today.” You want to make it specific and customized. This could be, “Jane, great job on getting that commercial renewal out for submission 60 days before renewal. Seeing that we are on top of their account will really impress the client.” Watch people bloom as you make an investment of kind words. 

What Should We Provide as Incentives 

This is where knowing your team plays a critical role. We will list out some incentive plans here, but you need to understand what matters most to your team. Personally, I have seen people go way out of their comfort zone for the ability to wear jeans, but not be motivated by $100. Have some fun with this list – and if you need our help, our Agency Assessment addresses this exact challenge:

  • Jeans Days
  • Cash Prizes
  • Gift Cards
  • Lunch
  • After Hours Team Activity
  • Weekend Get-Away
  • Tickets to Local Events
  • Manicures/Pedicures
  • Wine/Beer
  • Lottery Tickets
  • Wall of Cash – When you win, you get to pick a mystery prize
  • Spin the Wheel

Remember with recognition, it’s best that you provide the reward in a group setting where you can give the high fives and celebrate! The one thing we know that is not motivating for anyone in a service role is only having a commission strategy. Follow me on this journey for a moment:Let’s say I am very timid when it comes to sales, but I try and I sell a client a $300 umbrella policy. I’m excited, but here’s the challenge: 

  • You probably won’t see it on a new business report for a month. 
  • Then if it’s not coded correctly, you don’t know I did it.
  • Then I have to fill out some commission sheet or make sure it’s accurate in the system (which it should be).
  • The commissions are processed and 6-8 weeks later, in my direct deposit, I see $10.80 before taxes in my paycheck ($300 umbrella x 12% commission – $36, say you pay 30% commission – $10.80 before taxes).
  • Not super motivating!

But if my team is tasked with selling 10 umbrellas to wear jeans – think of the joy!

How Team Leaders Can Better Fuel Incentive Plans

Most incentive plans fail or succeed, not because of the rewards, but more because of the fun and recognition associated with it. When the leader is invested and sharing data, giving high fives and motivating the team, the plans tend to take off. However, when numbers are a surprise and only shown as a let down, the incentive plan can fall out of love fast. Most agency team members won’t take like wildfire to a new plan. You have to show them that this is here to stay and that they can achieve the target. 

How We Can Help

Our agency assessment is a deep dive into your agency. We ask several incentive and motivation questions on an anonymous survey. We also meet with each team member to understand their key drivers. We couple this with processes, accountability, training, and tracking to help you hit your performance targets. If you are interested, call us at 401-415-6205 or email us at info@agencyperformancepartners.com!

 

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