Incentive Programs for Home Agents

By Bob Cowen

Driven by today’s tight economy and increasingly strong and vocal consumer preferences to speak with onshore agents, home agents are now commonplace. There are numerous benefits for both the agents and the organization. However, the few but significant differences between home-based and office-based agents create challenges. Unless you recognize the differences and update your employee recognition and incentive programs accordingly, you’re wasting time, effort, and money.

The most significant and obvious challenge is that traditional workforce motivational practices are no longer as effective because the agents are not on-site. To a high degree, you’ve disarmed yourself. Thus, delivering effective employee incentives that drive KPIs (key performance indicators) becomes a more formidable challenge.

Some of the losses that affect KPIs and morale include:

  • The feeling of camaraderie and belonging to a team
  • Public recognition, such as “wall of fame” and award presentations
  • One-on-one and peer recognition – for example, the boss personally delivering a handwritten thank-you note
  • Social relationships and interactions, including coffee breaks, lunches, pizza parties, and ride sharing

To update your employee incentive program, here are some critical recommendations:

  • Use simple, easy to explain, specific motivators.
  • Have clearly identifiable goals visible at all times.
  • Show current status compared with goals.
  • Allow for the easy review of goals, accomplishments, and reward history.
  • Give little rewards frequently for small, precedent activities rather than big, infrequent rewards for large goals.
  • Make having fun a key element in the reward process. For example, games played at the office can be replicated electronically and should be offered at every opportunity, such as spin the wheel, draw a ticket from a fishbowl, or select a sealed envelope.
  • Provide immediate and visible reward credit for every achievement.
  • Offer a wide choice of desirable rewards.

Home agents have reached critical mass, and they constitute the biggest growth segment of contact centers. If your agent incentive and employee recognition program correctly addresses and compensates for the lack of a physical, common presence, you will achieve the maximum benefit of using home agents.

Bob Cowen is with Snowfly, provider of Internet-based employee incentives, recognition, and loyalty programs. For more information, call 877-766-9359 or email

[From Connection Magazine November 2011]

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