Here Tillman explains the value of happy employees, and what the ultimate cost benefit is to the company.
How did you achieve such high levels of participation in Aflac’s 401(k) plan?
We match 50%, but it wasn’t utilized the way I thought it should have been. I said, “Let’s start thinking of ways that we can incentivize people. Not just educate, but incentivize.” People knew what a 401(k) is; people know that it’s a great savings vehicle for the future. It’s just getting them to take that step. We did two things: First we did auto-enroll, and people who didn’t opt out would receive $250 seed money from the company. We also found that it was much easier to have employees stick with their 401(k) if they started from the beginning. Now our participation is north of 85%.
You’ve also championed homeownership for your employees.
When I was first introduced to the concept of NeighborWorks, I wanted something that could be tailored to our employees. I know the importance of homeownership in terms of financial stability. So NeighborWorks created a program, a curriculum. The program is rigorous. We have a lot of people start but fewer complete it. We give seed money as a graduation gift to those that do. We have a number of employees who are now proud homeowners.
As an executive, what have you learned from your focus on keeping employees happy?
We have two onsite daycare facilities. Together they are the largest onsite corporate daycare in the state of Georgia. I get a lot of questions about how you measure ROI on onsite daycare. I don’t have specific metrics, but I can tell you that our turnover rate is 8.9% [the industry rate is 20.3%]. A good number of our employees are moms, and when that mom answers the telephone for a policyholder and they know that their child is well taken care of or that they’ve seen them at lunch, the interaction with that policyholder is going to be a whole lot different from a lot of experiences customers have. In our environment the heart portion is just as important as the business case, because our team members are going to be engaged. Those employees who are living in homes for which Aflac provided the seed money—they have so much allegiance to us, and we to them.
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