First Financial Group: Designing Short-Term Employee Incentive Programs
(5 pages of text)
In 2019, the director of strategy at US-based First Financial Group (FFG) needed to decide which alternative incentive program the mid-sized bank should use to replace its current short-term incentive plan (STIP) for branch employees. The scorecard-driven STIP was found to have motivated branch sales staff to set up unauthorized accounts in order to obtain bonuses. These actions could potentially bring negative publicity and regulatory penalties to the bank in an industry fraught with such problems. Further, the current STIP had led to conflicts between the branch managers, who were compensated based on dollar sales, and the employees, who were compensated based on units of accounts sold. However, the path forward was not clear. The strategy director could revise the current scorecard or introduce a team-based incentive based on a new scorecard. Regardless of which option was chosen, the bank would have to implement additional management controls to motivate its employees while reducing the risk of fraud.
This case can be used for undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in managerial accounting, management control systems, and applied industrial and organizational psychology. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Explain how a scorecard can translate company strategy into performance measures that direct employee behaviour.
- Describe the trade-off, when designing performance measures, between goals that are congruent with a company’s strategy and those that are controllable, noting specifically how high-powered bonus goals can motivate employees to cut corners and deviate from a firm’s strategy.
- Discuss the advantages and drawbacks of individual versus team-based incentive plans.
Finance and Insurance
United States; Canada, Large, 2019
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