At Scottrade, points for good work can be cashed in for big-ticket items

December 23, 2012

Company: Scottrade.

Location: 18 branches in the Washington area.

Employees: 61 locally; 3,700 nationwide.

At online investment and banking firm Scottrade, workers can earn their way to a big-ticket item through a steady stream of day-to-day achievements.

Through a Web-based program called “Get Invested,” employees can reward each other for doing an exceptional job in categories such as team work, customer service or learning and development. Workers can give any of their colleagues a bronze, silver, gold or platinum award, depending on how noteworthy the achievement is. Each award carries an allotted number of points. Managers can also give out scratch-off cards that contain a mystery amount of points.

Employees are able to bank the points throughout the year and cash them in for a wide variety of items, ranging from screwdrivers and photo frames to flat screen televisions, refrigerators and even grand pianos. The most popular item this year has been a $25 gift card for BP.

Ed Gray, a branch manager at the Columbia office, said he tries to dole out points judiciously to recognize top-performing staffers.

“You want to make sure that it’s relevant and that it has a meaning to it,” he said.

Gray said that among his staffers, the holiday season tends to be prime time for taking advantage of the points, with many people using them to purchase Christmas gifts. Gray has used many of his own points to buy gift cards for gas stations, which he says have been a big help when prices spike at the pump.

Jane Wulf, Scottrade’s chief administrative officer, said the program has had a positive effect on workplace culture.

“It does give a little bit of an element of fun,” Wulf said. “You’ll hear people talking about what they got with their points.”

The company said that the program also seems to have had an impact on customer service. Scottrade recently expanded the program so that employees who work in customer service get points when they score highly on the company’s quarterly survey of its clients’ satisfaction.

When that initiative got under way, “the scores started going up quite a bit,” Wulf said.

Sarah Halzack is a reporter and Web editor for Capital Business. She covers the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She occasionally writes for other sections at the Post, most frequently in the form of dance reviews, dance features, book reviews and obituaries.
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