Q&A with Brian Galonek of All Star Incentive Marketing

RICK SAIA – Worcester Business Journal

BrianEmployers are always trying to get the most and best out of their employees. Many turn to All Star Incentive Marketing of Sturbridge, a second-generation family firm, for expertise in motivating and rewarding a workforce. Brian Galonek, the founder’s son, talked with us about various aspects of the business.

You’re in the business of helping motivate and incent good work in the workplace. How does your company do that with its own employees?

We practice what we preach. I don’t know if we’ve ever run a program without testing it internally or running it internally. We have employee referral programs and customer referral programs which we reward (with) points. We have our own wellness program where we walk the Appalachian Trail — virtually speaking — put pedometers on and walk the “Great Wall of China,” and form teams. The best-performing teams and the best-performing individual on those teams are rewarded with points. We have our own “Biggest Loser” competitions for weight loss. All of those things together (are) peer to peer, where employees receive points from the company. So employees are really experiencing what the customers (might be looking for).

Do more companies seem to “get it” when it comes to rewarding and incenting employees?

More now than 25 years ago when I started? I’d say so. I don’t know when it became in vogue to say “Our employees are our most valuable asset.” But now every company has it somewhere in their mission statement or their mantra. I think companies truly do realize how valuable … employees are and how expensive it is to replace them.

What is it about a family business that makes your work special?

I’ve been working now for 25 years, almost all of them with my parents. You have a core group of family members, and who can you trust more than your mother to run the books, right? But then on top of that, we have other employees who have been here for 20, 25 years or more as well, and they’re family as well.

It’s wonderful and unique in that way. I love the look on people’s faces when we talk and they say, “You’ve been working with every member of your family for 20 years?” They look incredulous.

How has information technology helped your business mission?

Fifteen years ago, it was completely nonexistent. Since then, we have spent millions of dollars on not just the people, but the software, writing code, servers, systems and virtually everything that we did shortly after I became president, was transitioned over a period of years online. Whereas we used to print catalogs and distribute them and everybody earning a reward would pick from that catalog. Now, everybody goes to a website and they’re very interactive. (But) we’re still able to do an awful lot of print.

Along those lines, how has social media helped your business?

It is just emerging as a support vehicle within the programs we run. If we’re running a safety-incentive program for a company, we have the ability to do Twitter accounts and text messaging and set up a Facebook page for them.

For our customers, I’d say it’s just emerging, but I know there’s going to be more of it as we go forward.

What’s the most creative program you’ve seen come out of your company?

We were asked to go down to the World Trade Center after 9/11 and build a safety incentive program for the contractors working on site. You’re talking about hundreds of different contractors … all with their own mantra and work styles. It was a daunting task. The insurer didn’t want a single accident or death on that property during construction for obvious reasons. It was already hallowed ground; you didn’t want to see anything bad happen. I thought it was very enlightening, very intriguing and certainly powerful.

Q&A with Brian Galonek of All Star Incentive Marketing

In economic terms, the multiplier effect refers to the proportional increase or decrease in final income that results from an injection or withdrawal of capital. In terms of Safety Reward Programs, the multiplier effect might refer to the ROI² (Return on Incentive Investment). A properly structured program significantly impacts overall employee engagement and safety culture, where employees are attuned to safety-related issues, inspired to display “Above & Beyond” safe behaviors, willing to be safety ambassadors, and encouraged to promote learning and support continuous improvement. Such best-in-class programs are designed to promote group objectives and reward individual behavior, engaging, motivating, and rewarding the people behind your success.

Fortunately, there are thousands of companies in high-risk industries that have excellent safety programming, training, and coaching in place. Many include safety in their list of core values and have invested heavily in EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety) technology, training, telematics, and personnel. However, too many miss the opportunity to incentivize and recognize individual safety contributions, behaviors, and performance.

Programs featuring tangible and experiential awards as the reward currency can have a multiplying effect that pays dividends. Benefits include a more highly engaged workforce, fewer accidents and incidents, reduced claims and losses, lower turnover and absenteeism, better communication, increased productivity, visibility to leading and lagging indicators, incremental coaching and training opportunities, and improved profitability.

So, what’s the rub? Are engagement programs focused on employee safety, health, and wellness expensive to implement? Do they only make sense for companies with thousands of safety-sensitive workers? The answer to both questions is no. Properly structured programs can be cost-effective and right-sized for companies with as few as 100 safety-sensitive workers up to those with 10,000 or more. The ROI² of these programs can be expressed as a ratio (in this case, 4:1), with quantitative results showing a savings of $4.00 for every $1.00 invested and qualitative results revealing higher employee morale, which serves as a catalyst for productivity. Safety Reward Programs help to mitigate risk, elevate employee engagement, and improve overall safety culture. They also present an excellent opportunity for companies to simply say thank you to their employees for being safe, committed, and engaged.

People have an inherent need to know that their efforts do not go unnoticed. Safety Reward Programs provide the stimulus and energy that encourage employees to perform at their best and achieve new heights.

Brian Galonek


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