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Master of Agribusiness

Exploring Employee Preferences for the Farm Credit System Incentive Program

Autumn Crider, Markham, Va., defended her thesis, “Exploring Employee Preferences for the Farm Credit System Incentive Program,” Wednesday, May 12, 2010.  Crider is a Loan Officer with Farm Credit of the Virginias in Warrenton, Va.  She graduated from Kansas State University in August with a Master’s in Agribusiness (MAB). 

Incentive plans are frequently offered to motivate employees to meet company expectations and retain valued employees. Crider was interested in determining if incentives are useful tools and if there are aspects of incentive plans that encourage or discourage motivation.

Crider researched incentive plans offered by different Farm Credit associations. She also conducted surveys among loan officers within one Farm Credit association to gauge employee perceptions about their current plan in relation to its payout timing, motivational capabilities, and employees understanding of the plan.

“This thesis provides very interesting information on factors that correlate with incentive plans, particularly the complexity and timing of the incentives. Autumn did an excellent job of sorting through survey information to put this project together,” said Brian Niehoff, Associate Provost/Professor of Management and Crider’s thesis advisor.

Among her key findings are: understanding of the plan is key and timely feedback is needed on amount of incentive earned.

“Of those surveyed, only 50% felt they understood the incentive plan. If they don’t understand it, improving performance and earnings is difficult. Only 12% indicated they received any kind of regular feedback on how they are doing or how much incentive they have earned throughout the year,” Crider said. “Making the program less complex and providing periodic feedback will encourage better results.”

The full thesis publication can be found online on K-State’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/14042.