Training Top 125 Best Practice: Windham Professionals Inc.’s Dream Maker Program
Financial recovery solutions provider Windham Professionals Inc. created an employee engagement program called Dream Maker, which is focused on financial health, overall financial literacy, improved financial competency when communicating with the borrower, employee retention, and improved work performance. Participation is voluntary and requires a six-month commitment. The primary focus for employees is budget and credit management to meet individual goals.
Windham provides a minimum of two one-to-one financial coaching sessions per month, facilitated by a certified personal finance counselor. Participants engage in SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely)goal setting with their coach, who collects their financial data and assists with their “financial freedom plan” development. Goal accomplishment is reviewed bi-weekly.
Participants also are required to complete a minimum of two financial education modules via Financial Avenue, an online financial education solution with interactive modules available to educate and empower individuals to make well-informed financial decisions and prevent behaviors that could negatively impact their future.
Individuals are held accountable to goal attainment and financial competencies, and behaviors are strengthened throughout the program. They focus on technical skills of collecting and analyzing data, creating a budget and reviewing credit reports, business skills of utilizing knowledge and strategies for handling finances with borrowers, people skills with empathy when assisting and collaborating with borrowers to influence decisions regarding repayment, and leadership skills with peers by encouraging them to utilize Financial Avenue resources, and demonstrating behavioral change with increased productivity on the job.
Behaviors are evaluated by attendance in coaching sessions, goal attainment, and awareness of ability to obtain goals. Managers provide reinforcement, and participants directly engage with the business by transferring knowledge to borrowers and improving productivity financially relevant when collecting dollars on accounts.
Goal attainment is celebrated with participants throughout the program and at a final Dream Maker graduation attended by peers, managers, senior leaders, and a representative from the executive team. Participants share their accomplishments, are recognized by their coach, and receive a certificate of completion and a gift. Participants also are recognized in Windham’sEngagehrmonthly newsletter and company intranet. Some 95 percent of participants agreed that participation in the program helped improve their quality of life.
Results are reviewed by evaluating retention/graduation rates, performance, participant promotions, and completion of financial education sessions. Including the pilot program, Windham has had approximately 221 participants in the program from August 2015 through February 2018, graduating 158 of them for a 71 percent graduation rate.
From the pilot, Windham saw collector incentives increase by 47 percent among 78 percent of participants during the six-month period. Some 71 percent of participants improved performance related to document returns and 40 percent related to payments received. From 2016 to 2017, the company had eight promotions from the Dream Maker program that accounted for 11.4 percent of company promotions. This program was highlighted in the August 2016 and January 2018 issues of Collector Magazinepublished by ACA International.
Individual accomplishments range from eliminating debt, obtaining single-digit interest rates on auto loans, increasing credit scores, boosting emergency savings funds, taking a dream vacation, understanding credit reports, and homeownership.
Windham identified the overall Top 5 successes of the program as:
- First-time home ownership for 10 employees
- Increase in credit scores; a 700 and 800 Club was started in 2017 with 19 in the 700 Club and three in the 800 Club
- Auto and loan refinancing decreased from double to single digits
- Increased emergency savings and retirement savings accounts
- Improved money management and budgeting skills