In Fairfax County, Virginia, a government auditor noticed that many of the vehicles in the official government fleet were barely used. In response, the county agreed to reassign cars which were driven less than 4,500 miles annually. The change inspired some bureaucrats to come up with excuses to travel, just so they would not lose their coveted government vehicles.
As explained in a Washington Post article, creating an artificial mileage limit just provided an incentive to surpass the limit. Some managers are busy “coordinating vehicle swaps among their employees to ensure that vehicles hit the magic 4,500-mile target” while others are simply urging workers to drive more. They seem willing to try almost anything to avoid losing vehicles. The Board of Supervisors response? Raise the threshold to 5,000 miles.
If you want to manage resources in an organization effectively, you must understand the role of incentives. Employees who are provided something of tremendous utility, such as a company car, would prefer to keep the benefit. Establishing an arbitrary criteria for removing the the resource is just a reason to game the system.
Instead, groups such as Fairfax County should consider a metric based on legitimate usage, not just distance. The same is true for workers who pad their hours, students that try to play the curve to maximize their grades, and drivers that hog the lane when they should be merging.
Incentives are the basis of resource management. If your organization needs to evaluate resource allocation in the context of workflow, consider reaching out to the Indianapolis speakers at AccelaWork today.