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    Aegis Miles of Smiles Benefits Program

    How Aegis rolled out an innovative benefits program that has helped them attract and retain employees

    Employers are always searching for financially efficient ways to make employee incentives more effective in recruiting and retaining workers.

    A good benefit program provides a tangible value to employees, helps them and their families, is widely adopted by all employees, and delivers true ROI to the employer.

    Keeping these factors in mind, Aegis Communications Group (Aegis) and Pricelock partnered to create a unique program to subsidize commuting costs so that employees get a 60-cent per gallon discount off the price of gasoline. Called "Miles of Smiles," the program has helped Aegis recruit candidates from a broader geographic area and retain the company's best and longest-tenured employees. According to a recent employee survey, this new benefit is used by 99 percent of Aegis employees at the company's participating locations. In addition, the employees find themselves frequently talking about the program to their friends and families. The survey also showed more than 98 percent of participating Aegis employees desired the company to extend the benefit program beyond its trial phase. As one employee pointed out, "It has helped [me] financially... My family's stress has gone down due to [having] more money in the household and never having to worry about running out of gas."

    In the summer of 2008, Aegis was growing rapidly and needed a program to improve employee retention and recruitment. Aegis employees, like many U.S. The workers, commute a number of miles to work and are impacted when the price of gasoline rises. Aegis' Chief Operating Officer for the Americas, Chandra Venkataramani, was looking for a new incentive that would attract and retain employees. The incentive would ideally generate word-of-mouth publicity so that Aegis could reach job-seekers without an expensive advertising campaign.

    Aegis was aware of Pricelock, a company that provides fuel-price predictability and was behind Chrysler's "Let's Refuel America" program, which enabled buyers of Chrysler vehicles to lock in gasoline prices for three years. Venkatramani approached Pricelock executives about the possibility of using a similar program as an employee benefit. During these discussions, gas prices were changing by as much as $2 per gallon. Aegis and Pricelock realized that in order to make a benefit program attractive to employees at all times, the program would need to adjust with the price of gasoline. Pricelock suggested that Aegis offer employees a discount of 60 cents on the price per gallon of fuel, regardless of current retail price. The proposed program also would ensure that no employee would ever pay more than $2.99 per gallon. Finally, this discount would be available at almost every service station and would cover all grades of fuel, including diesel.

    In November 2008, Aegis launched this program called "Miles of Smiles," in two West Virginia locations. Employee response generated enough word-of-mouth buzz to result in local media coverage of this program that was helping employees, week after week, on their fuel purchases. The media coverage also positioned Aegis as a caring employer.

    The program has continued to be highly popular. In a recent survey of Aegis employees participating in the "Miles of Smiles" program, over 90 percent reported:
    They love the "Miles of Smiles" program and talk about it to others outside the company.

    They are "delighted" about the program and describe it as "great" and "cool."
    Employee and manager comments captured in the survey include:
    "This is tremendously helpful. Other people have been short on gas money coming to work and they can always use their card. [It provides] easy access at [gas] stations. Any help with gas prices is deeply appreciated."

    "The 'Miles of Smiles' program is a wonderful addition to the Aegis benefits structure... I have heard many positive things from my representatives, and many are hoping that the program doesn't leave."

    "It is rewarding to know that Aegis cares about its employees [and is] trying to make life better and easier [for us]."
    Aegis now is expanding the program to other locations near in Sierra Vista, AZ and Joplin, MO to an additional 1,100 employees. Aegis wants to ensure that employees continue to view the incentive as a privilege and that the benefit program maintains the high value and uniqueness that its employees love. "From a cost perspective, the Miles of Smiles program is not expensive relative to other benefits we offer," says Venkataramani. "The program has enabled Aegis to recruit workers from a wider area and it has reduced turnover significantly, which has held down our training costs and improved productivity. We believe the program has already paid for itself."
    Aegis Communication Group
    Aegis Communications Group
    Aegis Communications Group is a subsidiary of Aegis Limited, a leading global business process outsourcing (BPO) provider and an Essar Enterprise. Aegis offers customer lifecycle management and a variety of value-added interactive and back-office services for global enterprise clients. Aegis is one of the fastest growing BPO companies globally with annualized revenues of approximately $500 million.

    Aegis' culture is unique in the way it rewards and recognizes its people, and the unique approach serves both as the foundation of the company's success and a key differentiator in the Business Process Outsourcing community.
    "We believe the program has already paid for itself."
    Chandra Venkataramani
    COO Aegis America
    "It is rewarding to know that Aegis cares about its employees [and is] trying to make life better and easier [for us]."
    Aegis Employee


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