(May 17) Pay your workers more, watch your profits soar.

Adam Smith would have loved that twist on his “win-win” invisible hand theory of economics. Four Seasons Produce Inc. loves it, too — but for the Ephrata, Pa.-based wholesaler, it’s more than just a theory.

Since the company instituted its incentive program in the late ’90s, productivity per man hour has jumped from 80 cases to 230 cases, said Nelson Longenecker, vice president of business innovation.

Longenecker and two other Four Seasons managers, Greg Stricker, warehouse operations manager, and Dan Frederick, warehouse operations specialist, led a session on incentive programs May 8 at the 29th annual Warehousing Education Research Council Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Technology is the key to Four Seasons’ program, which also has been responsible for cutting the company’s picker turnover rate in half, Longenecker said.

Pickers wear headsets hooked up to voice-recognition software. Pickers “talk” to the software, telling it when they are ready to begin a task. The software then talks back, telling them what to do and when. When a case is delivered to a loading dock in Four Seasons’ warehouse, an electronic record is created, detailing what task was completed and how long it took.

The result, Longenecker said, is more than just higher productivity.

“We’ve been able to achieve extremely high accuracy and productivity at the same time,” he said. “In 2005, we had 98% on-time dispatches.”