Golden Business Ideas


Just Rewards

Although there’s no question that issuing rewards (money, gift certificates, vacation time) for outstanding job achievements is an effective motivational tool, such programs often break down due to one issue: Who picks the winners?

Typically, the first cut is made by the manager closest to the “shop” floor—whether the shop is a factory, a retail outlet or an office—and the final decision is made by upper management. More often than not, rank-and-file aren’t pleased with the final decision, attributing it to favoritism or, worse, playing up to the boss.

There’s a better way: Let employees make the selection by nominating coworkers who, in their opinion, contribute to team spirit. Initially such a program may turn into a popularity contest, but over time employees will get the message—that being a team player and cooperating pays. Result: Employees anxious to win (not just the money but the recognition) begin to think of ways to support each other, and, as a result, the company.

Direct Mail

It’s wise to keep developing new direct-marketing programs—after all, business needs change. But don’t be too quick to scrap old ones. Often programs used years ago can outperform snappy modern ones. A company may weary of a marketing approach long before the customers do, and the decision to try a new tack may have more to do with a manager’s boredom than poor results. So seek out a marketing program that did well in the past, update it and give it another try. You may discover it does as well as a new one—only it costs less.

Print Faster

If you use an ink-jet or bubble-jet printer that runs at a snail’s pace, there’s a simple way to speed it up and save money at the same time. On your computer, go to Start, Settings, Printers. Switch from color to gray scale and the printer will print only with black ink. That single change will speed the printing and use less ink.

Skill vs. Motivation

When assessing two candidates for a job, which asset would you rate higher—skills or motivation?

Conventional managers tend to select the person with proven skills, which I guess is why they are conventional managers rather than innovative ones.

To be sure, skills are important, but how long will their value last? In this world of super-fast technological change, today’s skills quickly become obsolete. A person who is motivated, on the other hand, is driven to constantly reach beyond his or her grasp, and that’s a characteristic that never goes out of style.

Most Valued Benefits

Ask employees what benefit they most prize and the likely response will be health insurance, according to a survey conducted for Aon Consulting, a human resource company headquartered in Chicago. Next in popularity are a retirement policy and the employer match to retirement plan contributions. Other favored benefits, in declining order of preference: paid vacation and holidays, paid sick leave, ability to select among available benefits, retirement health plan, prescription drug plan, preventive health coverage and life insurance.

An Invitation

The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).

Send your ideas to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via either e-mail ( zarowin@mindspring.com ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.

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