Motivation is an interesting thing. For some, it comes easily and for others, well… not so much. As a younger single man, I had no trouble staying in shape. I ran marathons and triathlons, worked out in the gym every day, and watched every bite of food. Somewhere as I grew up, married, and bought a house, I quit all that, and honestly, I wasn’t all that motivated to start up again. Recently, however, a health scare propelled me back into a health regime — a night in the ICU was motivation enough to give me back my motivation! I’ve lost 16 pounds since that day, and I have my eyes on a solid goal.
Motivation doesn’t have to be negative, however — and certainly in the workplace you can use tactics other than mortal threats to get employees to make good decisions. You may have noted that employees will do anything to save a buck at home but are not motivated to pursue the same level of cost-savings at work. There’s a misconception among some employees that “The Company” is a bottomless pit of money. If you couple that with representatives of today’s “Entitlement Generation,” then you end up with employees who feel no compunction whatsoever in expensing virtually anything through the company. What you need is a motivational tool to provide the incentive to follow corporate policies, to stay within a budget, and to work to find ways to save even more money.
It is with this goal in mind, that the “Comp Day” was born.
Managers have figured out that it’s not too terribly difficult to give an employee a “free pass” for a single work day, in recognition of cost-conscious decisions made in the office or on the road for the company. Even if it’s not possible to institute a comp day as standard policy, it may be worth supporting the following “soft rules” to be applied at the discretion of your managers:
- Every month, the traveler who averages the “smallest expenses claimed per day,” earns an extra “compensation day.” Take their total submitted monthly expenses and divide that by the number of days they were on corporate travel. Lowest wins.
- Any traveler who completes a 50-hour work week that started on Sunday, is eligible for a comp. day on that Friday, at the discretion of their manager.
- Employees are not allowed to take more than one comp. day at a time, and preferably on weekends. Taking a full vacation with 5 comp days, rather than vacation days, is difficult for a manager to “bury” in the system.
- Employees can’t stockpile their earned comp days for more than two months. The intent is to give the employees an immediate reward for saving time and/or money.
Other incentives besides Comp. days include, free lunches or meals, corporate catalog items, gift certificates, etc.
People will work hard for a relatively small reward. I once carried 6 laptop computers through airport security, on the plane, and all the way to a customer’s boardroom in 100-degree heat in Houston, TX, to save money on overnight shipping and to avoid renting computers at the site. I did this just to beat my colleague Jessica in a “low budget” contest we had going, which offered as reward a week of free lunches out of the company cafeteria. Sure, lunch was nice… but I wasn’t about to let Jessica beat me out of bragging rights!
Ken Walker is a traveling technical trainer for a software giant based in California. Most of his venues reside on the East and West Coast; so where else would he choose to reside but Minneapolis? He hosts three-, four-, or five-day classes every week, and you’ll find him leaving his home almost every Sunday. His travels have taken him to all 50 states and 19 different countries. He brings his wife along to the “cooler” destinations when they can find a babysitter for all three of their dogs, Flash, Daisy, and Samson.