Ask Christi: On-site Day Care

Posted by Training Magazine on December 12, 2008

Dear Christi:

We have an on-site day care and parents usually go down on their lunch hour to check in, but I have a few staffers who go down every 30 minutes. How do I handle this? They are good employees and are productive but the purpose of on-site day care is for convenience not bonding. Any thoughts?
--Vivian, Fresno, CA

Dear Vivian,

Figuring approximately 15 minutes per visit and leaving every 30 minutes to visit could equate to 4 hours of lost work per day. That’s a lot of loss! You mentioned they are productive now, but think of how much more productive your department would be with that added time. 

First I would ask what is your company policy on the number of visits employees are allowed per day? If you have not developed a written policy for this, now is the time to do it. And while you are developing this policy, add in a section for flexibility. One option would be that if an employee wishes to visit over and above the amount allowed, each additional visit would add a set number of hours and/or minutes to that employee’s workday.

INCENTIVE online columnist Christi L. Gibson, the executive director of Recognition Professionals International, formerly known as National Association for Employee Recognition (NAER), has been with RPI since 2001, and has been published in newspapers and periodicals and interviewed on both ABC and FOX News. She can be reached via e-mail at

Incentive Safety Tips

Posted by Training Magazine on November 05, 2008

By Terry Epton, CITE, DMCP

Inc_hed_terryeptonPrevent a client fiasco by always keeping the following in mind:

Never present undeliverables. Be careful on a site inspection if you decide whether or not to show an end-user client something that is not available for the time period that their incentive program will be operating. It doesn't matter how cool it is or how new it is. If it isn't available, be careful. Better yet, don't show it at all! They may only remember it and demand that the earth move and time stand still until it becomes available. I learned that one the hard way about 20 years ago, and I've included the example in my sales training sessions ever since. If one thing holds true in this industry, it is that human nature rules. People see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear and remember it the way they want it to be. We are all the same in that respect. And we usually always want what we can’t have.

Never assume a client can’t afford something.  If an option is creative enough and has the “wow factor,” you would be surprised how flexible a client’s budget can become.  I am not saying this as a suggestion on how to get a bigger program billing, but rather as an important safety tip. Once while operating a successful incentive quality event in conjunction with a major national convention, our customer saw a competitor’s program in operation with an extravagant show-stopping finale. They looked at me and asked, “Why didn’t you offer our group that option?”  I answered that it wasn’t in their budget. WRONG ANSWER!!! My client said (and I’ll never forget these words), “If it’s something really great, I’ll find the money.” Meanwhile I was humiliated to see the customer covetous of their competitors program. That’s one mistake I’ll never make again. It is easy enough to say “this is really pricy but it would be a show stopper if we did XYZ.”  It’s always better to be safe than sorry in this business.

Never assume a client speaks English. As it turns out, a lot gets lost in transaltion, even between those who supposedly speak English. For more on this important tip, visit to read my latest Incentive Encounters column.

INCENTIVE online columnist and Chief Executive Officer of USA Hosts, Ltd., Terry Epton has been an executive in the incentive industry for 26 years. As past Chairman of the Board for The New Orleans CVB, Terry is deeply involved in marketing and hospitality Industry leadership of New Orleans. Twice President of ADME, the Association of Destination Management Executives and long time member of SITE, Terry served on the Society's International Board for two terms and as an officer for four years. Mr. Epton is a Trustee on the IRF, Incentive Research Foundation. Terry was named "Incentive Travel Personality of the Year" in 1999. With both the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation and the Destination Management Certified Professional (DMCP) designation, Mr. Epton believes strongly in on-going industry education and community involvement.

Low-Cost Holiday Party Alternative

Posted by Training Magazine on November 04, 2008

By Larry Weaver

Times are tough, and so are corporate budgets. But rather than canceling the company holiday party this year, which can have a detrimental effect on employee morale and motivation, try a fun low-cost and creative alternative. Remember: Recognition is free, and can be more valuable and motivating than money. For example, handing out funny awards to employees is a low-cost way to celebrate co-worker success and bring laughter into the workplace.

Here is a list of the Top 10 Funny Employee Awards Ideas:

1. The Heinz Ketchup Award for always making others wait
2. The Jeff Gordon Award for racing away from work the fastest
3. The Deer in the Headlights Award for most confused
4. The Loch Ness Award for least likely to be found
5. The American Express Award for always taking credit
6. The Bermuda Triangle Award for the desk where things go in but never come out
7. The Human Vulture Award for eating anything found lying around
8. The Baryshnikov Award for most skill in dancing around the issues
9. The Global Warming Award for polluting the atmosphere with hot air
10. The Casual Monday–Friday Award for continually pushing the limits of “business attire”

And visit for best practices on how to design and host your own Funny Employee Awards Ceremony at your company this year.

Larry Weaver is a professional comedian and author of "Funny Employee Awards, Your Complete Guide to Organizing a Humorous, Entertaining and Rewarding Recognition Ceremony."

It's All About Relationships

Posted by Stacy Straczynski on October 08, 2008

By Terry Epton, Incentive online columnist

We Met in a Raucous Pub in Dublin...

This past week, I was pleased to spend time with one such friend while in Chicago at the Motivation Show. Eugene DeVilliers was born and raised in South Africa, schooled in France and now resides in Auckland, New Zealand.  He is an incentive company owner in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and India. He is one of my closest friends. Several years ago we met in a Dublin pub that was as colorful as all Ireland. If I recall correctly, it was named Rosie’s and it was loud, smoky and a true slice of authentic Dublin. I had just finished taking my exam for the CITE certification and I needed a beer. I remember thinking the place was too good to be true...I also wondered if I might perhaps wind up leaving with a black eye! I struck up a conversation with a rather big guy who looked to be friendly and we shared some pints of beer. It turned out that we were both staying at the same hotel and left the pub to head back together. As I started to look for a taxi, Eugene found a limousine and offered me a ride. He just commandeered a limo like it was the natural thing to do. As I suspected, it turned out he was in Ireland for the SITE International Conference, as I was. We found ourselves hanging out together at the conference and even joining in a “Yard of Beer” contest, which Eugene had little trouble winning. Eugene is one of the smartest, wisest people I know. Not in a million years would we have met if it were not for the incentive industry.

The Growing Concern of Short-Timers Disease

Posted by Training Magazine on August 18, 2008

By John Gallagher, CAS: promotional consultant & distributor

According to a survey conducted by The Conference Board:,
* Less than 39% workers under 25 are satisfied with their employment situation
* Less than 45% of worker between 45-54 are satisfied
* Of the 55-64 age workforce, almost half are satisfied
* Overall less than 41 percent of householders claim to be satisfied with their current job.

Given these statistics, it’s no wonder that HR and personnel directors feel as though they are glorified doormen. Many of the employees have their antenna up scouting for the next business opportunity. I call this “short-timers disease”.

A local fast food retailer advertised to new hires that if they stayed at least 90 days, the survivors would receive a $500.00 bonus. Maybe if some of them put in as much time and effort at work as they did looking for the opportunity, they might actually aspire to greater heights at their current place of employment. Why is it that the grass just seems to have a different hue of green elsewhere? Maybe employers should just hand out jade-colored glasses. The obvious drawbacks due to the amount of quality work time lost from a lethargic work staff compound the work load and retard the time frames to achieve goals and work completion.

So how does an employer cut down on this "short-timers" mindset?
* Bonus and pay structures should be re-evaluated
* Proper training seminars should be conducted
* Workloads need to be assessed
* Recognition and appreciation of jobs well done should be rewarded and publically announced

One of the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse of the employees’ concerns is to have an advisory board that includes staff workers to have a voice and assist in creating and implementing attractive motivational benefits. Consider implementing a company incentive program. Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open between management and staff and please take off those jade shades.

Learn How to Defuse People

Posted by Training Magazine on May 20, 2008

Everyone occasionally gets trapped in a bad mood, and bad moods can lead to bad actions. Defusing people is all about giving them a dose of something that could alter their mood or thinking.

In business, the best and easiest way to defuse a complaining, irate customer is not to make excuses or to place blame for the circumstances that made the customer upset. Angry customers rarely care about the reasons. The best thing to do is to let them vent and then say, "I'm so sorry you were inconvenienced. What wonderful thing could I do to make you happy?"

I once had one of those awful flying experiences where flight after flight was delayed, and none of the delays were weather related. What should have been a 3-hour flight turned into a 15-hour, multiple-city, exhausting nightmare, causing me to miss meetings in my intended city. By 3 a.m., when I was finally within 30 minutes of landing at my destination airport, I suddenly smelled something wonderful. The flight attendants were baking chocolate chip cookies! That sweet, comforting aroma filled the airline cabin, and our small group of 20 passengers waited with anticipation as the flight attendants made their way down the aisle, handing each of us a warm cookie. I instantly abandoned my plans for an enraged letter-writing campaign and was effortlessly defused of all my anger and exhaustion--all by one soft, freshly baked cookie.

I suspect that those flight attendants were just as tired as we were. Did they get grumpy and treat us badly? No. They turned an unpleasant and exhausting situation into a fun and memorable event, just by being nice!

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and the co-owner of hair care giant Paul Mitchell’s school division. Visit to sign up for his free monthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter.

Pitfalls in Boomer Retention

Posted by Leo Jakobson on April 29, 2008

There’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that anyone who’s considering how to retain boomers—a hot topic in human resources these days, with the coming retirement brain drain looming—should read. The article, “Pitfalls of Working Past Retirement Age,” looks at issues like the effect on pensions and social security.

Especially when dealing with corporate pensions, it seems someone who decides to work a reduced schedule for reduced pay with a longtime employer could potentially take a serious and permanent pension hit.

Continue reading "Pitfalls in Boomer Retention" »

In Uncertain Times, Stay True to Your Incentive Program

Posted by Anne Marie on April 03, 2008

Talk of recession is growing and with that a looming suggestion that for consumers and businesses, now may be a good time to monitor spending. As industry veterans know, when corporate budgets get tightened, incentive programs are usually the first to get cut. Industry experts point out however, that it is during times of economic uncertainty that employees need incentives most.

Recently, I had a chance to speak with leadership speakers Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden, authors of Contented Cows. Catlette and Hadden agree that as long as your business is not on the brink of collapse, it's worthwhile to preserve employee reward programs.

Some may think that the fear of being out of work is enough to keep employees motivated during a recession, however, the authors warn that fear is a short term motivator that diverts attention from job tasks and customers, and eventually can turn into resentment and anger.

If a recession offers anything positive to businesses, it's an opportunity to cutlivate real loyalty. As proven by exceptional leaders in the past, companies that stand by their employees during tough times, find them to be fiercely loyal when things return to normal, often times better than normal.

For the full story on The Contented Cows authors and their views on incentives and leading through motivation, look for Incentive Interview in the May issue of Incentive magazine.

Motivation First Hand

Posted by Leo Jakobson on March 27, 2008

In about a week I will celebrate my fifth anniversary as an editor of Incentive magazine, so I’ve been thinking about my time here lately, but something happened at a group town hall meeting our brand new senior vice president held this week for the dozen or so magazine she oversees that really struck me.

This was the second monthly town hall in her tenure over Nielsen Business Media’s Travel and Performance Group, of which Incentive is a part. It began in the same way her first meeting did, with Sabrina singling out and honoring of a handful of employees who’d really gone above and beyond recently. This was not a revelation, as some of her predecessors had done this occasionally.

But, this time IT had managed to get the PowerPoint working, and we saw slides with the honorees names, titles and magazines. They were divided into categories matching the newly announced corporate values. Sabrina read them out and we applauded. No awards were handed out, just public kudos

Continue reading "Motivation First Hand" »

Influencing and Reinforcing the Behavior You Want in Employees and Customers

Posted by Training Magazine on March 24, 2008

By R.L. Fielding

'If only I could get people to do what I want them to do...' How often have you thought that --or said that? And how often has the answer eluded you?

We’d love to think that employees will do the right thing and that customers will make the right choice, but since only a segment of your employees are motivated to do what you need them to do, and only some of your prospects have become customers (while the others remain only prospects), the question is … how can you get the rest of the people to see the light?

The answer lies in the “Zone of Self-Interest.” People will do the things you want if they perceive it to be clearly in their own best self-interest. And when that perception exists, you’ll be well on your way to exceeding your business goals. 

Here’s How It Works

No matter what you need to accomplish, you can put a price tag on it. Some things lead to greater sales and others to lower costs. And as soon as you put a value on it, employee and customer loyalty rewards programs can help you accomplish it.

The approach is simple, and it’s proven to work. Identify a simple activity that you know to be key to your success and calculate the dollar value to you when it’s accomplished to your satisfaction…then reward it every single time it occurs. Every single time.

Every time a program participant does what you want done, he or she earns points (based on the value you’ve calculated). The points are redeemable for desirable merchandise, exotic travel, or other options. On a real-time basis, every participant can view a custom, personal statement, which details the credits and/or debits made to his/her account and the current account balance.

The Implication for You

The concept of the Zone of Self-Interest revolutionized the airline industry, then most other consumer businesses. Think about your own behavior and how it’s affected by the opportunity to earn free trips or hotel nights or merchandise for providing a seller with conscious loyalty. The rewards fall into your Zone of Self-Interest, and it motivates you to do something you normally wouldn’t do … and do it frequently.

Success breeds success. Unlike many programs that start with fireworks and finish with a fizzle, behavior reinforcement programs grow in effectiveness. With each passing day, the motivation power strengthens, and the bond between you and your program participants deepens. Simply put, a well-built behavior reinforcement program will produce more incremental revenue than it costs.

This article was provided by Dittman Incentive Marketing (, a quality leader in the field of people performance improvement. Since 1976, Dittman has helped companies achieve critical corporate goals via original, one-of-a-kind employee and customer loyalty rewards programs that inspire a sales force to sell more, customers to buy more, and others to do more. 

R.L. Fielding is a freelance writer who has written on a wide variety of topics, with special expertise in the education, pharmaceutical and healthcare, financial service and manufacturing industries.