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Many on this board have discussed it before....the philosophy that taking care of good employees is not only morally right, but PROFITABLE also in that customers, IMO like dealing with familiar faces. It builds relationships in this otherwise impersonal dot-com world.

One of the boons of our HIRING FREEZE (other than a healthy bottom line) is that it's freed up even more money to take care of core nucleus people on our team. More overtime, more bonuses, in return for a little more work from them.

We've upped it a notch and gone beyond cash rewards and paid time off. For the people that we're looking to grow, to train for bigger things, we've started sending them on vacations and not only do their families LOVE it, it is "raising their sights" as far as what they'd like to attain in life.

Example: One guy has been with me 8 years. Awesome guy. Got into mortgage trouble and did the old-fashioned thing and kept PAYING it instead of "walking away" he kept paying, and therefore his discretionary income was slammed.

Anyway, we sent him on a Bermuda Cruise(top-shelf), he left yesterday. Part of an email I just got:

"XXXXX thanks man. I can't thank you enough. My Wife hasn't had a vacation for 5 years and now I gave her one. The people working on this ship are elated to see us it seems. When I get back we just gotta instill more of this in our people. And when I get back, I've got some ideas I've been putting off, but I think it will make us some money. I need to make more money because I want to do a trip like this every year, on my own dime."

He was kind of in a rut. An honorable rut, but a rut nevertheless which was "work, pay my bills. Work, pay my bills".

Herb Whatever, the boss at Southwest Airlines used to advise his executives something like this:

"Don't worry about the shareholders. Just keep the employees happy. Then let the employees keep the customers happy. And the customers will keep the shareholders happy".

I'm pleased with our performance so far, despite the downturn and hiring freeze. And it feels good that our nucleus of people has been able to maintain the income they've had in the good ol' days.

But I'm convinced that in some cases, showing people that something better is out there, teaching them how to mentally "lift weights".

All businesses are different, so I'm only speaking for myself. I'm going to up the ante where it comes to training, and rewarding good people. The hiring freeze WILL continue for awhile I think, and I'm going to spend more time towards growing people, instead of growing business because a good team is maintaining business levels just fine.

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