Getting The Job Done

By Robb Engen | October 11, 2010 |
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I read an interesting article in Canadian Business Magazine a few weeks ago.  The article was called, “The end of clock-punching?”, and was written about a new concept in employee performance management called results-only work environments.

The concept behind ROWE is that employees will no longer be responsible for showing up to work at a certain time, or to attend particular meetings, or even show up to the office at all.  As long as they are meeting goals and achieving results in their job, they’re considered to be working.

Results Only Work Environment

I have to say that I’m all for this type of work flexibility.  When it comes down to it, getting the job done is all that matters.

How many times have you heard a colleague complain (or brag) about the number of hours they logged into their job or HR and payroll software? Yet you see them socializing during work hours, and they don’t produce quality results.

You shouldn’t have to feel guilty about leaving the office on time, or even early, if you are a high achiever in your workplace.

I’m a big believer in quality over quantity.  If I can produce the same results in a 25-30 hour work week as someone who claims to be putting in a 70 hour work week, aren’t I the more efficient employee and the greater asset to the organization?  Efficient, as a definition, means to achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.

The article goes on to explain that the idea of less oversight leading to greater productivity is not an easy sell to managers accustomed to working in a more regimented way.

I can also see an issue of fairness amongst all employees if not every single employee was able to work in the flexible results-only work environment.  For example, your customer service personnel would obviously need to be working during your normal business hours and not sleeping until noon and working past closing time.

Overall, I think the ROWE concept is a good one for an organization looking to create a culture or boost morale.  As long as non-performers (slackers) were held accountable for their results, and the goals and objectives were truly achievable and measurable, this sounds like a great working environment.

Should I let my boss know that I’m sleeping in until noon tomorrow?  🙂

Switching Banks

By Robb Engen | October 7, 2010 |
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A few weeks ago Boomer wrote about having all of your financial eggs in one basket.  This got me to thinking, what would it take for me to switch banks?

I have banked with TD Canada Trust all of my life.  My mom worked there for years and she opened up a children’s savings account for me when I was 7 or 8 years old.

What Would It Take To Switch Banks?

I think there are many advantages to having a relationship with a full service bank, such as negotiating for a free chequing account when renewing your mortgage, or getting a preferred rate on a loan or line of credit.

Related: Why More Banks Are Extending Hours, Opening On Weekends

Lately I’ve received many offers from different financial institutions trying to entice me to open an account with them.  Some offer a free iPod, a $200 sign-up bonus, or a “best in market” GIC.

Typically I ignore these limited time offers, and I think it’s based purely on convenience.  I hear of people who have accounts all over the place, and for me I prefer the convenience of dealing with one financial institution.

Who cares if you can get a half percent better rate on a savings account?  If I am really attracted to a particular offer I will go to my bank and see if they can match it.

So why do banks even try to go after individual accounts?  To me, luring someone from an existing banking relationship to a different bank has to be one of the most difficult tasks in the industry.

Related: Canadian Chequing Account Comparison

Unless you manage to get someone who is opening a chequing account, or discount brokerage account, or a small business account for the first time, it is very unlikely that your limited time offer will actually produce results.  And all the time and money spent trying to get you to switch banks couldn’t possibly be worth the effort if they only land a few individuals who are just chasing incentives and not spending any real money.

The only way that I would consider leaving my existing relationship with TD Canada Trust would be if their customer service was so terrible that I couldn’t get what I needed out of them, or if they weren’t at all competitive with the other big banks when it comes to basic products and services.

And since I can literally do almost everything online with EasyWeb, I don’t even need to speak with a representative until it’s time to negotiate and sign paperwork.

Have you ever taken advantage of a limited time offer to switch banks?  Did they manage to keep your business?

Sweating The Small Stuff

By Robb Engen | October 6, 2010 |
Posted in
I’ve been known to be rather “careful” with my money, which is a polite way to say that I can be cheap at times.  One of the drawbacks of tracking every penny that you spend is that when something comes up that you didn’t plan for, you have to make a decision whether to stick to your budget or to loosen your purse-strings.

Tracking Every Penny

When planning a monthly budget, you take into account your large monthly expenses such as your mortgage payment, RRSP contributions, car payment, groceries, monthly utilities, and insurance.  But not every expense is fixed.  And unless you know exactly to the day that you will run out of household staples like toilet paper or cleaning supplies, some unplanned purchases can sneak their way onto your shopping list.

Not only that, variable expenses come up in other ways too.  Pitching in for an office retirement party or fundraiser, catching up with a friend over lunch, or grabbing an ice cream with your family are all spontaneous activities that are most likely not accounted for in your budget.

And making a habit out of living in the moment with no regard for your budget can wreak havoc on your finances if not kept in check.

Related: Why Budgeting Is Not A Waste Of Time

So how do you avoid financial misery without becoming a miser yourself?

In your budget you should set aside some petty cash for any of those unexpected expenses that do inevitably come up throughout the month.  Decide what you can afford that amount to be and then take this cash out from the bank right after you get paid and keep it in your wallet.

If you spend it all, that’s fine…it was accounted for.  But if you don’t spend it all, throw the left over cash in a jar and save it for a rainy day.

How about the readers, are you also “careful” with your money?  Do you track every penny and sweat the small stuff?