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March 12, 2003
D.C. Firm Sends Workers to Jamaica as Bonus
Gone may be the days of some of the lavish incentives and bonuses that grabbed headlines in the late 1990s, but many employers continue to use rewards, aiming to boost morale and productivity now and retain workers once the economy emerges from the shadows, Washington Post columnist Amy Joyce reports.

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For a year-end incentive for its 36 employees and managers, Momentum Marketing in Washington, D.C. took its employees and managers to the island of Bob Marley, Jamaica, Joyce writes.

"If our [employees] understand how important they are they are part of the growth of this place, it will motivate them to do the best job," says Bradley Nierenberg, a founder of the firm.

Of course, not all employers can or will go to such lengths. However, firms that offer rewards, even if they cost the employer little or nothing, say they will help them survive the current economy and prosper once it recovers, according to Ray Halagera, president of Career Systems International.

"There are managers that are cognizant that much more is being asked of their employees," Halagera tells Joyce. "They're trying to find ways, even if it's small, of somehow making them feel rewarded."

At Momentum, employees needed to save the firm $30,000 and account for $600,000 in sales in order to qualify for the trip to Jamaica at the end of the year, Joyce writes.

"Business is about recruiting and hiring great people - and investing in them and training them," says Nierenberg, whose firm also offers bonuses such as profit sharing, cash and a company beach rental for the summer. "These people are on the front lines with clients. If their interaction isn't full of energy and motivation, it'll fail."

Nierenberg tells Joyce that the firm, which markets products like Dove soap and Heineken beer to consumers, paid $40,000 for the trip to Jamaica, but "the incentive pays for itself."

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