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January 12, 2006

Read for Cash

I want my employees thinking about the big picture, so every year I run a Read for Cash program and pay them to read business books. This year’s program ended on Monday and saw the largest participation yet, with nearly a third of our employees reading and reporting on at least one book.

The rules were simple:

In just over a month, 32 employees read 104 books on marketing, sales technique, business history, leadership, and customer service. The mini-book reports were great: the readers extracted the key points of the book and often included their own thoughts on how we could put to use what they had learned from the book. In an anonymous survey afterwards, participants rated the program 4.6 on a scale of 1-5.

Participants were evenly split on their primary motivation -- learning or cash -- but 96% said they read books they would not otherwise have read, and 100% said that what they learned was applicable to their job or personal life.

Posted by Bob Pritchett at January 12, 2006 04:00 AM

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You’ve got to be kidding. The whole idea strikes me as a little troubling.

I’d like to know how easy it was to get your employees on board. Do you really think they enjoy being bribed into reading a business book? What are your guidelines on book approval? Second, I’m failing to see how paying employees to read a business book and give a book report as if they’re in the second grade, gets them motivated to do their job better. Also, the fact that they get paid per page seems to reinforce a “longer the book the better” mentality. The whole thing just seems demeaning and belittling, as someone put it to me. It opens up your employees to cheating as well.

Posted by: Rob Westervelt at January 12, 2006 12:25 PM

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