There are two things I recall about my sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Fischer. One, he had an uncanny resemblance to country star Garth Brooks (in his younger days since this was the early 90s). Two, what he’d do if you missed a homework assignment.

On those days we had homework due, he’d go desk to desk to see if you completed your work the correct way. If you did, he’d just move on.

Brian Horn, editor, Lawn & Landscape

If you didn’t, he’d yell “BLACK!” That was to let everyone know that you would be getting the oh-so embarrassing black spot by your name on the homework chart hanging on the wall.

I was always envious of the kids who could laugh it off when they got the black spot treatment. But as someone who would feel queasy if I missed any homework assignment at that age, I was not one who saw humor in the public humiliation.

I bring up Mr. Fischer because of our cover story this month on incentives.

Mr. Fischer chose the fear and punishment method, and I guess that can work, but the stories we tell this month are of contractors who want to reward actions as simple as arriving to work on time. Instead of driving productivity by punishment, these companies subscribe to the “more bees with honey” approach.

I understand that you are supposed to do your homework and I probably sound like a whiny Millennial (even though I think I just miss being born in the millennial era) and shouldn’t necessarily be rewarded for it.

But there’s still some merit to giving kudos to those who consistently meet requirements and go above and beyond, instead of always implementing some sort of punishment when goals aren’t met.

You may not be able to pay for your workers to go on a Disney trip, but stocking free snacks and drinks at your dispatch area is something that you have a better chance of working into the budget.

While we cover some larger companies in this package, you don’t need to be a multi-million dollar operation to implement these incentives.

You may not be able to pay for your workers to go on a Disney trip, but stocking free snacks and drinks at your dispatch area is something that you have a better chance of working into the budget. Or, a little bonus for arriving on time every day for a month might go a long way to solving morning roll-out issues.

Awarding workers for arriving on time may seem ridiculous to some. But with the labor pool so thin, if there is an issue you can fix without having to look for new employees, does it really matter if it seems ridiculous? – Brian Horn