What’s My Motivation?

Aug 25th 2008
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By Chris Wood, CPA - During my career I have worked for 8 different employers. I have also worked as an independent contractor for about 8 years. I’ve been around the block. Once I was laid off from a job due to an economic turndown. Unfortunately, a few times I left jobs due to intolerable situations. Mostly, I changed jobs to enhance my skill sets, improve my marketability, and to increase my earnings. Yep that earnings one was a deal breaker. It was at the very top of the list. Now, not so much.

Since the Company I work for now was bought back in 2006, no manager has received a salary increase. In lieu of annual raises, additional compensation is paid at the end of the year based on the profitability of the company, or more accurately EBITDA. The bonus was pretty good in 2006. Last year was not so good. Sales were down 30% from the prior year. This year is shaping up to look a lot like last year. I am losing ground due to inflation (see my prior posts on the high cost of gas). Yet, I am not concerned because money is no longer my main motivator. After 27 years I have attained a sufficient income base that time off has superseded income as the main employment enticement. If I ever move to another job, and history tells me that I will, I will consider vacation time, flex time, or working from home far more important than actual dollars earned. I love to scuba in the Caribbean, hike in the Adirondacks, and attend music festivals throughout the country. My hobbies are not overly expensive, but they are time consuming. Hence the time off motivation.

Two things I do to maximize free time over work time. First, take all of the allotted vacation. We have a use it or lose it policy. Yet, there are managers where I work that struggle to take their full vacation. I believe that they feel that their departments can’t function without them. To that I say “Balderdash”! If your department truly can’t function without you for a few days then either your employees are not competent, or, more likely, they are not trained properly. Maybe the managers concern is that the owners will fire them if indeed it is determined that the departments function properly without them. An interesting theory, but not realistic. There will always be a need for department heads. Lower level employees are not yet capable of making decisions when the occasional blip appears. There has to be someone that can supervise, organize and take responsibility. It just doesn’t have to happen every day.

Next, increase productivity wherever possible. Push tasks down to subordinates or improve the procedure. The less I have to do the more time I have available. For example, the charge to do the monthly close for a new client is $1,000. That charge is loosely based on the time it takes to perform all of the closing tasks multiplied by the rate charged. In reality the price is always what the market will bear. If I established the price at 10 hours at a rate of $100 per hour, and then developed productivity gains that reduced my hours to 8, I’m still going to charge the client $1,000. That’s what it would still cost in the marketplace because nobody else has developed those productivity gains. One thing about Excel is there are tons of applications that are waiting to be discovered that can be used to achieve productivity gains. Since I am Captain Excel, here’s today’s example of a potential Excel productivity gain. Hmmm, I wonder if there’s any extra vacation benefit if I’m promoted to Colonel?

Below is a spreadsheet that will automatically calculate accrued payroll. Simply enter either the number of days in the pay period or the payroll start date, the payroll period end date (NOT the paid date) and the summary of the gross payroll by account number from the payroll services report (payroll journal), and the spreadsheet will automatically spit out the journal entry. This spreadsheet utilizes the time functions EOMONTH (end of month) to determine the cutoff date and NETWORKDAYS (net work days) to eliminate the weekend dates. For example if we needed to accrue the period Monday 9/29 through Sunday 10/5 the spreadsheet recognizes that there are 5 work days included in this time period (cell d11). It has also determined that only 2 days Monday 9/29 and Tuesday 9/30 are to be accrued. The entry in green is 40% (18,225.63/45,564.08) of the total payroll report.

Now let’s change the period of the payroll from 7 days to 14 days by entering 14 into cell D2. The program will ignore the entry 9/29/08 in cell D3 by using an IF statement. Now the spreadsheet recognizes that there are 10 work days included in this time period (cell d11). It has also determined that 7 days (the entire week of 9/22 and Monday 9/29 and Tuesday 9/30) are to be accrued. The entry in green is 70% (31,894.86/45,564.08) of the total payroll report.

Now you don’t have to reference a calendar and count on your fingers the number of days that need to be accrued. It may not be much of a time savings, but it is a savings and they do add up. Better yet, since this template has transformed the procedure into a total data entry format, have the payroll clerk do it.

Please email me at [email protected] if you would like a copy of the Accrued Wages Template. Be sure to include the word Excel in the subject line or I will delete you as potential spam.

Meanwhile here’s a pic of me enjoying some of my time off in Empire, MI at the Dunegrass Blues & Music Festival a few weeks ago.


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