Commitment Contracts for Business

On the Freakonomic’s blog the post “Commitment Contracts for Business” talked about Staples’ new “StickK to it!” Business Challenge.  Staples has teamed up with stickK.com, a free online commitment program, to offer incentives like business supplies and gift cards to encourage people to complete “all kinds of career-oriented tasks.”  This business plan is a perfect example a creative business strategy designed to beneficial for everyone especially in a period of economic turmoil like today.

This business plan is genius because it’s beneficial for not the just the participants, but Staples and stickK.com.  The author, who is actually is a co-founder of stick, talks about how stickK.com has been viewed as a tool exclusively for quitting smoking and losing weight, but this program, with Staples help, has shown its ability to help people complete career-oriented tasks and goals.  Staples comes in because they offer “Easy Points,” which can redeemed for Staples office supplies, store gift cards, and even American Express gift cards.  The program is going to get people to stop letting aspects of their day-to-day lives interfere in achieving things life organizing their finances and beginning good budgeting habits.

In an economic environment like today this program shows the creative side of many companies.  Staples and stick.com are not partner companies or similar in any way, but both realized the benefit in working with another company to benefit their respect company.  Each company is acting as advertising for the other and the program is expanding the services or products that the company is providing.  Staples has been a supplier of business products that help people conduct business and achieve their goals and now they also provide a program that encourages their customers/clients to commit and complete their career and business tasks and goals.  StickK.com image was stuck as a motivational site for weight-loss and to stop smoking, and now they are seen in a new light by offering the ability to help people complete career-oriented goals while providing unique incentives besides the sites usual cash stakes.

Overall it’s great to see that after years of giving incentives to successful people in their career through bonuses that someone finally created incentives to motivate people to get past their normal habit of procrastination.  At the same time it has to be said, but it would be sad to see this program flourish because it would mean some Americans needed incentives to complete tasks and goals that should require incentives.  Editing your resume and calling five clients a week are examples of tasks that shouldn’t require beyond the obvious benefits of actually completing either task.  If it takes incentives to do either of tasks what’s going to happen when the program ends?

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3 Responses

  1. I really like the idea of Staples offering incentives to their employees to perform. I agree that it is sad to think that some people will only perform because of incentives. However, don’t we all have constant incentives to perform? Students at Bucknell are often motivated by the incentive of a good grade. Athletes work hard at practice in hopes of earning a starting position or winning a game. Professors are motivated by the possibility of tenure. Life is full of incentives and placing greater emphasis on them in the work place makes sense.

  2. You have touched on huge topic that will should up time and time again in this course and in our text O&O. How does an organization motivate their employees? Staples has taken an extrinsic stance towards answering this question by offering gift cards and office supplies as rewards for good work. But what happens once people become tired of these awards? What if an person does not like the rewards offered? Managers must tackle these problems by utilizing multiple motivational techniques such as goal setting or bonus incentives. Every employee is different and the more flexible a manager is in their techniques to motivate, the more productive his workforce can become.

  3. The Wall Street Journal article Staples Makes Goal Setting Easy for Small Businesses in 2010 discusses the program in more detail. Something I didn’t realize when I made this post was it’s over in April. It doesn’t say why, but this many eliminate the need for Staples to adjust incentives since the program isn’t aimed for longevity. But I see opportunity for StickK.com in this case. stickK.com’s “Commitment Contract, a binding promise by a user to reach a goal, and a concept based on incentives and accountability invented by stickK.com after years of research in behavioral economics.” stickK.com’s goals are surrounded around improving users lifestyles through achieving their goals. The end of the program should stop this. They should take the next step and expand the incentives offer by creating business alliances with other companies like Staples who are wiliing to assist people in achieving their goals while also using stickK.com as a form of advertising and creating a loyal customer base. Does anyone else see this as good business opportunity for stickK.com and other companies like Staples?

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