Here's one way to get hourly workers to show up on time: make it a condition of receiving bonuses. That's the approach used by Horton Homes Inc., which makes prefabricated and mobile homes at a plant in Eatonton, Ga., and it works like a charm. Horton's 600 production workers are all eligible for weekly bonuses based on the number of houses they produce, as well as a six-month bonus tied to company profits for the period. The catch is that, in order to collect, an employee must arrive for work every morning at 7:30. If he shows up late or misses a day, he's out of luck. "We don't allow any excuses," says Bill Haley, Horton's sales manager. "If your mother dies, we'll send flowers, but you lose your bonus."

Of course, such a system only works if you pay bonuses to production employees. But Haley contends that the bonus money is well spent. "We want every three workers to do the work of five, but we pay them at the rate of four. The workers stay with you, and you can attract a better caliber."