MAY 1989

In a fast-growing company, paperwork -- and the people who handle it -- is often neglected. Michael Barrist, founder of NCO Financial Systems Inc., a $1.5-million collection agency in Phila-delphia, initiated a bonus system for his data-entry clerks that has brought the paperwork problem under control. Productivity has increased an average of 25%, which, Barrist says, saved him from hiring, training, and managing an additional clerk. And there has been no drop in quality.

For every day finished without a backlog, each of NCO's seven clerks gets a point; at month's end, $250, $200, and $150 prizes are awarded to the top three performers. To keep the rest of the staff's spirits up, NCO also has a random drawing for a $100 prize. "This is a business where usually everybody works to win some prize or contest except the clerks," Barrist says. "This way nobody feels left out of the fun.'