Which of the following human-resources issues takes up most of your time?

Issue % of respondents ranking it their top concern

Motivation 29%

Training 17

Communication of company values 17

Compensation 16

Hiring 13

Regulations 7

Benefits 7

Source: A survey of 280 small-business CEOs, the Executive Committee, San Diego, March 1993.

Twenty percent of those responding to our survey spend less than 10% of their time on human resources. When they do turn their attention to it, they prefer the soft stuff -- espousing values and slapping backs -- and leave the nitty-gritty of benefits and regulations to their personnel pros.

Our survey also asked CEOs to describe their worst human-resources-management mistake. Their answers showed that even the soft stuff can prove tough. Ray Heizer of software distributor Heizer Software, a $1-million-plus company in Pleasant Hill, Calif., rewarded his employees by allowing each of them to buy dinner for two with the company credit card. Heizer assumed no one would spend much more than $100. He underestimated them. Heizer's new office manager and her boyfriend started with caviar and the restaurant's most expensive wine, and didn't finish until they had racked up a $412.50 bill.

That office manager is gone now, and Heizer has junked the dinner for two in favor of company picnics and get-togethers. This past April Heizer treated all eight employees plus guests to dinner at a Japanese steak house, urged them to eat all they could, and still spent only $410.

-- Reported by Phaedra Hise

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