Flora Williams, associate professor of family and consumer sciences, is researching the impact of financial stress on employee productivity. She suspects that financial counseling for workers might help companies improve profitability.
"It's crucial that productivity not fall off in our global economy," Williams explains. "Worker stress is known to lower productivity by way of absences, tardiness, lack of job concentration, accidents and lower output. It would be helpful for businesses to know how much of that stress in money-related, and if financial counseling for employees would be a cost-effective way of addressing it."
Williams' literature search has turned up one study suggesting that 10 percent of all employees in the workplace have financial difficulties that affect their productivity, and she says that may be a conservative figure. Another research report says personal financial problems could be affecting the performance of nearly one-third of America's corporate work force.
While many companies have embraced employee assistance programs as a way to help workers overcome substance abuse, domestic conflicts and mental health problems, they have not been as proactive in providing financial counseling.
"If the bottom line starts to be threatened, we know companies will move aggressively to solve the problem," Williams says. "Financial counseling for their employees is a step in the right direction."
CONTACT: Williams, (765) 494-8297; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: B-roll of the Burton Morgan competition is available. Contact Grady Jones, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2079; e-mail, email@example.com
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Business owners of tomorrow are getting their first crack at entrepreneurship through college competitions.
For instance, a plan to let health-conscious grocery shoppers create custom breakfast cereals won Purdue University's 10th annual Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition.
The winning plan, "YourWay Cereals," earned a first prize of $4,000 for Edward Maurer, a master's student in the Krannert Graduate School of Management from Latrobe, Pa. His plan used a bulk food stand containing cereal flakes, fruit and nuts. Consumers could select their own preferred combination of flakes, fruit and nuts to design their own cereals.
The winning entry was selected by a panel of judges after 25-minute oral presentations from 10 finalists. The contest was open to all Purdue students.
The yearly competition is sponsored by Purdue alumnus Burton D. Morgan, founder of six corporations and president of Basic Service Co., an idea-development company. The competition is designed to develop student appreciation of the free market system and the role of the entrepreneur in a market economy.
Students must develop plans that include everything necessary to start and maintain a small business. Marketing plans and strategies, manufacturing designs and processes, industry analysis, and financial considerations are just a few of the areas judges focus on.
Purdue is not alone in the encouragement and development of tomorrow's entrepreneurs. Arnold C. Cooper, the Louis A. Weil Jr. Professor of Management in the School of Management, says entrepreneurship is a hot topic in today's business schools.
"Enrollment in entrepreneurship courses is burgeoning all over the country," he says. "Several universities have developed centers and designed entire curriculums around the subject."
He says interuniversity competitions also are growing in popularity. Last year's winners of Purdue's Burton Morgan competition, David M. Bean, Danvers, Mass ., and Joseph C. Schroeder, Cincinnati, won a business plan contest sponsored by Indiana University in January and plan to compete against 25 teams in a regional contest at the University of Nebraska this month. The two graduate students developed a medical syringe with safety features that protect health workers from needle sticks and makes the needle good for one use only. In May, Bean and Schroeder will compete in a competition at the University of Texas that involves teams from around the world. The students are currently trying to license their product.
CONTACTS: Tamyra Gibson, public relations, School of Management, (765) 494-4392; Cooper, (765) 494-4401.
Collective sales of the program's charter group of 18 business owners increased nearly 56 percent over the two-year period during which they attended classes.
The "E-program" offered by the Purdue-Calumet Entrepreneurship Center is designed to allow participating entrepreneurs to apply newly developed skills and practical information to their own businesses.
"I look at the 55.7 percent increase in total sales revenues for the first group of entrepreneurs not only as a reaffirmation of Purdue Calumet's community commitment, but also as an indicator that our Entrepreneurship Center is right on track providing training for practicing business owners," says Jamaluddin Husain, center director and associate professor of management.
The center is supported, in part, with a grant from the Chicago-based Coleman Foundation, one of the nation's largest contributors to entrepreneurship-awareness education. Michael Hennessy, president and chief executive officer of Coleman, says he's not surprised by the program's early success.
"We felt all along that this unique program is very practical in that it addresses nuts and bolts needs of its participants," he says.
The program is taught in three segments. The first focuses on the "how to" of general management, marketing and finance. The second allows participants to practice learned skills as consultants to small business "clients" of the Purdue Calumet Small Business Institute. During the final segment, participants seek to identify and implement strategic improvements in their own businesses through regular, roundtable meetings with mentors and program peers.
According to program participant Don Swibes, president of SWICO Inc.: "The E-program is fantastic. The strategic changes we have made in our own business have positioned us to make another dramatic improvement in sales and profits in 1997."
The sales results were based on a survey of E-program participants taken before they started classes in April 1995 and then again as the course concluded in February 1997.
CONTACT: Husain, (219) 989-2100.
Compiled by Kate Walker, (765) 494-2073; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail, email@example.com
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