Reward Employees by Sending 'Em Abroad

In this week's Export Wire: Why business trips are more satisfying rewards than cash; non-energy exports continue their decline; and trade discussions in Asia yield no results

Written by John Lorinc

Use travel as an incentive: According to, senior managers in growth-oriented SMEs should be thinking about using business travel as a non-compensation strategy for keeping employees motivated because cash compensation, studies show, don’t always do the trick.

This is where incentivizing staff with travel can help. The overall experience stays in an employee’s memory longer than receiving cash, which is often absorbed into everyday expenses or quickly spent. Travel incentives have been shown to improve productivity and motivation and they can also help improve the overall culture of the business, creating that €˜feel-good’ factor that keeps staff happy.

The long decline of Canada’s non-energy exports: In the wake of a bleak Stats Canada report last week showing that March’s $766 million trade surplus morphed into a $638 million deficit in April, BMO analysts decided to strip out energy exports from the overall figure. The results are disturbing, reported the Huffington Post, which pointed out that non-energy trade balance has reached an all-time low.

Exports of non-energy goods have been on a downward swing for more than a decade, and hit an all-time low in the latest StatsCan report. As recently as 2006, we were selling more non-energy goods than we were buying, but that changed during the Great Recession and it hasn’t changed back. This wouldn’t be a problem if energy exports could make up the difference. But, with about 8% of Canada’s economy, the oil, gas and mining sector is hardly enough.

Trade minister swing through Southeast Asia doesn’t lead to deals: In his ongoing campaign to push Canadian companies, both large and small, into the emerging markets, federal trade minister Ed Fast took a contingent to executives to Southeast Asia last week. The goal, according to the Canadian Press, was to strengthen ties and boost the $17 billion in trade between Canada and the ten nations in the region.

The tour didn’t conclude with any promise of major investment, whether it was signals of possible free trade negotiations or a supply deal with a Canadian company. The only tangible sign of unity was a photo opportunity Fast staged with the leaders, linking hands in a chain across the stage for the cameras. Fast said he believes the tour was a success in improving the relationship between Southeast Asia and Canada, one that languished under past governments.

Export Wire is published every Monday on For more tips on expanding your business internationally, visit our international trade section.

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