Whether you're teaching a task to a child, coaching a team or leading a business, you see success sooner when you praise good work rather than punish a mistake.

It's a common practice among successful businesses, where rewards for ideas, cost savings and teamwork come in the form of time off, gift cards or a paycheck bonus.

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to revive a dormant program that does just that for state workers. But, like a little kid who wants the cookie without cleaning his room, the state's largest union thinks the rewards should be shared among all employees, not just those who do the work.

That's the kind of thinking that has kept Illinois from reaching beyond the budget quagmire where it has been stuck for years.

As reported by JG-TC Springfield bureau, Illinois has had a system in place since the mid-1980s that's designed to reward employees for cost-saving ideas. Through a body now called the State Government Suggestion Award Board, Illinois has received ideas that have saved more than $566,000 since 1993, according to the board's annual reports.

But since at least 2008, when the board began taking suggestions from the public as well as state workers, it hasn't given out a cent. 

"I'd love to give people 5 percent of every dollar they save with an idea," Rauner told the Illinois Chamber of Commerce earlier this year. "That could be a lot. And, boy, do our state employees have good ideas for saving money. They've got a ton."

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation recently told its employees they would qualify for bonuses if they can save the state money while maintaining or improving service. 

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There are a lot of I's to dot and T's to cross before the program can resume statewide, partly because of powerful unions that remain in a headlock with the administration over a variety of issues.

Thus, the reward program is essentially on hold.

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"Our union believes, as a general matter, that the best and the fairest way for workers and for the public interest alike is to distribute any pay increases fairly across the entire workforce," said Anders Lindall, a spokesman for AFSCME Council 31, which represents 36,000 state workers. 

It's a dicey proposition, to be sure, to offer monetary rewards at a time when the state of Illinois is scraping its pocketbook for pennies. But Rauner and other good business leaders know that you'll get better results from your employees if they know they are respected by their bosses and rewarded for going beyond expectations.

Illinois government can't expect its employees to help make cuts and find efficiencies if their ideas aren't considered for rewards. Rauner found great success as a businessman in the private sector. Illinois should consider some of his ideas if state leaders want to find similar success.

-- The Bloomington Pantagraph

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