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Contemporary Performance Issues Essay, Research Paper

A Contemporary Performance Issue

Commuting is a perfect example of a contemporary performance issue, traffic congestion can steal valuable time from employees personal lives (Wells par. 1). The typical employee is concerned with the time lost in commuting to work and not spent at home with their family. The family could be spouse, children, pets, parents, siblings etc. If your everyday lifestyle started with the concern and time wasted just for commuting to and from work, you already started the day with a strike against you. In the past, this was not an issue with the employer. The employer was concerned with what they had control over at the workplace, if you had other problems, leave them at the door. Lately, it has been pointed out that more can be done for the employee in the field of Human Resources (HR). For example, instead of open parking for everyone at the work place, initiate a preferred parking area for those using some type of car pool. This encourages a social environment to and from work, as well as relieving some employee stress. If all of the employees are in some type of rotating pool, then an extra load of stress is being relieved from some of the employees all of the time, or all of the employees some of the time. Either way you look at it, you can hope to see an increase in concentration and performance. As an added incentive, The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), enacted in June 1998, allows employers to offer workers either cash or tax-free reimbursements for parking, mass transit fares and van pooling expenses (Wells par. 3). This is further enhanced for the employer since the Clean Air Act of 1990. There are about 100 metropolitan areas that mandate air quality goals by reducing vehicle emissions that cause pollution. Some states like California have districts that require employers with 250 or more employees to adopt clean air measures to include trip-reduction programs. All of this results in employees no longer being concerned with traffic or parking or fuel expenses. This is an attractive incentive for retention and also as a recruiting tool. The advantages of adopting a strong program as part of an overall benefits package are clear. Here are some examples of how some organizations have put this to use:

? Bethesda, Md.-based Calvert Group Ltd. estimates that it cut employee turnover in half from 25 percent to 12 percent once it put in place a comprehensive transportation benefits program. Some of the perks offered to the investment firm s 160 employees include $75 per month for parking and full reimbursement for public transit fares. About 25 percent of Calvert employees use alternative forms of transportation, says Judy Schober, HR director. Another plus: It tips the scale in our favor when a recruit is comparing offerings of other companies to ours, Schober says (Wells par. 4).

? At Kaiser Permanente, 50 percent of the company s 2,600 headquarters staff in Oakland, Calif., now commute five days a week by a method other than driving alone, says Kathy Gerwig, national manager of resource conservation. We created a financial disincentive for parking and driving alone, while creating a financial incentive for using transit and car pooling, says Gerwig. The company achieved this by eliminating parking leases and reducing employee-parking subsidies at one Kaiser complex in the downtown Oakland area. At the same time, it encouraged transit use through employee transit subsidies of $15 per month. The result: Transit ridership went up, 14 percent fewer employees drove to work alone and the company estimates it saved $570,400 in parking benefits (Wells par. 4).

Here are just a few proven, easy-to-implement strategies that can be used as part of an organizations commuter-benefits arsenal:

? Transportation management associations (TMAs). TMAs are coalitions of local companies dedicated to reducing traffic congestion and pollution and improving commuting options for commerce and economic development. These groups typically serve a specific business area or region and can be sources for resources and incentives (Wells par. 5).

? Car-pooling and ride matching. As part of its Rideshare Program, Transamerica Life Companies in downtown Los Angeles offers its employees a company-wide ZIP code matching service that quickly links potential car pool or van pool riders by neighborhood, says Cathy Kralik, corporate communications director. If employees miss their rides, the company helps them find another one. For the last two years, the company s Rideshare Program has met the Air Quality Management District s goal of an average of 1.75 employees per vehicle (Wells para5).

? Company vehicles on site. Kaiser Permanente guarantees workers access to company-owned vehicles for business meetings during the day if they commute to work using mass transit or other means that leave them without a car, says Kaiser s Gerwig (Wells para5).

? Telecommuting. Working at home or at another off-site location is increasingly grabbing the top spot in more firms flex schedules. A third of the companies surveyed by Mercer, up from just 6 percent as recently as 1993, offer employees the option of working at home, with modem-equipped computers linking them to the office. More than a fifth say they are considering such a program. Retailer J.C. Penney, for example, has found that home-based telecommuters are the answer to its on-call operations. Recruited in-house from the company s telemarketing staff, the part-time workers are supervised by phone, e-mail and twice-monthly visits. Prediction: Between 7.5 million and 15 million workers will telecommute three to four days a week by 2002, according to projections by the U.S. Department of Transportation s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (Wells par. 5).

I think that with today s traffic congestion, both the employee and the employer would benefit by having some type of incentive that is geared to commuting.

HR is no longer just at the work place. Maybe it never was. Today, we can find all sorts of programs as incentives for the work force. Are they new or are we just no longer thinking in the box?

Works Cited

Wells, S. J. (1999), Using rush hour to your advantage. HR Magazine, March 1999.

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