Employee Retention Part 4: Why Commute Support Matters

Employee Retention Part 4: Why Commute Support Matters

The puzzle of figuring out the best way to get to work is typically one employees, not employers, solve. Some organizations might offer certain commuting benefits, but in most cases, employers let employees fend for themselves when it comes to their commute.
That oversight could be a big mistake. A 2018 survey found that 23% of employees have left a job because of a bad commute. Conversely, other research has found that a convenient commute could help businesses retain employees for 20% longer.

In recent months, employees have quit at remarkably high rates to seek jobs that are more convenient and beneficial for them. The commute is one of many factors employees consider when deciding whether to quit—and providing commute support could make a difference in their decision.

The Stress of a Long Commute

Commuting is often a source of stress for employees, and employees at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport are no exception. A 2019 survey found that nearly one third of airport employees working in on-terminal concessions or other airport services had a commute longer than 45 minutes. This particular subset of employees is also most likely to take public transit, with 49% taking a bus or train as their primary commute mode.

Employees in airport management and airline operations also frequently have long commutes, with 27% of on-terminal workers and 25% of off-terminal ones commuting for more than 45 minutes each way. 70% and 84% drive alone, respectively.

Overall, these stats paint a picture of lengthy, potentially stress-inducing commutes among all types of airport employees. Employers who help lessen this stress may be better able to prevent employees from leaving for a job with a more accessible location.

How to Improve Employees’ Commutes

Depending on the needs most relevant to your employees, commute support could take a few different forms.

First- and last-mile solutions

Often, the most inconvenient part of using transit is getting from home to a station—especially when home is more than half a mile away from. Similarly, commute transit lines, whether bus or train, do not always extend to a commuter’s final destination. In either of these cases, employees may have to drive in traffic just to avoid the inconvenience posed by the first or last mile of their commute.
First- and last-mile solutions are transportation services, such as shuttles or carpools, that take employees either from their homes to the nearest transit station or from a station to your place of employment. They can be immensely helpful to employees who rely on transit, and may also make transit viable for employees who would otherwise have access to it.

Transit subsidies

Transit costs can add up, and if getting to your place of employment is too expensive, employees may try to save money by looking for jobs closer to home. You can help offset that cost with subsidies, pre-tax transit savings plans, or third-party rewards programs that offer bonuses to transit riders.

Carpool and vanpool support

Carpools and vanpools reduce traffic on the road while supporting employees who don’t have cars and don’t live near transit. Employers can help facilitate carpool and vanpool formation among employees who work similar shifts.

Rideshare support

Providing vouchers for rideshare services and joining the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which pays for rideshares after transit services are closed, can give a lifeline to employees in case of emergencies.

Commutes can be rough, but commute support can take the edge off by helping your employees save money or find easier ways to get to work. This in turn can keep them at your organization for longer—as well as helping them arrive on time, avoid absenteeism, and have a better work-life balance overall.

Want some guidance on providing commute support employees that’s tailored to your company?

More Like This

Employee Retention Part 3: Supporting Employees with Flexwork

Employee Retention Part 3: Supporting Employees with Flexwork

In a landscape where employees are being increasingly selective about where they work, employers are looking for ways to introduce small perks that could make a big difference in employees’ lives. One that can sometimes be overlooked is flexwork—or flexibility in terms of when and where people work.

All employees have to balance work with personal and family needs, and this balance can sometimes be difficult to strike. An employer with policies that make it more difficult to find this balance risks losing a talented employee to a more accommodating organization. Conversely, introducing flexwork policies to your organization can make employees feel valued and respected as full people.
Introducing flexwork requires some careful planning, and the exact policies you adopt will depend on your organization. However, there are ways for nearly any type of business to become more flexible.

Flexibility in Where or When People Work

Flexwork means being creative and accommodating in terms of where and/or when people work. Over the past couple years, many businesses had to become more flexible about the “where” part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of office-based jobs went remote, and in the process, people found that remote work didn’t hinder productivity. In fact, it actually improved it in many cases.
Going forward, many organizations would benefit from flexwork policies that recognize the value of allowing employees to occasionally work remotely. While there’s arguably still value in going to the office, employees should have the option to work from home when it suits their needs.

Of course, plenty of jobs can’t be done remotely. This is particularly true for airport concessions or services employees, as well as many other types of workers at Hartsfield-Jackson. Even when flexibility in terms of location is out of the question, though, you can still offer employees flexibility in terms of scheduling.

Giving employees the chance to have a say in when their shifts are helps them feel valued and respected while allowing them to have a good work-life balance—something that’s imperative for keeping employees at your company.

Approaches to Flexible Scheduling

There are several different approaches to flexible scheduling, but almost any business can find an approach that works for them.
The most straightforward is to ask employees when they would prefer to work and accommodate their needs to the best of your ability. If possible for your organization, it can be helpful to give employees the opportunity to independently sign up for shifts or switch shifts with other employees, perhaps via an online portal.

Sometimes an hour or two can make all the difference if an employee needs to pick children up from school or avoid rush hour traffic. Depending on employee needs, you may want to stagger the beginning of shifts to allow for this flexibility.

Many businesses that employee shift workers alienate their workforce by only giving a few days’ notice of scheduling changes or keeping employees on call. While these practices are often described as flexible, they’re anything but from the employee’s perspective. Instead, they can interrupt other obligations and add unnecessary stress to an employee’s life. Eliminating this practice in favor of policies that give employees more say in when they work can be a significant factor in your retention.

Employers that operate on a more traditional Monday-Friday schedule can implement flexibility by allowing employees to start earlier or finish later than the old-fashioned 9-5 allows for. For example, someone with kids in school may want to work 7-3 to accommodate school schedules, while someone who lives farther away may wish to avoid rush hour by working 10-6. Some people may even find that they’re more productive late at night or early in the morning, and as long as they’re otherwise available for meetings, you could see productivity benefits from accommodating them.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to listen to employees and make an honest effort to meet their needs. No organization can accommodate every single employee, but by being flexible, open, and willing to try, you can position yourself as an employer worth build a career with.

Need help crafting the best flexwork policies for your organization?

More Like This

Employee Retention Part 2: Providing the Support that Keeps Employees Around

Employee Retention Part 2: Providing the Support that Keeps Employees Around

We recently shared some insights on how hiring the perfect-fit candidate reduces the chances of employee turnover. Once you’ve hired that ideal employee, though, effort still has to be made to keep them. Even the best-fit employee can leave a company if they don’t feel valued, supported, or engaged.

How do you make sure an employee stays at your company for the long haul? Here are a few strategies we recommend.

Onboard strategically

Setting clear expectations and providing comprehensive training from the get-go is key to helping employees feel successful long-term. Make sure new hires are trained according to pre-written onboarding plans that are thorough and well-paced, and that they know where to go if they have questions.

Collect regular feedback

Employees have unique insights into ways to make their roles more effective and encouraging them to share that feedback can help them feel valued. Try to give employees frequent opportunities to provide feedback, such as check-ins with managers or anonymous surveys. And be sure to put that feedback into action whenever possible to show that you’re listening.

Recognize employee success

Employees feel most valued when their hard work and success are recognized. Provide rewards for good performance, preferably in the form of both monetary perks and public recognition.

Provide opportunities for advancement

Employees are most satisfied when they have opportunities to learn new skills and achieve higher levels of success. Make sure that the employees who stay with the company have chances to learn, grow, and move up the ladder.

Allow for flexible scheduling

If an employee’s schedule causes undue strain on them or their families, they may seek a job that better fits their lifestyle. While keeping your workplace staffed appropriately is priority, allowing for flexible scheduling whenever possible can help boost retention.
Flexible scheduling can refer to any policy that allows for flexibility in where and when employees work. One important form of flexibility is continuing allowing remote work even as public health improves, provided employees can still do their jobs from home.
If you’re in an industry where remote work isn’t an option, you can still introduce flexibility by allowing employees to work the shifts that fit best with their personal schedules. Giving employees a say in when they work sends the message that you care about their overall work-life balance.

Provide commute support

Commuting is often a source of stress for employees, and employees at Hartsfield-Jackson are no exception. A 2019 survey found that nearly one third of employees working in on-terminal concessions or other airport services had a commute longer than 45 minutes. This particular subset of employees is also most likely to take public transit, with 49% taking a bus or train as their primary commute mode.

Employees in airport management and airline operations also frequently have long commutes, with 27% of on-terminal workers and 25% of off-terminal ones commuting for more than 45 minutes each way. 70% and 84% drive alone, respectively.

Overall, these stats paint a picture of lengthy, potentially stress-inducing commutes among all types of airport employees. Employers who help lessen this stress may be better able to prevent employees from leaving for a job with a more accessible location. Depending on the needs most relevant to your employees, commute support could involve:

  • First- and last-mile solutions. These are transportation services, such as shuttles or carpools, that take employees from the nearest bus stop or train station to your place of employment. They can be immensely helpful to employees who rely on transit and may also make transit viable for employees who otherwise would be sitting in traffic.
  • Transit subsidies. Transit costs can add up, and if getting to your place of employment is too expensive, employees may look for jobs closer to home. You can help offset that cost with subsidies, pre-tax transit savings plans, or rewards programs that offer cash bonuses to transit riders.
  • Carpool and vanpool support. Carpools and vanpools reduce traffic on the road while supporting employees who don’t have cars and don’t live near transit. Employers can help facilitate carpool and vanpool formation among employees who work similar shifts.
  • Rideshare support. Providing vouchers for rideshare services and joining the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which pays for rideshares after transit services are closed, can give a lifeline to employees in case of emergencies.

There are many reasons why employees may leave jobs, but there are just as many strategies employers can implement to encourage them to stay. Many of these strategies come down to one simple fact: employees who are valued and supported stay in their jobs.

This support can take the form of anything from recognition and advancement to flexible scheduling and commute support. If you need help implementing innovative approaches to commuting or scheduling,

More Like This

Employee Retention Part 1: Why Good Retention Starts with Hiring

Employee Retention Part 1: Why Good Retention Starts with Hiring

In recent months, companies have experienced so much turnover that economists have given it a name: The Great Resignation. In September of 2021 alone, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4.4 million Americans—3% of the workforce—quit their jobs.
In this environment, many employers are stepping back to evaluate exactly why this is happening and how they can stop it. While the primary drivers of the Great Resignation are still being debated by experts, there are a few steps employers can take now to improve employee retention. One of the most important strategies is to hire smarter.

According to a recent report from Harvard Business Review (HBR), as much as 80% of all turnover is the result of poor hiring decisions. If companies hire employees that aren’t a good fit for a position, they’re more likely to leave. Here’s a closer look at why smart hiring matters, as well as suggestions for how to better screen candidates during interviews.

Why Smart Hiring Matters

Many employers work hard to make their companies appealing by offering things like good benefits, fair pay, commute support and transit subsidies, and other perks that promote overall wellbeing. These are all important steps that draw more candidates to your company and keep them around longer. That being said, the HBR report states that according to a meta-analysis from 2018, most drivers of turnover are more closely related to employees’ attitudes and personal life than the job itself.
For example, this study suggests that over 40% of people who leave their jobs do so because of concerns related to their overall life and career satisfaction—something far out of the control of most employers. Just under 40% were driven from their jobs due to a poor ability to cope with stress. The third and fourth highest drivers of turnover were found to be employees’ level of commitment to their overall career and to the organization—things employers can cultivate to a certain extent, but that are primarily driven by the employee’s personal attitudes about work.

Engaging employees does matter. About 20% of employee turnover is driven at least in part by low engagement. But more important than engagement are factors largely out of your control. The best way to control for those factors are to screen for them in the hiring process.

What to Ask in Interviews to Reduce Turnover

To prevent future turnover, HBR recommends asking interview questions that screen candidates for high career satisfaction, strong coping skills, and commitment to their work.
One thing to note is that a positive, optimistic outlook correlates well with high career satisfaction and, therefore, long-term commitment to your company. So, it’s helpful to ask questions that help you evaluate whether candidates have this type of attitude. For example, asking for stories of past career-related challenges can illustrate not only the candidate’s problem-solving skills, but also if they confront challenges with a can-do attitude. Inquiring about overall career satisfaction or long-term career goals can give insight into their overall attitude toward work.

Another important thing to screen for is the ability to manage stress. Of course, a good employer doesn’t put undue stress on an employee, but many roles involve stressful situations. Asking the candidate how they have handled difficult situations in the past, how they cope with stress, and if they’ve ever had to battle burnout can tell you if they would be able to thrive in your company’s work environment.

Finally, it’s key to make sure the candidate is the right fit for the job not just in terms of qualifications, but in terms of the necessary “soft skills.” Be sure to discuss the candidate’s strengths, and then consider how well those strengths match to the needs of the role. It can also be helpful to ask candidates why they’ve left jobs in the past. If the issues that drove them to leave a past job are likely to also occur at your company, they may not be a good fit.

Waiting for the Perfect Fit

It can be tempting to hire the first applicant who can do the job, especially when you’re short-staffed. In the long run, though, that approach can backfire. A candidate who’s just good enough, rather than the perfect fit, is more likely to leave, making things more difficult for you in the long term as you spend money to recruit and train yet another person.

Instead, consider waiting for the exact right person to come along. Tweaking your hiring to find perfect fit candidates can reduce future turnover and keep your company staffed with happy employees for longer.

Looking for ways to incentivize that perfect fit candidate to work for you? Stay tuned for the second part in our series on employee retention, where you can learn about growing engagement with perks like stress-free commuting and more.

More Like This