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122 Strategies to Attract and Retain a Capable Transportation Workforce 17.1 Workforce Challenges. Programs related to "Work-Life Balance" are typically designed to address challenges associated with assisting employees in maintaining their work and personal responsibilities. These challenges should be carefully considered before selecting the program that would best fit the needs of your agency. For example, these are common challenges agencies face: Different Career Decision Making. In terms of careers, younger generations are tending to lean toward "engineering" more than "surveying" majors in college because engineering jobs pay more and are more appealing, as they offer a variety of concentrations. As a result, organizations are challenged with promoting transportation surveying as a viable and important career. In terms of organizational culture, younger generations are more interested in organizations that support work-life balance and educational opportunities than stability and benefits. Organizations struggle to find ways of implementing these preferable elements into traditional transportation jobs. Younger generations are also attracted to companies that emphasize giving back to the community and having a commitment to ethical practices. Organizations struggle to find ways of engaging in community activities in limited time. Competing on Benefits. Some partners indicated that their competitors use work-life balance benefits (e.g., days off, flexible schedules) to retain employees who have the option of leaving for higher salaries. Impact of Children. Slightly less than one-half of the survey participants in a study for Florida DOT identified people who are "married, with children" to be most difficult to recruit (Cronin et al., 2007). On the other hand, people who are "married with no children" were identified as the easiest to recruit with less than 10 percent of the participants selecting this group as "difficult to attract." 17.2 Industry Strategies. Researchers and program managers identify the following programmatic strategies when describing industry efforts in creating a positive "Work-Life Balance" (see Exhibit 17-2). While these strategies represent the general direction of human resource (HR) departments across the nation, it is important that the specific needs of your agency are used to guide the development and implementation of a program in your agency. Exhibit 17-2 Industry Strategies: Work-Life Balance Strategy Strategy Description Improve Existing Work Organizations have received feedback that one of the reasons employees Schedule choose to stay employed with them is that they are not expected to work more than 40 hours in a week and that they can expect to work approximately 8 hours in a day if working 5 days a week. Employees are looking for a work environment that does not infringe upon their life outside of work--an environment that allows them to make plans outside of work and a schedule that helps them feel confident their personal plans will not have to be adjusted. One way they are doing this is by studying work distribution and work schedules. After determining how work is ultimately distributed and how schedules are designed, the organizations have implemented policies to ensure that one employee is not receiving more work or a more challenging schedule than other employees at similar levels. If this is occurring due to the nature of the job, organizations are looking at ways to ensure that stressful work environments are temporary and those duties are rotated among all team members. Work distribution and scheduling are typically evaluated quarterly.
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Work-Life Balance 123 Exhibit 17-2 (Continued) Industry Strategies: Work-Life Balance Strategy Strategy Description Allow Flexible Organizations have looked at the positions and related tasks in their workforce Schedules and Days Off and considered which of the positions do not require an individual to be at a certain station at a specific time. For example, employees who are gathering information from the internet and preparing weekly reports do not necessarily have to perform this duty between 9AM and 5PM. Not being confined by a set schedule allows employees to conduct non-work-related business and solve non-work-related problems (e.g. children, laundry, home repair, financial transactions) that are difficult to solve after 5PM on weekdays or on the weekends. Some organizations are offering flexible extra days off during periods of low productivity. For example, if an organization is aware that business will be slower over the next month they may allow their employees to choose 5 days during which they would like to take leave. These days off do not count against their vacation. Other organizations have introduced flexibility into certain positions through job sharing. Job sharing is a situation where two people are responsible for the equivalent work of one employee and are generally each paid one-half the normal salary. Jobs that tend to require physically demanding work and jobs in which tasks can be more easily distinguished may be the ideal jobs for job sharing. This is a great solution for two employees simultaneously pursuing an education as well as caregivers who want to divide their time between work and personal commitments. Establish a Breadth of Innovative policies that do not meet the needs of employees may be futile. Policies to Support Organizations must ensure their work-life policies cover a range of employee Different Employee needs and interests. The conduct of a thorough needs assessment ensures that Needs policies are aligned to the employees' needs and that dollars are not wasted on creating innovative yet ineffective practices. Allow Telework for Organizations have looked at positions and related tasks in their workforce and High Performers considered which of the positions do not require an individual to be physically present at work. For example, employees that are making phone calls regularly may not necessarily have to be physically present at the office. Even if they have questions, the employee can simply email their questions and have them answered without much delay. Employees who live further away from their employer and find their commute consumes much of their personal time or who are forced to move for a non-work-related reason may be retained if they are permitted to work from home 1 to 5 days a week. Telework benefits are usually reserved for high performing employees as determined by their supervisor.