The Competition for Talent Goes Green

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It's hard to get good help these days, especially when so many people are realizing that there is more to life than money. A lot of companies are beginning to offer incentives to attract TreeHugger types and make it easier to work without a car. PMA Landscape Architects in Toronto offers employees membership in a car-sharing program so when they can't bike to work they have an option. "When I was doing the [job] interview, I was happier to take a far more flexible approach in my salary negotiations because I would have 5,000 extra dollars in my pocket from not having to own and drive a car," says Netami Stuart, an avid cyclist and recent hire. BCE lets employees "hotel" in offices all over the country so if they don't have to go downtown that day, they can go to a closer suburban office and use a desk. VanCity and Nortel offer special closer parking spots for car poolers, and BCE again in Toronto and Montreal has bikes that can be checked out like a library book and used to get around downtown. vancity1.jpg

"There's a war on talent out there," says Dave Mowat, chief executive officer of Vancouver-based Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, which offers employees the works when it comes to commuting options. "As employers, we need to take advantage of everything we've got to attract and retain talent." VanCIty has indoor secure bike storage and showers, discounted transit passes and two SmartCars that employees can borrow if they need a car to get to a meeting. They even have a "guaranteed ride program" for parents worried about not having a car in case of an emergency at home- they pay the taxi or have another employee drive them home. It is working- less than half of Vancity employees drive to work. ::Globe and Mail
Ease employees' commute: Things bosses can do.

Find out if your city has a transit discount program.
In some cities, employers can sign up for programs that give their employees discounts off transit passes. Call your local government or transit agency to find out if it runs such a program.

Give them an allowance. In place of a transit discount program, give employees a transportation allowance. This way, there's a financial incentive for everyone, not just those who take mass transit. And employees who really need to drive get a little help with their gas bill.

Encourage carpooling. Depending on the size of your company, you could set up an informal carpooling program or sign up with a service that will set up a carpooling database for your company.

Make it easy. Find out what obstacles stand in the way of employees taking alternative commuting modes and eliminate them. For instance, if employees are worried about their expensive mountain bikes getting stolen, provide secure bike racks indoors. If long jogs or bike rides mean employees must start their workday on a sweaty note, build a shower or subsidize memberships to a nearby gym where they can freshen up before reporting for work.

Provide a guaranteed ride home.
Create a "commuting insurance" plan that will ensure employees who choose alternative transportation modes can get home quickly in case of an emergency. This could mean having cash or taxi vouchers always at the ready, or designating people who can drive a fellow employee home at a moment's notice.

Set an example. Don't talk the talk, then drive in to work in your SUV. Culture change starts at the top, so all managers need to look at how they can get to work in a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.

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