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Overcome staff commuting woes with 5 no- or low-cost strategies

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in Hiring,Human Resources

You may not realize it, but employees could be jumping ship because of the hassle and high cost of their commutes. And commuting pains aren't easing.

Proof: Two-thirds of new jobs are now located in the suburbs, and 40 percent aren't on public transportation routes, according to a recent study. That trend is particularly tough on entry-level employees, who may not have a car.

Advice: Don't ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Approach commuting as a recruiting and retention issue. Follow these five simple ideas to address the commuting concerns of your front-line employees:

1. If your workplace is accessible by public transportation, publicize it. Mention the point in want ads and applicant interviews. Make bus schedules, subway routes and fare information part of your new-hire orientation packet. Even employees who drive should know how to get to work if they have car trouble.

2. Inventory all options. Besides subway and buses, include other options in your lineup of transportation alternatives. Examples: taxis, shuttles, van pools, car pools, government employment and economic development agencies (see box below), senior centers, churches and volunteer driver programs.

3. Tweak employee work schedules to facilitate car pooling and/or take advantage of off-peak commuting times.

4. Negotiate on behalf of your staff for transportation services. Ask your customers, suppliers and business associates for discounts on commute-related items, such as auto purchases, car repairs, insurance and taxi fares.

5. Organize other businesses. If your business is in a mall or industrial park, neighboring businesses probably have the same problem. Get together to organize a shuttle service, a car-pool bulletin board (on-site or online) or persuade transit officials to add a bus route to your area.

Final tip: Consider transportation when hiring. Everything else being equal, an employee with an easy commute is more likely to stay longer.

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