Don't Let Metro's SafeTrack Plan Create Employee Engagement Problems!
Metro’s SafeTrack program began this weekend and I heard a loud groan resonate throughout the entire DC Metro area when the schedule was announced. While everyone is complaining about Metro’s SafeTrack plan to accelerate track maintenance and squeeze three years’ worth of work into one year, we have to assume this plan was the best choice for our own safety and the reliability of the Metro so many of us rely on daily.
You might not take the Metro and may think you will not be affected by the track maintenance plan. If you are a business owner, manager, or in Human Resources and have employees in the DC Metro area, think again – this year long program will absolutely affect you. Many of your employees rely on either the Metro system itself or the roads that may become even more congested as a result of more people driving to avoid the train delays. So when your employees start arriving to work late, come to you to ask if they can come in early and leave early, ask if they can work from home, or are just plain exhausted from a three hour commute, do you know what you are going to say? If you are a smart business owner, manager, or Human Resources representative, you will be proactive and have a response ready before employees start lining up at your door.
Maintaining Productivity and Employee Engagement during Metro’s SafeTrack Plan
Here are two programs to consider that will help maintain productivity and employee engagement during what could be a really ugly time for commuters:
- Flexibility and Work/Life Balance Programs. Employees in today’s work force are looking for work/life balance and flexibility. Recognizing this, more and more organizations are giving their team members the autonomy to manage their own schedules and as a result, have seen employee engagement and productivity levels rise. I personally had a team member whose commute was taking a real toll on him and I reiterated to him he could leave early to beat afternoon traffic. He decided to take me up on the offer, and even though when he gets home he plugs back in, this team member continues to tell me how much the little change has changed his lifestyle and has given him hours back in the day. Here is a blog article with more information about evolving work-life balance practices.
- Telecommuting Programs. With today’s technology, telecommuting becomes easier and easier for employees and companies to remain productive. In fact, many employees report being even more productive because they are not pulled into water cooler conversations and get time back in the work day when they would otherwise spend commuting. And guess what, employee engagement increases too. Telecommuting does not work for every individual or every role and it does work for more than you might initially think. Give your team members the opportunity to work from home periodically so they can skip the metro delays and I-66 traffic – you will see a positive difference. Here are some tips about setting up a good telework program.
As HR Consultants, we are constantly talking to our clients about attracting and retaining top talent. Metro’s track maintenance plan is all the more reason to continue these conversations. If the delays and traffic are anything like we believe it will be, employees are going to get burnt out from their commutes, which will certainly affect their productivity and engagement at work. Employee engagement is about a lot more than just offering free bagels and coffee on Friday mornings. Find out what is important to your individual team members and be willing to give a little in order to gain a lot. If you already have these programs in place, do not assume you and your employees will not be affected; revisit your current programs and check in with your teams to see if they need to make adjustments to previous agreements while track maintenance is ongoing. If you do not already have flexible work schedules and/or telework programs, we have recommended to clients they implement a trial program, which you can do while SafeTrack is in progress. Also, start thinking about long term people programs that can help increase employee engagement and company productivity.
It is going to be a long year for commuters - don’t let Metro’s track maintenance program be the reason your employees decide to start looking for a new job. Use this time as an opportunity to evaluate and implement people programs that mean something to your teams!