VOL. 112 | NO. 185 | Monday, October 12, 1998
By STACEY PETSCHAUER
Home-style work policies
NationsBank, FedEx and First Tennessee serve employees
and customers through their family-friendly programs
By STACEY PETSCHAUER
The Daily News
The term "working mom" is essentially unnecessary these days.
It has outlived its usefulness because it doesnt apply to a small minority anymore nearly all moms are working moms.
Only 7 percent of all families now conform to the tradition of a wage-earning dad, a stay-at-home mom and one or more children, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
All the workplace changes resulting from this make one point obvious policies and benefits must change to reflect the changing times.
As a result, companies are competing to be ahead of the game.
NationsBank, Federal Express and First Tennessee Bank are examples of corporations that specifically design employee policies to be "family friendly."
NationsBank implements several programs designed to help families and working moms but doesnt stop there, said Nancy Poe, vice president and manager of work life for the company, which recently was named to Working Mother magazines national list of the 10 Best Companies for Working Mothers.
"We have a number of programs, but I think the first thing to understand is its more than just programs," Poe said.
"Anybody can implement programs, but youve got to make it a part of your work environment to make it successful."
NationsBank started its work and family programs in 1988 after noticing many women were not returning to work after they had children.
"That was causing a big gap in our talent pool and in the work force," Poe said.
As a result, the company began modeling its programs and policies to assist employees in handling family issues.
"Thats really where the emphasis was as programs got started," she said. "As we moved on, we have tried to do more things that are available for all associates."
She said one of the programs that speaks the loudest about the corporation is Child Care Plus, a subsidy program that helps eligible NationsBank associates pay for child care.
If an associate makes $30,000 or less and has a total family income of $60,000 or less, he or she is eligible for up to $35 a week per child to help pay child-care costs.
"Thats over $1,800 a year, and its tax-free," Poe said. "So, thats a significant amount toward the cost of their child care, which, for some associates, is a requirement for them to be able to stay in the work force."
The program has been redesigned in the past year to increase the income limits for program eligibility and recommunicate the program to associates.
"One thing we heard is Make it simple," Poe said. "Make it simple to get in, make it simple to understand, make it simple to use. We have more than doubled the number of participants we have."
Since the program was restructured, more than 10 percent of the companys work force is participating.
The main reason programs such as Child Care Plus are beneficial to the company is they reduce employee turnover, Poe said.
"Our turnover in this population is half the turnover of a control group," she said. "In other words, if we have a group of tellers who are in Child Care Plus, their turnover is half the turnover of tellers not in the program.
"So, its a very strong motivator for an associate to want to stay with NationsBank," she said.
The company offers a variety of other programs that benefit family-oriented employees.
Examples of these programs are Family Leaves, which provides up to six months of leave for maternity, paternity, adoption, foster care and family care; LifeWorks, which provides advice, resources, consultations and seminars on a variety of topics; and a tuition reimbursement program, which helps associates pay to take undergraduate and graduate college courses.
The company also has five child-care centers located near key NationsBank facilities and an on-site, K-3 school in Jacksonville, Fla., where NationsBank runs before- and after-school programs.
Federal Express is another corporation that prides itself on employee service. The corporation is listed on Working Mother magazines top 100 list of family-friendly companies.
The companys founding philosophy of "People, Service, Profit" makes it an outstanding environment for employees, said Amy Langston, vice president of planning and administration for FedExs national hub operation.
Langston, herself a working mom, said the company uses the philosophy to develop programs, benefits and opportunities for employees.
"We have an outstanding comprehensive benefit package, which, unlike most corporations, is available to our part-time employees," she said.
"That includes full medical coverage, pension programs, profit sharing and various other incentive programs that specific divisions have set up to reward employees for accomplishment of goals and objectives."
FedEx also offers tuition reimbursement and consultation services for employees.
People Help is one such program designed to assist employees with family or personal problems they cannot handle on their own.
"This includes anything from drug or alcohol abuse for themselves or their families, marital problems, financial counseling problems. We have a referral service set up for that," Langston said.
LifeWorks also is a referral service that helps employees find quality day-care services. Through the LifeWorks program, employees are offered discounts to various child-care providers in the Memphis area.
Langston said the company believes it is critical to help employees with their familial needs.
"We recognize that, not only is it the right thing to do, but it is something we need to provide as a business to attract and retain our employees," she said.
"I think it goes back to our underlying philosophy, our PSP philosophy taking care of our people and enabling them to provide outstanding service to our customers."
Pat Brown of First Tennessee, another Working Mother top 100 company, said she also believes it is important to relate well to employees so they can relate well to customers.
First Tennessee has received acknowledgment from Working Mother for the past four years, as well as being ranked by Business Week as the nations top family-friendly company and as one of the top 100 companies to work for by Fortune magazine.
These rankings are the result of the companys concern for its employees, Brown said.
"Our biggest focus has really been on our culture and how to use workplace flexibility as a tool to give employees more balance and also to improve customer satisfaction," she said.
She said 91 percent of the companys employees work on some type of flexible schedule.
First Tennessee offers programs from child-care resource and referral services to family-leave and paid disability for childbirth to a classroom visitor program that enables employees to visit schools with paid time.
"We offer quite an array of benefits to provide support, with the key being a supportive workplace, so if a child gets sick or if you need to go to a soccer game or whatever, we can accommodate your work schedule to try to make that happen," she said.
She said First Tennessee believes a company cannot survive if it is not focused on placing employees first.
"Certainly within the banking and financial services industry, the most important thing we offer our customers is the service that our people provide," she said.
"We recognize that there is no way that teller or that customer service representative or that commercial lender can really exceed a customers expectations and take care of his or her needs if theyre worried about whats going on at home."
She said the company believes the best way it can provide the service customers expect is to treat employees the way the company would like to see employees treat customers.
"So, we hope were delivering the same level of service to our employees that they can deliver to their customers," she said.