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WMATA sets course with employee work/life initiatives


At a time when many of the nation’s employers are cutting employment rosters, slashing budgets and excising benefits, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in January began implementing a series of work/life initiatives.

A new teleworking policy allows employees to work from home, exercise programs have brought fitness to the workplace, and employees who can no longer work are offered the option to purchase long-term car insurance. These are some of the "family-friendly" benefits WMATA now offers its employees, thanks to a multi-office team that surveyed the agency’s 10,000 employees.

The team set out to determine employee interest in specific work/life programs and a willingness to use or participate in the programs if offered. Nearly 11 percent of WMATA’s employees responded; of those, 30 percent to 65 percent indicated that each of the programs surveyed should be made available.

Last year, WMATA began offering alternative work schedules or compressed work weeks; domestic partners health benefits; seminars on life skills; and compensatory paid time off for Fair Labor Standards Act exempt employees. The board also endorsed development of a back-up child-care program.

"Many organizations, public and private, have realized the need for addressing the quality of work/life for its employes," said Cheryl Burke, WMATA general counsel, in a prepared statement. "Improving the work/life of employees lessens stress, increases retention rates, improves morale, increases productivity, improves recruitment and promotes organizational development."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/27/2002