Trend Tracker May/June 2019July 15th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
Love or Money? How to Beat the Challenge
By Michael Collins
A national survey conducted in mid-2018 by the insurance company Unum found that, outside of things like vacation time and sick leave, 58% of people said paid family leave was their most desired perk. Among millennials, family leave was even more important, at 64%. Next for all respondents came flexible or remote work options, at 55%.
Meanwhile, separate polls indicate that the desire for those additional perks likely stems from increased or anticipated burdens for caregiving. According to the Pew Research Center, single mothers care for 21% of all children younger than 18 years of age today. At the same time, about 22% of middle-aged and older workers say they are caring for an elderly person, while AARP says half of such workers are employed full-time. For this reason, it’s not surprising that the Unum survey found that 80% of millennials, 76% of Gen X’ers and 68% of baby boomers have used paid time off, or have called in sick, because of caregiving duties. Meanwhile, AARP says 49% of the nation’s workforce expects to be providing eldercare in the next five years.
To make matters worse, according to the Unum survey, 61% of respondents said they felt stress, anxiety and/or depression, while 49% reported being exhausted, 27% said their marriage was strained, and 25% even had to miss their own doctor’s appointments.
None of this is good news for assembly lines.
Door and window manufacturers have spent millions of dollars automating their factories, but none have figured out (yet) how to produce their goods without a single person on the shop floor.
What can you do to help your workers, while keeping the plant humming? Consider these techniques:
• If you don’t need everyone every moment of a shift, calculate the percentage of positions that people can work off-peak and then let people reserve those hours.
• Let workers (with your approval) swap all or part of their shifts.
• Permit job-sharing, through which two people hold one job and decide between themselves who is going to work each shift.
• Consider going to a four-day, 10-hour work week, so that everyone gets an extra day off.
• Cross-train workers, so they can fill in for one another on the line.
• Shift from tracking vacation, sick and personal leave, to a paid-time-off account that can be used for any purpose.
• Create more part-time slots.
• Subsidize child care or, if you have a lot of workers, consider opening an onsite facility.
• Let workers take unpaid furloughs, knowing their jobs will be there for them when they get back.
• Reward great performance with paid time off, in increments as small as 15 minutes.
You can’t solve all of your workers’ problems, but you can find ways to help. Raising their salaries is fine, but time often matters far more than money.
Michael Collins is an investment banker and a partner in Building Industry Advisors. He specializes in mergers and acquisitions in the door and window industry.
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