Magazine article Workforce

A Bank Profits from Its Work/life Program

Magazine article Workforce

A Bank Profits from Its Work/life Program

Article excerpt

First Tennessee Bank proves employee-friendly ideals also benefit customers and the bottom line.

First Tennessee Bank calls it "the cutting edge of common sense." That's the company's approach to its work/life policies. They aren't just nice. They're smart. And thanks to the constant surveying, assessing and bottom-line accounting of the HR department, First Tennessee knows they're profitable.

Now this bank may have an advantage over other companies. It began its work/ life program in 1992 not because it was craving a new flavor of the month, but in response to its customers. They were complaining about the high turnover of the employees they dealt with. Why were employees leaving? A number of reasons, including an outdated attendance policy, a stringent vacation policy and an atmosphere that forced employees with sick kids to lie and call in ill themselves. What it all boiled down to was a lack of flexibility.

So the HR department set out to fix this. It nixed the old systems, urging employees to figure out the schedules that would work best for them. Today, employees can take advantage of schedules that involve flextime, flexweeks, job sharing and PrimeTime (allowing former fulltimers to work part time while maintaining full benefits). "It really just grew," says Pat Brown, vice president and manager of personnel strategic issues. "The more we looked at it, the more opportunities we saw were there to really make a business impact."

Note the phrase "business impact." Indeed, the most impressive aspect of these changes may be HR's figure-savvy ability to cost-justify them. …

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