Hewitt Research Indicates Canadian Organizations Could Do More to Ease Commuter Woes



    Employers Missing Opportunity to Boost Employee Attraction and Retention

    TORONTO, Aug. 14 /CNW/ - Despite high gas prices, lengthier travel times
and environmental concerns, Canadian employers are implementing only limited
measures to provide employees with relief from commuting, according to a new
survey conducted by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting and
outsourcing company.
    For the 236 Canadian organizations that responded to the online survey,
almost half offer flexible work locations or telecommuting (e.g., working from
home or a satellite company office), while 64 per cent provide flexible work
hours, including condensed work weeks and flexible start times.
    Employer feedback suggests that the main reason for providing this
flexibility is employee wellness, not the high cost of gas or the environment.
"Commuting can be extremely stressful," said Hewitt senior organizational
health consultant Rochelle Morandini. "Any methods employers offer to
alleviate that stress will benefit employees. However, if organizations think
more creatively, they can have a bigger impact on the environment, as well as
on employee health and financial well-being. Such initiatives can
differentiate employers in a tight labour market."

    Increasing Employee, Economic and Environmental Impact

    Organizations were asked about more leading-edge employee benefits. "Only
a handful of employers provide company-sponsored transportation to and from
mass transit or parking subsidies for alternative fuel vehicles or carpool
vehicles," stated Jeff Vathje, a senior compensation consultant with Hewitt.
"However, other arrangements are gaining employer endorsement."

    
    The survey data indicates that the following initiatives are making their
    way into the workplace:

    -   Eleven per cent of organizations provide a subsidy for mass transit.

    -   Twenty per cent provide non-financial support for car poolers, like a
        bulletin board to facilitate car pool arrangements.

    -   Thirty-six per cent provide bike racks, change rooms or other non-
        financial support for bicycle commuters.
    

    Employers Address High Cost of Business Travel

    While many employers may have more to do to ease commuter travel, they
are addressing the impact of rising gas prices on business travel. Almost
two-thirds indicate that they have increased their mileage reimbursement rate
in the last year for employees who use their own vehicles for business-related
travel. Fifty-three per cent also plan to review those rates over the next six
months.
    "The reasons most frequently given for recent or anticipated increases
were rising gas prices, employee fairness, and remaining competitive," said
Vathje. "However, a quarter of respondents stated that they increased rates
because employees asked them to do so. Only 16 per cent of organizations
report that they regularly review their reimbursement policy. If organizations
want to build goodwill with their employees, they should proactively review
mileage reimbursement rates on a regular basis."

    About Hewitt Associates.

    For more than 65 years, Hewitt Associates (NYSE:   HEW) has provided
clients with best-in-class human resources consulting and outsourcing
services. Hewitt consults with more than 3,000 large and mid-size companies
around the globe to develop and implement HR business strategies covering
retirement, financial and health management; compensation and total rewards;
and performance, talent and change management. As a market leader in benefits
administration, Hewitt delivers health care and retirement programs to
millions of participants and retirees, on behalf of more than 300
organizations worldwide. In addition, more than 30 clients rely on Hewitt to
provide a broader range of human resources business process outsourcing
services to nearly a million client employees. Located in 33 countries,
including Canadian offices in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and
Regina, Hewitt employs approximately 23,000 associates. For more information,
please visit www.hewitt.com.





For further information:

For further information: Marcia McDougall, Hewitt Associates, (416)
227-5713, marcia.mcdougall@hewitt.com

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HEWITT ASSOCIATES

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