The Bicycle Tour Company was featured on Fox 61 News at Ten



Human Resource Executive Online
Quick Tips                     
May 2, 2003
By Julie Cook, Andrew R. McIlvaine,
Christopher Cornell and Kristen B. Frasch
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Peddling the Firm
A new recruitment strategy is taking hold in the legal profession, and the word from those who've tried it is, "You don't have to be in law to make it work."   It wouldn't hurt to be a bike enthusiast, though. 

Several law firms -- including Dechert in Philadelphia and Proskauer Rose in New York -- have engaged the services of The Bicycle Tour Co. of Kent, Conn., for summer outings that seem to combine all the right ingredients for summer interns looking to possibly stay on in the fall -- sun, fun and personal time with some senior members of the firm.  

"We're talking fresh air, camaraderie and a great way for young recruits to simply get a sense of the organization they're thinking about becoming part of," says Sal Lilienthal, owner of the Bicycle Tour Co. His daylong package can be customized to fit the needs of any company looking for a morale-boosting bonding experience. In addition to organizing, scheduling and publicizing the event, his company will personally deliver as many rental bikes as needed for groups of any size. 

Diane Kolnik, Proskauer Rose's manager of associate recruiting, says unlike other types of events -- such as white-water rafting or nature hiking -- bicycling "is an easygoing way for young people from many different backgrounds and walks of life to get to know each other and become part of the Proskauer family."

Weighty Issue
An office full of employees focused intently on their computer screens may seem great for a company's bottom line, but in reality, a largely sedentary workforce results in skyrocketing obesity rates, decreased productivity and rising health-care costs for an organization.  

In response to employee requests for a benefit to help overweight people, Microsoft Corp. became one of the first companies to offer a company-subsidized "obesity management program" to its entire U.S.-based workforce, as well as spouses and domestic partners. The company contracts with a network of medical providers, who provide a multifaceted program that includes nutritional counseling, behavioral therapy and personal training. 

Rolled out companywide last summer, Microsoft's program is not geared toward people who simply want to shed a few pounds in preparation for bathing-suit season. On the contrary, it's available only to employees who've been diagnosed by a doctor as medically obese, says company spokeswoman Nicole Miller.

Microsoft reimburses participants for 80 percent of the program's cost. Miller believes the company's investment will be paid back many times over in the form of lower health-care costs, reduced absenteeism, improved morale and greater productivity. In fact, she says, the company anticipates a 192 percent return on investment within the program's first five years of existence.  

Because the obesity management program is considered a medical benefit, Microsoft doesn't have any means of tracking how many people have participated thus far. However, there's no shortage of anecdotal evidence of the appreciation employees feel for the new benefit.  

"The folks in benefits have received the neatest e-mails from people, saying things like, 'This has really changed my life; I was borderline diabetic and now I'm not,' " says Miller. "Reaction has been overwhelmingly positive." 

Letting Them Live
Cosi Inc. wanted its managers to have a life. So the company decided to offer them money to help them get one.  

"This industry is notorious for having restaurant managers work 60, 70 hours a week," says Gilbert Melott, the New York-based restaurant chain's vice president of people. "We'd prefer to have our managers work between 40 and 50 hours a week."  

Two years ago, the restaurant chain, which operates 97 "all-day caf?" shops in 11 states in the Northeast and Midwest, implemented a quality-of-life initiative that includes an annual $500 "Experience Life" bonus available to its store managers, who can spend the money taking a class, joining a gym or anything else that contributes to their personal development, says Melott. 

"Managers have spent the money on Yoga classes, scuba-diving lessons and public-speaking courses," he says. To receive the bonus, managers must have worked for the company at least three months and must fill out an application detailing how they want to spend the money. The company's only restriction is that the bonus not be spent on work-related programs, says Melott.  

Last year, 87 percent of the company's eligible managers participated in the program, he says.  The bonus is intended to remind employees that the company is serious about wanting them to have balanced lives, says Melott.  "This is an effort to put some meat into our quality-of-life initiative," he says.

New Hires On the Air
Cleveland-based Ohio Savings Bank had a problem: a stale onboarding and orientation process, combined with high turnover rates among its new hires. In one division, the figure was 31 percent within 90 days.  

"We were feeling that we needed a way to liven up our orientation -- it was too paper-intensive -- and we wanted to help people learn about the culture of the company," says Lindy Lutz, the bank's vice president of learning and performance.  

So Lutz and her team put their heads together. During a brainstorming session, the acronym WIIFM (short for "what's in it for me?") was bouncing around the room, and one of the managers decided it sounded like the call letters of a radio station. "It struck a chord," she says, "and pretty soon we were talking about radio stations."  

The result: As part of their orientation, new employees at OSB get regular reports from "WOSB: Your Station of Choice." Among the "programs" new hires listen to are: The Oldies (a history of the company), The Weather Report (a review of the corporate climate), The Stock Market and Traffic Reports (a rundown of statistical and growth highlights), a Top 10 Countdown (a list of 10 reasons OSB is a great place to work) and The HR Scoop (a presentation of policies and procedures). There's even a "listener call-in" section, where pre-taped questions about benefits are asked and answered.  

Lutz says turnover at the company is down across the board -- for example, the division with the 31 percent turnover has cut it to about 4 percent.  

"It's really a great way to ensure that employees feel confident and comfortable with their career decisions," Lutz says.

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 PO. BOX 381
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