Monday AM July 9th, 2007

Robert Half International survey finds increased use of flex time, telecommuting...Corporate analysts tell UN meeting in Geneva that investors need to take ethical factors into account when deciding companies to back...Guatemalan factory making clothing for Kohl's agrees to comply with labor laws...

More companies are supporting work/life balance options for their employees such as flexible schedules or telecommuting. According to Scott Patenaude with Robert Half International, employers see it as another way to retain good employees.

"It's been cited much more than financial incentives. By 2015 it's projected that more than 100 million people will telecommute to work. Employee retention is very important and these are just some techniques to make employee much higher and retain the best employees." Ed: "How prevalent is telecommuting? I mean, we're getting into more technology these days. Is it more possible with more types of work? "Absolutely. It's, again, across the board we're seeing much more telecommuting. Eighty-seven percent of executives believe telecommuting will increase in the next ten to 15 years. But it's situational-specific. It depends on a specific function or employee's position and depends on the workplace and corporate culture."

Patenaude says that almost a third of executives polled say flexible schedules and telecommuting are valued benefits.

"Employers recognize that offering these kind of programs will increase employee satisfaction. It'll allow employees to concentrate more fully because they can concentrate more on projects and the quality of their work." Ed: "I think having a work/life balance they recognize also because it probably applies with their own lives." "Absolutely, I mean the work/life balance is very important. There's cost/time savings with respect to commuting. There's controlled environment—workers realize that when they, when their work requires complex detailed concentration, that they can have a quieter and more productive environment either at home or in the office during non-work hours." Ed: "Do you approach your employer and sort of make a suggestion, or what's the best approach?" "It comes both ways. We many times talk to employers about the benefits to them for doing it. Often times, we're approached by employees and workers themselves and we, you know, we talk to them about how to put together, you know, their proposal for management's consideration."

Research by Robert Half International shows that about 43 percent of those polled say telecommuting is best-suited for staff-level employees. Over half of the respondents said their employers are very supportive of efforts to achieve work/life balance.

Corporate analysts in Geneva, Switzerland, told a UN meeting on responsible business that investors, big and small, need to take ethical factors into account when deciding which companies to back. Anthony Ling of Goldman Sachs International says a company's so-called ESG Performance, for "environmental, social and corporate governance,'' can be a plus. Ling says it can give the firm an edge over its rivals because in the long run, those qualities will pay off with consumers and employees. Ling says proof that an ethical approach to investment makes business sense would come in the form of superior stock market performance, adding that, "the marketplace itself is totally unsentimental.''

Some changes are on the way for a Guatemalan factory that makes some of Daisy Fuentes' clothing for Kohl's. The National Labor Committee, a workers' rights group, issued a report on the Fribo factory last month, saying workers told a related group they are humiliated and forced to work unpaid overtime. The disclosure prompted Kohl's to pull some of the Fuentes' line from its stores and online. The NLC says the factory has now agreed to comply with labor laws. Fuentes' line of clothing, shoes and sleepwear is sold exclusively by Kohl's.

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