•Direct-care staff members benefit from "lots of different types of schedules that can fit a lot of family dynamics," says Michelle Prejean, director of human resources, such as overnight shifts that allow employees to be home during the day.
•Tuition assistance and "earned time cash out" system through which employees can decide if they want to trade in any of their earned time (unused personal or vacation time) for money to be applied toward college coursework.
•Personal leave-of-absence policy that affords up to two months of unpaid leave (many immigrant employees use it to visit their families back home), as well as paid inclement weather days and flextime options for non-residential staffers.
•Partial funding of health insurance costs for employees and dependents — worth noting, Prejean says, because the high cost of health insurance is preventing some companies from subsidizing dependents' care.
•"Very dog- and child-friendly."
MARTIN'S POINT HEALTH CARE
•"While there has been renewed debate around this [issue]...Martin's Point still believes in giving eligible employees the option of an alternative work schedule," says Pete DeWitt, MPHC communications manager. From the company's HR policy: "Martin's Point Health Care is committed to providing a workplace that creates flexibility in balancing the challenging demands of the workplace. While our ultimate goal is to deliver quality services to our customers, we recognize that employees who are able to balance competing work and personal needs are oftentimes happier and more productive in the workplace. If business needs are being met and the results are meeting, or exceeding expectations, the alternative work arrangement can be positive for all parties."
•On-site gym facility – at no cost to employees – can be used throughout the day or before or after work.
•Martin's Point began an Earned Time Donation policy in 2011 allowing employees to give unused time to employees in need. "This has helped several employees and created an overall feeling of goodwill across the organization knowing we are helping our fellow colleagues when in many cases, they have nowhere else to turn."
•Financial Peace classes for employees to help manage their money. Over 75 employees have been through these classes and have dramatically reduced their debt.
•"Last but not least – your birthday off: What better way to celebrate work-life balance than getting the day your life began off from work?" ^
Rewarding hard work
BOOSTING THE MINIMUM WAGE TO HELP EVERYONE
•Flextime and on-site fitness centers are all well and good, but for many people, a real sense of balance comes from simply having enough money to pay the bills. That's why, in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama advocated raising the federal minimum wage to $9; that's why South Portland representative Scott Hamann, a Democrat, recently proposed raising Maine's minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 and linking it to the Consumer Price Index to account for inflation.
A legislative committee work session at the end of March resulted in a slightly different proposal. The bill now headed to the legislature would raise Maine's minimum wage by 50 cents every year for the next three years, and then adjust it for inflation annually after that.
"People who work full-time shouldn't live in poverty," Hamann says, noting that Maine's minimum wage workers earn $15,600 per year — just a smidge higher than the federal poverty level.