How do you suggest we make sure staff get home safely when getting off work late at night, especially in a sketchy neighborhood?
– Karen Taylor, Pastry Cook, Washington, DC
It is important that employees feel secure not only at work but also during their commutes. Employers vary their approach to this common problem, from arguing that what happens outside the door is no longer their domain, to arranging ride-shares or even driving employees home. Tipped employees with wads of cash walking the streets late at night are easy targets. Ensuring a safe commute—or at least a safe trip to the nearest transit stop or the employee’s vehicle—can help reduce turnover, improve morale, and, most importantly, keep employees healthy and alive.
Some ideas I’ve seen in action:
Dismiss together. As the evening winds down and you start sending employees home, consider dismissing them in small groups or pairs rather than individually.
Put the lights on a timer. Rather than having employees who close walk out of a dark building into a dark parking lot, leave the lights on or have them go out some minutes after everyone has left so the area remains well lit.
Preferred cab company. Make a deal with a cab company. Arrange for them to be your go-to call for guests needing transportation and, in exchange, negotiate an employee discount to offer as a benefit.
Incentives for car pooling. Offer employees free parking, valet service or a preferred spot if they share a ride. It may even get them to work all on time and will free up parking for guests.
Checks or direct deposit for tips. If tipped employees prefer not to carry cash, give them a more secure option such as a check or bank transfer.
Christine Zagari Lo Porto, owner of the Bean Post Pub in Brooklyn, NY says,“We implement a never leaving alone policy—we make sure that our employees are always walked out either into a cab or to their car—especially the female staff. We also have a very good relationship with one car service in the area that we use and so when we do call a car for an employee they knock off a few dollars since they know we recommend them to all our patrons.”