Jagler: Retailer’s family-friendly policies make good business sense

If you’re in the market for a new sofa, recliner or bed, don’t bother going to Biltrite Furniture in Greenfield on this Christmas Day — or almost any other Sunday in 2017, for that matter.

The owners of Biltrite decided this fall to close the store on most Sundays.

Biltrite is embracing the emerging concept of the family-friendly workplace.

Randi Komisar, the fourth generation of the family to lead the furniture store over the past 88 years, says the company is stepping back in time. Remember when most businesses were closed on Sundays and employees spent the day with their families?

“We want to go back to the old days and be closed on Sundays to be with our families. There’s just too much 24/7 today. Our motto is, ‘We do seven days of business in six days,’” Komisar said.

“As a fourth-generation family business, we know how hard it can be to find a work-life balance,” Komisar said. “And with the latest additions to our family — my 3-year-old son, Jordan, and his 6-month-old cousin, Simon — we are excited to spend additional time together. Biltrite is important to every member of our family, but we are a family-owned business. Family comes first. We treat our employees like family.”

Other family-friendly policies at Biltrite include:

  • A storewide annual vacation of five to seven days over the July 4 weekend “so all our employees and their families can enjoy a major holiday weekend off when normally you can’t in retail. It’s unheard of in our industry,” Komisar said.
  • A policy of allowing employees to bring their children in on workdays when schools are closed. “This promotes teaching our next generation about hard work and respect in the workplace,” Komisar said.
  • A “pet-friendly” back office. “Our employees can bring their dog to work if necessary, and we even have a store mascot dog, Kugel, helping out at our customer service desk on a daily basis.”

As the unemployment rate continues to fall and the labor pool tightens, many companies are adopting more family-friendly workplace practices to attract and keep their best employees.

Swedish furniture maker Ikea announced earlier this month it will expand its paid benefits up to four months for all its workers who are welcoming a new baby into their lives. Ikea said its move is aimed at improving work-life balance among its roughly 14,000 employees while attracting and retaining top talent.

“We see it as an investment in our co-workers, which we view as our most important resource,” says Lars Petersson, president of Ikea’s U.S. operations. The company, which plans to build a new store in Oak Creek, expects to “get great payback over the years, from the sheer fact of having our people getting even closer to us in terms of loyalty and them staying longer. This is the right thing to do for our people.”

American Express also joined the expanded parental leave movement, announcing it will widen its paid leave for new parents for up to 20 weeks. Mothers who give birth and need additional medical leave also will be able to take another six to eight weeks before returning to work.

In northwestern Wisconsin, where labor is at a premium with the booming Twin Cities economy, the United Way St. Croix Valley decided to capitalize on the trend by launching a Family Friendly Workplace certification program. So far, 11 companies have earned the certification by offering amenities such as paid time off, health care benefits, maternity and paternity leaves, a private area for nursing mothers, flexible schedules and job-sharing, said Lara Otsuka, engagement specialist with the United Way’s “Success By 6” program.

“Studies have shown that companies with family-friendly policies have an advantage in recruiting, tend to retain employees, save costs of retraining and increase productivity,” Otsuka said.

Komisar adds: “If we had more family time in this country, it would be a better place. I think we’re on to a movement.”

Merry Christmas!
Randi Komisar

Title: Wears “multiple hats” in the fourth-generation family business, including spokeswoman, sales, design, buying.

Company: Biltrite Furniture-Leather-Mattresses, Greenfield

Experience: “I have worked in our family’s business since high school, through summer breaks, during college, and joined our business full time immediately after graduation. I have been attending furniture trade shows since I was a kid. I have truly grown up in our business.”

Education: Bachelor of science in interior design, High Point University, North Carolina.

Family: Son, Jordan

Best advice ever received: “It’s not what you expect, it’s what you inspect!”

Favorite movie: “Love Actually”

Favorite music: “I love ’80’s music.”

Favorite Wisconsin restaurant: La Merenda

Personal: “I am a foodie at heart and love great food, but I can’t cook one bit!”


Source: http://www.jsonline.com

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