HR Strange But True!
March 17, 2004

We all know that HR is never dull, but sometimes it can get downright strange...

Time-off requests of Olympian proportions

The Christian Science Monitor reports that when would-be Olympians ask their employers for time off to train for running, rowing, or even judo, they're finding a surprisingly sympathetic response, even from small and midsize companies hit hard by downsizing and tough times.

The firms that accommodate their Olympic hopefuls believe there is a positive return on the investment when it comes to worker morale and turning athletic drive into productivity, the Monitor reports.

"It's a good and right thing to do," says Vivian Vitale, senior vice president of human resources at RSA Security in Bedford, Mass.

RSA has had to weather tough times, including a falling stock price and downsizing. But when software engineer Cindy Bishop cautiously sought permission to take a few months off to try out for the U.S. women's rowing team, the company gave its blessing.

RSA was a year beyond layoffs at that point, and it was "enough time and distance" to support Bishop's request, Vitale told the Monitor.

"For the period Cindy is out, the cost to the company is minimal," she said. "For the time she is scheduled to be out, we will be covering the company contribution for her benefits only. The maximum we can extend this leave is one year." So RSA's total tab will be $15,000-including the $7,500 it will spend to sponsor Bishop's boat.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

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