Some Are Quitting Their Jobs Over A Long, Bad Commute

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - More than a quarter of Nashville employees surveyed say they have quit a job over a bad commute, according to professional staffing firm Robert Half.

In a recent survey in 28 major cities, with 100 respondents in each city, the average nationally was 23 percent of employees admitting to leaving a job because of a bad drive. In Nashville, the average was 4 points higher at 27 percent.

And 45 percent of local employees who said their commute had gotten worse over the last five years also said their company was doing nothing to help.

No one likes sitting in traffic.

"It's on my mind definitely," said Bankruptcy Specialist Kerala Omdahl,  "I'm having to leave work an hour earlier just to get a spot, and I just sit in my car until it's time to come in to work."

In fact Omdahl quit her last downtown job because of it.

"It wasn't worth it, it wasn't worth it," she said. 

The recent survey shows she's in good company in Nashville, as commute times and the population both grow at a rapid rate.

Staffing and recruiting expert Dan Shomo says he's not surprised.

"I hear about it all day from candidates," he says, "it's become a significant issue here in Nashville as the population continues to grow more and more people are looking for jobs closer to home."

But he says closer to home could mean fewer professional opportunities or lower salaries, with most competitive employers still favoring the urban core.

He says Downtown Nashville and the Cool Springs area have the majority of professional  jobs in the Middle Tennessee area, with a few options along the I-24 corridor toward Murfreesboro.

Before you jump ship, Shomo says employers should talk to their boss about different options like staggered shift times around rush hour, public transit stipends or even sometimes working from home.

"A lot of companies aren't offering telecommuting to start with but once an employee shows what they can do some are letting them work from home one day," Shomo says.

To keep talent, he says bosses need to talk to their staff and make sure employees aren't struggling for hours behind the wheel. Many employers simply don't realize there's a problem.

And Shomo says it's not just traffic: parking has become a major obstacle for employees with availability decreasing and prices increasing.

"Offering parking especially if you're in the downtown atmosphere is almost essential nowadays if you're trying to compete with other companies," said Shomo.

But despite the drive many employees still say they need the work and plan to stay put.

Omdahl's friend and colleague Pam Adams says she doesn't want to work from home. She likes to get out of the house for work every day, though she hates the ride home in afternoon rush hour.

"But you'll put up with it anyway?" asked Traffic Anchor Rebecca Schleicher.

"Yep," she laughed.

Shomo says he most often hears from Nashville employees who commute from Murfreesboro, Spring Hill, Columbia, Hendersonville and Gallatin who ask for a job closer to home.

It's just one more speed bump as Nashville continues as a city on the rise.

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