As the job market picks up and the skills gap widens, employers will have to do more to retain good staff.

To that end, I’ll keep all you She Said readers up to speed with what’s happening out there in HR land so you know what you can haggle over with employers.

I have often advised friends, family and readers alike, to know what’s important to them in addition to money. In that way, if an employer laments at pay rise time that there’s no dosh in the kitty, then an alternative reward can be arranged.

More often than not, what people value most is time. The reward could be working from home one day a week or leaving early one afternoon a week to do a yoga class or to pick up a son, daughter, niece or nephew from school.

I will continue these “round ups” on an ad hoc basis to keep you all in the loop. In the meantime here’s the latest news.

In Melbourne, unions and employers have put forward separate proposals to allow up to 5 million Australians to “buy” an extra six weeks holiday leave a year. Taken as “unpaid leave”, such arrangements would provide employees with more personal time without penalty to their career. The plan is good for employers too as it saves them big money while also creating more loyal staff.

Lend Lease made news recently when it announced it would offer a $25 “emergency care relief rebate” to help offset the cost of a carer for a child who had to stay home sick on a day when it was important for the employee to come to work.

The property giant already offers paid maternity leave and work-based cr?ches.

“It’s $25 per incident — to help people pay for a nanny or carer to look after the child if they have to be at work,” Beth Winchester, human resource manager and mother of three, said.

“There is no upper limit … a child usually recovers better if the parent stays at home with them, but sometimes they have to come to work for something that just can’t be put off.”

Other companies making news for the right reasons include:

Bassett Consulting Engineers – for offering female employees paid maternity leave, flexible hours, job sharing, study leave and part-time work.

Sara Lee Household and Body Care – for offering flexible hours, work from home arrangements, paid maternity leave and the ability to `purchase’ extra annual leave through salary sacrifice.

Tabcorp – for allowing women returning from maternity leave to work part-time but retain full-time level superannuation contributions.