Godfrey Ryan, CEO of corporate transport specialist, Kura, supporting employees with the commute as many return to the office and how this can be done
As the mass return to work begins, the need for employers to address the commute is more important than ever. With ongoing concerns around the cost, safety, sustainability, and unpredictability of the commute, it is unsurprising that 63% of employees would be more inclined to work for a prospective employer if they offered commuting support.
For organisations to enhance their employer brand and subsequently retain and attract top talent, they need to consider a new approach to commuting. With nearly 60% of workers holding real concerns around the commute post lockdown, there needs to be a review of public transport alternatives, investment in transport technology or financial incentives to encourage employees back to the office.
Why should employers invest in the commute?
Employers green credentials are becoming increasingly important, particularly to younger employees. An increasing number of organisations are making pledges to reduce emissions following the Government’s announcement to be net-zero by 2050.
Despite this, shockingly, 83.7% of businesses have no plans to reduce their emissions through helping employees adjust commuting behaviours. As the majority of workers across the UK continue to commute using petrol or diesel cars, encouraging a change in behaviour could be essential in lowering an organisations carbon footprint and appealing to environmentally conscious employees. However, it must also be acknowledged that many are using cars to travel due to fears around infection control, which means that safety must be a priority for alternative transport in a post-pandemic environment.
For many employees, the commute is the most stressful part of the day, and a long and tiring commute can reduce employee productivity and affect both physical and mental wellbeing. Research has linked a stressful commute to mental health issues, so identifying ways in which the stress and unpredictability of the commute can be reduced is likely to lead to happier and more productive staff. In addition, demonstrating that an organisation cares about their employees’ wellbeing can significantly improve reputation and employer brand.
Talent retention and acquisition
Staff believe that now more than ever, employers need to assume greater responsibility for the commute. With new research showing vacancies are at a record high, it is important for businesses to consider how they can attract prospective employees. Offering assistance with the commute is one way to appeal to potential employees and encourage those already employed to stay. With increasing remote and hybrid working options, prospective employees are unlikely to choose a job that requires a complex commute.
How can employers support employees on the commute?
Shared transport is the next differentiator
Encouraging the use of shared transport and making this option available to employees is one of the most effective ways to assist in reducing stress, saving money, and travelling more sustainably.
Research has found that 78% of those who drive to work would consider switching from cars to an alternative method of transport if their current commute becomes more expensive. Therefore, investing in dedicated, company or employee-managed shared transport, such as home to work services or shuttles, would help to reduce the volume of cars on the road, minimise congestion and offer a safe and comfortable option for employees. This option is increasingly popular for business parks and large urban employers.
Utilising transport technology
Organisations are increasingly investing in technology to make processes such as holiday booking and filing expenses more efficient. However, the number of employers utilising technology to assist with the commute is minimal, even though it can revolutionise the way we travel to and from work.
Investing in technology such as route management, vehicle tracking and seat booking services contributes to the evolution of an organisation and simplifies the commute for employees. In a world where technology is fundamental for so many day-to-day activities, it seems only natural that it should be incorporated into the commute.
Subsidised public transport
Finally, transport subsidies and loans are seen as an increasingly desirable employee benefit. Offering free railcards or bus passes to staff can encourage the use of public transport and assist in reducing the number of cars on the road. As new working patterns emerge, the value of season tickets may need to be reconsidered as fewer people travel to work. Therefore, it’s even more important to offer assistance or a transport alternative to employees.
Government and local authorities can also assist in encouraging the use of public and shared transport by promoting environmental benefits and offering incentives. This can be done alongside updating infrastructure and making journeys shorter, cheaper, frequent and more accessible for all.
Staff have increasingly higher expectations of their employers and the commute is situated as much more of a talking point. As we acclimatise to the new normal, employers must demonstrate that they are socially and sustainably responsible and seriously consider investing in alternative transport methods to prove that they are serious about the wellbeing of employees and the future of our planet.
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