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Why you need to make employee commutes a priority

Commutes will never be quite like what they were prior to the pandemic. With so much variability in schedules and hybrid environments, talking with employees about their commutes is more essential than ever. That means prioritizing your commute management program, and making the necessary changes to ensure they have the opportunity to commute safely and sustainably. 

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Pre-pandemic, nearly a quarter of employees leave their jobs because of bad commutes, and today commutes are factored in to an employee’s willingness to stay or find other work more than ever before.

Employees will leave over bad commutes

If you are not talking with your employees about their commutes, many may leave. Especially if there are companies willing to help them make their commutes better.

We know most companies can’t compete with huge companies with private shuttles with Wi-Fi and snack bars. That’s hard to top. But there are easier ways for you to ease the pain. For one, consider strengthening your commuter benefits program. If the organization provides employees with real trip choices and subsidizes some sustainable options, that can go a long way.

Hiring new employees is expensive, and with commutes being the top reason people quit, it is a lot less expensive to subsidizing a public transit pass or a bikeshare membership than it is to offboard, recruit, and onboard a new employee. Once you do offer new benefits, or if you want more of your employees to sign up for the benefits you already offer, you need to effectively market your offerings. Bottom line: regularly engage with your team about their commutes.

Returning to the office

As working preferences, locations, and hybrid environments evolve, you want to avoid having employees go back to a pre-pandemic routine. Now is the time to help your employees make a change to their commuting habits. According to the fresh start effect, someone who has gone through a major life event is more likely to make a positive change their life.

We’ve heard about several new commuting initiatives companies are making to help their employees reimagine their commutes. One of the cooler ones is setting up a company-run bike rental program. A program like this is a significant undertaking, but will prove to be beneficial in the long run. Buying a bike is a financial burden that many people might want to make without a test run if you will. Renting your employees a bike for a month or so allows them to understand their commute, learn the rules of the road, and solidify their decision. 

For companies that aren’t located in the city, or have employees coming from outside of the city to a downtown location, a bike program may not make the most sense. A shuttle program, or coordinating carpooling, on the other hand, could be a viable solution. That doesn’t necessarily mean they get picked up at their front door! Setting up a common meeting point for a group of employees can be a great solution.

Unhappy, unhealthy, and less productive employees

Another reason to care about your employees’ commutes: Lower stress, higher productivity, and overall happier employees. Long commutes have been proven to take both mental and physical tolls on employees. Employees with a commute 60 minutes or longer lose a week’s worth of productivity compared to employees with commutes of just 30 minutes or longer. That’s a lot of time and work lost because your employees are making their way to work.

More than just losing productivity, there are some pretty severe mental and physical repercussions of long commutes – as we mentioned above. Sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and dizziness have all been linked to longer than average commutes.

While commuting might not seem like your responsibility as an employer, you’ll eventually face in the consequences in terms of unhappy employees, lower retention, and the cost of replacing them. Avoid that by investing in them and their commutes upfront.

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