National Survey: Over Half of Employers Do Not Engage on Commuting Despite “Return to Office” Efforts
Free and low-cost tools and resources are being overlooked by employers
In the first national survey of employer policies on commuting and transportation, Actionfigure and The 82 Alliance found that over half of employers are not meaningfully engaged with employee commutes. This is noteworthy as many employers are experimenting with “return to office” mandates, but commuting is a top reason many people reject a return to the workplace.
Among U.S. employees in organizations of 20 or more:
- 46% said their employer has a designated person for employee questions about transportation
- 41% said their employer provides new hires with transportation information or software
- 26% said their employer hosts meetings, events, or seminars to educate employees about transportation or commuting
However, 67% of people surveyed were aware of transit within a five minute walk of their workplace, showing a gap between transportation choices and employer engagement about those choices.
“As commutes evolve, employees need more information about the options available to them. There’s clearly a big gap here,” said Robert Henry, President of The 82 Alliance. “Investing in those options can have a big impact, and help improve our climate.”
Matt Caywood, CEO of Actionfigure, added, “Employers and office owners are talking about how to ‘earn back the commute.’ The easiest way to do this is to reduce the pain of commuting, which needs to start with engaging with employees through software, surveys, and education.”
The survey showed, for employers of 20 or more employees, only one of every six respondents said their employers provide education, information, and the human resources to support workplace commutes. Research in transportation (specifically Transportation Demand Management, or TDM) has shown that these elements work to encourage less expensive, healthier trips that improve employee satisfaction in commuting.
The study found that many employers are missing out on commuting benefits provided by the government at no cost to employers. For example, providing pre-tax commuter benefits for transit and parking has also been proven to improve commuting. Pre-tax benefits are generally free to employers and studies show they lead to an increase in transit ridership. However they are only required in a small number of states and municipalities, and outside required locations, only 29% of respondents indicated their employers offer them.
Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) programs, which provide free emergency rides to commuters who don’t drive, are provided at no charge to employers or employees in many major metropolitan regions, but remain largely unknown despite their widespread availability. Only 23% of employees were aware of Guaranteed Ride Home being provided to them.
As employers and employees continue to battle on returning to the workplace and determining appropriate levels of on-site, hybrid, and remote work, employers can do more to lessen the barriers in commuting for employees.
Adopting pre-tax benefits, providing transit information, and educating on Guaranteed Ride Home programs enhance commuting at very low to no cost to employers.
While over 70% of employers in the survey provide free parking (for cars), 50% of employers provide bike parking, implying employers have become more bike friendly and supportive of one of the healthiest ways to commute.
Better transit education, trip planning, and directly engaging employees on commuting has shown to bring a 10% increase in transit use and helps ease return to office barriers. Employers can take advantage of new software providing employees with commute-specific information, or can provide new hires and current employees with organized information, training, or human resources.
Full Survey Results
Actionfigure and The 82 Alliance designed and distributed this survey through email newsletters, personalized emails, social media including LinkedIn and Twitter, and through third party partner organizations who promoted the survey themselves to their audiences. Those participants had the option to be entered to win one of five $100 gift cards. Responses were received March 4–April 17, 2023.
A paid market research panel was used to reach additional audiences across the United States on April 25, 2023. Those respondents were compensated for their responses through the market research panel provider.
Responses were filtered to remove spam entries and inconsistent or impossible responses. Organizations with fewer than 20 employees were excluded from the final results.