According to data published by the US Census Bureau, an estimated 85.4 percent of the 150 million workers drove to their workplace in an automobile, which comes down to 128 million people. Of course, the specifics of your company and its existing culture – as it relates to transit – might be different. However, your employees must get to work one way or the other, and how they do can significantly impact their health — as well as your bottom line.
Is that really so? It is – for a moment, consider the last time you were in a long commute and the range of emotions you likely experienced. Then, imagine doing that every day. It’s not hard to consider the long-lasting effects of that time spent each day. According to a study that polled more than 34,000 workers across all UK industries found that, “those who commuted to work in under half an hour gain an additional seven days' worth of productive time each year as opposed to those with commutes of an hour or over… And longer commutes appeared to have a negative impact on mental wellbeing too, with longer-commuting workers 33 per cent more likely to suffer from depression…”
Where employees live in relation to work is not the employer’s business or responsibility. However, employers who understand the general circumstances of their employees can provide benefits and relief that positively impact the well-being of their workforce.
Awareness is key
Simply being aware of your workforce’s circumstances can go a long way in understanding the kind of stresses, situations and decisions that are being made by employees in order to get to work. Knowing this also gives context to the state of employees when they arrive to, and leave, the workplace. Using the information and data you already have, draw out where your workforce lives on a map to get a visual understanding of commute times and transit options. Perhaps there’s a reason most of your people live in a particular area in relation to your office building; this could open up new ideas for transportation and networking. Or, maybe your workforce is spread out and understanding the circumstances specific to those areas of town can provide additional insight. Whatever the unique characteristics of your company, its location and your workforce, awareness of how they exist in relation to each other is extremely beneficial for you and your employees.
Flexibility goes a long way
When in doubt, flexibility is always a benefit that employees greatly appreciate and value – especially when it comes to commuting. When you understand what commutes and options your employees are up against, it’s easier as an employer to recognize the need for flexibility. Maybe an interstate is always backed up for a couple of hours around the typical start time. It could be there’s only a few mass transit times offered that reach your office at odd times. Whatever the circumstance, understanding where your employees are commuting from and how can provide visibility into the need for flexibility. Also, consider the activities that help employees feel happier and more productive for the day – exercising, allowing parents to drop kids to school, etc. If employees can incorporate life priorities without stress, they will be more engaged at work. When managers support and trust their employees to choose what will be the best use of their time, goodwill, trust and productivity all increase.
In addition to flexibility, providing benefits as it relates to improved commuting is always appreciated. Offer financial assistance, vouchers, memberships, etc. for mass transportation options that are effective for your area. Help connect employees for carpooling and provide a financial incentive to encourage engagement. If parking is difficult, provide discounts in partnership with parking areas near the office(s). There’s a variety of ways for companies to help make the daily commute easier and more financially manageable.
How your employees arrive to work matters; it impacts their health, mental well-being and productivity. As an employer, you can alleviate some of the associated stress that comes from getting to work; consider how you can make it easier and more manageable for your workforce. ClassPass can be a part of the flexibility and autonomy you provide — learn more here.