How to Encourage Employees to Take Alternate Transportation to Work

There are environmental as well as work-related reasons to encourage staff to use alternative transportation options. Find out how to bring those benefits to your workplace.

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How To Encourage Employees To Take Alternate Transportation To Work

Here's what you need to know:

  • Studies have shown that commuters who opt for alternative transportation options over solo driving tend to enjoy increased levels of productivity and job satisfaction
  • To encourage employees to take alternative transportation to work, offer the right facilities and a guaranteed ride home program
  • Create a carpooling program and run contests for taking alternative transportation
  • Offer subsidized or free public transportation passes and subsidize the cost of the necessary equipment
  • Consider disincentivizing driving to encourage alternatives

There are all kinds of reasons to encourage employees to take alternate transportation to work.

There’s the environmental reason. As the U.S. Department of Transportation explains, on average, using public transportation instead of private vehicles produces 95% less carbon monoxide, 92% fewer volatile organic compounds, and 45% less carbon dioxide per passenger mile.

While the environment might be the biggest factor for most people, there are a number of other benefits as well. As UCLA found, the use of alternative transportation from biking to public transportation can lead to job creation, economic growth and productivity, a health boost, and less congestion from cars on the road.

But that’s not all. There are actually work-related benefits, too. As RideAmigos explains, studies have shown that commuters who opt for alternative transportation options over solo driving tend to enjoy increased levels of productivity and job satisfaction!

Ready to bring some of those benefits to your workplace? Here’s how to encourage employees to take alternate transportation to work.

Offer staff the necessary facilities for riding to work

Especially if you want to entice your employees to bike, skate, or otherwise get to work on their own wheels, you’ll need to offer them the right facilities.

Nobody wants to show up to work sweaty and have to feel gross all day. Beyond just not wanting to be sweaty, when you have a big meeting for which you have to be professionally dressed, your shoes probably don’t transition well from the bike to the office.

That’s why facilities are so important. First, you’ll want to have a place where your employees can store their bikes or skateboards safely and securely.

Maybe they have the ability to keep it at their desk. Great! But if not, come up with a safe, secure, and easily accessible storage location. It’s best if it’s in a visible location.

Then, you’ll want to think about ways that workers can clean up. If your building doesn’t have its own shower facility (who does?), get creative about solving this problem.

You’ll want to have a place where your employees can store their bikes or skateboards safely and securely.

Is there a local gym or coworking facility that does have showers? Can you offer a discounted membership so that your employees can access these facilities?

Offer employees a guaranteed ride home program

As RideAmigos explains, a guaranteed ride program is commonplace in workplaces that encourage biking to work. You can set up the parameters of your program however you like. Maybe employees need to ride to work 2 or 3 times a week to qualify — you decide.

Then, for qualifying employees, offer them guaranteed rides home that they can use should the need arise. Maybe work goes too late for comfortable biking in the dark. Maybe a major snowstorm gets in the way of skateboarding home.

The goal of a guaranteed ride program is to make sure that commuters have a reliable and guaranteed way home should their wheeled approach not work out.

A simple way to put a program like this together is by offering discounted (or ideally, free) rides on a local ride share. You also get to set the number of rides home each qualifying employee gets per year.

Create a carpooling program for your company

Carpooling is much easier to develop and participate in if an employer facilitates it. Otherwise, it’s left up to employees to create and coordinate among themselves which can be awkward at best or daunting at worst.

By simply gauging company-wide interest and breaking things down by location or even neighborhood, you can make it much easier for employees to carpool. Then all you have to do is connect the employees to each other. This can happen by simply emailing them or sharing their contact information (with permission, of course) among them.

In its most simple form, a carpooling program can be as low-tech as a company message board on the topic. If you identify even just 2 or 3 employees in a neighborhood who are interested in carpooling, you’ll be making a big difference in how people in your office commute.

Run contests for taking alternative transportation

Plenty of people love a healthy competition. Whether it’s on an individual or team basis, you can create a challenge around taking alternative transportation to work. You can run the challenge as long as you want — a month, a quarter, whatever feels right for your workforce.

Every team or person gets a point for every non-solo car commute they take to work. In the end, the winner gets a prize. While this could mean a new bike if you want to stay on the transportation theme, it can be anything that you think employees would enjoy (think a gift certificate to a fancy local restaurant).

The goal is to get them commuting alternatively to the point that it becomes a habit. From there, it’s easy for the new commute to stick.

Offer subsidized or free public transportation passes

This is perhaps the easiest and most traditional way of encouraging employees to take alternative transportation to work. Public transportation might be a more economically friendly alternative to driving, but it still comes with a cost. When employees consider the cost with the additional time or hassle, public transportation can be a no-go for many.

So why not eliminate or reduce 1 of the main hurdles — the cost? By offering commuter benefits either subsidizing the cost of taking public transportation to work or offering free transit passes, you can make taking alternative transportation that much easier.

Driving to work becomes much less desirable if taking the train or a bus is either much cheaper or free.

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Subsidize the cost of alternative transportation equipment

Another barrier to taking alternative transportation to work is the cost of the necessary equipment. Maybe you have employees who aren’t served by public transportation.

Maybe you have employees who are high-risk for COVID and can’t be on crowded trains or buses. Or, perhaps you have employees who would love to bike, skate, or ‘blade to work, but the upfront cost of the equipment is too much.

One major thing employers can do here is subsidize these startup costs. Like subsidizing workout equipment, you can offer to pay for a portion of the cost of a bike, rollerblades, a skateboard, or whatever mode of transportation your employee wants to take to work.

Everyone loves free stuff, especially if that free stuff gets them closer to the goal of not driving to work.

Disincentivize driving to encourage alternatives

Speaking of not driving to work, sometimes the best thing employers can do to encourage alternative transportation to work is disincentivizing driving. Especially if you’re wondering where you’re going to get the money to subsidize public transportation, consider cutting your parking costs to pay for it.

Sometimes interrupting car-focused amenities might be the kick-start that people need to finally ditch driving to work. Whether it’s reducing or removing parking subsidies or renting fewer parking spaces to begin with, the less you invest in driving, the more you can invest in alternative modes of transportation.

Getting your employees to take alternative transportation to work might mean implementing 1 of these methods at a time to see what works. It might mean launching a couple at the same time as part of a strong campaign to create change.

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s right for your company and speaks to your individual employees and their circumstances. The more tailored your approach is, the higher your chances of success.

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