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Are Commute Times Hurting Your Business?

Ask any native Austinite the biggest change they’ve seen over the last few years and they’ll probably bring up one of two things:

  1. Rising housing prices
  2. Increase in traffic congestion

It seems like every new month sets a record for median home sale prices in Austin and getting around town by a car feels more cramped by the week. It’s no doubt that the rising cost of living is making it harder to live close to downtown and a sprawling workforce results in longer average commute time for the individual.  By now, you’re probably asking, how does this have anything to do with my business?  Well, according to a recent study by Scoop, the makers of the largest enterprise carpooling app in the country, longer employee commute times could have a direct impact on the productivity of your workforce and the output of your business.

Scoop surveyed over 7,000 Americans in over 16 metropolitan areas to better understand how commute times affect factors like employee productivity, stress levels, and attrition rates. The results are surprising!

Impact on Wellbeing

Have you ever had a rough start to your workday because something negative happened along the way to work?  How about capping off the workday with a long stretch in gridlock? The daily commute bookends our workdays and can influence our emotional state and energy during and after work. According to Scoop, 74% of Americans drive themselves to and from work daily. Do you know how three-quarters of your workforce feels about their commute?  Scoop found that 32% of Americans realize that their commute causes them stress and 66% observe commute related stress in others. We may not be able to see the psychological effect of a stressful commute on ourselves, but we can pick it up on other people.

Impact on Employers

Beyond affecting the individual and potentially the dynamic among employees during the workday, commutes have a direct effect on the ability of an employer to attract and retain talent. According to Scoop, 62% of Americans have not applied to a job based on the potential commute and 17% have quit a job because of a bad commute.  How is your location affecting your available talent pool and retention rates?

Thoughtful Solutions

Across the board, commuters generally want the same thing: a less painful commute that saves them time. What would people do with a little extra time? According to Scoop’s survey, more time during the day would allow for self-maintenance in the form of increased exercise, sleep, socialization, skill development, and healthier food choices.  A happier and more productive workforce is a competitive advantage for any business. So, what can an employer do to help make their employees’ commutes as quick and easy as possible?  On the front end, having a good understanding of employee demographics, as well as psychographics (things like attitudes and aspirations) and weighing these factors when deciding on operating location can be a great start. If operating near the majority of your employees’ homes is not possible, then Scoop offers a couple of places to start. First, become aware of the specific pains that your employees experience on their commutes then use that understanding to develop an appropriate plan.  Each business is different and yours will have a unique set of opportunities for improvement. Second, incentivize as many alternative transportation modes as possible. According to Scoop, “Free parking, flexible work schedules (including the ability to work from home), on-site locker rooms, and subsidized transit are some of the top benefits that would convince employees to switch commuting modes.”

The daily commute can be a drain on employee productivity and happiness, but it doesn’t have to be. With thoughtful solutions, employers can help to alleviate commute related stress while increasing productivity and employee retention giving their business a competitive advantage. Scoop states “Offering a more robust range of commuting solutions is a benefit to employees and an advantage to employers. It empowers commuters to takes the stress not only off their wallets but off their minds as well.”

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