The daily commute is something that we have all experienced (or currently do experience). In plain language; it’s a grind. Bit by bit, day by day, this recurring journey that we make twice per day takes a massive toll on our physical and mental well being.
However, we cannot simply stop commuting… Unless basic universal income kicks in or we all win the lottery. So, people need better, more enjoyable, and more affordable ways to commute.
What is not as obvious is the toll that commuting takes on corporations. Companies are losing money to chronic lateness, high turnover rates, and deteriorated mental states of employees; all due to bad commutes.
And so, this silent and dangerous problem needs to be dealt with. Just shy of automated vehicles commercializing tomorrow, we need to find better ways to help people with this daily trek that we call the commute.
Most workers have no choice but to commute to work regularly.
The average American spends 50 minutes for a round trip on their commute and 85% of Americans commute by car alone.
In some extreme cases, 8.3% of Americans in the workforce spend more than 2 hours of their day commuting.
So how exactly is all of this detrimental to our lives?
Physical effects of commuting include:
· Cardiovascular stress
· Poor sleep quality
· Low life satisfaction
Workplace effects of commuting include:
· Reduced productivity due to an inability to focus on tasks
· Tension in the work place
· Negative impact on home life
It gets worse though. A poll conducted by Gallup revealed that:
· One in three employees with a commute longer than 90 minutes experience either some form of neck or back pain
· Employees with long commutes are more likely to be diagnosed with high cholesterol
· Among workers with a commute longer than 90 minutes, 40% report that they are worried or stressed of much the previous day — which is substantially higher than the 28% who fortunately have a commute of 10 minutes or less.
Commutes cause stress.
A Swedish study of 21 000 workers showed that there is a direct correlation between long commutes and higher levels of stress.
One of the main reasons is that commutes have a level of unpredictability and can only be controlled to some extent by the worker.
Commuting and Obesity
There is evidence that indicates a relationship between those who commute in their own vehicles and obesity.
The commute itself does not cause obesity. It is the lack of energy and willpower after a commute that causes workers to put their health on the sideline.
Workers with insufficient leisure time due to commuting are less likely to exercise.
Data from the American Time Use Survey analyzed by economist Thomas James Christian indicates that workers are less inclined to cook proper meals at home, instead they opt to eat out more frequently.
Workers with long commutes are more likely to not get enough sleep.
High Turnover Due to Commutes
Given all the negative effects of a long commute mentioned earlier, it is no surprise that a bad commute is enough to make an employee resign from their job and find a different one.
A survey of over 28 000 American workers performed by Robert Half, showed that throughout 28 major U.S. cities — 23% of workers have quit their jobs because of a bad commute.
The average commute time has risen at a steady rate. The 1990 U.S. Census shows that the average commute was 22 minutes.
Today the average commute in the U.S. is 26 minutes. This 4-minute increase equates to 34.6 hours in commuting time on a yearly basis.
Comparatively, a study conducted in England revealed that an additional 20 minutes to a workers’ commute as a similar negative impact on job satisfaction as a 19% pay cut.
“Commutes can have a major impact on morale, and ultimately, an employee’s decision to stay with or leave a job,”
- Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half
It is obvious that a bad commute not only has a negative impact on employee well-being but also on employee retention.
How Lateness Can Negatively Affect A Company’s Bottom Line
From a company’s point of view, lateness can cost companies billions of dollars annually.
A U.S. survey showed that 15% to 20% of employees in the U.S. are late on a daily basis.
How does it cause companies to lose money?
· Chronic lateness results in diminished productivity for employees.
· Late workers start their daily tasks later on in the day — meaning if they do not make up for lost time, it is typically unaccounted for.
· Workflow can be affected, as group tasks usually requires contributions from everyone. If workers are late, workflow will be disrupted. A member who is consistently late may cause tension among the group, which is detrimental to productivity and overall morale.
In terms of U.S. Data:
· In California, the average worker is 7.9 minutes late per week costing the state $1.6 billion annually
· In Texas, the average worker is 7.4 minutes late per week, costing the state 1.01 billion annually.
· In New York, the average worker is 5.4 minutes late per week, costing the state $700 million each year
How to Decrease Employee Lateness
1) Creating a corporate culture that encourages punctuality.
Coordinate with HR to establish a written policy regarding punctuality with penalties involved. Disclose the punctuality policy during new hire orientations, incorporate a sign-on form from managers and consistently enforce it.
2) Emphasize punctuality in meetings.
Send reminder e-mails half an hour before the scheduled meeting requesting that employees arrive on time — Google calendar is a tool that can be utilized
3) Incorporate a system which incentivizes punctuality.
Rewards can range from free employee parking, or gift cards of any sorts.
4) Discuss the issue on a personal basis with chronically late workers.
If there are employees who are constantly late, perhaps a one-on-one chat is the route to go. Discuss why they are late and go over the policies — try to be understanding and find a solution.
Companies Making an Impact on Commuting
In terms of commuting programs in Ontario, there is Smart Commute, which is a transit program in Toronto and the municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area by Metrolinx.
The main goal of Smart Commute is to assist employers and workers in “exploring” travel options like transit, carpooling and teleworking. They work beyond an enterprise level and have commute programs for students. Although Smart Commute has been around for more than a decade, they lack major widespread adoption.
In terms of start ups, there is SPLT, which has presence in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Germany, and London. SPLT is one of the leading start-ups in the enterprise carpooling industry; having been acquired by Bosch. SPLT’s appeal comes from the fact that riders are never sharing a ride with strangers, as they are typically paired with co-workers. SPLT has effectively made enterprise carpooling more viable as they are able to conceptualize carpooling into a tasteful mobile application.
Scoop is a start-up based in San Francisco dealing with transit solutions in both the consumer and enterprise markets. Their goal is to make commuting more efficient and cost-effective for employees and employers through a managed carpool program. The benefits of partnering up with Scoop would be (1) single-occupancy vehicle (SOV)reduction, (2) attract and retain talent, (3) happier and connected employees, and (4) promote sustainability.
On the other hand, companies like Hytch are also in the carpooling industry, however their focus is more on “incentivized carpooling” instead of the mission of the carpooling programs mentioned above. Hytch has a rewards program which makes riders more inclined to carpool as they are rewarded with $0.05 per mile travelled and can cash out in $10 increments. Currently, Hytch is being backed by Nissan.
Hop In is tackling one of the main reasons why employees leave their job; bad commutes. General job satisfaction is affected greatly by bad commutes, and this leads to a number of problems in the workplace.
By implementing our shuttle solutions, companies will see; (1) improved punctuality, (2) improved talent acquisition & retention, and (3) money saved due to reduced chronic lateness.
It is evident that a bad commute comes with a myriad of problems, including: the wellbeing of employees, a high turnover rate, and a company’s economic standing.
The issue of bad commutes is more prevalent beyond metropolitan cores. Metropolitan cores typically have a useable and reliable transit system (for the most part). However, beyond the metropolitan core, the smaller cities have weaker and less reliable transit systems as they are overlooked and under-serviced.
Properly executed transit systems for enterprises are not utilized enough in modern society. Of course, implementation will require funding and testing, however, the pros of improved punctuality, splitting commuting costs, carbon footprint reduction and an establishment of community among workers outweighs the cons. Long commutes affect our mental wellbeing’s on a daily basis. Corporate shuttles services are an easy and effective solution to this issue.