Aug 21, 2017

Economical and eco-friendly commutes: The role employers can play in boosting happiness

When we think about our working lives, it can be easy to forget the impact commuting has on our day. In our most recent survey, we wanted to find out the effect commuting has on workplace happiness and perceptions of work/life balance – and what can be done to boost both!

We surveyed 1,500 people working in the UK and discovered the happiest commute is on foot. A huge majority of people that walk to work (88%) state they are either ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’ with their commute. The highlights included the fact it’s economical (28%) and eco-friendly (28%) - but the best aspects are considered the time to think walking offers (54%), and the ‘free’ exercise (46%).

Cycling to work was the second most enjoyable form of commute: more than three quarters (76%) of cyclists said they are ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’ with their commuting style. Again, two of the main draws to this form of travel is the economical (42%) and eco-friendly nature (38%) of it.

When we asked if employers offer any schemes to help improve the commute, 66% of respondents said they did not. Of those individuals, a significant (83%) would make use of at least one provision.

Commuting provisions: what employees want

Respondents wanted a variety of schemes in place, believing they could improve their commute and consequently workplace happiness.

  • Paid-for travel expenses (50%)
  • Car shares (31%)
  • Reimbursed discount cards for public transport (26%)
  • A cycle-to-work scheme (25%)
  • Safe bike storage (12%)

Improving mental wellbeing and work/life balance

We also discovered more than half (54%) of employees believe a bad morning commute affects their mental wellbeing; and 42% think it has a negative impact on perceived work/life balance. It’s clear that when considering workplace happiness, the commute should not be forgotten but seen as a key factor by employees and employers alike.

Peter Ames, Head of Strategy at Office Genie, has the following advice: "It can be easy to overlook the simplest of staff needs; especially for smaller companies, who may not have a dedicated HR department. But this research shows how thinking outside of the office walls can make a big difference to happiness. Travel schemes can actually be very cheap and easy to implement, and once in place can boost staff wellness and, as a consequence, productivity.

"A flexible approach to working hours can also go a long way. Missing a train or being stuck in a traffic jam is much more bearable if you’re not worrying about being late for a strict nine o’clock start. We often forget about the impact our commute has on our working lives and when employers can soften commuting woes and improve workplace happiness and wellbeing while doing so, they should."


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