Ian Hodson: How do you encourage employees to use green commuting options?

More than ever, being able to demonstrate your values as an organisation is imperative not only to active employees but also to recruitment candidates looking for a match not only in respect of the role, but also the organisational culture. Encouraging employees to take greener travel options can be an important part of an organisation’s sustainability and environmental efforts and it is well worth taking the time to revisit the education programme and benefits that can embed and endorse this lens on your employee offering.

While many employers have relied on bikes-for-work, electric vehicles and season ticket loans in the past, the change for many to hybrid and remote working determines that even longstanding initiatives may need a redesign and rebrand to send the relevant messages. There are several ideas employers can implement to promote eco-friendly transportation choices and greener credentials to form a joined-up strategy.

Financial incentives, such as bonuses, subsidies, or reimbursement for using greener transportation options, can work to support the commuting use of public transportation, carpooling, biking, or walking.

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Flexible work arrangements can reduce the need for daily commuting altogether. This not only reduces the carbon footprint but can also improve employees’ work-life balance. Car-sharing schemes such as a carpooling or ride-sharing programme within the organisation can both connect employees socially and, if supported by preferential parking or reduced parking fees, encourage a reduction of single occupancy vehicles.

Cycle facilities to create a bike-friendly workplace by providing bike storage, repair facilities, cycle safety education, showers, and changing rooms offer a complete package to support a cycle purchase scheme. Also make sure that the scheme is branded to promote the wellbeing and social side of cycling and not just the commute to work, which may deter those working more flexibly.

Green vehicle schemes that offer opportunities for employees who drive electric or hybrid cars and the availability to provide charging stations at the workplace can encourage positive switches.

Recognition, engagement and awards to reward employees who consistently choose greener transportation options or promote green initiatives can embed the practice into the culture and allow a colleague voice.

Data and reporting to monitor the transportation choices of employees and regularly report on the progress in reducing its carbon footprint is important. Consider annual and pulse surveys as check ins and an annual report to share with colleagues.

Policy and practices offer an opportunity to incorporate green transportation options into travel, expenses and benefits policies, making it clear that sustainability is a core value as part of the context.

Now is a great opportunity to ensure these initiatives are being positioned correctly.  A successful transition to greener travel options often requires a combination of many of the above and a joined-up strategy and communication plan endorsed by leadership and facilitated by various departments. What is certain is that even through to the ethical investment of pension provision, as human beings, we are more conscious than ever of our environmental footprint and also expect our employers to be.

Ian Hodson is director of people and culture at Housing 21