Understand and improve your workers’ commute options

Sep 9, 2022

When a long commute that depends on car ownership separates a large segment of potential workers from workplaces with talent needs, both employers and employees suffer the consequences. And while more informed site selection decisions can help employers reach a greater and more diverse labor shed, businesses without a move on the horizon can apply some of the strategies emerging from The Paradox Prize to help reduce the impact of transportation barriers on their workers’ wallets, schedules and work decisions. 

Understand that where your business is located can “strand” you from workers who don’t have a car or access to public transit. Distant and transit-disconnected sites shift a significant cost burden onto workers and likely increases turnover.   

The solution: Don’t assume you know how your workers get to work—ask them. And use that information to inform strategies for making it easier, more reliable and less expensive to get to work. 

What can be flexible when transit isn’t?

One case study emerging from this research demonstrated how one employer retained an employee by working ot understand and accommodate the realities of his commute.

When the bus schedule changed to make less frequent stops outside the business, it became nearly impossible for the employee to clock in on time.

Instead of chalking up his tardiness to a lack of dedication and letting him go, the employee’s supervisor adjusted the shift start time by a few minutes to accommodate the new bus schedule. For a worker earning just over $15 with no access to a car, his employer’s willingness to understand a barrier and be more flexible was the determining factor in his ability to keep working.

Five ways to become more commuter-friendly

The Paradox Prize, a regional contest launched by the Fund for Our Economic Future and partners to pilot mobility solutions for Northeast Ohio workers, produced strategies employers can use to ease transportation access. Here are five ways to become more commuter-friendly:   

Ask your employees how they get to work.   

A first step is to identify how your employees get to work to understand if there are any challenges. A quick survey of how they commute, and their home ZIP code can help you assess needs and set goals for a commuter options program.  

Offer pre-tax commuter benefits.  

Did you know employees can contribute up to $28- pre-tax dollars per month toward commuting expenses, including public transit passes, qualified parking and vanpooling services? This added employee benefit can save employers as much as $40 per employee per month. Check out tinyurl.com/commuterbenefits to learn more.  

Encourage carpooling among colleagues.  

Help employees pair up with colleagues to get to work and gain access to regular transportation, reduce the stress of driving and save money. Platforms like Gohio Commute, Waze and Ride Amigos can help set up a workplace carpooling network.  

Consider implementing vanpooling or shuttle services.  

This is similar to a carpooling system but can group more people per vehicle, reduce overall costs per ride and be more environmentally sustainable. Providers like Share or Commute with Enterprise or employer-sponsored shuttles are potential options and can quality as pre-tax transportation benefits to users. NOACA is also supporting vanpool services for employers. Learn more here: tinyurl.com/noacavanpool  

Upgrade your facilities.  

Better connect to public transit and promote a healthy lifestyle among employees by investing in improved street and bike networks around your workplace. Provide secure bike racks and implement a daily parking rate to encourage lifestyle changes in travel patterns.  

To learn more about the pilots launched and tested through The Paradox Prize, as well as the lasting improvements generated for worker mobility through this collaborative effort, visit www.paradoxprize.com