When discussing work-related stress, we immediately think of stress at work and may neglect to consider the factors that contribute to stress before one arrives at the office. As recent studies show, the commute to and from work is a leading source of stress among employees.
A new report from Robert Half, which surveyed 1100 office workers and senior managers, revealed that more than a third (35 per cent) of Canadian employees find travelling to and from work to be too stressful and too long. Findings show that the average work commute is 53 minutes. Over a quarter of professionals say their travel time exceeds an hour each way.
"A professional's commute often sets the tone for their day,” says Robert Half’s senior district president David King. “Dealing with a lengthy or frustrating trip to the office can have long-term effects on employee morale, performance and retention.”
With the threat of long commute times affecting the productivity and satisfaction of employees, what moves can employers make to reduce work stress when it comes to their employees’ experience with transportation to and from the office?
Companies can help their people save valuable time and money during their work commute by offering transportation benefits and perks.
“Commuting can be a significant expense and supporting employees with this can really make a difference," King states. "This will improve their engagement with the brand and as such increase employee retention."
This can be accomplished through many initiatives which are cost-effective, eco-friendly, and/or community-oriented. With transit subsidies, employers can motivate employees to take advantage of public transportation, with the company committed to covering a portion of their fare. Companies can also support ridesharing among employees by sponsoring carpools and shuttles. From minimizing gas emissions and conserving energy to fostering connection amongst team members, there are a numbers of benefits associated with going the rideshare route.
Employees who live in close proximity to the office can choose to bike or walk to work. With obvious financial health and physical health benefits, this option doubles as a cost-saving and exercise-inducing activity for your people.
Through communicating these benefits to your workforce and ensuring that your workplace supports these modes of daily transportation (such as by guaranteeing that your headquarters has ample storage for bikes), cycling and walking to and from work will be part of the norm in your work culture.
In the Robert Half survey, respondents said that their employer had flexible hours and off-peak commute options, which makes a significant difference in levels of employee stress.
Senior managers said their company offers flexible scheduling (37 per cent) and telecommuting (30 per cent), helping employees avoid peak traffic times and alleviate hectic commutes. Offering flexible work arrangements is an effective way of optimizing overall workforce performance.
As King states, "as workforces become more dispersed, organizations need to proactively offer solutions to help address and alleviate commuter stress… companies that provide support to help workers get more out of their lives, both inside and outside the office, cultivate better focused, motivated and more loyal teams."
In this constantly changing and evolving state of the modern workplace, employers need to have an approach of adaptability and accommodation in order to provide a stress-free work environment for their people. In doing so, employees will be able to give their absolute best at work and beyond.