How helping employees commute to work enhances your employer brand

Rising gas prices and inflation costs can make returning to the office much more expensive for employees who drive to work. You can help.

For employees who are returning to the office, the rising cost of a commute to a physical workplace has become a growing concern.

Gasoline prices in the U.S. hit a record high last week, with the national average price for a gallon of regular gas climbing to $4.37. Inflation has skyrocketed to a near-40-year high.

These costs are adding up for commuters: Data from Clever Real Estate shows workers are spending 20% more time and 31% more money on their commutes now than they were before the pandemic. Additional Clever Real Estate research finds that the cost is even greater for Black Americans, who face a 58% higher cost of commuting when adjusting for income.

To combat many employees’ reluctance to return to in-person work, some organizations are offering new programs and resources to help workers commute more economically. In doing so, they’re also crafting messages that double as powerful employer branding initiatives.

Here are some approaches for communicating about your employee commute programs.

Emphasize the employee experience

Tyson Foods announced last week it will partner with car rental company Enterprise to offer van-pool services to employees at more than 25 facilities.

“We’re always looking for ways to create a better experience for our team members as many live and work in rural America and face long commute times,” said Hector Gonzalez, Tyson’s head of labor and team member relation, in the press release. “This program gives them a reliable way to work while also helping them save money. It also helps offset the impact of higher fuel prices.”

Gonzalez’s quote underscores Tyson’s focus on enhancing the employee experience, sending a message to prospective talent that this is something the company takes seriously. In his statement, Gonzalez singles out rural workers as those the Enterprise program is meant to help — a good way to reassure jobseekers that living in a more remote area won’t be a problem for Tyson employees.

Focus on purpose and timely tie-ins

Some organizations are using internal apps to help employees offset the costs of a commute as part of their total rewards programs. Hytch Rewards, a “cash incentive management platform,” allows organizations to reward workers with cash prizes for a portion of the time and money spent on a daily commute.

In an Earth Daystatement, Hytch spotlighted the use of its app by Nashville-based labor leasing firm Skilled Workforce.

“Today is Earth Day, and every day is People’s Day,” Abe Mbow, president and founder of Skilled Workforce, says in the release. “We know we have to take care of both!”

“Employers can provide fully automated cash payments to employees who use the Hytch app to verify their daily commute,” Hytch co-founder Mark Cleveland says in the release. “It’s a great way to care for employees and the planet.”

The press release didn’t just happen to coincide with Earth Day. The move was intentional, and a good example on the part of Skilled Workforce of how tying your messaging about internal commitments to holidays and days of cultural significance can increase their external reach. The company was able to emphasize its commitment to its workers while also sharing messaging about how it values sustainability — an essential part of employer branding in a time when employees increasingly consider the values of an organization before applying to work there.

Offer training, upskilling or other resources

And yes, there are programs to help employees get back in the proverbial saddle when it comes to a cheap commute. Fort Collins-based Colorado State University hosts an annual program to encourage employees to bike to work.

Participants receive individualized bicycle training focused on commuting, a free bike tune-up and an optional fitness assessment as well as essential equipment like a helmet and U-lock. CSU also provides monthly lunch-and-learn presentations that cover bicycle transit-related topics like rules of the road and winter biking.

While CSU’s upskilling offerings may be bike-specific, they suggest that there are also opportunities for other organizations to provide similar commute training. Alternately, you can accomplish a similar goal by offering financial wellness training to employees who may be struggling to balance their checkbooks amid rising inflation and interest rates.

If any of these solutions seem like a good fit for your organization, pitch the idea to your C-suite. An idea that will encourage workers to come back to the office and save those same workers money and time is likely to be a popular one — and something that will keep employees happy.

Already have a commute cost reduction plan in place? Share it with us on Twitter @RaganComms.

COMMENT Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from directly in your inbox.