One of the hardest areas to “green” in a business can be the employee commute. Employees may feel strongly about the convenience of driving. They may not want to share private time outside of work with others in a carpool, or spend extra time on mass transit. To reduce emissions produced by a company, and move it towards greener commuting, incentives are an excellent strategy.
To design an incentive program, first identify the alternative transportation options that employees prefer. Review which options are available, and which ones employees are likely to use. Next, promote these options, so that employees are familiar with them. Once an employee decides to use them, they should know exactly what to do. Let them know why it’s important too, so they know that their contributions are valuable.
Financial incentives to encourage employees to try alternative transportation might include free transit passes, gift certificates, cash bonuses, zero interest bike loans, and free emergency rides home. The environmental non-profit Ecology Action provides the Sustainable Transportation Membership Program to all Santa Cruz County businesses. For a small annual fee based on number of employees, employers can provide their staff with Zero-Interest Bike Loans and Emergency Ride Home Vouchers.
Another approach is to present the package as a game, and create fun, friendly competition for prizes among the employees. Determine how employees will win these awards – will they be part of their employee benefits, or something they achieve, for example, by completing some number of non-single occupant vehicle commutes over a period of time? If employees achieve the awards, the company will need to develop a system for tracking (and promoting!) the accomplishments.
How did it work? Evaluate how many employees reduced their single vehicle commutes compared to before the program started. How do the employees feel about it? Do they have ideas to make it more effective or more fun? Make improvements, and keep trying!
Written By: Sheila Peck with Environmental Consultant at Environmental Innovations