The new academic year has rolled around, and Kimberley Dondo looks at what employers can do to help their staff get their children to school and themselves to work

commute

As a new school year draws nearer, a large majority of the UK workforce is about to start what can be a stressful commute to work.

To understand what travel benefits would work best for a workforce, managers within an organisation must actually talk to their employees – whether that be face to face or through a survey.

Commuting is one of the most expensive parts of getting to work and for most the journey is unavoidable. Employees are also facing the rising cost of living, so now more than ever the ability for an employer to provide some form of financial support for that commute would be a great benefit, and would act as a huge draw for any employer looking to attract new talent as well as retain staff.

When it comes to car salary sacrifice, employers should find a scheme that offers employees a brand-new car complete with insurance, road tax, breakdown cover, servicing and tyres, for a fixed monthly amount.

A car salary sacrifice scheme also gives the employer more control over the benefit, as they are able to provide a car that is dependable and affordable for the employer and employee. This allows employees to travel to and from work safely in an economic car, as well as reducing the costs associated with public transport – and there’s also the added convenience of having a car available at all times of the day and night.

The added value for this type of scheme is that the employee feels more valued and looked after by their employer, as providing access to brand new cars is one way for an employer to demonstrate a commitment to employees.

“Car salary sacrifice can also be considered as a great retention tool as the scheme would last over 2-3 years, meaning employees are less likely to leave as it removes the huge financial commitment that driving a new car usually brings,” says James Malia, director of employee benefits at Sodexo Benefits & Rewards Services.

The affordability and security of this has been a factor in deciding to implement the scheme at a number of organisations. Greg Masters, senior HR manager, London Ambulance Service set up the service through provider Tusker, and comments, “With the majority of our staff working shifts that may finish after most public transport had ceased, the offer to staff of a fully maintained, brand new car of their choosing and under a financially advantageous scheme, was considered as a high priority in tackling the staff retention issues we were experiencing.”

More rural locations have also benefited from the scheme, ensuring staff can travel to work in safe, economical and environmentally efficient cars. The University of Lincoln has found this to be the case as the miles of the beautiful rolling countryside can often be a drawback when attracting new staff members as public transport is infrequent and inconvenient. The launch of the Car Benefit Scheme means getting to work just got easier for their employees.

As the University of Lincoln prides itself on offering a complete transport package, which also includes cycle to work and discounts on trains, the team found the car scheme compliments the package and enables them to ensure employees are able to get to work safely.

The scheme can provide a highly-sought after benefit which is risk-free and attracts no costs to implement and manage. It becomes a no-brainer for many HR teams.

It is important to consider the location of your organisation when implementing any type of travel benefit – while a car scheme may work for rural areas that are difficult to reach, this may not be a viable option for inner cities. That is why season ticket loans are more valuable to other workers.

Paul Martinu Abellio Corporate Travel Sales Manager, says, “We recognise that travelling to work can be pretty expensive, with some journeys costing thousands of pounds and many often being unable to take advantage of savings on annual tickets because it requires the full payment up-front. HMRC actually allow employers to offer their employees interest-free loans for the purchase of a season ticket though, saving employees hundreds of pounds over the course of the year.

   

Journey to London

Annual

Monthly

Savings against 12 monthly tickets

Reading

4308

416.60

£691.20

Woking

3136

301.10

£477.20

Colchester

4928

473.10

£749.20

Brighton

4536

435.50

£690.00

Canterbury

6268

601.80

£953.60

St Albans

3380

324.50

£514.00

Southampton

5504

528.40

£836.80

Tring

4060

389.80

£617.60

Zones 1-6

2408

231.20

£366.40

For employees who travel to work either by car or public transport, some may choose to split their journey by cycling. This may entail parking their car in a residential area where they wouldn’t need to pay for parking and cycling to the nearest train station or cycling to the station and then their offices.

Adrian Warren, director of business operations Grass Roots Group Ltd adds, “The cycle scheme is not just a benefit for the employee but is also a benefit for the employer. In fact, 85% of people who use the cycle to work scheme save up to £285 per month on their normal commuting costs. So if they normally commute by car, train or other forms of public transport they could incorporate cycling save £285 as well as saving up to 42% on the cost of the bike.”

Offering this scheme also increases staff loyalty. Cyclescheme’s research has shown that 55% of people who cycle to work say that they feel less stressed and 61% of people who cycle state that they feel more productive at work and more focused throughout the day. As most people are time poor, being able to cycle combines your commute with exercise. The study also found that 60% of people have lost weight, become healthier and improved their mental well-being.

Setting up this scheme and rolling it out to the rest of the workforce takes less than 10 minutes. To ensure maximum engagement an employer should provide the best possible facilities, whether that is an onsite shower or bike racks.

Providing at-work employee benefits is a great way to drive engagement and gain loyalty but in order to really show support to employees, a little help with the expenses of getting them to work in the first place can go a long way and be truly valued.