Skyrocketing fuel costs, rail strikes and the increased cost of living, in general, do not make for a happy commute for those who need to be in the office. Working from home has increased, and is an option for many, but not all, and not every day of the week.
Many businesses have encouraged car sharing for some years now, and the Cycle to Work scheme has generally been a success, but what else can be done to ease some of the pressure on those having to travel into the office at a time when so many households are feeling the financial pinch.
It does not lend itself to every line of work, but where it is possible, remote working can be a successful option for businesses. Apart from the savings on fuel or transport costs, it also means that the hours in the day can be used more efficiently, with no more delayed starts because the train was cancelled, or they could not find a parking space.
With the cost of living rising, however, the cost of increased home energy bills must be offset against the cost of travel.
If working from home is not an option, flexible hours can give workers the chance to save time by not travelling at the busiest times, when delays are commonplace, and fares are at their highest. Driving in traffic is not only a stressful start or end to the day but also more punishing in terms of fuel consumption. So, whichever way you travel, it’s usually more pleasant and more economical.
Those who use public transport regularly will know that a weekly, monthly, or annual pass works out cheaper than paying per journey but it’s a lot to pay out upfront. Employers can offer loans to help employees buy season tickets, spreading the cost over the year to make it a more affordable and attractive proposition.
Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly attractive, especially given the government’s target to end the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. Electric charging points, where staff can charge their cars at the workplace are just one way to encourage people to change to electric.
Even if the benefits are not linked to commuting, a good employee benefits package can help your staff save money in other ways, easing the effects of rising costs. A well-thought-out scheme is believed to be one of the most important aspects of retaining and attracting staff. Review packages regularly to see what benefits staff are taking advantage of and which they are not. Replace the less popular ones with something that reflects the struggles people are facing, such as discounts on certain brands or retailers.
Businesses are facing their challenges with rising costs, but they must not lose sight of the fact that individuals are worried and anxious, too. Financial wellbeing may be the responsibility of the individual, but a worker who is free from money worries will not only be more productive but is less likely to take time off with stress or stress-related illnesses. Credit unions offer a savings programme where a small amount is deducted from a person’s wages each month to build up a ‘nest egg’ for anything from a special holiday to coping with an unexpected cost such as a car repair or new kitchen appliances. They are also a mine of information that help people manage their money and plan.
Everyone is facing financial challenges now but taking steps to help ensure employees can cover their day-to-day costs of getting to and from the office will show that you take your responsibilities as a business seriously.
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