Biking to work isn't just a great way to get in a little exercise every day, but it's a socially conscious choice employees can make to help reduce pollution, save some money, and potentially increase productivity.
Many local governments provide benefits to employees who use cycling as a form of commuter transportation, such as tax allowances or free or reduced public transportation fares. However, should employers actively incentivize employees to bike to work? Here are some considerations to keep in mind when you're developing your policy.
Potential Financial Benefits
Being a bike-friendly business has a number of potential financial benefits for small business owners. Bicycle commuting has the benefit of keeping your employees healthy, thereby potentially reducing overall insurance costs. Additionally, some local city and state governments provide financial incentives, such as tax breaks or kickbacks, to businesses that can prove that employees either take public transportation or bike to work instead of driving a personal vehicle. Taking vehicles off the road can help municipal governments save on road work and upkeep. Passing the savings on can help encourage wider participation in cycle commuting.
Why You May Not Want To
Depending on who your employees are, their physical limitations, or the distance they live away from your place of business, cycling to work may not be an option for everyone. Employees with a physical disability might feel left out of any financial benefits, while others who live in rural areas or farther away may just not have the time or the ability. Additionally, cycling to work exposes employees to various common hazards, like careless drivers or bike breakdowns. Distracted drivers are all too common on the roads. These drivers may not be watching their blind spots for bikers before changing lanes. This is a very common cause of bike accidents.
Secondary Benefits Beyond Money
Employees who regularly engage in physical activity are not just healthier, but they can also be happier and more productive than their sedentary colleagues. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by up to 24 percent. It's also a great way to help reduce stress and anxiety, which can lead to improved employee longevity and less personnel turnover. As a business owner, you can support employees who bike to work by ensuring that you have secure bike parking on-site.
Overall, there are many factors to consider when developing an incentive policy that encourages employees to bike to work. You run the risk of alienating employees who have disabilities or live too far away, and employees who cycle could encounter hazards on the road. However, many times, your investment can be recouped through the form of tax incentives, employee engagement and increased productivity in the office.