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Should Employers Be Doing More To Alleviate Commuters Stress?

Published: Thursday 7th November 2019

There are many work-related aspects that can impact employees’ personal sense of well-being and cause stress, but a factor that is often overlooked is commuters stress.

Man driving in the car

Regarding the physical health and well-being, commuters stress can cause high-blood pressure from high levels of stress, backaches, as well as psychosomatic disorders such as exhaustion, sleep deprivation and dizziness. From a social life point of view, commuting takes up a lot of time that could be better spent with family and friends, helping to maintain a work-life balance.

The Stats

The average commute in the UK is just over 32 minutes each way. Over 55% travel to work by car, while 10% commute by train and a further 10% by bus. What’s noteworthy is that employees would even consider a pay cut if that could make their journey quicker. In fact, more than 15% would accept an up to 10% pay cut in order to halve their commuting time, while 12% would accept a pay cut of even up to 25%.

UK stats on long commuting

How commuters’ stress impacts employee productivity

At the office, a long commute can make employees unproductive, as they spend significant time in the morning de-stressing from their time travelling to work. As a result, a lack of productivity is bound to cost employers financially and has a negative impact not only on teamwork and employee engagement but also on business profits and the bottom line.

Apart from the detrimental effect on health, a long-distance commute increases absenteeism, and even employee turnover. On top of that, it hinders good talent attraction and retention as well as employee engagement and satisfaction. Stressful commutes may also result in a demotivated workforce.

How to support employees in alleviating commuters stress

Employers have a responsibility to their staff and an interest in their overall well-being. If employers demonstrate loyalty and commitment to employees, employees will reciprocate in other ways. Moreover, providing a healthy work-life balance can deliver many benefits such as low staff turnover, higher levels of engagement, a decrease in workplace errors as well as greater innovation and creativity.

The truth is, that failing to address the issue of long commuting is no longer an option if employers aim to attract and retain top talent. So, here are some suggestions on how companies can make a difference.

Motorway, traffic, cars

Offer flexible working or remote working

Offering flexibility on start and finish times can help employees beat rush hour. In many cases, even just half an hour could make a big difference in reducing the overall commute time. Furthermore, flexible working has a positive impact on both employees’ physical and mental health and their productivity. Creating a flexible work policy and promoting it as optional to your workforce may help to tackle the issue of any employees feeling uncomfortable to request it in the first place. Where possible, employers can consider offering remote working options alongside an office-based role. This can alleviate some pressure or stress, meaning staff don’t have to commute daily.

Season ticket loans or discounts

The high cost to travel to work, rising faster than wages, demonstrates that the financial burden of commuting is significant. Employers should support employees by considering options such as a season ticket loan or consider discounting travel for employees, working with local transport providers.

Busy people in the train station

Remain open to communication

As an employer, you must make decisions that will help your business run smoothly. Without an open communication policy, employers will likely be ineffective. However, those who know how to communicate well will likely have workplaces that are positive and efficient, emphasising on a problem-solving, collective corporate culture.

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