Why should employers encourage their employees to kick their cars to the curb? Employee well-being, according to a recent study using the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The study finds that employees with long commutes are more likely to have back and neck pain, high cholesterol, and a Body Mass Index that classifies them as obese.
In addition to these physical consequences, those enduring a longer commute experience emotional consequences as well. They report more incidences of worry throughout the day as compared to those with shorter commutes. As well, they report fewer daily incidences of enjoyment and are less likely to report feeling well-rested.
These emotional and physical consequences have a serious impact on employee well-being, workplace productivity, and the costs of doing business (e.g. health insurance premiums). Employers may want to overcome the effects of the long commute by:
- permitting telework or compressed work weeks to reduce the amount of commuting
- subsidizing employee bus passes to reduce the stress of driving on the congested roads
- subsidizing or incentivizing employees who “share the ride” via carpool or vanpool
- incentivizing employees to live close to work and bike or walk, perhaps kicking their car to the curb to completely avoid the long commute
While the daily commute of employees may seem relatively innocuous, in reality it can be a physically demanding and emotionally stressful routine. Employers can lessen the negative impact of the commute on their employees through subsidies, incentives, and schedule flexibility. Employees can lessen the negative impact through the use of alternate modes of commute, and the awareness that weighing the pros/cons of a long commute must include negative impacts on their health and emotional well-being.