But…where do you start?
Solo commuting has been the standard for decades, and not even the best parking spot will change that (though it helps!). For all the stress of solo commuting, it’s darn convenient. No coordinating schedules. Come and go when you want. Belt out Adele at the top of your lungs.
The key to a successful carpool program is your employees. The benefits strongly outweigh the costs, but changing their commuting habits is going to take some planning and a good strategy on your part.
Here are the 5 steps to making carpooling a success at your organisation:
1. Survey your employees
To make carpooling a success, you have to keep the barriers to a minimum and maximize the benefits. How do you do that? Ask your employees what they want!
What would they change about their commute? How’s their work-life balance? What sort of incentives would most motivate them?
Keep the survey brief (5-8 questions). Ideally, you’ll have a mix of statistics and qualitative responses so that when you roll out the carpooling program, you can use numbers and their own words.
2. Get management on board
One of the drawbacks of carpooling can be the lack of control over schedule. Employees can benefit from having to leave at a certain time each day, but only if supervisors are supportive. For example, if the carpool leaves at 5:00 PM each day but Bob’s team stays until 6:00, Bob’s got a problem.
Management can support carpooling by encouraging direct reports to take advantage of carpooling. In practice, it will mean giving people like Bob more flexible scheduling arrangements. Perhaps that means setting different expectations for start/end times, or providing options for telecommuting.
It will be an adjustment for your management, too, but studies have shown over and over again that giving employees greater ownership of their schedule and allowing telecommuting options boosts engagement and productivity. Keeping that in mind will help everyone.
3. Build your plan around your employees
You have your survey results and the support of management. Now it’s time to strategise. At the centre of your carpool program is this question: How can you use carpooling program to make your employees’ commute easier?
For some, they’ll want a better parking spot and/or a reduced fee. For others, they have a long commute and long for better work-life balance. You’re likely to see a wide range of responses.
The best part of a carpooling program is that it can be tailored to meet a large number of concerns.
Offering great parking spaces to carpoolers no doubt resolves some of your own parking constraints. Some organisations offer a tiered solution where bigger carpools get steeper discounts.
Tout the work-life balance benefits of carpooling. Share statistics on the costs–financial and more–of solo commuting.
Offer rewards and incentives to carpool organisers, including flexible schedules.
Remember, helping your employees builds engagement and loyalty. It will get more people carpooling, which moves your organisation closer to your sustainability goals and boosts productivity.
Implementing a solution that works for your employees benefits your organisation.
4. Offer parking perks
There’s almost no business that doesn’t struggle with parking. The great thing about carpooling is it frees up space and is completely customisable to your organisation’s unique situation.
If your employees are frustrated that they have to get to work early to get a good spot, offer designated spots to carpoolers. Or, have a special lot (or section) that is carpool-only. Make it prime real estate.
If the best lots are expensive, offer reduced fees to carpool members. The more passengers, the greater the discount.
Provide special passes for carpoolers to use on days they can’t carpool to work.
This is the easiest part to overlook and the most important one not to: celebrate your program!
Set a launch date before you begin to help with employee buy in. Feature stats on commuting and share some of the survey results, including what employees said they would change, and what’s most stressful to them about commuting.
Kick off the program with a carpooling day and have some treats in the break room.
Each month, devote space in the newsletter, on social media, and/or in an email to talking about the wins. Highlight the sustainability wins from your Mobi report, showcase the parking, talk about the prize winners (if prizes are part of your incentives). Get quotes from employees about why they’re enjoying carpooling. Talk to managers and get data on improved productivity.
With carpooling, everyone wins.