Survey conducted by The Telegraph in 2015 reported that “[companies] with the strongest health and wellbeing cultures had a 45% lower cost of lost productivity compared with those that had the worst cultures” and in fact “lost productivity for the most supportive companies measured 5.9% of the wage bill, compared with 10.7% for those with the worst ethos.”
So, which companies are among the happiest and healthiest to work for? Well, it will come as little surprise that Google is very much leading the game. Their working environment has practically become the stuff of legends over the last decade, they launched an Optimize Your Life programme in 2010 as an extension of their healthcare plan, they offer courses on elements of wellbeing, and employees can donate vacation to fellow employees, to name a few points.
Meanwhile, the UK’s 2011 Census found that 741,000 working residents in England and Wales aged 16 to 74 cycled to work that year – 90,000 more than in 2001, but there are still plenty of obstacles to bicycle commuting in the workplace alone.
So, what can employers do to create a cycle friendly workplace?
Workplace challenges: these are simple ways to promote cycling in the workplace and to encourage a community amongst cyclists in the office, which have proven successful and motivating.
Offer a range of tax incentives: these can include a mileage allowance such as 20p a mile for staff using their own bikes whilst on business journeys, a significantly lower amount than the cost of fuel for the employer and an incentive for employee. You can also facilitate the loan of bicycles and safety equipment, and look at a Cycle to Work Scheme in the UK, which allows employers to rent bicycles for commuting purposes to staff, who then pay less tax.
Introduce a travel plan: this includes practical measures to reduce car use for business travel and commuting. The Essential Guide to Travel Planning from the Department for Transport is extremely helpful.
Create a fleet of “pool” bikes: creating a fleet of bicycles allows employees to book out a machine for any kind of journey and is a great way to encourage cycling during the working day for lunchtime errands and local meetings. There are health and safety requirements for this, such as cycle training for staff and insurance and liability policies.
Install changing facilities: showers, lockers, and space to change are crucial for encouraging cycling at work, for obvious reasons. While not all offices will necessarily have space within the place of work itself, if there is a gym close by then perhaps a negotiated corporate rate can be arranged there for employees as an alternative.
Secure parking facilities: the other big deterrent to cycle commuting is the need for safe and convenient bicycle storage at work. Bike theft can be a prohibitive problem for cyclists, and of course cycling equipment can be cumbersome, so cycle parking can make all the difference, preferably of the covered variety. If space is at a premium, wall hooks can be a good alternative to conventional racks.