Location – Location – Location, Real Estate’s Old Adage Still Stands: Commute Time and How it Affects Employee Attraction and Retention
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 3 million Americans quit their jobs each month - a number equivalent to the population of Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont and North Dakota combined - and many HR departments are struggling to attract new skilled employees to their companies. A lengthy commute is one of many explanations for these startling findings. Let’s take a closer look at the commuting dilemma.
How far are people commuting?
According to recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, 10.8 million employees commute more than an hour to and from work and 600,000 Americans are mega commuters - commuting more than 1.5 hrs to and from work.
Now those are some hefty windshield hours!
How does commute time affect employees?
Researchers at the University of Waterloo find that the longer it takes to get to work, the lower a person’s life satisfaction. Conversely, Evolv (now merged with Cornerstone and specializing in talent management innovation and strategies) concludes that employees who commute 0-5 miles remain at their jobs 20% longer. The ripple effect of a long commute manifests itself in many negative ways - reduced employee engagement, increased on-the-job error rates, less productivity due to stress and ultimately - higher employee turnover. So what can be done?
One of the keys to attracting and retaining employees may lie in creating an environment where employees can achieve a healthy work/life balance. Randstad, a global leader in the HR services industry, states that 28% of employees leave their job to seek a better work/life balance and workingfamilies.org supplies the statistic that 11% of workers refused a new job on account of a perceived work/life imbalance at a potential new place of employment.
Recognizing that this balance is critical for attracting and retaining employees, there are a number of ways employers try and support work/life balance for their employees. One of these is by offering flextime - the flexibility for commuters to arrive and leave work at times that work best for their specific commuting situation. Other employers allow their employees to telecommute one or more days a week which cuts down on stress from maddening commutes. Some companies, such as Facebook and Imo even incentivize their employees to live within a specific radius of the company headquarters by offering a $7K and $6K annual bonus, respectively.
Is there a tipping point at which people are willing to commute farther in exchange for financial compensation?
In some situations, perhaps there is. Money talks, right? However, researchers at Princeton University concluded that once a person makes $75K a year, more money isn’t likely to improve that person’s quality of life. What about you? Could you be persuaded to accept a job with a longer commute if it came with a substantial pay raise?
The move-to-urban trend
In order to cut down on the stress of a long commute, cities are seeing a return to urban living. For many people, urban living offers the option of walking or biking to work - an activity that is not only healthy but also highly satisfying. According to an article on kununu.com, more than half of commuters who walk or bike to work enjoy their commute whereas only 1 in 6 car commuters admit to enjoying theirs. The close proximity to the office means that employees have more hours in their day for self-care and investing in meaningful relationships - enormous contributors to overall wellbeing. Living in an urban setting also increases the ease of commuting for people who rely on public transportation. One city that is experiencing the move-to-urban trend is the bike-friendly city of Minneapolis - and it’s residents are reaping the benefits.
Bicycling in Minneapolis
The City of Minneapolis helps those who live and work in the city use bicycles as a safe, healthy and low-cost way to travel. Minneapolis is ranked as one of the best biking cities in the country by Bike Score, it is the #3 biking city by Bicycling Magazine (2014) and the #2 bike commuting city by the U.S. Census Bureau (2014). As of 2015, Minneapolis has 129 miles of on-street bikeways and 97 miles of off-street bikeways. The city has also been awarded the Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community Award from the League of American Bicyclists.
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