Humans are social by nature. We crave meaningful relationships in both our personal and professional lives. We’re happier and more engaged with the world around us when we feel connected to other people. This is especially true at work: studies show that socializing and building relationships with co-workers increases engagement, productivity, and even loyalty to employers. In fact, 70% of employees say that having friends at work is the key to having a happy working life.
These relationships don’t have to be deeply personal to have a big impact. A conversation about the weather or a laugh in the kitchen can address our need to bond with others. While employees may take these opportunities to socialize into their own hands, they also rely on you to help build and sustain a community-centric workplace.
Many employers plan events and activities in the office to cultivate a more connected culture, but building a sense of community can happen outside the office, too, during your employees’ commute.
How the commute impacts your employees
Seventy-six percent of Americans drive alone to work every day for an average of 53 minutes roundtrip. Collectively, these trips equate to over 50 billion solo drives per year. That’s millions of people who start and end their workdays in solitude, and as social beings, you can imagine the toll it takes on their happiness, health, and well-being.
Long-distance commuters report a 55% increase in stress, are 33% more likely to suffer from depression, and 46% more likely to be sleep deprived compared to those with shorter journeys. They’re also at an increased risk to disengage at work and experience presenteeism. For these reasons, the commute is now the third-largest driver of voluntary turnover.
All that said, it’s time for employers to reframe how they think about the commute; that it’s more than traveling from point A to B. When companies prioritize the commute and address its effects on their workforce, employee productivity and engagement are proven to rise.
Many employers have found their commute solution through employee carpool programs and are seeing groundbreaking, and sometimes unexpected, results.
Tackle commuting woes with carpooling
It’s not often that organizations provide carpooling as a commuter benefit. When they do, it’s not to improve employees’ happiness, productivity, or to improve the commute experience overall—although, those are the exact reasons why they should. Here’s why.
1. Brings co-workers together and builds community
We know now that work friends matter. Employees with close friendships at work increase their job satisfaction by 50%, and employees with a self-prescribed best friend are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work. And if you create opportunities for co-workers to socialize, they will. One Scoop survey found that 92% of people who carpooled met new people and networked with co-workers. Carpooling gives you an additional platform to build community at work and give your people the social time they crave.
2. Improves the commute experience
Enduring a long, stressful commute first thing in the morning doesn’t exactly prepare employees for a productive day. All that stress eventually carries over into the workday and creates an overall more negative employee experience. But when employees enjoy their commute, their experience and productivity at work begin to improve. In an additional survey of Scoop Carpoolers, 50% of respondents said carpooling made them more productive and energized at work. A big reason for this improvement? Good conversation.
People who engage in in-person conversation during their commute report a more positive commuting experience compared to those traveling alone reporting the most negative experience. The longer they talked, the better the overall commute experience, too. Much like the stress of commuting makes work life more stressful, an enjoyable commute makes work life more enjoyable.
3. Decreases stress
People with longer commutes are 12% more likely to report multiple aspects of work-related stress. As stress levels increase, engagement at work decreases. Already, about 70% of employees are actively disengaged. The good news is that when people carpool with co-workers, in particular, and chat about their work lives, their stress levels drop.
4. Elevates mood
We know that social activity in the workplace enhances employee engagement, but people only spend a third of their day at work. That leaves a whole lot of time between home, commuting, and work that can impact our mood.
Research shows that something as simple as a planned event can actually improve people’s mood. Structure puts the mind at ease, but it can often be a challenge to achieve a healthy routine with something as unpredictable as the commute. However, the rise of new mobility technologies has introduced innovative strategies that take the pain out of planning. Enter: Scoop.
Scoop is a mobile app that matches co-workers and neighbors into efficient carpools based on the fastest route, nearby carpoolers, and more. Carpoolers schedule their morning and evening commute ahead of time, which helps provide both flexibility and much-needed structure to their commute.
It takes more than company events and happy hours to build a sense of community at work, and it all starts with the first and last thing employees do: commute. Employee carpooling programs are an under-utilized solution that brings your people together and improves productivity and engagement across your workforce.
To learn more about how Scoop can help you improve the commute for your people, visit takescoop.com/partners or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org