This post discusses content from the June 12, 2020 webinar Today’s HR imperative: A safe and equitable employee commute. This webinar was part three of three of the Future of the American Commute webinar series hosted by Scoop. You can view the on-demand webinar here.
Scoop’s VP of People and Community, Lili Salzberg, recently hosted Laurie Siegel, G100 Network Talent Consortium Chair, Scoop Board Director Advisor, and former Tyco Chief Human Resource Officer, for a conversation around the importance of the commute as part of return-to-workplace planning.
The major takeaway: Now more than ever, employers play a pivotal role in their employees’ physical safety and emotional well-being.
Advice from an HR leader
As Laurie and Lili discussed what today’s leaders are recommending for a successful return-to-workplace strategy, they landed on five key takeaways for the audience, along with the actionable tips to help you prevent the commute from being an afterthought in your planning.
- Your people have been through a lot in recent months. Take a human approach when building your return-to-workplace strategy. The return to the workplace shouldn’t be an additional stressor on your people. COVID-19 has brought on new emotional anxieties, health risks, and financial challenges for your people in a short period of time. It’s crucial that employers keep physical safety and emotional and financial well-being at the forefront of their return-to-workplace strategies. To combat the anxiety and stress your people will likely already be facing, offer return-to-workplace solutions and choices that are realistic, flexible, and straightforward, knowing that everyone’s comfort levels will vary. Considering differing home locations, commute distances, family needs, and external responsibilities, your policies must reflect the understanding that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that will work for all employees.
- As an employer, you have a new role as the lead voice influencing commute decisions and beyond in today’s landscape. The 2020 Edelman trust barometer indicates that employers today are viewed as the most trusted source of information and guidance to their people.
Your employees look to you for answers as the voice of reason, what can you do to use that trusted relationship to navigate the safest and most productive return to the workplace?
- Employee transportation benefits are no longer “nice to have.” In the past, many employers offered transportation benefits as a way to stand out in competitive labor markets and to attract talent from a larger geographic radius. In a COVID-19 world, transportation offerings will not just be a way for organizations to retain their critical talent—they are now a fundamental safety imperative. It’s time to transition our collective to thinking around these benefits as “table stakes” for all current and new employees.
- It’s the employer’s responsibility to provide equitable and accessible commute options so their people feel empowered to choose what works for them. According to Scoop’s May 2020 survey data of over 10,000 commuters, more than 50% of respondents are concerned about their future commute. Commute equity—choice and access to fair and affordable transportation options—must be championed by you as the employer. It’s important to keep in mind the high cost of car ownership, varying family obligations and duties, levels of access to public transit, and beyond. Not everyone has a safe and reliable commute option every day, and it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide options for employees so to ensure no one has to trade off personal safety just to get to work.
- Talk to your people. There is nothing organizations can Google to fully answer their return-to-workplace and commute challenges. It’s safe to say that 2020 planning didn’t include a post-pandemic business framework. Similarly, no employee planned to navigate the uncharted territory that comes with the stress of living—and now commuting—through a pandemic. As everybody is looking for answers, organizations should be proactive about surveying their employees to learn about specific scenarios, conditions, and concerns that may impact their current and future commute behaviors. At the same time, organizations must equip their people managers with the resources and tools they need to successfully foster conversations with their team members to learn about their individual feelings and concerns on the return to the workplace.
Not sure where to start, or need additional resources? We’re here to help. Below we’ve provided materials and tools from the G100 Talent Consortium COVID-19 Task Force and our team at Scoop to help you create a successful return-to-workplace commute strategy.
Tools and resources to implement a safe and equitable commute plan into your return-to-workplace strategy
The G100 Talent Consortium return to the workplace phase one plan
Led by Laurie Siegel, the G100 Talent Consortium, which includes over 85 HR leaders from companies like GE, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Accenture, PepsiCo, and Johnson & Johnson, recently launched a COVID-19 Task Force to discuss and create successful and scalable return-to-workplace strategies in response to COVID-19. More than 30 CHRO participants representing nearly 2 million employees worldwide held weekly calls to talk through the myriad of challenges HR execs face in this current environment as a result of the virus, discussing everything from corporate travel, commute safety, and emotional and well-being benefits for employees.
While each company has its unique challenges, these guidelines contain a nine-step plan meant to serve as a resource to ensure a safe return to the workplace as understanding on COVID-19 evolves.
The first step of this nine-step plan is to prioritize worker safety, which includes the ability of all workers to safely commute to the workplace.
For a detailed look into how to ensure this first step in the plan can be achieved, our team at Scoop created a safe commute toolkit that includes a customizable transportation mode evaluation, return-to-workplace pulse survey, and manager’s discussion guide. These tools will provide you with data, employee sentiment, and transportation considerations to help craft your return-to-workplace commute plan.
If you’d like to download these assets or are interested in learning more about how you can incorporate a safe commute experience into your return-to-workplace plan, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.