Employee health and the environment are two themes business owners are getting behind. One strategy to address both issues is encouraging employees to bike to work.
In a report from Inc.com, Brenda Porter-Rockwell notes that the benefits of walking or biking on a daily basis are significant. Obviously, the first benefit is to the environment, walking and biking means a reduction in those using cars, therefore less traffic congestion and pollution which results in a reduction in our carbon footprint. But, it also means less need for crude oil which will create less dependence on other countries. In addition, it will help improve the overall employee health and well-being of those who participate.
It has been well documented that wellness programs also benefit the employer. Better health enhances employee morale, this in turn will enhance production and also help curb ever-rising healthcare costs. Physically and emotionally fit employees are much less likely to take off from work and will be more productive.
Marilyn Bryant, executive director of the non-profit Sacramento Transportation Management Association (STMA) offers some advice on initiating a bike program: "A large part of the program must center around making biking more convenient for participants." She added that making biking convenient to employees will go a long way in getting them on board: provide a safe place to store bikes, and possibly a place for workers to shower and/or change.
Along with making it convenient, employers can offer incentives. Honest Tea, an organic beverage maker, “gives its employees who either bike or walk to work $27.50 extra in their paychecks monthly to offset whatever equipment they need to bike or walk to work.” When they implemented the program, they also gave each of its 52 employees a new bike.
To help initiate biking programs, Bryant suggests unveiling it “around a pre-existing theme like Bike Month or Earth Day.” The employees can be given the specific challenge to bike to work for the month and then be encouraged to make it a daily routine.
While there are a number of strategies to help get employees involved, the most effective is to have managers and owners lead the pack.