The growing importance of solving commute

Did you know that 34% of millennials have left a job due to a bad commute? Learn why progressive companies are increasingly trying to solve commuting.

Commuting sucks

Let’s face it – commuting sucks. According to the Washington Post, it now takes the average worker 26 minutes, in each direction, to travel to work – up 20% since 1980. Perhaps not surprising, people hate their commutes more than just about any other activity in their lives. Daniel Kahneman – a Nobel laureate – and Alan Krueger asked a group of 900 women how they enjoyed various daily activities. The morning commute came in dead-last – behind work, child care, and home chores.

Why you should act now

Hasn’t commuting always been terrible?

Yes. Expensive urban housing drives people further away from where they work, increasing the overall commute. Many commuters find themselves having to tackle the issue alone – having to weigh choices between flexibility, cost, speed and relaxation to navigate the best way to work. The result: frustrations behind the wheel, missed transit connections, stress and employees who arrive at work exhausted when the day has only just begun.

To make things worse, the expectations and needs of employees have changed. Millennials now make up 35% of the U.S. workforce. This generational shift has surfaced new challenges that bring commuting top of mind to progressive employers:

  • Millennials are moving to cities and spurning car ownership for shared transportation: Several long-term socioeconomic shifts are underway. Millennials increasingly prefer to live in urban environments. The Washington Post reports that 38% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 prefer city living. This generation is less likely to own cars, get driver’s licenses and prefers getting around by alternative means – by foot, by bike or by transit.
  • Technology is enabling new mobility experiences: Much of the younger workforce has grown up in tandem with the advent of car-share (e.g., Zipcar, Turo, etc.), ride-hail (e.g., Uber, Lyft, etc.), bike-share, and even scooter-share platforms. To many, the desire for car ownership has evolved from an aspiration to a burden as the ease of accessing shared mobility has increased while its cost has decreased. Indeed, if Lyft’s recent subscription product launch can be considered a portent of things to come, mobility-as-a-service could further push Americans away from car ownership.
  • Millennials are expecting more from their employers and will no longer tolerate a bad commute: The changing expectations in younger workers are perhaps the most compelling force that makes commuting relevant to companies. Specifically, millennials are demanding more flexible hours, better work-life balance and comprehensive benefits that cover everything from the wellness of their pets (i.e., pet insurance) to support for family-related goals (e.g., fertility benefits, emergency day care, etc.). One of the more important expectations – and possibly the most underrated – is the demand for a reasonable commute. Indeed, it’s not surprising that Menlo Park, CA based staffing firm, Robert Half, recently reported that nearly 1 in 4 workers - and 34% between 18 and 34 - have left a job due to a bad commute.

Progressive companies are responding to this evolving need

Given this context, the most employee-centric companies are developing robust benefits to support their employees’ commutes - from commute subsidies, to support with carpooling, to private shuttles and ridehail credits. Standards and expectations are being set that will soon become common workplace benefits. For a quick survey of commute benefits, Fast Company released a great perspective in October 2018.

In the coming weeks, we'll dive into how these forward-thinking companies are designing commute benefits to best support their talent strategy. Stay tuned and join our mailing list to be the first to learn about what you can do to solve commuting.

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