Small Business Webinar

Small Business Webinar


All right, everyone,
welcome to today’s webinar, Better Commute, Happier Staff– Enhancing the Employee
Commute Experience. My name is Norm Eng. I’m with the SBA
Massachusetts district office here in Boston, Massachusetts. And today we’re
lucky to be working with Adam Arnold, who is
the program management lead with UrbanTrans. Adam works with MassRIDES, the
Massachusetts travel options program to encourage
Massachusetts commuters to choose more sustainable
travel options. Building on over a decade
of experience in this field, Adam currently works with
government agencies, property managers, and employers
across the US and Canada to develop and deliver
commute option programs. Committed to building capacity
and skills in this field, Adam frequently leads
professional development workshops, including a
popular series with businesses as they prepared for the
2015 Pan Am games in Toronto. He’s based in Toronto and is
a dedicated year-round bike commuter, braving the
winters on two wheels as the self-proclaimed
Viking Biker. If you haven’t signed up for the
SBA Massachusetts email alerts, sign up at sba.gov/ma. And we got some other
great events coming up. I’m going to hand
it over to Adam now to start his presentation. Wonderful. Thank you, Owen. And thanks for joining us today. It’s definitely a pleasure
to be here this morning. I am from Toronto
but I am actually doing this presentation
from Boston, and it’s a pleasure to
be down in Massachusetts and connecting with you folks. What we wanted to
talk to you today a little bit about is the impact
that commute and improving commute can have on
your staff, particularly for you as a small business. So MassRIDES has put together
a really helpful guide to start looking
for these issues and help you, as
a small business, address some of those issues. And we wanted to give you
an overview of that guide, point you in the
direction of it, and get you thinking
about some of these ideas to maybe help improve
employee commute and improve how your staff
feels about their trip, and then hopefully how
they feel about work. I’m just going to start
scrolling through here. So really the goals for this
session today are threefold. We want you to understand how
a commute option program can benefit your employees. We’re going to learn
a little bit how to identify and act on certain
opportunities that can improve that employee commute. And give you some
insight into programs, support that might be
available to your workplace. So we’ll figure
out a lot of things today that you might think
oh, these are some big ideas. I’m not really sure
where I get started. Part of the aim of today
it is introduce you to some of support that’s
available so you don’t feel you have to do things on your own. And if you see value
in it, know who to reach out to
and connect with. So before we get started,
this is, as I mentioned, our commute options
program toolkit. So this is a toolkit that’s
available online, commute.com, you can go on there
and we will give you the website address at the
end of this presentation. That toolkit has lots of great
information on how a commute options program could work for
small, medium-sized employers, and practical ideas,
templates, different tools that you can use. So this presentation is, this webinar is, introduce you to that. We certainly recommend that
you go and take a look at that if you think it’ll interest you. Lots more detail in there. Lots more things
you can find out. We’re not going to go
through every element of it. It would be too much
to cover in an hour. And I think you may fall asleep. But we want to give
you kind of a taste to tell you what you’re
interested in exploring it a little further. So to take a little step
back and, along with a bit of an introduction,
to just give you some information about
MassRIDES, which you may not be familiar with. So MassRIDES is a free program
of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. It’s really designed to help
reduce traffic congestion and improve air
quality and mobility. But it’s about how people
move around the state and reducing the
congestion that we. One second. Reducing congestion and
obviously the subsequent impact on air quality. So MassRIDES primarily works
with employers and commuters within the
Commonwealth to promote the use of commute options. So it’s really focusing
on employees where– the reason that most
people are on the road in the morning and the
evening is because they’re traveling to work. So MassRIDES works
with those audiences to look at what
other options are available to encourage people
to drive less and think of alternative options. That might be carpooling,
might be cycling, transit. Whatever those
different options are. So each year the
efforts of MassRIDES helps lessen traffic
congestion by reducing more than 23 million
miles driven, keep more than 10,000
tons of pollution out of the air we breathe. So these programs have
a significant impact. And we want to make
sure we can open them up to some of our floor
employees so they can contribute to the impact. So what do we mean be
commute options programs? Here’s my textbook definition. A collection of
strategies designed to reduce roadway
congestion and demand for single-occupancy
vehicle travel by redistributing travel
demand, alternative travel modes, times, and routes. Easy for me to say. What do we really mean when we
talk about a commute options program? What we’re talking
about is, again, decreasing the amount
of traffic on the road. Decreasing congestion,
reducing the number of cars traveling
around, decreasing the amount of emissions that
we create through driving. So very simply,
reducing those factors. And then looking at increasing
different modes of transit. So increasing the number
of people riding the bus, increasing the number
of people carpooling, the number of people
riding a bike, the number of people walking to work. Giving people the
options so they can choose those alternatives
and make better choices to really act on
those reductions that we’re looking for. But why should you care? You’re a small business. You have a lot of
things going on. Perhaps sustainability,
being green is kind of of interest
to you, but it’s really not a major factor within
your business operations. You know, you’re
not a tree hugger. Maybe this is not something
that you’re concerned about. So I want to make
the case here as to why you should think
about the elements. And through the
toolkit, you’ll see outlined these five main areas. And you’ll see, I think at a
quick glance, none of those says save the planet. None of those says environment. This is all about impact
it has on your organization and your operation. So these are the five key areas. And we’ll go through
these fairly quickly. First is tax benefit,
corporate culture, impact on cost
reductions for you, staff recruitment and retention,
and then finally business continuity. So these are kind of
some of the reasons that you might want to think
about a commute options program. So very quickly we’ll
give an overview. I won’t profess to be
any kind of tax expert. But again, give you
a heads up, this is something that’s out there. And you can look to the
toolkit for more information. There is a commute choice
federal tax benefit available, based on Section 132 of
the federal tax code. It allows you, as an
employer, to offer employee financial incentives for using
alternative commute modes. The commuters pay for qualified
transportation expenses, transit passes, vanpool
fares, and more, and then they get a
tax benefit on that. There’s a number of ways
that they can access that. Either with the employee paying. So the employee can use that
$225 of pretax income per month to pay for transit
or a vanpool seat through their payroll deduction. And we’ll talk a little
bit about vanpool if you’re not sure
what those are. So it’s similar to a
flexible savings plan. There’s no income tax
paid on that benefit. Employees save then through
reduced payroll taxes. So that’s what
the employees pay. On the other side, if the
employer chooses to pay, the employer can give
up to $255 a month for the public transit
or a vanpool fare. And the employer then
receives a tax deduction for the amount given. And also then saves over
providing that same value in gross income. So again, there’s
a saving available to the small business. Or there’s a
combination of both. I mean, employer’s can pay
a bit, employee pays a bit, and there’s a pre-tax payroll
deduction to that as well. So lots of opportunity to
access that for employees. Obviously it’s a great
benefit for employees. But it impacts, again, you
specifically as a business owner. There’s also, within the
state of Massachusetts, commuter deduction. So that’s something that’s
available to your employees through their
individual tax return. So that can be a certain
amount of a deduction for weekly or monthly
transit passes for MBTA, or your local transit
agency, or for EZ-Pass. So again, there’s lots
of information on this. Certainly take a look
through that toolkit to get more details
on that and obviously find the relevant sections
through the different tax information sources. But again, just
something to be aware of, that this is something
that is available to you. So looking through those
other circles of why this might be of interest to you. So corporate culture
is a significant piece. Obviously corporate culture, a
good, friendly, and productive corporate culture, it helps
your business succeed. And a commuter
program can really help address some
of those issues. There’s certainly great
synergy with corporate wellness programs. So when we talk about
biking and walking to work, that’s great if you’re
encouraging yourself to be more active and more healthy. And it’s certainly been shown
to improve employee productivity and reduce stress. So if it’s employees
arriving at work, maybe they weren’t
stuck in traffic, or they weren’t late because
of the being stuck in traffic, they didn’t have that
stress of driving. We’ve all been there
when we’re driving. We’re kind of white-knuckling
it through traffic, congestion. People arriving are
more calm and more likely to be more
productive, they’re more likely to be on time. That would be a
huge benefit to you. Reducing the late
arrivals and absenteeism, you know, often we find
folks in particular who are taking
transit tend to be on a more reliable,
regular schedule because, those types
of modes tend to be more reliable in themselves. They mention the
physical health benefits. So not only with walking and
cycling, increasing activity. People who take the bus
or the train, or the MBTA, they’re likely to
be walking too. Unless you were very
fortunate to live above exactly where
your bus station is, chances are you walk
to your bus stop or you walk to the
end of your grid. So again, that’s routine
physical activity. There’s also a great
opportunity to showcase your business is a positive
member of the society and local community. It’s a great way
to show that you’ve got some green credentials. So maybe you are not
personally invested in the environmental message. But showcasing that that’s
the kind of organization you are, that you value
environmental sustainability, that can again add value to as
a corporations or organization. So the cost reduction. Having fewer people drive to
your office or your workplace can reduce your
need for parking. So it can reduce the need
for building new parking, expanding it, but even for
maintaining that parking. Parking is an expensive cost. For some organizations you don’t
charge the employees for that, but you are incurring
some costs around that. So if you can have
fewer people parking, it’s going to cost you
a little less money. If you have fewer
cars on the road, it gives easier access and
traffic flows for good moving. So you’re producing
goods, you’re getting shipped
around the state, around the country, if
there’s less traffic it’s much easier and quicker
to move those things around. So it’s in all of our interests
to reduce that congestion on the road. And then finally, on
a very specific level, and this is only really
if it’s applicable, participating in a
MassRIDES program can help you meet Department
of Environmental Protection rights. You have regulation program
implementation and reporting requirements. That is applicable. If that means anything to
you, this is applicable. If it doesn’t mean
anything to you, you don’t have to
worry about it. But again, it’s
something that can help address those barriers of cost. Staff recruitment and
retention, hugely valuable. Again, we mentioned that
commute options programs can help in productivity. They help result
in higher morale. Knowing that your workplace
has access to different modes, different ways of
getting to work, can make employees
happy to work there. It’s not as stress. Because not having to
worry about that commute is one less thing that they
have to think about day-to-day. And it makes your workplace
more attractive to them. It can certainly help recruit
some of that top talent. We know with the millennial
workforce and new workforce entrance. Commute options are
really in high demand. It’s a very important
factor to allow staff to have different
commute options. We know multiple
situations where companies had to struggle to hire folks. Talent turned down jobs
because the commute option package wasn’t there. Millennials may not
have access to a vehicle and need those alternatives. So it certainly makes you more
attractive to that top talent. So when we talk about
alternative commute modes, I mean we’re really
talking today primarily about carpooling,
cycling, transit. But even things like
telework flexible working. They are really
important to, again, new entrants to the workforce. Having that flexibility
to work from home, that can be part of your
commute options too. So offering that makes
you more attractive. Also giving that better
access can give you access to lower income workers
who maybe don’t have access to vehicles. Again, if you’ve got
a location that is not accessible by
transit for example, but you have a
large workforce who don’t have access to vehicles,
how do people get there? How are you making
sure that you can access that workforce as well? And then business
continuity, you know, a great way of making sure
that you’re prepared to deal with things that can come up. That first picture
there, this is a picture the collapse
of the I-85 in Atlanta, which you may have
seen a few months ago. This is a program
where all of a sudden a major highway collapsed
and people can’t get to work. So a commute options program
can help support your operations when the unexpected occurs,
so when that road closes down, when something you weren’t
expecting to happen happened, can your company– can your
workplace still keep going? Can people walk from home? Can they find different
ways of getting to work around if a
road closes to make sure that operations can keep going. That might happen through
natural disasters, through weather events. It might be temporary
closures, special events, maybe President Trump
is coming to town, maybe the different
shut downs on transit that you need to allow for. How do we make sure that
staff can move around as their external
situations change. So that’s kind of the why. Again, take a look at
through the toolkit and see. Ad you can get some
real good understandings of some of those other reasons
to think about these programs. How do you go about
building a program? Again, we know you
are busy people. We certainly don’t
want to suggest this is a massive undertaking
to distract from what you’re doing day to day, but it
is valuable to build a program. Building a program that
has some formality to it helps provide staff with
those different options. So as you’ll see in
the toolkit, we really like to outline it in three
main areas, the thinking, the planning, and the acting. So I’m going to take
you through those, the first page being
be thinking about how you build that program. Two real key elements in that. One is the identification
of what we call an employer transportation coordinator. That is someone who is really
the liaison between a group like MassRIDES, who have
all this information, can provide all the
support, can give you great ideas on
different programs, on transit information,
on cycling, on carpooling, but also that person has
the ear of the staff. They are the person who
can help get messages out, who can put a poster up,
who can understand the staff to know what kind
of programs are going to work best for them. And then a workplace assessment
is understanding really a lot more about your workplace
and what kind of programs are useful to you, what makes
sense, what doesn’t. So again, when we talk about
the employee transportation coordinator, they’re
the person really that’s going to be responsible
for leading that program. It might be someone
who’s an office manager. It might be someone
in human resources. It really depends on your
organization and the size of it, but it’s
usually someone who has great connections
with other departments, is interesting in this
subject potentially but has an understanding
why this might be useful. As I said, it could
be an office manager. It could be someone
in sustainability if you have that kind of team. It could be your facilities guy. It doesn’t really matter as long
as they have that connection and know that that is the
best fit for your workplace. We often find employees can be
more successful because they have the ability to make
decisions on the program and say, yeah, this is something
that we want to implement, but obviously we need to balance
them having the time to do something like that
with the ability to say that something like that– some kind of
programming can happen. Again I think that the key
message is the right person for your workplace. You probably know
already, as I say, that who would be in your
workplace the best person to do this kind of thing. When we talk about
assessing needs, again this doesn’t need to
be particularly heavy handed, some key things that you want
to know about your workforce though. Where are people living and
how do they get to work? That’s the significance. If you know that most
of your employees live within five
kilometers, maybe it’s worth talking about
cycling as an option. However, if you know that
most your employees live 30 kilometers away,
and none of them are really close to
a transit line, then maybe you need to think about
a program like a carpooling program. We’ll go into the
details of what we mean by those programs in a second. But knowing where people
live and how they currently get to work helps you understand
their current situation. It’s also useful to
understand how you can– what kind of things
you can provide to staff to encourage them
to change their behavior. So what’s interesting? What’s going to make someone
think about taking a carpool. Is it a parking space. Is it a financial incentive? Is it the ability to find
someone to match with? All different things so
understanding those motivations is important too. It’s something that you can do
through a survey, a very simple survey, and again something that
MassRIDES can help you with. If you’re a much
smaller organization, maybe there’s four
or five of you there, you might know
this stuff already. You might be able to
discuss it over lunch, but understanding that is going
to help you build that program. Some other factors to consider
too there are business travel. So where are people
going through the week? Are people in and
out of the office? Do they need their car
for a particular reason? Are there ways of having people
travel differently for work during the week? Can they travel by transit? Can they make a pool trip,
those kind of things. And do you also think
what web conferencing or other technology– doing the session today
as a webinar helped me to reach a lot
more people, and maybe help, from your perspective,
enable people to travel less. Maybe they don’t need to go
to every meeting off-site. They can do things
more remotely. And then understanding a little
bit about your site itself. Do you have any parking issues? Is that a major concern for you? Are you close to a transit line? Are you close to a bike route? Do you have something
like a sustainability strategy, something that says
we are committed to improving environmental sustainability. This is something that
we could contribute to. So understanding all these can
help you kind of figure out, OK, we know what
we want to offer. We know the kind of
people that we have. These are the kind of ideas
that we should think about. And now the
really exciting part is thinking about how
you develop that plan. So you’ve got a
good understanding of your workforce. You’ve got a good understanding
of the needs of people. What are you actually
going to do for them? What kind of things
can you offer? So what I want to
take you through is really some of the
strategies that you can look at. And again, if you take a look
through the toolkit that’s available, there’s
a lot more detail in there about all these
different elements, ideas for programming,
examples, and such. But this is really
just to give you a little bit of an overview. So as I said at the start, when
we talk about commute options, we’re talking about these
different ways of moving around outside of driving alone. One of the major ones
is often carpooling. So carpooling, I think, is
familiar to most people, the idea of sharing a ride to
work with a colleague, someone who lives near you and
works near you or even works in the same office. Sharing that ride. Obviously the benefits
there are significant, reducing the amount of
driving that one does, the amount of money
they spend on gas, it takes a car off
the road every time someone’s sharing that ride. It also give you
access to things like high occupancy
vehicle lanes, which may get you to work a
lot more quickly, avoiding some of that traffic. So it’s certainly an
easier thing for employees to get involved in. It’s something that
can be flexible, doesn’t have to be
something that they commit to every day, something
that can be picked up. And again, within
a small workplace, often this is very easy to do. You know who lives
near you, and you know what, every
couple of days we’re going to share a ride together. So from the employer
perspective, it’s really about
how do you encourage people to ride with each other? So finding
connections informally or finding connections through
something like New Ride. So New Ride is a website
provided by MassRIDES that employees can go on
and find a carpool match. So they can put
their information in, say I’m coming from
this particular location. I’m traveling to
this destination. Is there anyone in this
area that I could connect with and find a match with? A great way to connect,
especially for a small business where perhaps maybe
there’s not a huge pool of people within
your organization. But you’re in an
area where there are a lot of other
small businesses, so maybe you find someone who
works in the business next door or down the road,
something like that. So again that’s something
that employees can certainly take a look at. Think about, from
your perspective, providing things like reserve
parking for carpoolers. So if your parking
lot is full, people are always fighting
over that one space that’s near the front
door, especially in the winter. Can you provide a reserved
parking space for someone who’s carpooling. It’s a great benefit for
them, a tangible benefit that might encourage them
to say, you know what, this is worth my time
sharing a ride with someone because I get this great
space in the front. Taking the next step, think
about how can you financially incent people to carpool. So maybe if you
charge for parking, or the lot that you use
charges for parking, can we give them a
discount if they carpool? Can we give them as some kind
of daily allowance if they– If you carpool, we’re going to
give you $3 a day for doing it. It’s certainly something
we’ve seen some workplaces do. And it’s a really great
motivator for an individual to say, you know what, I’m going
to get a little bit of cash in my pocket if I
choose to carpool. So again, some broad
ideas around carpooling. I think a lot more details
within that toolkit. When we talk about
transit, obviously it depends on your location. Are you close to transit? But encouraging employees to
take the train or bus to work can be really effective. It’s a great way
of going to work if it’s convenient for you. It’s a great amount of time. If you’re not driving,
you’re sat on the bus, it gives you time to read,
to work, check Facebook, whatever it is you want to do. Certainly something that we
definitely like to encourage. How do you get
employees to do that? In addition to providing
information, so letting people know that there is a
bus stop outside work and this is where
the bus goes to, that can be certainly
a significant piece. Think about offering a
discount transit pass. So lots of the local
agencies have transit passes, discount programs that
are available to employees that you can provide to give
them a break on that cost. Think about also that
information piece is really key. For a lot of people, one
of big barriers to transit is not necessary
that they don’t have a bus rout that serves
them, but they just don’t know where it goes. They see that same bus stop
outside their office every day. They might not have
any idea that it takes them pretty close to home. So using something like
a trip planning tool through Google Transit. Very easy to use in
the same way that you might get driving directions. You know, plug in
your directions of where you want to go. Click on the little bus
icon on the Google map, and find out exactly
how long it’s gonna take you to get home. You might find out, you
know what, it’s only going to take me– it might
take me 10 minutes longer, but it’s a really
easy route and I get to read my book
on the way home. So giving that information
can help people see that this might be a
realistic option for them. Cycling again, it’s something
that we love to promote. It’s obviously great for
keeping healthy, great for saving money. We recognize that it’s certainly
not feasible for everybody, either because you
live too far from work, maybe you don’t want
to bike in the winter, not everyone’s as crazy as me,
which I totally understand. But think about how could
it be an option for people some of the time? What kind of opportunities
are out there? And again, there’s different
ways of thinking about. some of it is
around information, letting people know that
it’s convenient to bike, that it might only
take me 20 minutes. And again something
like Google can help you map that kind of route. Think about things like
bike share programs as well. Bike share is– you might
have seen it in Boston. We have the Hubway program. Bike hare programs are
really the opportunity to borrow a bike for
as set period of time. One of the nice things
about bike sharing might not be feasible for
getting to and from work, but it might be something that
someone could use, for example, during a lunch hour
to run an errand or go on a business
site visit, or a trip to a client, something like
that, which means that they didn’t need their car that day. So maybe they could take the
bus in because during the day they don’t need access
to their own vehicle. There are things like
bicycle user groups. So we often see this
in smaller firms where the folks who do cycle,
there’s a collective of them. They’re already keen. They’re a network. They all feed off each other. They share bike routes. That can be great
for new cyclists too, because one of the
big barriers as I said is, you know, I don’t know, so I don’t feel safe. I don’t know my way. I didn’t know which
route to take. So connecting with people who
already do ride their bike is a great way to build
confidence for individuals. On the employer
side too, thinking about the infrastructure
you rely on. So bike storage is
really important. Where do I lock my bike? We know some people
spend a lot of money on some very fancy bikes. You know, you spent that $2000
on his beautiful road bike, right? Where you do you want to
store that, so making sure there’s somewhere secure. It might be a rack outside. It might be internal. It might be as part of
your parking structure. So thinking about where
they can safely store is really important. Additionally, shower
and lo9cker facilities, so while we talk about shower– maybe not riding
in the bad weather. Also riding weather like
we have this week where it’s really hot, little steamy. People might be reluctant
to ride because they feel they’re going to
get to work in a state that they want to be at at work. So giving someone
the opportunity to shower, have access
to a locker facility where they can keep their
belongings secure is important. Repair stations can
also be part of that. So repair stations, and you
may have seen these around, but they’re beginning to pop
up more and more frequently. So repair stations are really
sort of like a glorified bike pump, because it has tools
attached to it, it’s secured. So an employee can come. They can put some
air in their tires. Maybe they can tighten up
their brakes, whatever it is, and that’s available to
them on site as well. And finally information and
training, letting people know about how they can
move around and giving them information on safe
biking and bike routes, that kind of thing. Walking, kind of taking
a step a– becoming more and more sustainable
as we move down this ladder. Walking is a great
option, obviously. If you’re close enough to
walk to work it’s fantastic. It’s great to use
it as an employee. I think it encourages
more walkable communities. Having people out on the
street is a great thing to see. Obviously people
who are walking, often they’re out walking
and they’re spending money in the community too. So people walking
to work, that’s a great option. Again, it might not work
because folks might not live within that walking distance. We know that’s not an option
for a lot of the people. But I think encouraging
that, letting people know that they
can do that, maybe having a more
relaxed dressed code if someone does want
to walk to work, they didn’t feel they have to do
it in really uncountable dress shoes, for example, that they
can make them more comfortable. That’s something to emphasize. Things like walking
workshops, walking meetings, so again the idea that
maybe someone’s not going to walk to work. But they might be interested
in walking at lunch time. They might be interested
having a walking club. They might be interested
in getting out and having a meeting while they’re walking. What we tend to find that helps
with is getting people educated about distances of walking and
how enjoyable walking can be. So maybe you’re never
going to walk to work, because you live 30 kilometers. But maybe when you get
used to walking at work, you’re more inclined when you’re
at home in your neighborhood to take a walk. You’re more inclined to
walk to the grocery store, because actually 20
minutes isn’t that difficult to try and deal with. And then finally in
terms of options thinking about flexible work. So this really encompasses
all these elements of working from home. Having flexible
work hours certainly been shown to increase
productivity, improve job satisfaction,
having that flexibility. So, you know, one day a week
I need to work from home. It gives me the freedom to
do that so that’s something that’s really valued by
a lot of your employees. As I said, a lot of
Millennials enjoy that. And it’s something
that I think we’re becoming more and more used to. I think a lot of us, especially
within the small business world, we’re probably
already doing it this, and we don’t realize. Every time we check our phones
and it’s 7 o’clock at night and we’re sending
an email, that’s working from home
That’s flexible working. So the infrastructure is there
and we’re already doing it. But giving the employees
the opportunity to do it formally
and have that option, and again, keep them off
the road, is a great option. How do you do that? It can be complex. You might have existing
policies that you might want to expand or promote. If you don’t have a policy, it’s
something that would certainly want to work with HR or an
human resources consultant, to understand what
kind of policy is going to work for
your organization. What kind of staff
are eligible for this? Who’s it going to work for? Is it something that
is suitable for you. You might want to pilot that
program for a trial period. You don’t want to
say all of them. Everyone can work from
home all the time. Think about maybe a few days a
week for a set number of weeks, maybe a couple of
staff that can do it so you can understand
what works for you. A different element
of flexible work is in this idea of a compressed
work week a flexible schedule. So maybe someone isn’t
in the office every day, but they’re working
longer hours. So maybe they take a Friday
off or their schedule is such that they’re starting
early and finishing early. That flexibility, you know,
it may not move vehicles from the road, but
what it does is it might shift some
of those travel times. So in terms of congestion,
we have more people traveling earlier, leaving and
then starting work earlier. That starts to spread
that load congestion and can certainly contribute
to one of those key goals. Other strategies
that don’t really fall into those particular
modes, something you might want to
think about, something called an Emergency
Ride Home program. So that’s something
that can be offered in partnership with MassRIDES. Emergency Ride Home is really
an insurance program for people who choose these modes. So often we hear from
people I would carpool, I would take the bus. What happens if I
get stuck at work. What happens if
the school calls, and I need to pick up my
kid, and I didn’t drive today and I’m stuck. So the Emergency
Ride Home program is there to offer
you a cab ride home in the event of that emergency. That cab ride is then reimbursed
through the MassRIDES program. Again, lots more
details in the toolkit on the mechanics of that. But it’s a great way to
say to employees, you know, you can try doing this. Give it a try, and we’ve
got your back in case that inevitable happens. Other things to think
about, you know, incentives that really
can apply to any of those different modes– thinking about if you choose
those particular commute modes, maybe you get an
additional vacation day. Maybe we have a
casual dress day. Maybe you get monetary awards. So it might be $3 a
day for carpooling, or if you carpool for
a set period of time, maybe we’ll give you a gas
card to pay your carpool’s gas for a short amount of time. Doesn’t have to be
huge, just something that it is a reward to folks. It could be free lunches. We’ve done things
with workplaces who have a lot of cyclists. We give them a breakfast every
Friday or something like that. And everybody bikes in. Cyclists are super hungry. They get breakfast that
morning because they’ve done their part. Prize drawings I think,
can be important, keep people excited
about choosing this, and public recognition. And there might be recognition
within the company that they– we’ve heard them doing
that, doing a great thing. They’re contributing to their
environmental footprint. We want to recognize them, or
it can be broader than that. You can say this
is something that reflects on us as a company. We have great staff who are
doing this kind of work. The new ride program
that I talked about, the car ride matching
program, also has a trip tracking
element in there. So if you track
trips through NuRide. So if you say, you know
what, I’m carpooling. You can also go on there. You create account. You say I carpooled
twice this week. You can earn incentives
through that program. So they can be discounts to
local stores, gift cards, those kind of things. So it’s kind of like any
other points program. You can build those
points up and get some of those incentives. We often tie those into things
like commuter challenges, so where we say to
people we’re not going to ask you to
take up carpooling for the rest of your career. We’re going to have a week where
we want you to try it twice. Giving them a challenge. Who’s going to
carpool the furthest? Who’s going to take
this initiative on? That can be something again
that can incent people. And again the tax
benefit, I think, is a great incentive too to
keep referencing for the staff. So how do we choose? I’m giving you all these
options, lots of information. You go back to that toolkit. There’s all kinds of
information there. How on earth do you choose? So we have created this very
handy matrix, which I will say is not quite as exciting
as the original matrix. But it will help you
try and understand some of the best options
and opportunities that work for you. I’ll show you an
example of this. Again, I’ll recommend
you at the toolkit so you can see it
in more detail. But it’s really taking all these
strategies I just talked about, rating them by effectiveness at
different types of workplace. Are you larger,
small, urban, rural, what’s the best fit for you? We know that not everything
works for everyone. You’ve got to figure
out which works for you. So this is just a
little screenshot of what that toolkit looks like. Certainly don’t attempt
to read it, but take a look in the toolkit. And you can kind of see,
and the idea, OK, here’s a bunch of strategies. What kind of business am I? What fits best with me? Is it worth my
time putting money into reserving couple spaces
if I’m a small rural business. Maybe not. Maybe I need to think
about something else. So that’s a great
tool that you can make use of to evaluate some
of those different options. As you do that, it enables you
then to create an action plan. So again, we’ve got a great
template within that toolkit that you can use, very basic. We’re not suggesting you need
to formalize this process, but I think it helps you think
through what options are best. What’s going to work
best for your workplace? So the template
that we’ve created– ID creative action items,
assign responsibility, which is always important,
who’s going to do it, the timeline, when it’s
going to be done by, any resources that you
might want to put to it. It doesn’t have to be a
resource intensive program, but you might want to throw
in a couple hundred bucks to offer certain prizes or
incentives, that kind of thing. The other element
you need to do is identify those opportunities
to engage employees in the messaging. So how are we going to
tell people about this? Is it through orientation? So often we find a great
way of getting people to do stuff and come
on, let’s give them information on how
they’re going to get here. I’m giving you all this
information on your benefits, on your first day,
what you’re going to do, how you’re
going to report, how you do health and safety. Let’s include transportation and
their commute in that element too so they know the best
ways of getting here. If you have company newsletters,
if you do a company BBQ– that’s again
something that you can use to go straight those
commuters and engage with them. Marketing is really
a cornerstone of these programs,
and again something that MassRIDES can help
with, because it’s really about making sure
that people can be aware of the programs
that are taking place, making sure that
they can act on them, and then really
importantly making sure they can maintain them. And so I want to
take you quickly through this part
of the toolkit. And, again, there’s lots more
information on that toolkit you can see, but to give you
an overview of these three main areas. So the first one is awareness. It’s fairly obvious,
but how do we make sure staff know about the program? It can be very traditional. It can be posters,
could be emails, could be a lunch
time event, something that lets people know that
this is the problem that we’re investing in that we think
is useful for our staff, that we want them
to get involved in. That toolkit has some
great templates and ideas. So feel free to use
them as you need to. Use the wording,
use the pictures, just to get a sense that this
is a great way of putting a poster up and
saying, we’re going to encourage people to
carpool to for example. So you don’t have to
start from scratch. There’s a lot of
those materials there for you to use and to publicize. We talked about action. Get staff to give it a try. So don’t just talk
to them about it. Them an opportunity
or a challenge week to try something. Do things like
engagement events. This is a shot of two of
our very keen commuters, our MassRIDES team,
our Bugs and Daffy. This is from Six Flags,
but great engagement event to get people thinking about,
yeah, this is something that I could take part in. I’m going to try carpooling
till this particular day. Actually, you know what,
this is kind of interesting. Maybe I’ll give this
a go more frequently. And then on the
maintenance side of things, how do you get people to
continue doing behavior? This is often the
most difficult part. And this is where things
like incentives come in, things like the Emergency
Ride Home program. Letting people know if
you keep doing this work, keep doing these behaviors,
you can keep getting rewarded. See for example here, you know,
if you commute by carpool, you could earn points and
you can get a discount on your wine. I can’t think of much
better incentives than that. And certainly things to support
the behavior, so the Emergency Ride Home is saying
if you do this, we’ve got your back if
something goes awry. And then finally, really,
measurement is important. Again, not something for you as
a small business to get overly bogged down in. This isn’t really the
goal of the program, but measuring and seeing
what kind of impact these program can have can help
me build that internal support, can help you say you know what,
this is worth our time doing. We should do more of this. Staff really value it. That might be something like a
before and after travel survey. So maybe you’ve done
a survey to find out a little bit about
your employees. you go back a year later and
say, did we have any impact? Did we have more people
riding a bike or carpooling? For smaller organizations,
it might be a focus group. And that might be that’s
informal as sitting around over lunch, and seeing
well, actually, I’ve noticed that we
have way more people taking the bus now because
of some of the programs that we offer. We can picture looking at things
like absenteeism, productivity, you know, looking at
have those rates changed over the course
of these programs. A little bit more
difficult to measure but something that could be
related to the improvements in the commute option. And then on a really easy
level, look at your parking lot. Are there fewer people? Are there fewer
cars in that lot? That should tell you something
about the effectiveness of these programs. Are these worth looking into? I will say MassRIDES
is here to help. You know I keep
stress thins, you know the toolkit is there
as a resource for you. but MassRIDES is there to
introduce these programs to you, to showcase
some of these examples, to share this best
practice to help understand what’s best for your workplace. All of these kind of things that
I talked about already, ride matching, vanpool formations,
tax benefits, anything on that whole list
that might make you think, I don’t really
understand what that is. I’m interested in
employee origin mapping, but how on earth do I do that? Work with MassRIDES
are there as a service that’s available to
the business community to access some of these services
and support these programs. So just before I wrap up, just
a reminder of why we want you to do it. These are the five
things– the tax benefits, the corporate culture, cost
reduction, staff recruitment and retention,
business continuity. Definitely worth
your time doing it. How do we want you to do it? Think, plan, enact. So there’s four
stages, four steps that can really help
build that plan, identify what’s useful to
you, and put it into play. Here’s the URL for the toolkit. Again though if you
go onto commute.com, you can easily find
it on there as well. You can click. You can download that PDF. Lots of great information in
there that’s going to help you. Look at these
different programs. Maybe you have questions. Maybe you’re kind of like, well,
maybe I’ll give that a thought. Maybe I need to read
a little bit more. This is the place to do that. And obviously it’s through
their contact details on how to connect with us if
you have further questions. So that’s everything I wanted
to share with you today. Here’s our contact details. You can connect with us. If you have questions
now, certainly we would be more than happy to
answer, but otherwise connect with us directly offline. But thank you very
much for your time. All participants are now
in interactive talk mode. That’s awesome. Thank you so much Adam for
sharing that information with us and our subscribers. Just a quick question. Is there anybody
over at MassRIDES that can work with
someone, you know, like handhold them
through this process, or should they just
follow along with the– So I can certainly– I think there might be someone
from MassRIDES on the call that can answer too, but I
would say, MassRIDES has a team of
Outreach Coordinators and their job is to really work directly
with those workplaces. Generally we can. Some of those businesses– So it is possible. yeah,
it’s possible we can. Generally with larger
employees because of the scale, but I think there
are interests that they are interested in engaging
and have got some great ideas. MassRIDES, I think, will be
more than happy to connect. That’s great. Did Rebecca want to add anything
before we close this out? No. I think what Adam just
answered too was perfect. We have outreach coordinators
all over the state so we’re more than happy to
come up to your worksites and to meet with you,
introduce ourselves to you, help you identify whatever
commuter solutions or commuter issues you have and
create some solutions for you. And we just call that
888-4COMMUTE number to reach you? Yes. You can do that. You can also go on to
the www.commute.com to get information. And then we also
have a if you go to our meet our staff page, you can see the
outreach coordinators who are in your territory
and you can also email them directly. Either one will do. Thank you so much, Rebecca. Thank you too Urban
Trends and Adam Arnold for presenting this
information to our subscribers. Again, check out our
events coming up. sba.gov/ma. We have for Friday, June 23rd
is a managing export operations and compliance workshop. There’s also on
Tuesday, June 27th there’s a Facebook
business builder workshop over at Harvard i-lab. Check it out. If you can reach me,
it’s [email protected] Thanks everyone. Have a great day.

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