Commute time affects employee performance

14 Aug

Long commutes have an impact on employees.

Human resources departments face a lot of questions in the hiring and onboarding process. Strategic human resources management requires that you pay attention to any factors that may have a negative impact on productivity. For instance, one element many companies don't consider is the effects of a long commute on employee retention. Should businesses take commute time into account during hiring decisions?

Drawbacks of long commutes
Many companies have noted a long commute leads to increased turnover. There are a number of potential reasons for this. For instance, travel to and from work considerably cuts into an employee's free time. Gas and other transit costs also diminish an employee's income. According to Safe Workers, there are other ways a long commute can damage an employee's well-being. Workers may become stressed about balancing their time between the office and their families. This anxiety may take its toll on their health and performance levels.

Naturally, employers experience drawbacks when employees face long commutes. According to ERE Media, extensive travel time may lead to more frequent absences and lateness, poor performance and increased turnover.

Identifying turnover problems
Analytics can help companies identify where turnover issues are coming from. Undercover Recruiter highlighted the story of Gate Gourmet, a catering company operating out of Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The company experienced extremely high turnover and wondered whether commute times had to do with it. After looking over data in its employee management system and other information, it determined that retention was directly tied to employees' distance from the airport and how easy it was to reach public transit from their residences. The business was able to adjust its recruiting and hiring strategies accordingly and reduced turnover to just 27 percent, down from the initial 50 percent. Other companies can take similar measures to determine whether commutes are having an impact on retention. If so, there are a number of approaches businesses can take to approach this problem.

Dealing with the commute issue
HR managers may choose to simply limit hires to those who live relatively close by. However, before immediately ceasing to hire anyone who doesn't live within a certain radius of the business, do some more background work. ERE Media found that the impact of a commute may differ based on specific positions.

There are other ways to approach the problem as well. For instance, you can provide incentives for staff to live nearby. Some companies give out yearly bonuses for employees who live within a set number of miles from the office. Another incentive that is easy to implement is giving staff the opportunity to work remotely. This solves many of the issues associated with a long commute. Another option, as Safe Workers pointed out, is to offer flexible scheduling. For instance, if the employees are allowed to make their own schedules, they may be able to adjust their time to avoid rush hour traffic, which may add time onto an already lengthy commute.

HR managers can suggest strategies to deal with worker commutes and help increase worker morale and efficiency.

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