When you think of marketing, the first thing that comes to mind is trying to gain awareness of your product or service. Usually it’s to an external audience you want to buy something. There’s also internal marketing, where you get your employees to buy into products and services you offer them.
Those services include the commuter benefits you’re offering. We always talk about how it’s great to offer commuter benefits — but when your employees are unaware of them and no one is using them, what’s the point? Marketing plays a huge role in commute management and commuter benefits – especially for your return to the office.
The best time to influence an employee’s commuting behavior is before they’ve even started it. Including your commuter benefits in your new employee onboarding process leads to higher adoptions rates. Once an employee gets into a routine, it becomes almost impossible to get them to break it.
There’s actually a theory, the fresh start effect, which is that people have an increased ability to make a change in their life following a significant event. When someone is presented with a fresh start — in this case, going back to work after months of doing so from home — they are more motivated to make a change, while disassociating themselves with previous performance.
You have the opportunity to re-onboard your employees once you begin to return to the office. Employees will need to either relearn their previous commute, or learn an entirely new commute. This is a perfect opportunity to help your employees change the way they get to the office – even if it’s only a few days a week.
Telling your employees about commuter benefits is only one way to create change. Showing employees how an alternative form of commuting is beneficial to them is going a step further. Creating a bike-to-work week, or a metro month (for employees who feel comfortable) gives them first-hand experience of a new commuting method in a way that feels accessible and fun.
To further encourage participation, you can fully or partially subsidize employee commuting costs for a month if they pledge to try out a new (approved) commuting method. These types of events and efforts show you’re willing to do what you can to help them change. For a bike-to-work week, provide your employees with bikes they can use or pay for their bikeshare account. If you’re preaching sustainable commuting, but not making any effort, your words will be ineffective.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but an internal email campaign is an effective and efficient way to inform your employees about your commuter benefits program. We’re not telling you to send one email with every single commuting option available — that could be overwhelming if there’s no easy way to compare all that information in one place based on the employee’s individual habits. But creating a planned email campaign, detailing available benefits, providing enrollment how-tos, and providing the opportunity to ask questions can lead to more engagement.
A major roadblock in commuter benefits registration is that employees just don’t know what’s available to them. They pick what they know, even if it’s not the most financially beneficial, because it’s familiar to them. This is an opportunity to show employees that signing up for pre-tax benefits, for example, can save them money on a monthly basis.
Instant messaging forums
An email campaign is a great way to provide initial information, but doesn’t necessarily allow for open feedback or communication. Creating a channel within Slack, Microsoft Teams, or your company’s instant messaging software can fill that role.
A channel dedicated to commuter benefits creates an open forum for employees to ask questions, provide feedback, and create conversation. Like we said above, employees fall into commuting routines that can prove nearly impossible to break – no matter how much information you provide them. But when they hear from their colleagues about their successes, that can carry a lot of weight.
This also creates employee advocates who can do more internal marketing for you. You can show employees all the numbers, charts, or information you want, but sometimes it takes a real success story.
If you need inspiration on how to encourage sustainable commuting – especially in the time of COVID-19 and after – download our latest e-book!