“Still stuck at East Croydon.... Be in as soon as I can...”.

This type of text (with insert variation of town thereof) is a familiar one to be received by most managers on an almost daily basis this Summer. It’s annoying for all parties: those stuck on the platform/ carriage who are desperate to get where they want to go to as well as those who make it into the office and have to rearrange schedules around them.

Added to this annoyance is some analysis undertaken by the TUC and the Action for Rail campaign which has found that fares have rocketed by 25% over the past six years, while average weekly earnings have only seen a 12% rise. In other words, the cost of travel is increasing at more than double the rate of wages leaving people could quite feasibly be paying through the nose for going nowhere. And given that just under 10% of the workforce commutes to work by rail, it’s something which might pose some serious issues for businesses.

If your staff commute from a distance, what would happen if they started to seek out opportunities closer to home? Could they be forced to seek out a higher pay packet, to cover their costs? And could the stress of the daily commute leave your workers feeling frazzled and demotivated?

When you scratch the surface, it’s easy to see how the issue could start to create real headaches in terms of how you manage your workforce and so it’s definitely worth thinking about how you could take a more proactive approach…

First of all, let’s consider for a second whether you actually need to have your staff in the office, every single day of the week. In some businesses, it’s a very obvious prerequisite to your ability to offer a quality service to your customers and clients. In other companies though, a more flexible approach could bring about huge benefits.

If your staff can work from home, their travel costs may be cut. They’re also going to be spending less time in cramped train carriages, and this can have a positive impact on morale and productivity. Alternatively, letting your staff choose their start and finish time, within a designated window, could mean that they miss rush hour. Plenty of business owners have reservations about offering flexible working practices, but it could be time for you to bring your business up to date.

Some employers decide to take a different approach, and provide financial assistance to help with travel costs. You could add season tickets to your employee benefits, or cover a chunk of the yearly fee. Or you might offer an interest-free loan so your staff can afford to take advantage of the savings that often come with booking a chunk of travel in advance.

You might jump to the assumption that you can’t afford to fork out for extra expenses & want people in the office all of the time, but it’s sensible to take a step back and consider the bigger picture. Can you afford to have your staff leaving your business because of escalating travel costs? It might be a balancing act, but it could be worth it.

Would you like the opportunity to discuss your challenges and concerns with an expert, without any obligation? If so, pick up the phone and give us a call. We can arrange a suitable time for an initial consultation, and help you to establish how you can up your game as an employer.

Get in touch today by dropping us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk, calling 0203 627 7048, or book in here for a no-obligation chat about how we can help you improve your on boarding and performance management process.

For more reading on how else you can tackle thorny issue with confidence, then download our new eBook: Leadership 101: The Ultimate Guide to Being an Inspirational Leader.

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Image Credit: Commuters Jthornett

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