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Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) Takes Commuter Rewards to the Next Level

In December 2018, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) launched a new commuter rewards program to the public. The CATS program allows commuters to earn points towards valuable rewards by logging smart commutes using approved alternatives to solo driving. CATS configured the system so that 10 round trips logged using approved modes could earn the commuter a $5 reward.

Just 10 days after launching, the CATS commuter rewards program attracted almost 200 new users, marking a 500% increase in registered users over the preceding three-month period. Over those 10 days, participants posted some pretty impressive stats: they logged 1,200 alternative trips totaling 14,900 miles, which saved 3.83 tons of CO2 emissions.

CATS program administrators used a few targeted approaches to generate interest in the program. First, they enticed new users by offering bonus points for joining, putting them within striking distance of a prize right off the bat. They also structured their program to include progressive reward tiers, giving participants added incentives for logging more trips and saving their points for a truly special prize. The resulting engagement and impact speaks for itself!

Learning from Programs that Work

The CATS program is powered by CommuteRewards, part of the RideAmigos cloud-based platform that automates the kinds of proven points programs that have worked for innovative employers like the City of Austin and regional agencies like Commute.org.

Key advantages of the CommuteRewards program:

  • Easy management. By taking advantage of automation, the program eliminated the need to worry about how many rewards to purchase from each vendor at any given time. Instead, they simply define a budget and set point values. Earning and redeeming points is self-service!
  • Tons of choice. Because more than 100 different rewards providers participate, there is no guessing which vendors commuters will like best. Everyone is different, so the program lets them choose their own rewards from a wide variety of retailers and restaurants.
  • Streamlined administration. The CommuteRewards store is configured for easy administration, so you don’t have to keep track of digital codes, leftover gift cards from previous events, or other similar management and reporting headaches.

Commuter rewards are generally a great way to motivate employees to make better and more frequent use of greener, smarter alternatives. A growing number of companies and organizations are turning to this strategy to complement their outreach and commuter challenges and promote sustained behavior change. If you’d like to learn more, we’d be happy to help!

Need to Recruit and Retain Top Talent? Don’t Ignore the Commute.

Employee commuter options are becoming increasingly important to members of the modern workforce.

For employers, the task to attract and retain the best available talent is becoming more and more complex. Members of the Millennial generation will make up three quarters of the workforce by 2025. So-called Generation Z is also entering the workforce in large numbers. Research consistently shows that these new workers hold a distinct set of values when it comes to what they look for in a job.

When it comes to choosing where to work, the new wave of professionals are interested in more than just money. They place high importance on achieving a positive work-life balance. They also strongly prefer organizations whose principles align with their own. For many workers, these principles include social and environmental responsibility. Millennials are particularly aware of ecological issues, and as such, they tend to take a positive view of organizations that are taking proactive steps to reduce their carbon footprints.

This growing trend extends beyond younger workers. A 2018 LinkedIn survey found that a whopping 85% of respondents said they would take a pay cut if it meant having a shorter daily commute. Job seekers are making increased use of tools that allow them to search for job opportunities that lie within their acceptable commuting time or distance range. These are clear signs that workers across age groups and demographics take the commute into consideration when weighing job offers. As an employer, looking to attract and retain top candidates, you can differentiate your organization by implementing programs to make life easier for commuters. Helping employees achieve a better balance between their work and off-the-clock lives are more productive and less likely to leave.

To that end, let’s take a look at some key employee commuter options that can give your organization a competitive edge.

Launch a commuter benefits program

Supporting commuters with a well-designed commuter benefits program is the single most effective measure your organization can take. These programs come in many forms and draw on a wide range of incentives and strategies to broaden their appeal. In general, the most effective strategies deliver meaningful rewards to commuters in a relatively compact time frame. This provides fast gratification while encouraging participants to adopt and maintain positive behavior changes.

One increasingly popular strategy is the points program. Points programs let commuters earn points when they track or log trips using a smart alternative to solo driving. They can redeem the points as they accrue over time for valuable rewards. City officials in Austin, Texas achieved high levels of participation when they introduced an innovative points program allowing municipal employees to cash in their points for paid time off – a highly meaningful reward. With that in mind, you should choose the rewards that appeal to your diverse workforce to help drive higher participation rates. Examples of possible benefits include:

  • Gift cards for online or local retailers
  • Tickets to sports or other events
  • Charitable contributions
  • Preferred parking
  • Vouchers for mobility service providers

In addition to incentive programs, you can also offer a range of other attractive commuter benefits, including:

Employers get the best results when they combine these offerings. So, instead of just setting up a points program, combine the points strategy with a few of the other options mentioned above to create a flexible program with wide appeal.

Offer flexible employee commuter options

In addition to commuter programs, employers can also appeal to job seekers by creating flexible options such as telecommuting and secure bicycle storage. Communications technology is making remote work a viable alternative in a growing number of jobs. Employers that continue to enforce rigid on-site participation policies increasingly risk losing their access to top talent.

While  biking to work is not always a faster option than driving, it can reduce stress and contribute to a healthier, happier workforce. Simple things like secure bike storage, shower access, and lockers to encourage cyclists can choose to leave their cars at home more often.

Learn from the mistakes and successes of others

Organizations that haven’t adapted to the changing workforce and mobility landscape are facing increasing negative productivity and recruiting impacts. Many are experiencing higher rates of lateness and absenteeism, lower employee engagement, and higher turnover. Furthermore, failure to adapt can negatively affect your employer brand, making it even harder to recruit and retain quality candidates.

RideAmigos helps businesses of all sizes implement more effective employee commuter options.

RideAmigos’ cloud-based platform and native mobile apps offer features that make it easy for organizations to manage commuter programs and simplify access to smart transportation alternatives. Our industry-leading transportation demand management (TDM) tools work for businesses of all sizes. Let us show you how commuter benefits can help build your employer brand while promoting better health, decreased traffic, and sustainability.

Get started today to learn how RideAmigos supports a complete range of appealing and successful employee commuter programs.

How to Get Your Employer to Start a Commuter Benefits Program

Employers and employees generally want the same thing when it comes to the daily commute: they want to arrive at work happy, relaxed, and on time. The problem is that while solo driving may often seem like the most convenient commuting option, it’s actually the most stressful. Long commutes, traffic congestion, bad weather, and construction all conspire to reduce a solo driver’s chances of arriving at work happy, relaxed, and on time.

With rising awareness about the many benefits of skipping the solo drive, more and more employees want support from their employers to help make better alternatives more accessible. Commuter benefits programs provide incentives and support for a wide array of commute options, yet they remain a relatively new concept to many employers. In some cases, it’s the commuters themselves who are driving companies to support smarter ways of getting to work.

If you’d like to encourage your employer to provide more support for commuters who want to use alternatives to solo driving, there’s a simple strategy you can use:

Get your employer to see how starting a commuter benefits program can add value to your organization’s bottom line!

Do this by emphasizing the tangible and intangible benefits of fewer solo-driving employees:

  • Active modes of commuting deliver a long list of health benefits. Beyond the obvious goal of building a healthier workforce, this means that businesses stand to save on health insurance costs while reducing illness-related productivity losses.
  • When fewer employees drive to work, businesses can reduce demand for parking and the costs associated with them. These costs can be steep, so chances are good that management will listen.
  • Supporting a commuter benefits program sends a strong message about the company’s values. This is a particularly important aspect of attracting and retaining the best and most qualified employees, since more and more people want to work for companies with a proven track record of providing commuting support for their employees.

Getting started is simple. First, conduct a survey among your fellow commuters to learn more about the current commuter behaviors in your company. Then, created a custom-tailored appeal based on your findings that speaks to the specific interests of the commuters you work with and the needs of your organization.

Once you’ve sold your organization on the value of a commuter benefits program, they’ll need the right tools to get a program going. With powerful ridematching, incentives programs, automated trip tracking, data analysis, reporting, and administration tools, RideAmigos can help your employer implement and manage a commuter benefits program easily and efficiently. Learn more about commuter benefits, or get started with RideAmigos today!

Why Free Parking Isn’t Necessary for Happy Commuters

Challenging assumptions behind workplace parking privileges

Employers tend to assume that providing employees with free parking is just a necessary cost of doing business. The underlying assumption is that free parking makes commuters happy, and happy commuters make for a happy workforce.

While it’s probably true that many car-centric commuters wouldn’t be happy if they were suddenly told they had to pay for their own parking, it’s still worth asking whether the chicken or the egg comes first when it comes to free workplace parking. Do businesses provide free parking because commuters drive, or do commuters drive because businesses provide free parking?

It’s a question without an easy answer, but what we’ve seen in our years of experience in the transportation demand management industry is that commuters are more likely to adopt smarter modes of transportation if they’re given a strong incentive to do so.

Free Parking Isn’t the Only Path to Happy Commuters

If you’d like to reduce employee reliance on single-occupancy vehicles, cut parking costs and encourage commuters to use smarter modes of transportation more often, all while keeping commuters happy, there’s a smart, simple way to go about it:

Give employees the option of trading in their free parking privileges for a different form of transportation incentive, like a free monthly transit pass, credit toward a new bike, or a monthly parking cash-out program designed to encourage carpooling.

This way, you empower commuters to make their own choices, all while protecting the goodwill you generate by offering free parking in the first place. Not only that, these programs can even be seen as added employee benefits for those who prefer transportation modes other than driving!

Check out our learning center for more information on alternatives to free parking that save businesses money while encouraging smarter commuting. You can also find out about incentives to promote ridesharing and tools to manage parking right here on our blog.

If you’d like to learn how our industry-leading commuter management platform can power your parking incentive programs, contact RideAmigos today.

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