We all know the benefits walking and cycling can have on our waistlines and pocket, but the benefits don’t have to stop there. An active workforce is a low-cost investment that will bring about high rewards for businesses large and small. That's why we sponsored the Glasgow Business Award's Healthy and Active Workplace category, where City Building scooped the prize for their efforts to make walking and cycling to work easier for their staff.
In this blog, Kirsty Rankin, Delivery Co-ordinator Workplaces Sustrans Scotland, highlights the benefits of walking and cycling for businesses.
Healthier, more productive workforce
Employees who cycle to work are healthier, happier and take fewer sick days than colleagues who drive or take public transport. Our survey of people who cycle on the National Cycle Network found they take nearly half as many sick days as the average UK worker. In addition to reducing absenteeism, which in 2016/17 cost UK employers £2.9 billion, walking and cycling to work can reduce presenteeism - when staff come to work whilst ill but have lower productivity. Investing in staff wellbeing is serious business.
As well as being great for existing employees, valuing staff’s health and wellbeing reduces turnover and makes organisations more attractive to potential new recruits. Having accreditations such as the Healthy Working Lives award and being a Cycle Friendly Employer can build your reputation as a workplace that cares about their workforce and strives to improve conditions.
Impact on the environment
As well as being committed to staff health wellbeing, a lot of businesses are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
By encouraging staff to walk or cycle for more journeys, it’s a quick and easy way to reinforce your commitment to combatting climate change.
If the journeys made on the National Cycle Network during 2012 had been by car the potential CO2 emitted during the year would have been 883,904 tonnes, at a cost of £51.2 million.
Supporting staff to make positive travel choices
Encouraging your staff to walk or cycle to work is an easy win when it comes to improving workforce wellbeing. Sometimes it’s as simple as helping people find safe pleasant routes to work, or putting them in touch with buddies they can share the journey with.
There are funding opportunities for workplaces to make changes to their facilities, such as installing showers and cycle parking – an initial investment which doesn’t come with large maintenance costs.
There are also plenty of incentives for employees to leave the car at home, such as cycle to work schemes and fun active travel challenges. If you’re looking for a place to start, the Scottish Workplace Journey Challenge is a great way to get your workplace excited about commuting actively.