Employers Must Now Enable and Reward Sustainable Travel.

With public climate concern reaching its highest levels, employers have looked for ways to signal to their staff that their values are up to par. Climate change, social equity, and human rights are issues of growing importance for young employees, forcing a transformation of the workplace through the exercise of individual agency and demand for tangible change. One way employers have looked to achieve this is through schemes which reward sustainable travel choices, integrating personal behaviour into business activity to make workplaces more climate-positive.

Apps which award users for travelling by foot have long been popular, with well-known names such as Sweat Coins and Win Walk making it easy for users to benefit from exercise. Unsurprisingly, businesses have quickly secured the opportunity to take part in such schemes, with the app BetterPoints allowing employers to set up programmes which can be customised to business needs. Employees are rewarded for journeying to work in a sustainable way such as walking or using public transport through business-funded vouchers, earned by users by accumulating points. Colleagues also have the chance to compare their earnings against one another in a leader board, playing on the idea of healthy workplace competition. Moreover, businesses can endorse charities by setting up a function which allows employees to donate their earnings to a chosen organisation.

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The system is a small step towards a greener workplace, with BetterPoints alone priding themselves with the avoidance of over 8,387,900kg of CO2 emissions entering the atmosphere since 2010 through the encouragement of sustainable travel. By taking part, businesses can play a part to reduce the effects of climate change without significantly altering daily function.

For some, small steps aren’t enough, pushing businesses to make bigger changes to reduce emissions. Flying is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases globally and carries an enormous climate cost, with Government data showing 70% of all flights are taken by just 15% of the population . These ‘frequent flyers’ are likely to be professionals, meaning shifting these habits within the workplace and incentivising greener travel should be a priority for businesses.

The ‘Climate Perks’ scheme, for example, enables employers to offer paid ‘journey days’ to encourage staff to implement personal climate values and choose lower-carbon holiday travel. Sustainable travel choices such as train or bus are much more time consuming than flying, meaning that allowing paid time for travel to and from the holiday destination reflects the busy lives of employees whilst signposting climate positivity as an essential characteristic of the business.

Corporate sustainability, while traditionally confined to the management of the carbon footprint of commercial operations, must extend to a more personal level to meet individual needs and make a more substantial difference to the current climate crisis. Rewarding sustainable travel is an easy way to demonstrate that environmental issues are taken seriously; a corporate trait which may soon become highly sought after, if not non-negotiable, for prospective employees of the future.

Jens Cederskjold (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Green_bike_with_basket_-_panoramio.jpg), „Green bike with basket – panoramio“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode
Herbert Ortner, Vienna, Austria (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eurostar_3021_Waterloo.jpg), „Eurostar 3021 Waterloo“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode