Biking and walking programs are not only a great way to energize and motivate your employees, but also are proven ways to cut down on insurance and health care costs. Of course, biking or walking to work might not be feasible for all employees, but for those who can do it, offering programs to encourage biking or walking will help your organization in ways you may not realize.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), physical activity saves employers 6 to 32% in health care costs per year. Physically fit people are also absent an average of two fewer days per year than people who are not considered physically fit. In another study by the HHS, employers that had implemented or encouraged programs that promoted exercise and activity saw an increase in productivity by 2 to 52%. By biking or walking to work, employees arrive less stressed and more alert. Another bonus, happier, less stressed employees tend to stay with their employer longer, reducing the high costs of recruiting and hiring staff.
There are many options for putting together a program to promote biking and walking to work, including the following:
- Participating in the tax-free $20 per month bicycle commuting benefit, which was enabled on January 1, 2009, as an extension of the transportation fringe benefit.
- Providing an incentive program for those who walk to work such as reimbursement for walking shoes or a monthly direct benefit (currently not covered under the IRS Fringe Benefits).
- Adding bike racks and/or lockers. For greater efficiency, racks and lockers may be placed in areas that can't be used for offices or vehicle parking. If racks or lockers can't be installed, allow employees to store bicycles in their offices during the workday.
- Offering parking "cash out"—an employee may give up an employer-paid parking space in exchange for the value of that space in taxable income.
- Adding shower and changing facilities to your building, or request that it be done by your property manager. (As an alternative, provide discounted employee membership to a health club located close to your building to provide access to their shower facilities.)
- Entice employees to participate in a company-wide biking and/or walking challenge.
- Encourage employees to become members of the regional bike share system, Capital Bikeshare, or open a corporate membership for your organization.
- Purchase a fleet of bicycles to be used by employees when they need to run errands, head out to a meeting, or just to take a break and get fresh air.
goDCgo Employer Services consultants can assist you every step of the way as you implement your biking and walking programs. We will happily work closely with you to design promotional flyers, emails and memos as well as planning seminars or fairs to spread the word on the new employee benefit.