“It’s an arms race for talent,” said a manager from a large tech company in Silicon Valley, referring to the ongoing competition to land the best and brightest employees. Part of any good recruitment and retention strategy is to offer employees commute alternatives to driving solo. And given what we know about mobility preferences for the next generation, cars really need to take a back seat when it comes to programs and incentives.
Gen Z, the recent college grads and future of the workforce, differ from the previous generations, Millennials and Gen X, when it comes to how they want to move. Throw in a pandemic-induced bike boom, plus hybrid work, and the need for bicycle-specific programs, incentives, and infrastructure becomes clear. As one young tech worker put it, “I don’t want to own a car anymore.”
Companies recruiting top talent, take note. If you don’t offer amenities that make bike commuting easy and convenient, you won’t be as competitive as those that do.
If real estate deals, construction projects, landscape architecture and space planning continue to cater to motorized transportation, facilities will be out-of-date and out-of-sync with its workforce within a decade.
The zoomer workforce wants, and fully expects, to get around by bike. And that doing so will be safe, convenient and, above all else, a given. The companies who know and act on this will attract and retain the very best, and thus be more competitive now and in the future.
Below are data-backed suggestions for recruiting and retaining talented zoomer workers with best-in-class bike programs and amenities.
Support shared micromobility
Gen Z is using twice as many mobility apps (public transport, car sharing, bike sharing) than Gen X. It’s what we should expect from digital natives. And 61% of Gen Z and Millenials use shared mobility applications, compared with 27% for Gen X. These observations come from one of the most comprehensive studies on zoomer mobility conducted by Kantar.
To cater to the next generation, we suggest employers provide a subsidy for employees to use shared micromobility, like municipal bicycles and electric scooters. Google recently added a subsidy to its suite of bicycle benefits by paying employees $2.50 per one-way commute on their leased bicycle or scooter to help cover the subscription.
Improve bicycle infrastructure on key routes to your workplace
A whopping 82% of Kantar’s survey respondents cited improvements in cycling infrastructure as a key to mobility developments in the next decade. Also, the pandemic renewed interest in active modes and with parklets, slow streets, and “pop-up” bike paths. So Making sure your worksite access points are friendly to cyclists is crucial. Ditto for shiny End of Trip facilities, with secure, covered and conveniently located bike parking; showers, lockers and towel service; and on-site facilities and/or staff for basic bike repairs.
Shift from ownership to usership
It tracks that Gen Z would be the first truly multimodal generation: 31% ride public transport, compared with 25% for Gen X. And yet, they still want to buy cars: 32% of Gen Z and 38% of Millenials think owning a car is an important life milestone (versus 34% for GenX and beyond). Another study complicates this finding, claiming that zoomers view “cars more like appliances, and nearly 56% agree a car represents essentially no more than a means of transportation.” This study also found that about 70% of Gen Z consumers do not have their driver’s licenses and 30% of this group has no intention or desire to get one.
We suggest offering incentives and gamification, so employees can mix and match modes and receive rewards for anything other than solo car commutes. There are many apps to choose from to accomplish these objectives, and the one that works best for your worksite depends on your program aims.
They’re Climate-Conscious (And You Should Be Too).
According to a Deloitte survey Gen Zs and Millennials feel their organizations should invest more resources to help combat climate change, with offering sustainability-oriented employee benefits (like electric car subsidies, incentive to use public transport, cycle-to-work ranked a “top priority.” With a shift within the corporate sustainability landscape to combat Scope 3 emissions, the time to get subsidies and programs in place is now (or yesterday).
Want Some Really Good News?
Everything mentioned above can be implemented for a fraction of the cost of the alternatives (i.e. building more parking). As HR hones its tactics for competitive recruitment, it would be wise to collaborate with Real Estate, Facilities and Transportation because infrastructure planned today will impact the workforce for years to come.
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Lessons Learned From Stanford: Award-Winning Bike Friendly Infrastructure
With Ariadne Scott, Bicycle Program Coordinator at Stanford Parking & Transportation Services.