Competition and team work delivers active travel in the workplace

פורסם: 13 בפבר׳ 2014, 11:27 על ידי: Sustainability Org   [ עודכן 13 בפבר׳ 2014, 11:28 ]
By Simon Gait, 29 January 2014
two men cycling to work in shirts

Whenever we run a Sustrans online Workplace Travel Challenge it proves to be a highly cost effective tool for delivering and spreading genuine change in travel behaviour in the workplace.

The Challenge is part of the package of employee engagement activities that Sustrans delivers in workplaces, harnessing the enthusiasm of those who are already travelling actively, getting them to encourage their colleagues to join them in an attempt to win this friendly and fun competition.

On average, the proportion of employees meeting the recommended levels of physical activity increases by 15 percentage points as a result of the challenge.

On an individual level the Challenge works by allowing individuals to log their active travel journeys and receive personalised feed-back on how far they’ve travelled, how many calories they’ve burned and how much money they’ve saved. This is great for embedding new travel behaviours with employees.

However it is at an organisational level that the Challenge really helps to spread positive change. To win the competition employees have to encourage their colleagues to join in, and I’ve seen this make all the difference in some workplaces we work with. By doing this the Challenge can reach many of those employees who have been contemplating change but just haven’t quite managed to take action yet.

These employees are encouraged to have a go whilst being part of a group. By taking part and experiencing the practicalities, benefits and enjoyment of travelling actively the Challenge helps those employees to take the first steps towards a new improved travel habit.

The group Challenge can also pit businesses against their local neighbouring businesses as part of an area wide Challenge. We’ve also been successful in running tailored and branded Challenges for individual businesses where we’ve been pitting different departments against each other in a single organisation.

Who would win in your organisation?

Our Challenges really do work at getting new employees involved rather than just rewarding those who are already doing it. For instance our post-Challenge surveys have found that:

  • for cycling around 50% of participants would class themselves as new, occasional or returning cyclists
  • we have an equal split of women and men taking part
  • we always create modal shift
  • over 70% of participants reduce their daily travel by car

And the Challenge isn’t just about increasing cycling, you can choose to incorporate walking, public transport, car-sharing or even home working (why travel when you don’t need to?).

Encouraging employees to travel actively makes good business sense. A range of organisations are already reaping the rewards of this behaviour change tool, including NHS Trusts, Ordnance Survey, RBS, Aviva and Zurich.

And why wouldn’t they - employees who travel actively are generally healthier, happier, more productive and take fewer sick days per year. Reducing reliance on cars reduces the need for car-parking and helps reduce local road congestion. These things are good for business. Employees incorporate exercise into their daily routine and save money too.

We’re now building on this success by starting to use the Challenge in Community and School settings too.

Creating healthier, more productive employees with Sustrans’ online Travel Challenge

The Challenge is Sustrans’ web-based interactive employee competition for cycling and walking. It allows individuals, groups or entire companies to compete for fantastic prizes, each logging their cycling and walking journeys online and contributing to the fun of the Challenge.

Vxl Power in Lincoln achieved an impressive 100% staff participation in their Big Cycle and Walk Challenge.

Whilst there were already high levels of cycling, The Challenge helped Tim McCann, Operations Director, get everyone involved. With over 1,200 journey miles cycled and walked by all 22 staff, Vxl power deserved their Challenge trophy, and active travel events and activities delivered by Sustrans.

Delivered with hundreds of companies, the Challenge is proven to significantly increase the number of employees travelling more actively.

Challenge participants at six months report:

  • 55% increase the amount of cycling they do
  • 46% increase the amount of walking they do
  • 55% decrease in the amount of travel by car
  • the proportion of employees meeting the basic recommended levels of physical activity increases from 38% to 53%

The Big Cycle and Walk Challenge provided us with the opportunity and the incentive to encourage company-wide participation in active travel. I believe that the Big Cycle and Walk Challenge made us all think about and want to participate in, active travel.

- Tim McCann,
Operations Director, VxI Power Ltd