How cycle-to-work schemes can bolster employee morale and health

Tuesday 21st August 2018

Many workplaces have their own company cars, or employee car ownership programmes. However, sometimes a cycle-to-work scheme can be much more beneficial all round.

Schemes that involve cars can make sense for those who drive around for work purposes, while they are also useful for those who commute and either cannot or do not wish to use public transport to get from their homes to the office.

However, there is a great deal to be said for a cycle-to-work initiative, either as an alternative or even as the preferred form of employer support for staff.

How cycle-to-work schemes operate
The idea of a cycle-to-work scheme is not new. The government introduced them in 1999 as a method of encouraging people out of car and into the saddle. This, of course, cuts traffic congestion, helps keep staff fitter and also has benefits for the life of employees outside work, as they can use their bikes for leisure purposes in their spare time.

Cycle-to-work schemes usually work through employers buying the bikes and then leasing them to employees. Alternatively, a scheme can provide a monthly benefit via salary sacrifice that can be put toward the outright purchase of a bike. These programmes all come with substantial tax breaks.

Such schemes also provide perks linked to the bike suppliers such as maintenance and discount cards to help save money on accessories.

Why cycle-to-work schemes are great
There is no doubt that these schemes can bring huge benefits that staff will enjoy. The first is that a fitter workforce will be a healthier one, making work easier for anyone who has to be mobile and reducing absenteeism.

Moreover, those who cycle a lot may supplement this with lots of other activities, joining in work-based sporting activities. As a result, the social side of work and the team-building that goes with it will improve.

In addition, company efforts to be more environmentally friendly will also be boosted by encouraging cycling as an alternative to driving, while staff may feel a lot cheerier arriving by bike after being able to dodge the traffic using their local cycleway, instead of being stuck in jams.

Providing extra support
To make sure a cycle-to-work scheme functions well, however, it is important to build in the right support. Riding into work is not something people can usually do in their office clothes, and they might arrive soaked by the rain or drenched in sweat because the weather is hot. Therefore, it is important to have showering and changing facilities, plus somewhere to dry wet cycling gear.

Another area where support can be provided is safety. Many riders forget that the Highway Code applies to them as much as any motorists, and it can be useful to offer refresher courses in safety on the roads. This may be particularly useful to non-drivers. It is also wise to encourage scheme members to wear protective helmets when riding.

With good support and a scheme tailored to your staff, a cycle-to-work initiative will bring a great range of benefits. You will end up with a fit, active workforce of people who arrive invigorated and ready for the day ahead, and feel happy to work for a company that promotes green transport alternatives.

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock/pat138241

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