HR implications of bleak traffic forecast

Employers are bracing for the productivity fall-out from long-term lane closures on the Gardiner Expressway – what can HR do to minimize work disruptions from traffic delays?

The main thoroughfare across Canada’s biggest city is seeing even more delays and accidents than usual, which means late, grumpy, tired employees.
Research from Gallup shows long commutes, defined as more than three hours a day, increase anxiety and tiredness and decrease the amount of enjoyment people experience during their work day.
A UK study found that lost productivity due to absenteeism, tardiness and tiredness costs the local economy more than £2.24 billion (CAD$3.84b) in lost profits every year.
The headaches for employers are only just starting as construction on the Gardiner Expressway sees long-term lane closures start this week. Up to 100,000 people use the Gardiner every day, and police predict morning and evening rush hours to be significantly worse as the construction continues.
“It’s been a pretty rough morning for commuters and this afternoon’s rush hour I’d expect will be equally as bad, if not a bit worse,” Constable Clint Stibbe of Toronto Police said.
The Gardiner is expected to be down to two lanes each way until the end of 2016, with a short reprieve next summer during the Pan Am Games.
“Long-term pain for all commuters is probably the best way to describe it,” Constable Stibbe said.
What HR can do:
Flex hours or telework
More employees are demanding flexible work options, from varied start times to work from home options. If telework is not an option for your organization, consider varying start times so employees have the option to avoid rush hour.
Workplace wellness
A long commute can have serious health consequences. According to the Gallup study, commuters suffer from more recurring back and neck pain, sleep less well, take less exercise, and eat less home-cooked food than those who do not commute. HR can help combat these side effects with workplace fitness programs. SAS Incorporated in Toronto offers employees on-site yoga classes and a fitness room. A workplace walking group or walking meetings can be a simple and affordable way to introduce fitness programs to your workforce.
Promote other ways to travel
From providing cycle storage to subsidizing bus passes or organizing car pools – there are lots of ways HR can support employees making healthier travel choices. Driving with others can make traffic congestion more tolerable because everyone in the car has someone to vent to and/or converse with. Mountain Equipment Coop provides bike lockers for employees, while some organizations such as the University of Waterloo offers specific parking for carpoolers.

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