Inexpensive Ways to Help Commuters

August 12, 2008
Not every company can afford to set up its own private bus system or foot the down payment for a new Toyota Prius. But not to worry, reassures Linda Blandford-Beringsmith, vice president for HR at Robert Half International, a professional staffing firm based in Menlo Park, California. "There are plenty of things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money," she says.

Blandford-Beringsmith says a company can give its commuters invaluable help, for example, simply by gathering information about public transit schedules and public-sector van-pooling and ride-sharing programs and putting it all together in a one-stop portal on the corporate intranet.

Another low-cost option is to set up a program in which employees set aside money on a pretax basis to cover some of their commuting costs. Federal regulations allow $115 to be set aside each month toward public transportation passes and $220 to be allocated for parking. Unlike flexible spending accounts for health expenses, any unspent amount can be rolled over from year to year.

A third relatively low-cost idea is to allow employees to adjust their starting and quitting times to avoid rush hours. "If they spend less time sitting in traffic, they’re going to burn less gasoline," Blandford-Beringsmith says. And they’ll also be in a better mood when they get to work.

Workforce Management, August 11, 2008, p. 28 -- Subscribe Now!