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Long distance commuters more likely to leave job

... and more likely to leap at flexible working


Commuting distances have an impact on both staff loyalty, and their attitudes to working flexibly.

New research commissioned by flexible officing specialists Regus, has found a correlation between staff considering leaving their employers and the length of their commute journey.  The research covered 11,000 businesses in 13 countries,

The research findings provide strong evidence of the link between length of commute and likelihood of defection. The overall figures show that almost one in every five respondents (18.5%) across the globe has seriously considered leaving their job in the last two years because their journey to work is too long. In most countries, this proportion is in the 15-20% range. However, the figure soars in India where one in every four people (25.1%) reports having considered leaving their job because of commuting time, rising to one in three in South Africa (31.6%) and China (31.7%).

An even stronger correlation between commuting times and likelihood of employee defection emerges when the statistics are focused on people who take an hour or more to travel to work. On average, the proportion of one-hour-plus commuters who have seriously considered leaving their job in the last two year rises to 39%, compared to the overall average of 19%.

Interestingly, a high proportion of these people express strong workplace satisfaction outside of the commuting time issue. Therefore we can conclude that even though they like their job and have a happy and stimulating work environment, a long commuting time may cause an employee to leave a company despite otherwise high job satisfaction.

Long distance commuters want to work flexibly

Workplace surveys also show that distance of commuting is a strong indicator of the propensity to want flexible working. In general, people with longer commutes want more flexibility in the time and place of their work.  Drilling down further, we also find that it is related to different flexible work options.

In staff surveys conducted by HOP Associates, staff are asked if they would value having access to a range of flexible work options:

  • Reduced hours (with pro-rata reduced pay)
  • More flexible hours each day (e.g. by starting or finishing earlier)
  • More flexible choice of days worked (e.g. weekends or school terms only)
  • Compressed working week (e.g. full-time spread over 4 day week or 9 day fortnight)
  • Working in an office closer to home for some or all of the week
  • Working at home 1-2 days per week
  • Working at home 3-5 days per week
  • Spreading each day between working at home and at the office

The following table is entirely typical of the results, showing a close correlation between length of commute and the value given to different flexible work options.

For all staff surveyed, the 3 favoured options are working at home 1-2 days per week, more flexible hours each day, and a compressed working week. 

For those with the longest journeys, the most favoured includes working at an office closer to home.  And the three most favoured options, highlighted in the table, are significantly more popular with this group than with respondents as a whole.

When employees are asked if their presence is essential in the office, those who live closer to the office are much more likely to say it is than those who live furthest away.  The length or difficulty of commute journeys, it appears, can also affect one's mindset about necessary ways of working.

What should be done?

There are serious employee retention issues around commuting - and employers should take note.  To keep skilled staff, a mix of working from home, working in local offices and allowing more autonomy over the hours of work can help to retain staff and meet their aspirations for reducing their commute journeys.

And then employers will find that their reducing need for headquarters office space provides opportunities for significant savings.


 


 

January 2010

 

In this article we look at research that highlights the link between commuting distances, staff retention and the propensity to want flexible working.

The research on staff retention comes from a report by Regus, Too LongÖIím Gone What effect are commuting times having on key employee loyalty?

Further findings come from analysis of smart working staff surveys carried out by HOP Associates.

And the conclusion? To keep skilled staff, a mix of working from home, working in local offices and allowing more autonomy over the hours of work can help to retain staff and meet their aspirations for reducing time wasted in travelling to work.

 


 

 


All material copyright Flexibility.co.uk 2009