First, the ugly stat: In 2013, the CDC estimated that about 80 percent of adult Americans don’t get enough exercise. NOT cool. Especially from an employer’s perspective, as this translates into a 25 percent increase across the board in costs related to absenteeism, health care, workers’ compensation and disability management.
But now the good stuff: More and more people are finding ways to squeeze exercise into their busy schedules. In fact, the U.S. Census reported that 856,000 people ride a bike to work as their primary method of transportation – a 9 percent increase from the year prior! We love this because riding a bike is one of the easiest ways to exercise, building stamina and improving heart health. That’s good news for employees AND employers.
May is National Bike Month. Now is also a perfect time to challenge employees to commute to work on two wheels. (May 12-16 is also National Bike to Work Week and May 16 is National Bike to Work DAY.) Of course, there are still roadblocks that keep people from the pedals. Here are a few you might encounter and eight ways to conquer them.
Roadblock: Employees don’t have the right equipment to bike to work
Tip #1: Offer bike loans or discounts – To lessen some of the financial burden, set up a program with a local bike shop where employees can borrow or rent a bike, or buy one at a discount.
Tip #2: Provide bike storage with the essentials – Set up a secure and easily accessible area for employees to store and fix their bikes. Make sure you have all the right equipment on hand – like tire pumps, extra LED lights and repair kits.
Roadblock: I’m concerned about employees’ safety, especially if they’re new to biking
Tip #3: Schedule a Bike 101 class – Make sure your office is prepared with a 30-minute class that covers safety tips and rules of the road. Instructors can be found through The League of American Bicyclists or at local bike shops near you.
Tip #4: Create a bike buddy group – Help employees set up bike buddy groups by neighborhood to reduce worries about biking to work alone. They’ll feel safer AND it’s a great way to build coworker morale and relationships.
Roadblock: Employees don’t want to come to work all hot and sweaty
Tip #5: Set up a place to freshen up – It’s true – no one wants to be at work all day after sweating in the morning. Provide shower facilities for employees to use, either at your office or a local health club. If that’s not an option, provide “fresh kits” that include products like towelettes and hair brushes.
Tip #6: Temporarily change your dress code to business casual – Most people don’t want to ride a bike in a business suit or stuff their dress clothes in a backpack. Allowing for a more casual dress code during Bike to Work Week can tamper worries about looking disheveled.
Roadblock: Employees don’t see what’s in it for them
Tip #7: Incorporate incentives – To increase participation, offer a few desired incentives. Survey employees to find out what works for them; Limeade clients have found great success with cash, gift cards and paid time off (like 15 minutes for every day they bike to work).
Tip #8: Celebrate their health commitment – Biking stirs up a hearty appetite! Host a breakfast “pit stop” at a local restaurant or park on Bike to Work Day – it’s a great way to show your appreciation and educate employees on healthy eating.
If you’re celebrating National Bike Month at your office, we’d love to hear what you’re doing to get employees in on the ride! Join the conversation in the comment section below.