When it comes to the workers we employ and the products we create, wellbeing is at the forefront of everything we do. It encompasses the physical, social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing of employees. Most experts say that wellbeing starts fundamentally with the body and when a personal hobby of mine becomes central to an initiative we can share with our employees, it makes it even more exciting.
We want to encourage our employees to find ways to actively commute to work. Something that has taken root at our headquarters in Grand Rapids is biking to work. It was something that started small, and we started working to understand what employees would value if they were biking to work. Really asking the question, ‘how can we support you?’ goes a long way in encouraging a change in lifestyle or ongoing encouragement.
For those readers who are considering a bike-friendly workplace, this is what we’ve found makes a difference:
- Secure storage for the bikes, preferably indoors and close to an external exit so they are easily accessible.
- Sturdy racks for storing bikes are also needed, as many bike owners have invested a good amount of money in the purchase and upkeep of their bike and would like to avoid damage or theft.
- Shower facilities for employees are greatly appreciated for those riders who prefer to freshen up before beginning the workday.
Space is often the most limiting factor when considering bike-friendly improvements to a workplace. An on-site storage area may be needed to house bikes and accompanying equipment. Another consideration is the location of the workplace. Proximity to population centers and safe biking routes is a key determinant in the success of a program. Even the most incredible program and facilities will fail if there isn’t a safe route for people to ride. Community support and infrastructure, like bike lanes, are also considerations. We wouldn’t be able to be as bicycle-friendly if Grand Rapids wasn’t making it easier for people to pedal to work.
By itself, a bike-to-work program may not have a major impact on an organization. There will be an audience it will appeal to, while others might not participate. However, as part of a comprehensive sustainability and wellbeing strategy, a bike program is one more way to create employee engagement – leading to happy, productive employees – and demonstrate an overarching set of values that guide the organization.