Encouraging your employees to cycle to work has huge benefits to both employees and organisations. In fact, as well as increasing employee mental and physical health and wellbeing, workplaces that support bike-riding employees can reduce absenteeism by up to 80%!
Despite this, two thirds of Australians still rely on cars to travel to work every day.
With Ride2Work day coming up on October 15th, Liz Joiner – General Manager of People and Culture at Bicycle Network – shares some insights into what NFP organisations can do to better support their employees to ride to work, and reap the rewards of a healthier workplace.
Hi Liz! Tell us about what you do at Bicycle Network.
Bicycle Network is a member-based organisation with almost 50,000 members and we believe physical activity is vital for a happy, healthy life. Our aim is to make bike-riding part of everyday life.
We promote cycling by running mass participation events like RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride and Bupa Around the Bay, and we run behavior change programs including Ride2Work, Parkiteer, Ride2School and The Happiness Cycle, that provide people with an opportunity to ride.
I lead the People and Culture Team for the organisation, which is mix of organisational development, HR, recruitment, IT, and training and development of our team members. We have a big focus on development at Bicycle Network, with a solid skill development program for all of our team members. We also run a number of other programs including an Emerging Leaders Program for our high potential team members as well as mentoring and internship programs. Our team also manages hundreds of volunteers for our events and in our office. We couldn’t do any of this without our amazing volunteers!
You’ll be talking about Bike Friendly Workplaces at this year’s NFP People Conference – can you tell me what led the Bicycle Network to create this program?
It all started with a call from The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne who wanted to conduct an audit of their current facilities and measure the benefits and impact of cycling to work had on their staff.
We realised we could help to make sure that organisations are not only considering riding to work as a form of active travel, but are really supporting and empowering their employees with workplace riding initiatives. The aim is to assist employers to create a cycling culture within their organisation by providing them with tools that will inspire a happier, healthier workplace. Some of the initiatives include improving end-of-trip facilities, such as bike parking, showers, lockers and change rooms as well as providing resources, information and incentives to help workplaces improve their riding culture.
How does the program work?
Initially we conduct an audit of current facilities and infrastructure, assess how bike-friendly they are, provide organisations with a rating, and make recommendations for improving the rating and becoming more bike-friendly.
We plan to develop an accreditation system so organisations can apply to Bicycle Network to become registered as a bike-friendly workplace. To qualify, organisations would need to meet certain criteria such as adequate end-of-trip facilities, a supportive workplace riding culture, a bicycle policy etc.
What are some of the expected benefits of the program?
For NFP organisations, there is a wide range of benefits to becoming bike-friendly, including reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and also being seen as an attractive place to work to prospective employees. A culture of bike riding can contribute to an organisation’s environmental and health targets, and sends a great message to the community about its commitment to these goals. Overall, it boosts workplace morale and contributes to the sector’s overall mission of a happier and healthier society.
What would you say are 3 things that an NFP organisation could do straight away to make their workplaces more bike friendly?
- Create a culture where riding your bike to work is normal and accepted.
- Investigate what bike parking options the organisation has, and if necessary explore how to provide additional parking that is accessible and convenient for employees.
- Create a system where experienced bike riders in the office can meet up with new bike riders and ride to work together. This takes away the initial trepidation of riding to work and not being sure where to go, and is also more fun!
Finally, what do you love about working in the not-for-profit sector?
It’s about being involved in something that contributes to the greater good. My passion is about health and fitness so working with an organisation that makes it easier and more accessible for people to ride bikes is ideal.
I’m passionate about the physical and mental health benefits of riding and I have seen first hand how important that is, so I see that there is a real benefit in providing opportunities for people to ride their bikes and become healthier and happier.
Want to find out more about what your organisation can do to make your staff happier and healthier through encouraging cycling? Come and meet Liz and her colleague Caroline Newton from Bicycle Network at the Not-For-Profit People Conference on 13-14 November.