Case study: Carbon-neutral commuting to work at B&R Industrial Automation

B&R Standort Eggelsberg Panorama
© ABB

The challenge

B&R Industrial Automation is a large industrial automation manufacturer with headquarters in Eggelsberg, Austria. In 2017 the company became part of the Swiss ABB Group, a Fortune 500 company with offices in 68 countries around the world.

With workers everywhere seeking strong alignment between their organization’s values and their personal ideals, B&R Industrial Automation looks for ways to empower its highly skilled workforce to take an active role in meeting the company’s environmental sustainability commitments. The commute represents as much as 98% of an employee’s work-related environmental impact.

It’s also one of the most dreaded parts of the day for many workers. The HR team at B&R Industrial Automation knew that helping employees manage their commute in a way that optimizes the experience and aligns with their values would be a triple win for their people, the organization, and the planet.

Fallstudie B&R

The strategy

As part of the ABB Group’s “Mission to Zero,” B&R Industrial Automation is making it a priority to empower and incentivize all of its 2,300 employees in Austria to commute more sustainably. Like all aspects of the Mission to Zero initiative, the commute program is evidence-based and its results are scrutinized by the organization and employees alike.

The Pave Commute program, launched in September 2022, offers commuters to any of the 12 locations across the country support for finding more sustainable transportation options, including carpool partners, and payroll incentives of around $10 per month. This simple strategy is grounded in behavioral science and designed to serve every individual, regardless of their work location or access to various modes of transportation.

The personalized support starts by providing each participating employee with a daily recommendation based on individual needs and preferences. As part of this service, commuters are also connected with colleagues who can share carpool rides or provide encouragement for other modes like biking.

The results

Just six months after launching participation continued to rise organically, and employees were logging over 4,100 carpool, transit, biking, or walking commutes. Here are their initial results:

Fallstudie B&R

How they did it

B&R Industrial Automation provides personalized commute support to every employee, every day by offering Pave Commute – an employee benefit for commuters that combines gamification and behavioral science in a fun-to-use app. HR just sets a budget for incentives and provides employees with a sign-up link.

Commuters open the app and answer a few simple questions about their commute. Right away, they receive a personalized commute plan for the week ahead, including matches with groups of colleagues who can carpool or help them try transit or biking.

Then, when employees track trips they instantly receive Coins that can be redeemed for a payroll incentive, charitable donation, prize raffles, or other rewards. Over time, the app uses nudges to encourage more sustainable choices.

When B&R Industrial Automation launched the app in September 2022, around 100 employees signed up right. Usage more than tripled organically in the first six months.

Why it works

Personalized nudges work exceptionally well to change habits because they avoid decision fatigue. Most people are aware that other options exist, but when driving alone is the default, deciding to do something else requires extra thought and planning and human beings naturally revert to the ‘easier’ choice that feels more automatic.

The impact of personalized recommendations, or so-called Push Mobility on commuter choice has been demonstrated in research by Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight. In two controlled experiments with commuters in Durham, North Carolina researchers found that providing a personal plan alone accounted for a 5-10% shift.

Combining the Push Mobility approach with other proven principles of behavioral science, including gamification and financial incentives keeps users engaged and creates measurable, lasting modeshift.

The case study as a PDF file can be downloaded here for free.

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Picture of Richard Preißler
Richard Preißler
Having founded and contributed to projects and startups in transportation, innovation and sustainability, Richard supports Pave Commute with 6+ years industry experience and in-depth articles. He is based in Vienna, Austria.
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