Why Traditional Employee Carpooling Solutions Don’t Work

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Employers have historically struggled to achieve long-term behavior change among commuters. A recognition program for sustainable trips might be the answer.

Carpooling has historically struggled to gain lasting traction with commuters. Some people may be willing to try it, but most revert to established behaviors like solo driving before long. While the reasons for this are complex, they often boil down to a combination of routine, convenience, and reliability.

 

Many commuter programs also suffer from fundamental flaws at the design level. Employers often overlook the important role group psychology can play in the sustainable commuting equation. From this perspective, a sustainability recognition program might just be the missing ingredient for greater success.

Commuter attitudes and behaviors don't align

In a Pew Research Center survey from June 2023, 56% of respondents said the federal government wasn’t taking strong enough action against climate change. Despite healthy support for climate action, only about 8.6% of commuters regularly carpool and the U.S. Census Bureau found that 68.7% of workers used solo driving as their primary mode of commuting in 2022. 

 

In the European Union (EU), a long-term study by the European Commission’s Eurostat agency reported that private vehicles dominate modal choices in virtually every major EU member state. Average occupancy rates were well below two occupants per vehicle. Yet, just as in the United States, more than half of EU voters list climate action as a major policy priority.

 

Given the dramatic disconnects between attitudes and behaviors, something isn’t adding up. Upon digging into the analysis, it seems increasingly clear that sustainability recognition programs could have a major role to play in bridging these gaps.

Obstacles to behavior change

Traditional app-based approaches to carpooling typically use matching and scheduling features to create a marketplace of users, who can then link up to share rides. These approaches work well for people engaging in occasional or one-off trips across longer distances, but they often don’t speak to the practical needs of daily commuters.

 

Commuting is difficult: in a 2019 global survey performed by IWG, 40% of respondents said their commute was the worst part of their day. People naturally want to make commuting as fast, easy, and painless as possible. While match-based ridesharing is great in theory, it just isn’t as efficient, reliable, or convenient as hopping in the car and driving alone.

 

Millions of solo drivers recognize the sustainability advantages of alternatives — reputable survey data on the importance of climate action shows it. Sustainability recognition programs offer an effective tool for connecting with these commuters and creating powerful social incentives that lead to long-term behavior change. 

Overcome obstacles to success with a sustainability recognition program

Sustainability recognition programs offer an avenue for publicly recognizing individual contributions to organizational goals. They build engaging communities where people get social recognition from their peers and colleagues for reaching commute-based milestones.

 

Business leaders are increasingly aware of employee recognition’s importance as a motivational tool. Harvard Business Review and many other leading business publications have analyzed employee recognition at length, concluding that even small amounts of recognition can have a huge impact on morale

 

Recognition programs are also closely associated with talent recruitment and retention advantages, and all their attendant benefits.

 

Programs based solely on individual material rewards can still be effective. If you’ve implemented this style of program but you’re finding that it isn’t generating the engagement you’d hoped for, adding a sustainability recognition program just might be the golden ticket to unlocking better results.

Build a turnkey sustainability recognition program with Pave Commute

In addition to trip recording, rideshare matching, rewards management, and analytics tools, Pave Commute offers a complete lineup of sustainability recognition and social engagement features. These include:

 

  • Redeemable digital tokens (Coins) and public kudos for users who reach sustainable commuting milestones
  • Group chat features that help engaged commuters connect and interact
  • Teamwork features that make it easy and fun to launch and manage friendly commuter challenges
  • Achievement shout-outs that publicly reinforce the feeling of pride that comes with making meaningful sustainability contributions

 

The approach works: 97% of Pave Commute users say they’re making valuable contributions to their employer’s sustainability efforts, and 63% say they’ve seen a positive change in workplace culture since their employer adopted the app.

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Picture of Kathryn Hagerman Medina
Kathryn Hagerman Medina
Head of Success & Marketing at RideAmigos | Changing the way the world commutes for good.
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