Is commuting costing you employees?

Some studies claim that one out of every five employees considers leaving their job because of commuting times. Is this also a problem in your organization? How can you improve the situation?


When it comes time to interview job applicants, candidates’ place of residence is often asked, but relying solely on geography would be a mistake. The number of kilometers separating the home from the office is a useful guide, but the most important factor to consider is the commute time. In the UK, for example, one in five would consider leaving work because of too long commuting times. Among them, 20% would choose to keep their jobs if it were close to home.

A 2015 study conducted by Annie Barreck, researcher at UQAM, the critical threshold seems to be 20 minutes. Beyond that period, commuting starts to have a negative impact on the burnout rate.

After 35 minutes of transit time, workers’ cynicism towards their employment is on the rise. In Quebec, employees take on average 32 minutes to get to work. Considering the commute time will therefore increase chances of keeping candidates.


Modes of transportation

All types of transit are not created equally. Public transit can be a calming factor, while being stuck in traffic day and night can lead to burnouts.

The situations can, however, be reversed. Public transit could be a major source of stress if one lives in the suburbs and the bus that takes you into the office passes at infrequent intervals. Similarly, spending 20 minutes in heavy downtown traffic will be much more damaging than a trip of similar duration in the country. It is the feeling of losing control that develops stress.


Well-being is fashionable

Reducing stress caused by commuting is more important than the increasingly valued work environment. “A growing number of employees are seeking work-life balance,” explains Denis Morin, Professor at the department of organization and human resources at UQAM. “It’s even truer for young people.”



How can you retain the best candidates and avoid seeing the top talent leave the organization due to commuting time? “Organizations need to promote flexible working hours,” believes Denis Morin. Employees will then be able to adjust their transit times to be the shortest and easiest possible. While selecting candidates, it is important to ask them what their average travel time is and what means of transportation they use. Finally, the opportunity for employees to work from home is sometimes a great deal of help in mitigating the adverse effects of long journeys.

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