How Commuting Is Affecting Your Recruitment Strategy, and What You Can Do About It

Commuting is changing rapidly. New U.S. Census data tells us that the number of “super commuters”– those who travel 90 minutes or more to their workplace  —  increased by 23 percent between 2010 and 2015. On the other hand, over 2.7 million more people worked from home in 2016 than they did 10 years ago.

Individuals who drive to work are  —  on average  — spending more time on the road, while increasing numbers of workers are dropping the commute altogether and performing their job duties at home. Without even getting into the nitty gritty of the data, this fact alone illuminates both an important challenge and an amazing opportunity for companies.

Despite these numbers that directly impact employment, many companies aren’t currently taking the steps to adapt.

These commuting changes affect productivity and employee retention. Your recruitment strategy should evolve to meet new demands.

In a perfect world, employees wouldn’t have to travel beyond what’s comfortable in order to get to work. But the reality is more complicated.

As the world’s urban population increases, housing costs skyrocket, infrastructures suffer, and skilled workers are forced to move further away from employment opportunities. These broader effects trickle down to your business operations and how your employees fare in the workplace.

Longer commutes mean higher chances for tardiness or missed work days  — whether that’s due to travel logistics or illness associated with mental health and stress. Work-life balance can easily tip into the red zone when a significant amount of time is spent in the car. One study revealed that couples in which one person commutes for longer than 45 minutes have a 40 percent higher chance of divorcing.

Stress can also affect productivity and performance, leading to increased error rates and reduced ability to manage teams effectively. Plus, a longer commute means more likelihood that an employee will quit, which means higher turnover for you.

You can mitigate these effects  —  and even benefit from them.

To truly optimize your recruiting campaigns and employee retention efforts, you should strategically use data that’s available to you.

Many companies underuse location data in their recruiting. Now more than ever, job seeker data should help drive your hiring campaigns, shape the way you communicate your company benefits, and maximize employee retention.

Research How Commutes Affect the Success and Lifetime Value of Recent Hires

Analyze data from recent hires. See how commutes affect attendance, performance, retention, and overall lifetime value of your hires in various job categories. Be sure to always incorporate other key factors that may affect on-the-job success and lifetime value.

Pay Close Attention to the ZIP Code

While it’s easy to gloss over these five digits, ZIP codes are excellent data points to include in a candidate’s overall employment fit score. That being said, take into account additional factors such as actual commute time and public transportation options (as opposed to just physical distance) when calculating the effects of a commute.

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Minority groups often concentrate in certain geographical areas, so beware of any potentially detrimental effects on these groups when using commute time as a hiring criteria.

Tailor Your Recruitment Campaigns to Various Commuting Distances

Once you have a good understanding of your applicant locations, maximize the impact of your campaign messaging. Consider what is most attractive to those who live with their family beyond city limits versus those who live in a studio loft around the corner from the office. Odds are there’s plenty of room to speak directly to each of these segments  — all the while distinguishing your company as an intuitive organization and great place to work.

Hire and Retain Workers With a Longer Commute by Offering More Flexibility

Tweaking your recruitment campaigns to include location-based hiring doesn’t mean excluding those job seekers with long commutes. It does mean that you can offer long commuters more flexible working conditions  —  not only to earn their interest in joining your team, but also to keep them happy and fulfilled in the long run. More compact workweeks, flexible start times, discounted public transportation cards, and options to work remotely are all becoming increasingly commonplace  —  and for good reason.

Adapting your company’s work setup to your workforce is both an intuitive and cost-effective way to operate and recruit. Yet, it’s still overlooked. Once you begin to incorporate these strategies into your recruitment and retention efforts, you set yourself on the path of forward-thinking recruitment strategies and make better, happier hires.

Mike Kofi Okyere
I am the founder and CEO of Perengo, a programmatic recruitment platform for performance-conscious recruiters working for high-growth businesses and Fortune 1000 companies. I have taken my years of experience in the world of e-commerce and Ad Tech, and applied it to improving the world of recruitment through algorithms and machine learning.
 
Previously, I served as the head of performance advertising for AdMob (SEA/AU NZ), before it was acquired by Google in 2010. At Google, I drove the strategy and execution for mobile display advertising as head of mobile advertising for Australia/New Zealand and then head of mobile display advertising for Google Asia until 2013. Thereafter I worked in director of sales roles with both Criteo and Issuu before founding Perengo in 2015.