Benefits can help ease the tension of a stressful commute for your workforce.

The morning commute to work can be a frustrating endeavor for employees. It is faced every workday by nearly 150 million Americans, per The Brookings Institution, and of that number 115 million prefer to drive themselves at an average commute time of 26.6 minutes in 2016, as reported by U.S. News & World Report. Americans also spend an average of $2,600 annually to commute to work, according to the same report.

Astute employers are finding ways to turn this pain point into a perk by providing benefits-based solutions to alleviate some of the financial, psychological and physical burdens of commuting to work.

How Americans Get to Work

Despite the plethora of commuting options, driving to work is still the top mode of transportation for 76.3 percent of the domestic workforce, reports The Brookings Institution. Car pools ranked second at 9 percent and public transit ranked third at just over 5 percent (5.1 percent), edging out the 5 percent of Americans who work from home. The Brookings Institution also points out that nearly 7.5 percent of Americans earning $75,000 or more telecommute, up from 5.4 percent in 2006. These high-earners are also increasing their use of transit services, since higher-paying jobs tend to be located in affluent metropolitan cities with well-established public transportation infrastructures.

The Benefits of Public Transportation

For commuters, the benefits of taking public transit include exercise, cost-savings, helping reduce traffic congestion and improved productivity. Walking to and from transit locations burns calories and keeps the blood circulating releasing. Since commuters don't need to worry about focusing on traffic signals and avoiding accidents like drivers, they are free to get a head start on the day whether scanning through news or practicing presentations and reading emails.

HR leaders should take note that 14-percent of millennials use public transportation at least once a week, per Civic Science Magazine. Millennials are the most active public transit riders for all the aforementioned reasons and the additional cost savings that can add up to $10,000 annually by forgoing car ownership. Accommodating and incentivizing the public transportation lifestyle can make your organization more appealing to this critical workforce generation.

Telework Flourishes

Often referred to as telecommuting, work from home or working remotely, telework has been around for decades. However, technological evolution has enabled it to not only be convenient for employees but also productive and cost effective for employers. Thanks to innovations in improved bandwidth, mobility, virtualization, connected devices, internet of things (IoT), cloud computing and digital transformation, workers can be just as efficient away from the office with virtually the same resources.

Telework Boosts Employee Engagement

According to Gallup, the largest ROI in employee engagement occurs with a balanced approach where talent works three to four days remotely and one to two days in the office. This accommodates flexibility and autonomy while maintaining needed face time with peers and managers in the office. Ironically, workers that operate remotely all of the time share similar depressed engagement levels (30 percent) with full-time office workers.

Integrating Commuting Perks to Recruit and Retain Talent

Since employees can't deduct their commute to work, employers can alleviate some of the costs by providing prepaid transit cards to workers. Providing telework options and policies may be the ultimate incentive to boost employee engagement levels and increase the talent pool of recruits. Providing commuting perks conveys the message of an organization that trusts its talent and encourages flexibility and autonomy.

Stay up-to-date on the latest workforce trends and insights for HR leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

Tags: Compensation and Benefits Employee Engagement and Productivity Turnover and Retention