We invite Guest “Will Ireson – Global Director of Mobility Services at CMaaS” to our first session of “Ask an Expert” in the fleet and mobility industry. Will has had many years of experience in HR and Global Benefits. Before making the transition to specialise in Corporate Mobility, he worked as the Global Benefits Manager for Nike designing plans across EMEA and APAC, including strategic design and management fleet and mobility strategies, health and wellness, leaves, transportation programs, and more.
Will has been kind enough to share his time and speak with us on “Including Mobility as Part of a Benefits Program.”
Can you describe what you mean when you talk about including mobility as part of an employee benefits program?
“Employee Benefits are value to the employee in terms of their reward, protection, and value as an employee. Benefits have evolved from the traditional core benefits to more holistic benefits that cover the changing requirements of a multi-generational employee workforce.
Many corporates already provide a form of a contribution to commuting, as this is an integral part of an employee’s day that enables them to fulfill their job requirements. Now more than ever, mobility is in focus, not just because of Sustainability, but also because of the increase in options available. Employees are now utilising numerous methods of mobility to get to work. Therefore, mobility is essential as a benefit as it retains the employee’s personal experience via a corporate solution, as if you can provide mobility as a benefit that utilises all the preferred options for an employee, then they will truly value the benefit and their employer. Cash is always an option, but it sends a wrong message, as is often just considered as salary. And post Covid-19 mobility is emerging with increasing tax advantages, that makes adding mobility an even easier option, mainly to ensure safe and clean options for employees post Covid-19.”
From your experience, what are the most significant challenges with implementation?
“Often establishing the owner is the first hurdle, as with tight budgets and numerous stakeholders where mobility can add value, it’s often complex to establish who can lead a project. However, if you start with a vision and share this with numerous departments (Procurement, Fleet, HR, Compensation & Benefits, Sustainability team), you will find that there are common themes that can then be combined into a vision. Once you have a vision, you can then gain momentum and start to map out easy wins, but also complex hurdles. Also, don’t assume where the challenges will be, as often you can be surprised by a positive reaction if it’s the ‘right thing to do”.
Why would an employee want to participate?
“Employees are already participating in their private time mobility, so to start a user group is an easy task if you want to gather insights. Or conduct a focus group where you can establish the readiness for change. Even involving a works council is a great means to engage, as Sustainability is always a topic for works councils, so mobility is likely to already be on their agenda.”
Since mobility is quite HR-focused, how do you balance the process between Fleet, Procurement, and HR teams?
“As mentioned earlier, the benefits that mobility brings are often across multiple departments, so you will find that your vision doesn’t just sit in HR, but across fleet, procurement, travel, health and safety, and even business functions. There are numerous resources available internally to help design a strategy for mobility, so by gathering a diverse project team, you can often share the workload and share the win.”
What’s the best process to start the project? For example: do you begin with policy, or does it begin with fleet?
“Start with a vision. Then work backwards on how to create that vision. You also need to look at your company culture, industry, locations, employees as one size doesn’t fit all. E.g., fleet can be a great starting point, where you can make immediate savings and create quick solutions without making too many changes. E.g., if you digitalise your fleet, you can start to monitor costs and even start to turn your fleet into its own on-demand pool car module. Your fleet will then become smarter, where you have full visibility of the fleet and utilisation, which then frees up additional budget for more mobility innovation, not just for drivers but for all employees. This is then when you can enhance existing HR commuting policies, as you will have a budget to create more options for a broader employee population. “
What are the cost benefits to a company by introducing mobility in addition to company cars?
“Sustainability: it’s not just the company that wants to be sustainable, but also employees. Employees want their company to represent their green values, so by adding more than just EV’s will meet the needs and requests of employees.
Choice: Not all employees want a company car. Not just for sustainability purposes but convenience. Someone living in the city has no use for a car, with inadequate parking, heavy congestion, stress, and of course, high BIC taxation. Many young people don’t have driving licences, so it’s smart to provide alternatives that suit the city lifestyle more.
City infrastructures: As above, it’s not just employees who are finding cars complicated in cities. Local municipalities are committed to reducing cars (if not completely removing them), with substantial investment in new mobility alternatives. With recent Covid-19, governments are now releasing tax incentives for micro-mobility. Paris has now integrated micro-mobility into a tax-free commuting allowance, and London is currently experimenting with new E-scooters.
Digitalisation – Businesses are more digital, with many roles moving from traditional ‘client visits’ to more digital connectivity, especially with Covid-19, we have realised that much of our work can be done digitally. Mobility, all methods are also now digital. Company cars are still a necessity for many businesses. Now, the digitalisation of fleets allows them to be more efficient and effective, not just for fleet managers but also for the driver, enhancing the driving safety and experience. And as private consumers, we all use multiple numbers of apps on our phones for mobility, so corporate solutions need to reflect individual digital experience. Corporates are always innovating their business, and should not stop at Fleet/Mobility services, as employees are core to any business. “
Do you think alternative mobility can replace the company car?
“There is no yes or no answer to this, as it all depends on the nature of your business, location, workforce. Perhaps the best answer is there is an equal ‘harmonization of the car and mobility,’ where a combination of both can be a valuable option.”
What are the health and wellness benefits of including mobility as an employee benefit?
“HR understands that the Wellness of Employees is now a critical post-pandemic priority. One approach is through targeting the eight dimensions of wellness. These dimensions are: physical, intellectual, environmental, financial, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and social, which as a result of Corona, employees have experienced symptoms of imbalance across all the Dimensions, to a point where business continuity is at risk. HR is now firefighting to address how best to support employees across all the dimensions, at a time where also HR has limited capacity or capability to resolve in the speed needed. Mobility is now an urgent priority, not limited to solutions/adaptations to existing services (e.g., fleet/cars) and a new solution where, e.g., e-bikes encourage open-air travel (avoiding crowded transport). Fleet and Travel managers can also help HR with strategic solutions to some of the emerging wellness priorities for mobility: including Safe/clean travel, Security, and Protection.
Flexible working options (home, office, shared spaces, working/driving schedules), Improved connection to an employer (work, travel and social), Agile travel options ‘open-air’, Active/physical solutions and challenges, Alternative usage of budgets. Improved Employer recommendations and guidelines for safety”.
We very much appreciate the time and effort Will has taken in responding to our questions, and we hope readers get as much value as we have. Please read our other interviews coming up as part of our “Ask an Expert” series, discussing the rapidly evolving fleet and mobility market.