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Youth movement towards mobility

Date: 04 October 2018   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Changing attitudes from younger employees are one of the incentives for fleet managers to adopt wide-ranging travel policies. Sean Keywood reports.

Young workers in urban areas are increasingly turning away from company cars in favour of other mobility options.

That's according to David Oliver, procurement manager for drinks company Red Bull.

Speaking on fleet operator organisation ACFO's autumn webinar, on the subject of 'Mobility Today', Oliver explained that all of the firm's staff working in sales, and some in marketing, have company cars, making a total fleet of 220.

However, he said recently the wholesale application of this policy had been questioned, saying, "Our young employee base is now questioning the need for a company vehicle, and indeed the costs. 

"Several of them have come up to me in the past few months, basically stating that where they live, and this is in particular reference to 'generation rent', it's not very convenient for them to have a car."

Oliver said that issues included a lack of parking permits available to shared houses, meaning that staff given a vehicle would have nowhere to put it.

"This has presented a very new challenge to us, and actually means I'm now talking to HR about a complete review of this and whether it's still fit for purpose," he continued.

"The traditional company car approach has served us quite well, and indeed for some of our field-based people in less urban environments it will continue to do so, but with the increasing focus on city centres and the growth of cities, we are now asking ourselves if this is the right model."

Oliver said new employees, some of whom may not have had a car before, were also being deterred by BIK tax, with rising costs leading them to question if a company car was the right option for their role and pay grade.

In adapting his firm's travel policies, Oliver said he was finding it important to consider the wide range of transport options now available in cities, from public transport to car hire and mobility apps.

He said, "Employees living and working in urban environments have a lot of transport options. We're not anywhere near getting to the bottom of which ones are good and which ones are not so good, but our people are telling us which ones they enjoy and make their lives easier travelling about, and at the end of the day my job is to provide services that will make things easy and cost-effective for the individual."

In developing a transport policy incorporating all forms of mobility, Oliver said it was key to obtain high-quality data from suppliers in order to get a full picture.

A focus on data was also advised by John Pryor, fleet and travel manager at Arcadia Group and also ACFO chairman.

He said, "True mobility management comes down to collecting data relating to fleet and ground transportation, air, rail and hotel bookings and expenses payments - parking, tolls, subsistence plus individual items. 

"All of that added together gives the business the total cost of a journey."

Pryor said key moves by Arcadia had been adopting an online expenses system and working with a travel management company, making it easier to bring the crucial data together. 

"Having access to all information is important, but companies keep it in different silos. If information is sitting in different parts of the business, then it is unmanageable," he said.

Red Bull's Oliver said data could be used to highlight high-cost travellers and routes, which could then be taken up with team managers.

He said he was keen on promoting daily rental cars as a 'very cost-effective' option, while travel incentives in place included the provision of high-quality showers for cyclists, five Brompton folding bikes for staff and rail season ticket loans. 

He also said that using an online booking platform helped to remove obstacles to staff using public transport.