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Long Miles to Work: How does Commute Affect Employment


When it comes to unemployment in the UK, there’s always been a huge divide between the North and the South. Although the last recession has affected most areas, according to an article by Mirror, the North is doing pretty bad having 45 out of 50 unemployment blackspots with more than 25% of households completely out of work. Could part of the problem be the distance they have to drive to work in the North?

Driving to WorkAn extensive sample of customer data was studied by car finance provider and they found an interesting correlation. The findings were published in this blog post. The data was calculated based on the mileage that our customers cover in their cars on a single journey to work.

The average miles driven in the South were 21.57, while the North posted a higher mileage at 22.03. At first, it seems it’s not such a big difference but once it’s broken down by region, a footprint starts to emerge. For example, in Midlands, an average single car journey to work is 34.92 miles and isn’t Midlands one of the worst-affected regions? The unemployment rate in parts of Birmingham is more than 10%!

Employee Retention Rate Suffers

According to, a proponent of flexible work, commuting has a direct impact on employer loyalty and retention rate. A correlation between staff happiness and the length of their commute has been established. According to the study, as much as 16% of UK workers have considered leaving their job because of the time and effort involved to get to the workplace. It’s not the worst percentage in the developed world – both Canada and the USA have shown similar discontentment rates.

If we look at the study in more detail, we can see that the longer the commute, the higher the likelihood the employee will start considering leaving the job. Once commute time increases to over one hour, the percentage of people wanting to quit rises to 39%.

A Solution?

The most obvious solution would, of course, be to create employment opportunities where there’s shortage but in the reality it’s not as easy to achieve. People will commute to work like it or not.

Mileage allowance is one possibility of making sure people stay at work. For example, NHS has introduced a tiered approach that considers the mileage covered by the employee in a car. First 3,500 miles are reimbursed at 67p per mile. Those who drive their cars for longer distances get 24p per mile for each additional mile on top of the basic 3,500. It’s not the most generous mileage allowance I’ve seen but it’s certainly better than nothing.

Another approach quickly gaining popularity amongst IT and creative industries is flexible work where the employee spends a certain portion of the working week at home or even works at home permanently. A debate held at the London Transport Museum, part of the “Connected Britain” discussion concluded that there are many economic and environmental benefits of getting more people to work from their homes. The opponents of the idea argue that people are social and they’ll begin to struggle without interaction.

Have you measured the impact of commuting distance on your employee retention rate? What do you think can be done to rectify the situation?

One Response

  1. Solution

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