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CommuteCon 2018

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Driving Employee Engagement in Commuter Programs

Phillip Kobernick
Acting Logistics Services Manager
County of Alameda, General Services Agency

Session Description

Logistics services manager Phillip Kobernick of the County of Alameda’s General Services Agency joined us to talk about ways to increase employee engagement with employer-focused commuter programs.

As a regional government agency, Alameda County employs about 9,500 people at approximately 200 offices, and commuting accounts for 38 percent of the agency’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Kobernick highlighted the need to create a commuter program that works within the context of the 200 or so offices that are part of the county’s employment network. This type of organizational structure creates a different set of needs than situations where employees all commute to a single location.

For Kobernick, commuter surveying is a vital first step in building an effective program. He talks about the need to “know your audience” in putting together an initiative that will connect with commuters and speak to their particular needs. The more detailed and specific the survey questions, the more complete a picture the surveys will generate. Kobernick also leveraged focus groups to identify specific commute-related issues the county’s program would then attempt to address.

Next, Kobernick highlighted the importance of community-based social marketing, which leverages peers and the employer’s culture to supplement benefit-focused psychological tools to stimulate behavior change. One key element of this aspect of employee engagement is to create what Kobernick calls “social norming,” or normalizing the idea of smart commuting across the county’s 200 offices.

Third, Kobernick talked about leveraging the power of making a public commitment as part of a motivational and engagement strategy. People don’t like to be seen as not following through on a promise, so when a pledge to smart commuting is publicly made, people are much more likely to make good on their word.

Finally, Kobernick mentioned social diffusion as an engagement tool. This concept is driven by the idea that people learn things from trusted peers, colleagues, and social connections. Given the fact that the county has around 200 offices, it becomes vitally important that a highly visible individual within each office promotes the program to employees who work specifically at that location.

Kobernick provided many examples and details to help develop understanding of these key concepts. You can learn more by viewing his full presentation.