The company car remains an important part of any comprehensive remuneration package and, therefore, a valuable tool for employers within the (competitive) labour market. However, (prospective) employees have yet to become fully convinced by electric vehicles, despite asking for more options when it comes to mobility. Furthermore, employers are looking towards the government and tax authorities to speed up the transition towards more sustainable mobility, rather than setting specific targets for themselves.
These are some of the findings from the study into mobility from a remuneration and sustainability perspective by the Centre for Excellence in Strategic Rewards at Vlerick Business School.
Professor Xavier Baeten, who conducted the research together with fellow researcher Angie van Steerthem, explains, ‘Through our collaboration with the Federation of Belgian Enterprises, Voka, Hudson and Claeys & Engels, no fewer than 320 companies gave their input on the issue of mobility. The study examines current practices, along with any prevailing opinions and challenges, while employers were also asked to share their experiences of employees’ attitudes on the subject.’
Given these 320 companies’ overall size distribution, they constitute a fair representation of Belgium’s business landscape. Of the companies surveyed, 26% employ more than one thousand workers, while 27% employ fewer than one hundred. The study’s aim was to identify the extent to which companies are committed to a sustainable mobility policy and how this ought to be managed. In addition, the companies were also asked about their perception of their employees’ attitudes in this regard, while also discussing their priorities for the future.
One first notable finding relates to companies’ levels of satisfaction regarding their mobility policies. Nearly half (45%) said that they were not satisfied with their own mobility policy, with 29% somewhat satisfied and only 26% fully satisfied. From this, it becomes clear that companies offering greater mobility choices are more satisfied with their overall policies.
When zooming in on the mobility types companies offer their employees, it is striking that the company car is by far the most chosen option (73%). This is followed by bicycles (38% electric and 34% non-electric). It became apparent that bicycles are much more widely used by employees of larger companies. Whereas 75% of companies with over one thousand employees in the study include bicycles as an option, this stands at only 42% for relatively smaller companies.
According to Professor Xavier Baeten (Vlerick Business School), ‘it is clear that steps still need to be taken. For example, we see that fully electric vehicles are currently only offered by 37% of companies in our study. It is not surprising, therefore, that only 15% of companies provide charging cards, and that only 13% provide home charging points. Moreover, provisions for short-term use of public transport (e.g. six-monthly season tickets, day tickets) have not really caught on.’
The study also looked at how companies manage their approach to mobility. A growing number of companies are offering multiple mobility options as part of their remuneration package, although it is worth noting that the digital tools required to facilitate this are still underutilised. For example, it was found that only 13% of participating companies provide employees with a digital application to manage their mobility options.
A crucial tool in taking active steps towards sustainable mobility is to set concrete targets. Here, too, there is still work to be done, with only 28% of companies setting actual targets. These may include limiting fuel cards, reducing the number of kilometres driven, reducing the fleet’s total CO2 emissions, etc.
Finally, the study also sought opinions and priorities for the future. This showed that the car remains a key part of any remuneration package. At the same time, it was found that the employees themselves are not the driving force behind the transition towards sustainable mobility. As such, companies are looking to the government, indicating that the tax regime has a major impact on their decision-making on mobility policy, while also expecting (more) decisive action to be taken. Taking employees’ opinions into account, it is not surprising that reducing the size of their fleet is not an immediate priority for companies. The main priorities are to increase the number of all-electric vehicles, to offer more flexibility in terms of transport methods and, in part, to change employees’ attitudes towards mobility.