11 Jun 21

Mobility as a Benefit “must express corporate values”

Fleet Europe’s very first Smart Mobility Conference also was its very first event ever dedicated 100% to corporate mobility. That topic has a Siamese twin, ever-present throughout yesterday’s proceedings: mobility as a benefit. Or, as Franck Leveque (Business Unit Leader Mobility at Smart Mobility Conference partner Frost & Sullivan) succinctly put it at the event’s opening: “Mobility is the new employee benefits.” As became clear during the day, that has major implications, both from a Fleet and an HR perspective.

You can watch the recordings of the Smart Mobility Conference on our YouTube channel. Find out more about the latest trends in fleet & mobility management and watch the recorded sessions of the 2021 Global Fleet Conference.

In a segment focusing on The Benefit of Mobility for HR and Talent Acquisition, Ferenc Hegedüs (EMEA Geosourcing Lead, IBM) reiterated the generational shift and the trend towards sustainability that both reinforce the move away from the classic company car towards a range of multimodal solutions. 

Talent acquisition tool
From IBM’s perspective, the move from fleet to mobility is powered not just by an ambition to achieve net-zero by 2030. It is also an illustration of its changing attitude towards employee mobility as compensation and benefit: “It’s a tool in talent acquisition, and for inclusion. It enables freedom of choice, and is attractive especially for millennials.”

In fact, so few newcomers want to ‘own’ a company car that the option is being ‘grandfathered’ in many markets. “But this change isn’t easy, and won’t happen overnight,” says Mr. Hegedüs. Mobility as a benefit is progressing in places where taxation and regulation are mature enough. “There are also cultural factors: in some countries, like Hungary for example, the company car remains an important status symbol. There is also a more direct geographic factor: in an urban environment like London, a company car makes no sense.”

After the lunch break, Alexander Merkel (Fleet & Travel Manager Europe for the LDS Church) and Wim Schellekens (Head of Category Management at Bridgestone Europe) discussed Maximising the Value of Corporate Mobility as a Benefit.

On top of the agenda
As it happens, Bridgestone is looking for a new HQ, and corporate mobility plays a role in the process: “Young people live in urban environments and don’t really want a company car anymore. They want alternatives to come into work. That is influencing our search for a new location. And it is reducing the size of the parking space we will need,” said Mr. Schellekens. Mobility as an employee benefit may be an option with varying degrees of maturity throughout Europe, but “it’s on top of the agenda in all our markets.”

In selecting the right options for corporate mobility, companies have an important ally – the employees themselves. “Involve them in selecting which mobility options you will offer. That increases the probability that they will stick with those solutions.”

“How do you motivate employees to use mobility alternatives? It all boils down to their personal preference – in the end: to the ease of use of the option, and to the time it saves,” added Mr. Schellekens. However, ease of use is an issue on the provider side: “We need mobility programmes that work across borders. We know that’s a tough request, but it’s a necessary one. That is what we need.”

It’s clear that the evolution from fleet to mobility management is one that increases complexity for the corporates that make the change. The best way to approach that difficult change is not to see it as a mountain to climb, but as a peak to achieve. “Benefits should be an expression of the values of your company, said Eva Lawless (Head of Benefit Transformation, Mercer), in a session offering Insights on the Contours of Mobility as a Benefit. 

Beyond ‘internal talent’
As companies need to address an increasingly wide range of employee types, their benefits strategy will have to be characterized by ‘individualization’: adapting the benefit packages to the needs and wants of other groups than the ‘internal talent’: permanent employees with a desire for long-running solutions, like pension plans and company cars. 

Ms. Lawless explained how benefits must be part of an HR strategy to offer different types of value to (potential) employees: contractual, experiential, and even emotional: “A benefits strategy should create authentic value.” That means offering flexibility in terms of parental leave or work schedules, for instance. Supporting the well-being of the employee. 

Caring about your employees’ well-being and offering them flexible benefits is not just about corporate kind-heartedness; it's also a smart business decision, especially if you’re looking to attract and retain talent. “Our survey shows that for about one in seven employees, the benefits offered have already been a decisive factor in choosing an employer,” observed Ms. Lawless.

Don’t forget the car
In terms of which types of benefits employees found rather or very important, mobility (71%) was one of the high scorers, not far behind health benefits (77%) or training and education (84%). As for the most popular mobility benefits offered in Germany, the Mercer survey pointed to MaaS (11%) and car-sharing solutions (12%), public transport offers (27%), and bike leasing (38%), with car benefits (82%) still prominent. 

Because one should not forget that when it comes to offering an increasingly wide range of mobility choices, “the company car is still the most common type of mobility.” 

However, as Stuart ‘Mobility’ Donnelly (Global Sales Director, Sixt SE) pointed out in the subsequent Sixt Mobility Club, it is important to offer that wide range of mobility solutions – not just for the employees’ sake, but also for the good of the employers: “We all sense that there is massive change ahead. And we still don’t know which way it’s all going to play out. That’s why it’s important to offer flexible mobility, as a way to be prepared for the future.”

In that same segment, Nicholas Nelson (Global Lodgings and EMEIA Developed Markets Travel Leader, EY) remarked: “If people won’t value the company car anymore, then there’s little point in continuing to offer it as a benefit. We must be prepared to re-use that budget in other ways.”

(Image: Shutterstock)

Authored by: Frank Jacobs