Interview with Danielle Kruger, HR director at ALD Automotive
Together with her colleagues in the HR department, it is Danielle’s job to keep employees moving in a healthy and sustainable manner. The e-bike thus plays an important role at ALD Automotive. Danielle talks about her own experiences with incorporating e-bikes into a mobility policy and what employers can do to promote e-bike use.
Why do e-bikes fit so well with a sustainable and healthy mobility policy?
An e-bike is a wonderful addition to your mobility. You can cover much greater distances with an e-bike than with a regular bicycle. The fact is that if you have an e-bike outside your door, then you are more likely to leave your car at home. And cycling is healthy, of course. Though you do have pedal assistance with an e-bike, you still have to power it physically. This has a proven effect on your vitality. An e-bike fits in well with the healthy lifestyle that more and more people are adopting.
What other advantages does an e-bike offer?
Our research has shown that 15 per cent of employees are prepared to (partially) give up their parking space if they can make use of a company e-bike. Of course, that is a very smart way to save on mobility costs.
Other employees indicated that cutting down on their commute time is very important, so my advice is to clearly demonstrate to employees how much time they can save by cycling on an e-bike or high-speed e-bike.
Who is a company e-bike suitable for?
Some people may still have a certain image of the electric bike, but there are now such beautiful and sporty models that you can really make a great impression. A company e-bike is particularly suitable for employees who do not wish to make a very large purchase. But by leasing an e-bike, they also opt for convenience; you have a good bike with maintenance included so there is no hassle. The e-bike is ideal for employees who like to exercise but do not find regular bikes sufficiently comfortable and prefer not to come to work sweaty. And finally, we always get feedback from people saying that they love to be outdoors.
ALD Automotive recently conducted its own e-bike pilot scheme. Why is that, and what can you tell us about it?
It’s very simple: we also value sustainability and the health of our employees. Furthermore, we conducted a pilot programme so that we could see for ourselves what it is like to commute using an e-bike. We can claim that the e-bike is a good mode of transportation, but you also have to know what you’re talking about, so ‘practice what you preach’.
We reviewed employees’ postcodes to find out how far they live from work. This showed that, based on the distance, 40 per cent of them qualified for an e-bike. They were given an e-bike to use for three months, which the majority of them were very enthusiastic about, despite the fact that the weather was not always great during this period.
What did you learn from this pilot programme and what advice would you thus give to other employers?
Primarily that it is good to let employees become familiar with e-bikes. For the most part, the people who have tried out an e-bike don’t want to go back to using anything else. If the weather is bad then they will logically prefer to choose an alternative means of transport. You could assist employees with such situations by, for example, including rainwear in the offer. But, as far as I’m concerned, freedom of choice also comes into play here. The e-bike fits well into a range of mobility options: you can ride your bike and when the weather is bad you can drive your car or take public transport. That is ideal!
What factors are there to consider when making e-bikes available?
Depending on the distance that an employee has to travel, you can choose between the low-speed and the speed pedelec.
There are also a number of practical issues to consider. For example, is there a good place to store the e-bike and is it safe? Or is there a space at work where the employees can freshen up a bit?
Finally, do you think that employers should do more to promote e-bikes among employees?
Yes, absolutely. It is increasingly important to keep employees moving. And with COVID-19, vitality has become even more important than it already was. Both companies and their employees can reduce costs when they take advantage of a bike lease. We have to encourage people to search for alternatives and this can be done by letting them try them out. As management, you occupy an exemplary role. So take an active role yourself, show that you think it’s important, and share your stories with each other!