Lack of staff parking is becoming a major bone of contention for Australian businesses and their employees. Time wasted cruising for parking, as well as earlier than normal starts to the day by employees racing to win limited parking bays, take their toll on worker wellbeing. This is even more pressing with COVID and flexible working.
Parking scarcity has long been a problem in major Australian cities. In Sydney’s CBD for instance, there are an estimated 12.2 spaces for every 100 workers, making staff parking coveted, and a considerable source of internal tension.
After the high cost of parking, with Australia being the most expensive country in the world for daily off-street parking, scarcity is the biggest concern for commuters. At least 69% of National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) members believe there are generally not enough available parking spaces, and 58% say they often or always worry about finding parking.
Now, with more people working from home during the pandemic, there is a glaringly obvious underutilisation of available parking spaces. Car park occupancies have plummeted, with about 67% of Australians sometimes or always working from home, compared to 42% pre-COVID. This has left commercial car parks mostly empty every day which can cause low morale amongst those who could be using the spaces but are forced to park off-site.
Toby Littin, co-founder and CEO of Parkable says that about 23% of people have left a job because of their commute yet employers rarely consider the huge impact of the journey to and from the office on staff.
“A smarter use of available parking space would help to reduce internal tension and up the happiness factor in workplaces," Littin says. "When people face difficult and extended commutes into the office, their engagement and productivity can suffer. In the long term, this affects job satisfaction, and ultimately impacts organisations’ staff retention.
“Cruising for a parking space is time consuming and it is stressful for employees who end up arriving late for work feeling harassed. This does very little for employee timekeeping or productivity. Nor does it help to douse flaring, internal frustrations over coveted parking bays allocated to people who rarely come to the office. Parking or lack thereof can make or break a person’s day, and can be damaging to overall workplace morale.”
Littin’s view is that there are few, if any, benefits to keeping reserved parking perks and policies, especially since parking spaces are usually allocated based on seniority or length of service. Ironically, these are the people who spend most of their time out of the office. Instead, these parks can be shared with the team whenever allocated car park holders are working remotely.
“Equally inefficient are first-come-first-serve parking models which often create scenarios where people leave home for the office very early for a stab at a parking bay. If you snooze you lose, but if you’re out of the house early to win the race for space, work-life balance is off kilter.”
Company parking should benefit as many staff members as possible. Not only can companies increase workplace happiness levels by giving staff better access and a better experience with parking, but they can also hold onto great employees who might otherwise jump ship because the daily commute and parking woes have jaded how they feel about their jobs.
In a survey by Parkable, 25% of people indicated that their commute was bad or terrible before their workplace started using Parkable to manage their employee car parks. Of those who had negative commutes, 75.6% now say that their commute is good or amazing with Parkable.
By using Parkable to manage employee and visitor parking, companies are able to prioritise the commuting experience so that it is not a source of stress and tension.
“Parking was a headache that I didn’t need, so I was relieved to find a solution," says Alex Kelly, Workplace Manager at carsales in Melbourne. "Parkable ticks all the boxes for carsales; customer support, pain-free parking, and giving fair access to all staff. Before Parkable, staff parking was stressful for employees who didn't have an allocated park. The team is definitely benefitting from more fairly shared parking."
While creating happier employees, Litten says companies can also reduce the administrative pain of managing car parks, and have the potential to increase revenue by monetising vacant spaces.
“A great parking experience reflects a great workplace culture. One in three of our clients’ employees say their perception of their workplace culture changed for the better because they are able to reserve parking in advance. Two out of three say parking at work is fairer than it was before Parkable.
“By opening up parks for sharing across the ranks, and making it easy to do so, companies enable their people to plan their commutes in advance, by knowing if they have a parking spot. There are no races for bays and no resentment over unused, untouchable parks. People arrive at work on time, stress-free and ready to work,” concludes Littin.