Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare was posed with an interesting dilemma for their company picnic in mid-July – how do you get 200 off-site employees to your main campus without having them drive?
The picnic was held at the healthcare provider’s main campus near University Avenue and Jackson Street just outside downtown St. Paul. However, about 200 staff members work at an offsite building at River Park Plaza, about a mile-and-a-half south, and across the Mississippi River, from the main campus. Although the two campuses are reasonably close, the walk is a further than most people would want to undertake.
According to Kit Brady, vice president of human resources, education and guest experience at Gillette, event organizers were able to come up with a creative solution to get employees to and from the event and demonstrate the ease and reliability of public transportation.
Metro Transit’s route 71 and route 68 go between the two buildings and employees who work at River Park Plaza were encouraged to ride the bus to the picnic. Gillette, in partnership with Metro Transit and our Workplaces program, gave each person willing to ride the bus to the event a $5 Go-To Card to make the trip. Not only would the free passes give people quick and easy access to get to and from the company picnic, Gillette saw this as an opportunity to encourage employees to use the bus to get to work, teach new riders how to pay for transit rides like a typical commuter and give the participants enough money for another ride. Attendees were also encouraged to register their Go-To Cards and continue to use them for other trips.
Gillette promotes the bus when employees travel between locations, but they also support the use of public transportation to commute to and from work. Brady hopes events like these will encourage people to view the bus as a logical and accessible option.
“About 100 Gillette employees took the GoTo cards and rode the bus to the picnic,” Brady said. “Riders were pleased with how easy it was to use the card, discovered the bus stops are close to their office and the hospital and some are now considering riding the bus versus driving to work.”
Gillette has a long history of supporting sustainable transportation, offering a robust employee transportation package designed to encourage employees to decrease driving alone to work. According to Chris Gutzman, Gillette Children’s Facilities Specialist, they offer employees:
- A free Metropass card to any part time or full time employee that is willing to give up parking in favor for using public transit
- A free designated parking space for any registered carpool
The benefits Gillette offers makes a big difference when employees are deciding whether or not to drive alone.
“I have been carpooling with another Gillette co-worker since 2009,” Gutzman said. “The incentives were a big factor — in addition to not having to drive myself each day and the gas savings.”
Gillette has made a concerted effort to make sustainable transportation options more affordable and beneficial than cars. So far, that effort has been successful, with a number of employees who use take advantage of their programs. Currently for the Gillette St. Paul sites, there are 54 active Metropass users and 31 carpools. “Gillette staff who utilize our transit benefits are very pleased with the programs,” Gutzman said.
Though these innovative programs, Gillette hopes to change the way all of their employees view public transportation to get to work or just to get to the company picnic.