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Nightmare on Main Street: Scary commutes

As the spookiest day of the year approaches, staffing firm Robert Half highlights the cities with the most hair-raising commutes. Last month, the company surveyed more than 2,700 workers from 27 major U.S. cities to determine how long they spend commuting to and from the office and which cities have the most stressed-out commuters.

Here are the results:

Average round-trip commute times

Rank U.S. City Average
Time (in
Rank U.S. City Average
Time (in
1 Washington, D.C. 60.42 14 Detroit, MI 46.87
2 San Francisco, CA 59.20 15 Pittsburgh, PA 46.38
3 Chicago, IL 58.50 16 San Diego, CA 46.19
4 New York, NY 57.92 17 Denver, CO 46.11
5 Dallas, TX 54.95 18 St. Louis, MO 45.67
6 Seattle, WA 54.22 19 Phoenix, AZ 45.53
7 Boston, MA 53.75 20 Cincinnati, OH 45.42
8 Los Angeles, CA 53.68 21 Raleigh, NC 44.68
9 Philadelphia, PA 51.86 22 Minneapolis, MN 43.53
10 Austin, TX 51.85 23 Indianapolis, IN 43.34
11 Houston, TX 50.56 24 Charlotte, NC 42.70
12 Atlanta, GA 49.90 25 Cleveland, OH 42.00
13 Miami, FL 49.16 26 Des Moines, IA 40.94
      27 Salt Lake City, UT 40.41

Most stressful commutes

Professionals with the longest commutes aren’t necessarily the most anxious. When asked about their stress levels stemming from commute, here is how U.S. commuters ranked their cities, from most to least stressful:

Rank U.S. City Rank U.S. City
1 Los Angeles, CA 13 Chicago, IL
2 Miami, FL 13 Denver, CO
3 Austin, TX 16 Philadelphia, PA
4 Phoenix, AZ 17 Seattle, WA
5 San Francisco, CA 18 Cincinnati, OH
6 Houston, TX 19 San Diego, CA
7 Dallas, TX 20 Charlotte, NC
8 Washington, D.C. 20 Raleigh, NC
9 New York, NY 22 Indianapolis, IN
10 Atlanta, GA 23 Salt Lake City, UT
11 Detroit, MI 24 Minneapolis, MN
12 Pittsburgh, PA 25 St. Louis, MO
13 Boston, MA 26 Cleveland, OH
    27 Des Moines, IA

How you can make it less scary for employees who commute

Commute times rank as a top concern among employees when considering a job offer, according to feedback gathered from Robert Half’s recruiters.

“Good managers keep a constant gauge on team morale. You should continually talk to employees about their commutes to identify pain points and possible workarounds,” said Josh Howarth, district president for Robert Half. “Every organization is different, and no single magic bullet can solve all commuting problems.”

Howarth recommends having these conversations sooner rather than later: “Winter weather and the end of daylight savings time often result in longer commutes. Get plans in place now to offer flexible options before workers feel the full impact.”

If you’re an employer concerned that a lengthy commute could be hurting retention efforts or scaring away potential candidates, consider the following solutions:

  1. Survey your employee base. Talk to your workers individually or conduct surveys to gauge how much their commutes might be impacting their workday. Research surrounding firms and companies in your industry to see how they handle commuting issues.
  1. Offer staggered work schedules. Give employees the option to work during hours when the traffic isn’t heavy. Staggered schedules can also provide the benefit of longer coverage.
  1. Consider telecommuting options. Many companies allow employees to work remotely on occasion. If workers’ responsibilities allow, consider allowing telecommuting several days a week.
  1. Increase commuting benefits. If you are already offering commuting benefits, find out how much they are being used. Once you know which are being most utilized, you can make educated decisions to enhance or modify them. If you don’t offer these benefits, consider adding some, like subsidized public transportation or company-sponsored carpooling.

Editor’s picks:

Model Policy: Telecommuting

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