With wellbeing topping the list of the most popular benefits that companies are seeking, it appears the humble cycle to work salary sacrifice scheme is back in favour.
Employers wanting to engage their people in healthy habits that make them feel good – and tick the sustainability box too are returning to this tried and trusted initiative; adding it to an increasingly wellbeing-focused benefits package aimed at supporting their people’s mental and physical health.
Since the programme was first introduced by the government way back in 1999 as a means of promoting healthier journeys to work and tackling climate change, more than 1.6 million commuters across 40,000 businesses have taken advantage of the initiative.
How does the Cycle to Work scheme work?
Initially the scheme was limited to £1000, but now there’s no upper amount to a Cycle to Work scheme. As long as the organisation is happy to purchase the bike and the employee is able to sacrifice that portion of their salary then there’s no limit to the options of bike available under the scheme. The discount off a brand new state-of-the-art bike and cycle equipment will be at least 32 percent.
In addition, employees can also claim 20p for every mile cycled for work (although not to and from work). What’s more, should employees’ bikes need any repairs they can now claim £50 back from HMRC.
Where can employees buy their bikes from?
There are many outlets that support Cycle to Work schemes and each scheme will have a list of participating shops listed on its website. And more niche shops also offer schemes so employees are not restricted in the brands they can opt for.
The benefits of a Cycle to Work scheme
The renewed interest comes as companies increase their focus on employees’ physical wellbeing and health programmes to promote exercise and self-care, as well as supporting sustainability goals to help reduce CO2 emissions.
In fact according to mental health charity, Mind, one in four of us will experience mental health problems in any given year. One of the easiest mood lifters can be a simple bike ride. Cycling can:
Reduce stress: Exercise, in particular aerobic exercise can reduce cortisol levels and reduce tension, and as stress is a major trigger for depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders, cycling provides a simple means of managing symptoms.
Reduce anxiety: Endorphins, also known as the ‘feel good hormones’, are released while cycling these can reduce anxiety and lift your mood.
Fight depression: As mentioned exercise is a mood booster and regular exercise (three or more times a week) is known to reduce the risk of developing depression.
Promote mindfulness: Getting out into the fresh air and the rhythmic motion of cycling can help quieten thoughts and clear the mind.
Build self-esteem: Cycling can provide a sense of satisfaction and purpose as well as self-confidence as fitness improves. Eco-anxiety is something that Gen Z in particular suffers with but doing your part for the environment can help promote a sense of empowerment.