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Grey fleet: Engage employees, don’t just impose

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The recent report from the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), Getting to Grips with Grey Fleet, highlighted the burden of mileage reimbursement on organisations. The public sector alone is spending almost £800million a year and that number rises to an estimated $5.5billion when UK plc is added (Fleet News, July 21). 

When we shared our experience with the BVRLA for the report, a key factor was that moving away from grey fleet expenditure isn’t as simple as changing the transport policy or slashing the reimbursement rate overnight and just expecting employees to fall into line.

Understanding the logistics of your fleet’s current exposure to the grey fleet – where and why your people drive for business, when and for how long – is only a first step. Understanding the psychology of why grey fleet has become the ‘default setting’ is equally as important when it comes to providing a viable alternative.

Particularly in the public sector, it’s culturally ingrained for employees to rely on their own cars for work trips. That makes them resistant to change. We’ve seen cases where unions get involved if they see it as a reduction in benefits.

That’s why any plan to reduce grey fleet expenditure also has to engage employees in the process. Senior management has to explain the thinking behind the change and make sure employees also see it as a positive move.

It’s not just about cost-cutting. Less grey fleet means fewer employees in older, potentially less safe vehicles. Personal cars also tend to produce higher levels of CO2, so less mileage reimbursement helps any organisation’s sustainability objectives. Employees will engage with these objectives even though it requires changing behaviours and attitudes. We’ve often operated roadshows for businesses where we explain the thinking and personally help employees through the process. The point is that you have to engage with people with reason, rather than simply impose without consultation.

Our experience is once employees understand why change is important, they are more likely to support the decision and try something new.

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