Umicore, the global materials technology and recycling group, is playing a pioneering role in the booming narrative of bicycle leasing. This multinational with Belgian roots was one of the first clients to sign up for the KBC Bicycle Leasing offer.
We went for a digital stroll with Evelien Nys, Compensation and Benefits Manager HR Western & Southern Europe at Umicore.
Umicore is an early adopter of bike leasing. How do you explain this pioneering role?
Sustainability is one of the most important elements in our business philosophy, and it’s therefore something we want to carry through into our HR policy; we see bike leasing as one way of doing that. We first started leasing standard and e bikes (up to 25 km) in the spring of 2017.
At that time, the system was virtually unknown, but we felt there was enormous potential at Umicore for staff to use bikes as the transport mode of choice for commuting to and from work, given that just over a third (35%) of our employees live less than 15 km from their work location. Today, 1 075 employees (33% of the Belgian workforce) have signed up for the bike leasing programme, and therefore regularly commute to work by bike.
We’ve also seen a marked increase in the number of leased bikes being used for commuting by employees who live further away. On top of that figure, there are a large number of staff who cycle to work on an occasional basis.
How did Umicore approach the introduction of bike leasing in the company?
We started with info sessions for staff. In a series of small steps, we explained the benefits of bike leasing in detail to our colleagues. During those sessions they were able to ask questions, which meant we received lots of useful feedback.
We also compiled brochures and provided information so that colleagues could see very clearly what the impact of bike leasing on their compensation package would be.
That comprehensive approach worked, because the bike leasing concept is now fully embedded in the company and employees very readily find their way to the bike dealerships. Lots of colleagues can’t wait to order a new bike when their current lease contract runs out.
Bike leasing is definitely ‘in’, and has proved enormously popular within Umicore.
Which Umicore employees are eligible for a leased bike?
All employees with a permanent employment contract and who also commit to cycling to work on a regular basis are eligible for a leased bike.
Why did Umicore choose KBC Bicycle Leasing for the roll-out of the bike leasing concept?
The wide range of up-to-date models, brands and accessories means our colleagues have a free choice, something we think is really important. Additionally, colleagues can configure their own bike and, thanks to the extensive dealer network (450 distributors) of KBC Bicycle Leasing, there’s always a dealership close to where they live.
Smooth service delivery is another important consideration for Umicore, and there, too, we’re in good hands with KBC Bicycle Leasing. The administrative follow-up of the quotes is in order, and will improve further as digitalisation is integrated into the process flow.
The fact that KBC Bicycle Leasing offer a single point of contact is also a major bonus for us.
Umicore employees can choose whether or not to order an e-bike. Which type of leased bike is the most popular?
Three-quarters of employees who sign up for a leased bike choose electric. Half of them choose a model which offers pedalling assistance up to 25 km/hour, while a quarter opt for a speed pedelec, which provides assistance up to 45 km/hour.
The remaining quarter of our leased bike users choose a non-electric model. As regards the type of bike, the majority choose a city bike, but there are also folding bikes, delivery-style bikes, racing bikes and mountain bikes.
Has bicycle leasing now been incorporated into Umicore's CSR policy?
Sustainability is obviously one of the most important elements in Umicore's operations. The bike leasing concept fits in seamlessly with that. Umicore is also keen to set an example for others when it comes to commuting, and we have clearly achieved that aim.
Does Umicore take into account the comfort and convenience of employees who use a (leased) bike to travel to work?
Absolutely. We provide secure cycle storage facilities on our sites, with CCTV surveillance and access restricted to those with a staff badge.
All Umicore's sites also have bike charging points, and we provide shower facilities and lockers for our cyclists to use. In terms of infrastructure, we have invested massively in optimising the comfort and convenience of cyclists.
What are the challenges facing Umicore in relation to the use of e-bikes and speed pedelecs?
One of our top priorities is ensuring the safety of our employees, including whilst commuting. In preparation for integrating speed pedelecs into our model range, two years ago we organised a training programme (cycling safely on a speed pedelec). We also send out regular communications to staff via our internal communication channels on safety and using a (leased) bike.
We emphasise aspects such as obeying the rules of the road, making yourself visible and riding safely in traffic. We also offer our staff tips and tricks on how they can keep their bike in tiptop condition.
Do you have a leased bike yourself?
Yes, absolutely. I live around 2 km from the company site in Hoboken. When the weather is nice and I’m working at the Hoboken site, I travel to work on my leased mountain bike. I’m a real fan of the bike leasing concept. I think it’s fantastic not to have to worry about maintenance, and the financing mechanism, where you pay for the bike over three years rather than all at once, is an added bonus.
The flexibility you’re given in having a completely free choice of bike and the ability to add optional extras if you wish, makes it a very attractive proposition.
Our employees also ride for charity. For example, Umicore is supporting the 1 000 km bike ride in aid of Kom Op Tegen Kanker (‘Stand Up To Cancer’). Colleagues also take the initiative themselves to cycle together. The (leased) bike is ‘in’, both for our employees individually and for Umicore as a company.
Inspired by this article?
Are you a business owner and considering offering your employees a lease bike via a flexplan (with a potential of 5 lease bikes or more)? Or are you an employee of a company that offers bicycle leasing as an option?Then don't hesitate to contact KBC Autolease.