BWC Program Integral to Fairfax County’s Employer Outreach

Fast-growing Northern Virginia county experiences power of recognition to incentivize employer commute program progress.

Home to some of the best-known brands in America—and locally known to have some of the Washington, D.C. regions toughest traffic challenges—Fairfax County, Virginia, greeted its partnership with Best Workplaces for CommutersSM (BWC) in 2010 with enthusiasm.

“We work with more than a thousand employers, so we wanted to recognize some of them for their Transportation Demand Management (TDM) achievements,” said Marcus N. Moore, Transportation Planner II, Transportation Services Group (TSG).

Fairfax County’s desire to spotlight high-achieving employers through BWC actually dovetailed nicely with its existing system of classifying their participation using a four-level scale.

“We give the employers a level of participation depending on their type of programs implemented,” explained Moore. Level 1 is commuter information dissemination, progressing to Level 4 if the employer has telework and transit benefits, for example. BWC’s membership criteria matches up with the County’s participation levels 3 and 4. “So, we nominated those employers for BWC on an annual basis,” said Moore.

Competitive Spirit

“There are always new employers moving into the area, so Fairfax County’s TSG team is constantly doing outreach. “These programs are highly important to get cars off the road,” he said. “BWC has been a motivating factor for employers, because when one of their competitors gets an award, it encourages participation from new potential prospects.”

Once an employer reaches that advanced level, the awards promotion covers their BWC membership for two years. This serves to not only convey the County’s appreciation to the employer for its TDM efforts, but also acts as an incentive to continue striving to refine and expand its employee commute initiatives.

Fairfax County goes out of its way to make BWC recognition a major event. The TSG team hosts an annual event at which top employers are presented an award in front of the Board of Supervisors. “We’ve had about 10 employers recognized each year since beginning our BWC partnership,” said Moore.

Integral to Outreach Success

“BWC has become a really big part of our outreach promotion,” said Moore.

The TSG team begins its relationship with each employer by evaluating the company’s mobility needs and challenges. Each employer is then presented with a list of alternatives that make the most initial sense, depending on its location.

“Once we get a buy-in from management for the program, we then help them start the implementation phase,” said Moore. “Then we let them know about the criteria for the BWC awards, so they know that there is potential recognition out there to publicly highlight their efforts.”

The TSG team has created a full employer toolkit that includes BWC brochures, as well as a BWC-branded letter explaining that the promotion covers its employers’ first two years of BWC membership. The letter emphasizes that BWC provides national recognition, outlining the benefits of participation, and letting the employer know its program contributes to traffic reduction. The kit also includes a list of Fairfax County employers that have been recognized over the duration of the program. The County also sends out a press release announcing an employer’s BWC designation.

“Our strategy for introducing BWC to employers, and how we integrate it into our outreach has been successful,” said Moore.

Case in point: Fairfax County recognized The MITRE Corporation in 2013 for its shuttle service and transit subsidy program. The company literally has a MetroRail station on its McLean, Virginia, campus, making it highly accessible via transit. MITRE also won as “Best of” in the employer category of BWC’s 2015 Race to Excellence awards, and was featured in a 2016 webinar hosted by BWC and the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT).

“MITRE has been one of our top-level employers for years,” said Moore. “They have done a lot of internal program promotion, as well. They’re constantly pushing their employees to use alternative commute modes. They keep in constant contact with us to see what else they can do, staying very engaged.”

Major Milestone Achieved

The TSG team in Fairfax County set a goal shortly after becoming a BWC supporting agency of their own in 2010, to reach 50 BWC-designatedPhoto Credit: Tonya McCreary employers by its five-year anniversary.

“And we made it, in December 2015!” he said, proudly. “We’ve also created a new award called the Fairfax First 50! Award, for all those employers from the past five years, and had a very special ceremony with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to recognize each and every one of them.”

What does Moore anticipate for the future of Fairfax County’s partnership with BWC? “We foresee only continued success,” he said.

(c) 2017 Best Workplaces for Commuters