Soaring gas prices offer opportunity for smart employers

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Performance Reviews

With gas prices shooting up to more than $4 a gallon, some employees—especially people with long commutes—are rethinking their job choices. You can help ease employees’ pain (and keep your turnover rate low) by introducing commuter-assistance benefits and programs.

The spike in gas prices has led to renewed interest in such programs from employers and employees alike.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey put gas prices at the top of Americans’ “serious problem” list relating to the economic slide.

The result: Expect to become more involved in getting your employees to work. Among the options to consider putting into play:

Provide mass-transit subsidies or vouchers. Check with local mass transit authorities about related discounts and tax breaks. For more advice on commuter benefits and the various tax advantages offered for employers and employees, see www.commuterchoice.com or www.bwc.gov/employ/benefits.htm.

Distribute gas cards as a spot bonus or as a regular perk for certain segments of employees, or all staff.

Launch a car-pooling program. Post a car-pooling bulletin board in your break room or create an online version on your Intranet. Reserve desirable parking spaces for car-poolers. Consider offering car-pooling subsidies, which only 5% of employers currently do.

Provide rebates for the purchase of hybrid vehicles as employees trade in cars that are less fuel-efficient

Offer telecommuting to a wider range of employees.

Use satellite telework centers so far-flung employees don’t have to drive all the way to HQ to do their work.

Point employees to cost-saving web sites, such as www.fuelcostcalculator.com, which helps estimate what gas will cost for a given trip, and www.gasbuddy.com,  which lists the spots with the best and worst gas prices in your region.

A recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey says most organizations are using benefits, not increased pay, to help employees cope with higher gas prices. Only 2% of surveyed employers offered a cost of living raise prompted by gas prices, or stipends to employees with long commutes.

The SHRM survey says the most common benefit tactic (used by 42% of respondents) was to raise the mileage reimbursement to the IRS maximum. Other benefits include offering a flexible work schedule (26%), telecommuting (18%), public transportation discounts (14%) and rewarding employee performance with a gas card (14%).

Final note:
Don’t expect employees to jump on the subway and buses on their own just because of gas-price hikes. Studies show most people view work travel as essential and it’s the last place consumers consider changing, unless they’re given some financial incentive.

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