According to a recent survey on the effect of rising gas prices on commuting employees conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, a management professor at Florida State University’s College of Business, more pain at the pump means more employee stress on the job. Hochwarter recently surveyed more than 800 full-time commuting employees when gas prices were about $3.50 per gallon. The survey showed that workers are preoccupied, experience “the blues,” are less attentive to job tasks, and feel less enthusiasm about going to work. At least one in three said they would consider quitting their current job to find a comparable one nearby. Among the other survey findings:
- 52 percent have reconsidered taking vacations or other recreational activities
- 45 percent have had to cut back on debt-reduction payments, such as credit card payments
- Nearly 30 percent considered the consequences of going without basics including food, clothing and medicine
- 45 percent report that the escalating gas prices have “caused them to fall behind financially”
- 39 percent agreed with the statement “Gas prices have decreased my standard of living”
- About 33 percent — or one in three — said they would quit their job for a comparable one nearer to home
Sharing the pain – what employers can do
As the survey shows, if your employees are hurting, you are hurting too. Find ways to help your employees lessen the pain at the pump. Be creative – your employees will appreciate your help. Even for small companies, there are may low- to no-cost options that you can pursue.
Encourage pedal-power – Offer bike-to-work incentives, such as subsidizing bike purchases for employees who bike to work; install expanded bike parking options; sponsor bike-to-work days with free breakfasts for participants.Biking will not only save your employees money, it will keep them healthy.
Walk the walk – Nothing becomes a leader more than leadership. Managers – including the CEO – could bike to work, take mass transit, or rideshare to set an example. Subsidize or sponsor bus, van, or other group transit options. Organize car pools – encourage your management team to participate.
Expand your telecommuting options – Even allowing employees to work from home one or two days a week would reduce employee fuel expenditures by 20-40%. If you have employees who need to be on premise, consider reorganizing schedules, such as four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.
Meet wisely – Use more online meetings so that people don’t have to drive to the office. Consolidate regular in-house meetings to one or two days of the week to allow for more telecommuting options.
Find resources – Investigate and publicize any regional or state sponsored rideshare resources. Websites like eRideShare.com are cropping up to provide bulletin boards so that commuters can find ridesharing partners.
Exchange tips – Publicize gas saving tips in your company newsletter or Intranet. David Bauerlein of the Florida Times Union has a great list of suggestions to lessen the sting of rising gas costs. There are also online resources, such as GasBuddy to help employees find the lowest local gas prices. Research gas conservation and buying tips and add them to your company’s newsletter or website.
Consider “conservation contests” – Invite your employees to suggest the best gas and energy conservation tips and cost saving ideas. Offer “green” prizes and publicize the best ideas and tips both internally and in your local paper.
Offer debt counseling services – As gas prices go up, so too do food and other necessities. This is causing serious hardship for many who try to solve the problem with additional credit card debt. Some EAPs offer debt counseling services. It’s a good time to publicize and remind your employees when such resources are available.