The High Price of Having a Job
In February 2022, the average price for a gallon of gas was $2.24 in the United States — the lowest since 2016 and second lowest since 2004. Today’s national average is almost double at $4.09 per gallon. According to AAA prices vary by state, with a low of $3.65 in Missouri up to $5.74 in California. No matter where they are fueling up, workers are seeing a 50 to 100% increase in their cost to commute, and prices continue to rise. (www.zenefits.com)
The annual summertime gas price rise will only add to the problem. Historically, after Memorial Day, the price of fuel rises due to increased demand for the summer driving and traveling season. Given that over half of employees live paycheck to paycheck according to a recent CNN poll, an increase in weekly gas prices can significantly impact your employees, especially if there are two drivers heading to work each week.
While many might say that fuel prices are simply part of having a job, many others would argue that it is hard enough right now to find and keep good employees. So how can an employer help their employees with this financial stress?
How to help
- Keep folks working at home, if possible, as many days during the week as you can. Simply reducing the number of workdays someone comes onsite can make a big impact.
- If you can’t keep people remote, consider a four-day workweek to eliminate at least one day of travel.
- Increase your mileage reimbursement for required work travel.
- Consider a temporary incentive to salary or gas allowance. Make sure you do this equitably. Don’t make any assumptions on who drives, walks, or takes the bus, especially if you have employees with disabilities that might prohibit them from driving. The benefit should be offered to all. Also remember that the IRS still considers gas cards as taxable, so if you decide to go this route be sure to address with your accounting and payroll departments.
- Add some gasoline gift cards as an extra thank-you this summer. These are still taxable, but every little bit helps.
- Make sure that employees do not have to leave or travel far for lunch. This doesn’t mean you have to provide them with lunch every day, but make sure that to have a nice place to eat and store their lunches until lunch time. While this seems like a given, you would be surprised how many employers are ill equipped to provide an onsite lunch space big enough to hold their entire team. Make sure team members can refrigerate lunches and heat them up if they do not want to go out.
- If your worksite is in a heavily populated city with frequent traffic issues, consider implementing flex time to create commute-friendly work hours. Letting someone’s day be from 7am to 4pm may take considerable time off their commute, most of which could be just sitting idle in traffic. You could tell employees that they must be present for their shift between the hours of 6:30 am and 6:30 pm and let them determine what works best for their commute.
- Encourage employees to carpool. Rather than four employees each driving 15 miles to work, perhaps they can all meet up somewhere approximately 5 miles from work and then take just one car into the office. Perhaps as a perk to these folks, give them a slightly shortened workday to allow it to be easier for them all to arrive and leave at the same time.
- If employees participate in any of these options, that not only help them but also help the environment by reducing the usage of gas and emissions, reward them! Give lunch gift cards to your commuters, offer free car washes to your drivers, give special casual clothes privileges to your walkers and bikers (and bus riders – those buses can get hot!).
The rising cost of gas is something that is out of your control and your employees’ control. However, there are several things you can do together to help make things a little easier, especially as summer heats up.
If we can help you with any of these ideas, or any other suggestions ideas to add to your employee benefit and incentive program, we would love to help you create a great place to work.