For some people, prices at the pump are painful, but for others, they’re actually crippling. When commuting becomes a hardship, employers can find themselves facing a choice of losing good staff or providing economic assistance to offset the expense of transportation.
Members of the workforce are scrambling to find jobs that are closer to their homes or that pay more—and we know this because our company is being inundated with their resumes. If you are employing people who are commuting a long distance to get to work, there’s a pretty decent chance one of their resumes has crossed our desks.
What can you do to retain these workers and avoid the heavy financial toll of turnover?
Here are some ideas being implemented by other companies.
- Compressed work weeks: This is a popular option for businesses that can handle an alteration in staff hours. By offering employees the choice of working four 10 hour days instead of the normal Monday through Friday workweek, their commuting burdens are reduced somewhat.
- Environmentally friendly solutions: Some companies are providing incentives for carpooling, or even creating bike-sharing programs.
Organizing an employee carpool is an environmentally friendly solution that can also provide an opportunity to strengthen your employees’ relationships with one another.
You can encourage participation in these kinds of programs by offering fun incentives such as free gas, carwashes, lunches, or special parking for carpool participants, or allowing those who bike to work to wear casual clothes.
- Telecommuting: This is another option that is increasing in popularity. In fact, Kitsap County has been chosen for a Washington State telecommuting pilot project.
This 18-month $150,000 research project will involve 75 companies in Kitsap, as well as cross-Sound companies that employ Kitsap residents.
- The goal is to monitor the telecommuting activities and productivity of the participants and to then compile the data into “tool kits” for employers to use to establish their own telecommuting programs.
- Work centers with equipment and electronic hookups will be established around the county for mobile workers.
- Kitsap businesses who embrace telecommuting programs for their staff will greatly reduce their costs of commuting, improve the quality of their lives, and do a good turn for the environment all in one fell swoop.
- Gas cards: Giving gas cards as bonuses or rewards for good performance boosts morale and eases the sting at the pump.
- Gas for ads: A rather creative and fun option being embraced by some companies is to give free gas in exchange for placing removable company logos or ads on employees’ cars.
- Paid travel expenses: You can pay for bus and ferry passes, or reimburse tolls.
- Increased mileage reimbursements: Another option is to increase your mileage reimbursement rate. Currently, the IRS’s mileage reimbursement rate is set at .505¢ per mile.
You are not required to pay that amount, but many companies are raising their reimbursement rates to that figure to help defray costs for employees who drive as part of their job duties.
- Gas subsidies: Some companies are offering their current employees a daily gas subsidy. This gas stipend can come in many forms. For example, some businesses are adding $3.00 per day to their employees’ paychecks, or giving them an additional $50.00 per month.
The philosophy behind this is that it’s cheaper to subsidize your staff’s gas expenses than it is to deal with the costs of turnover and recruitment.
The greatest thing about helping your employees contend with the rising cost of living is that everything you do is a demonstration of how much you care.
Each solution you present to your staff tells them how valuable you think they are. It shows both current and prospective employees that you care about them as people, not just as well-functioning cogs in a machine.
The payoff for you is a loyal workforce, which can be absolutely invaluable.
What’s the most effective solution of all?
While all of these possibilities we have suggested may help you retain the good staff that you currently have, there is a more long-term solution that local businesses need to adopt to deal with these economically trying times: HIRE LOCALLY!
The rapidly increasing number of resumes we receive from currently-employed individuals seeking work closer to their homes speaks volumes about this. Businesses need to focus on appealing to and hiring from the local workforce.
That, more than anything, is the most cost-effective solution for combating the economic crunch.