Workers Altering Their Commutes Due to Rising Gas Prices

Feeling pressure at the pump, many workers are changing their commuting habits
to ease the financial burden of rising gas prices, a new survey shows. More than
four out of 10 (44%) professionals interviewed said higher gas prices have
affected their commutes, up from 34% two years ago when a similar survey was
conducted.

Among those who said they have altered their work arrangements, the most
common changes they reported making include increased carpooling or ridesharing
(46%), driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle (33%) and telecommuting more
frequently (33%). Three in 10 said they are looking for a new job closer to
home.

The national survey included responses from 539 workers 18 years of age or
older and employed full or part time.

Workers were asked, "Have higher gasoline prices affected how you are
commuting to work or your work arrangements?"
Their responses:

  2008 2006
Yes 44% 34%
No 56% 66%
  _____ _____
  100% 100%

Workers whose commutes have been affected by higher gasoline prices also were
asked, "Which, if any, of the following changes have you made because of
higher gasoline prices?"
Their responses*:

Increasing carpooling or ridesharing 46%
Driving a more fuel-efficient car 33%
Telecommuting more frequently 33%
Looking for a new job closer to home 30%
Working from office locations closer to home 29%
Working fewer days of the week 26%
Asking for increased compensation 25%
Taking public transportation more frequently 23%
Walking or biking to work 18%
Driving more conscientiously (e.g., slower) 5%
Cutting back on spending 2%
Other 4%
None of these 10%
   
* Multiple responses were allowed  

Respondents who said their commutes have not been affected by rising gas
prices were asked how much more per-gallon gas prices would have to rise before
impacting their work arrangements. The mean response was $1.14.

The survey also found that employers are launching a variety of initiatives
to ease the burden on employees. The most common benefits companies are
implementing to offset the rising cost of commuting, according to those
interviewed, are increased mileage reimbursement for travel, ridesharing or
vanpooling programs and subsidized transportation. Almost six in 10 respondents
(59%), however, said their companies are not offering programs to alleviate
higher gas costs.

Workers were asked, "What benefits, if any, is your company
implementing or planning to implement to offset the rising cost of commuting?"
Their responses*:

Increased mileage reimbursement for travel 18%
Ridesharing or vanpooling 17%
Telecommuting 11%
Subsidized transportation 8%
Relocation assistance 7%
Bike-to-work program 4%
More flexible work schedules 1%
Other 1%
None of these 59%
   
* Multiple responses were allowed  

"Employers may be missing an opportunity to improve morale and reduce
turnover by helping their staff cope with the burden of rising gas prices.
Often, it can be as simple as communicating to employees what programs are
already in place," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half
International and author of Human Resources Kit For Dummies®, 2nd
Edition "Companies can build loyalty and motivation by showing employees that
they are empathetic to their concerns during challenging times."

Source: Robert Half International

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