The Employers Association here in lovely Minnesota has conducted research of employers statewide to learn whether and how they are responding to the high cost of fuel. Nearly 500 companies responded to the very detailed study. Guessing that what's happening here probably mirrors trends around the country, I thought the results might be of broader interest and worth a post. Here goes.
Responding strategies are listed below in order of their prevalence among the surveyed group.
Condensed work weeks. The most common strategy cited by surveyed employers is a move to a condensed work week. 18.8% are already providing a condensed work week and 5.5% are in the planning phase of such a move.
Telecommuting. Nearly as common as the condensed work week is the move to offer telecommuting. 18.6% of responding employers have a telecommuting program in place and another 5.1% are planning to implement such a program.
Gas cards as rewards. Interestingly, a number of employers are using gas cards as service or performance rewards - or, in some cases, as a simple form of subsidy. The survey doesn't, unfortunately, separate those using cards as rewards from those using them simply as across-the-board subsidies, but 9.0% are already using the cards and another 8.0% are heading in that direction.
Car pools. The promotion of car pools is rising with 8.4% of employers reporting car pool programs in place and another 4.9% planning to implement car pooling.
Public transportation subsidy. Currently 6.9% provide a public transportation subsidy and 1.4% are planning to put such a subsidy in place.
IRS Section 132. Pre-tax payment for certain parking and public transportation costs is available through an employer sponsored plan. Responses indicate that 6.1% of employers have such a plan and another 1.4% are moving toward providing one.
Direct fuel subsidies. A small number, 2.7%, of employers surveyed are responding to the rise in fuel costs by directly subsidizing employees fuel expenses to and from work.
Honorable mention (miscellaneous). A number of other interesting tactics were mentioned by individual responding employers, including:
- Flex start and end times to avoid peak traffic
- At work pot luck for lunch (purchased a grill for employees) to avoid the need for travel
- Collective lunch runs – take orders and drive one vehicle
- Review travel plans relating to client visits and consolidate meeting times with staff from other departments in order to facilitate car pooling
- Use a company provided fund-raising discount card to save $0.03 per gallon
- Use a small number of company vehicles that employees can use for business travel during the work day
- Subsidize bike lockers or install secure bike parking
Creative Common Photo "Pumping Gas" by Future Atlas