During a management training session last week a nursing supervisor posed a question that stumped everyone in the room. She asked, “What happens when an employee calls in sick at the end of a two week pay period because they can’t afford to buy gas to get to work?” At a regional medical center without adequate public transportation sky high gas prices have an immediate affect on employees. There were a few ideas but the conversation ended with consensus that not much could be done.
Since that day gas prices have continued to rise. Last night I drove past pumps with regular priced at more than $4.00 a gallon. Employers can take steps that go beyond commiserating about the high cost of fuel.
The first suggestions involve sharing free and easy to access information. Track the cheapest gas prices and share the information using www.gasbuddy.com.
At your work site, you can encourage car pooling. When employees are spread out identifying central locations for drivers to meet to park and ride together is more practical that creating routes with an employee picking up passengers. You can also team up with a nearby employer and create a message board to identify carpool partners.
Tax incentives are available for van pooling. Van pooling is not the same as car pooling and requires some set up coordination and cost. In eligible van pooling employees drive together in a van designated specifically for commuting. The arrangement can be paid for with up to $115 each month in pre-tax payroll dollars. Some employers subsidize this arrangement and others coordinate the effort including administration of the pre-tax payroll. CommuterChoice provides some easy to understand resources about van pooling.
Employers have also purchased their own vans and hired drivers to pick up employees at designated locations. The additional cost for the employer is offset by the benefit to employees that helps attract and retain people who find it tough to get to work due to the cost of driving and scarcity of alternative.
Identifying and implementing creative solutions could make a difference before employee gas-tank warning lights are always on.