Monday, June 02, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Rising Gasoline Prices and Employers’ Responses

According to a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, U.S. companies have more than doubled their gas-cost related efforts as a means to attract and retain employees. With prices over $4 a gallon in New York City, and near $3.89 in Northern New Jersey, driving to work is costly. Some of the recent employer initiatives include providing higher pay raises, increasing mileage reimbursement rates, and awarding special bonuses. Other approaches to this thorny situation include encouragement for employees to use public transportation and buying buses and vans to take employees to and from work.

Interestingly, one item that didn’t make the list, but is starting to generate some buzz, is the use of compressed workweeks. Under a compressed workweek, employees work four 10 hour days, for example, to accomplish a full week’s work in fewer days. I’ve also started to hear of a three 12 hour day option.

Compressed workweeks can be tricky from several perspectives, including employee burnout and team member morale for those not working the special schedule. In addition, not all positions lend themselves to such a schedule. However, the more creative an organization can be in helping employees deal with this situation, the better their chances of attracting and retaining the talent needed for success.

Longer-term changes need to come from the broader societal and economic areas to remedy this oil situation. While individually it is difficult to make changes that impact the world, we as employers can do our part by helping employees through the short-term immediate issues, without creating negative impacts in the long-term. For instance, if we give everyone a 10% pay raise now, what happens when we stop giving those types of increases down the road? The short- and long-terms are equally at stake in this new economic climate.

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