Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pain at the Pump

I paid $4.50 for a gallon of gas today. Depending on where you live, and when you read this post, this may be high or low compared to your own experiences. But we can be sure of one thing: the cost of transportation to and from work is becoming an increasingly important factor to our employees. And they are making decisions accordingly. That makes it Leader Business.

A recent article in the Vancouver Sun gives some insights to the concerns of American workers. Read it here and consider that this data likely applies to your teammates, especially if your workplace is in a high cost of living area or one in which the drive to work has a major impact on quality of life.

Some of the statistics that jumped out at me included:

-- 44% of respondents to a recent survey have changed their work arrangements or commuting habits.
-- 33% have chosen to do more telecommuting
-- 30% are looking for work closer to home
-- 26% are working fewer days

I am confident that this data represents a cross-section of my own workforce. And thus nearly a third of my team may be looking for work closer to their homes! That is definitely cause for concern.

I have informed my leaders that all options for improving employee quality of life and helping employees deal with these high gas prices are on the table. I have empowered them to make decisions on alternate work arrangements, as long as it does not impact on mission accomplishment. Those decisions about win/win alternatives (win for the employee / win for the organization) are left to the supervisor.

Granted, all options regarding flexible work are not available for everyone (steelworkers won't be able to work from home, for example!), but there likely is something that can be done for every worker to improve their quality of life and lessen the impact of high fuel prices. Some of these measures include:

-- Options for telework or work from home
-- Alternate work schedules
-- Alternate work sites
-- Subsidies for mass transit
-- Scheduling shifts around rush hour to avoid wasted time in traffic
-- Ride sharing programs
-- Increasing mileage reimbursement rate
-- Increasing salaries

Know that these are the thoughts going through our employees' heads. They are talking to their friends and comparing options. Eventually they will tell us that this is important to them. We just don't want to hear it for the first time during the exit interview! At that point, the cost of hiring and training someone new will pale in comparison to what could have been done to retain a good worker during these difficult times.

Be flexible, be creative, and look for ways that accomplish the mission while taking care of the team. Look for win/win. Empower leaders to make decisions regarding these things, at their level, consistent with company policies. Be proactive and have this discussion with your employees. Let them know you are willing to listen to all reasonable options.

That's Leader Business.

Photo courtesy of www.urbanadventours.com/blog

1 comment:

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