High gas prices force workers to change commuting habits

59 per cent of employers not providing any support for soaring fuel costs: Survey

Feeling pressure at the pump, many workers are changing their commuting habits to ease the financial burden of rising gas prices, according to a new survey.

The survey by staffing firm Robert Half International found gas prices have affected the commutes of 44 per cent of the 539 Canadian professionals interviewed, up from 34 per cent 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 per cent), driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle (33 per cent) and telecommuting more frequently (33 per cent).

Other ways of coping with the high cost of gas include:

• Looking for a new job closer to home - 30 per cent

• Working from office locations closer to home - 29 per cent

• Working fewer days of the week - 26 per cent

• Asking for increased compensation - 25 per cent

• Taking public transportation more frequently - 23 per cent

• Walking or biking to work - 18 per cent

• Driving more conscientiously (e.g., slower) - five per cent

• Cutting back on spending - two per cent

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 are increased mileage reimbursement for travel (18 per cent), ridesharing or van-pooling programs (17 per cent) and telecommuting (11 per cent).

However, 59 per cent of respondents said their companies are not offering programs to alleviate higher gas costs.

"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.

Other workplace initiatives to help employees cope with high gas prices include:

• Subsidized transportation - eight per cent

• Relocation assistance - seven per cent

• Bike-to-work program - four per cent

• More flexible work schedules - one per cent

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