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Rising Gas Costs are Impacting Employees – Employers Respond

June 30, 2022

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

In a recent poll during Conversations with Mike & Tony, only 1 out 20 employers were assisting employees with gas costs.  But as gas prices continue to rise and more and more employees struggle financially, more employers might consider financial assistance or other accommodations to help with gas costs.

Gas prices topped $5/gallon on average in the U.S. last week. Some employers across the nation are making efforts to help employees with the rising cost of gas. A retailer in Florida, Driftwood Garden Center, started giving $50 and $30 stipends in each paycheck. This is in addition to 20-30% raises given earlier in the year. “We almost had to do it, or we risk losing a lot of very good employees,” said chief executive Craig Hazelett.

National Life Group in Dallas announced this week that it would give workers a one-time $300 gas gift card as they request employees return to the office three days a week.

In another example, Pittsburgh Mineral Environmental Technology, Inc reimburses their field inspectors 58.5 cents per mile, but their workers were still complaining about the high costs of gas. In response, the company started giving a monthly preloaded $50 debit card to all employees for fuel.  CEO Randall Stremmel said he may bump that to $100 if gas prices keep rising. The company also started paying 100% of employees’ medical benefits. “Right now, every penny counts,” Mr. Stremmel said.

A printer in Seattle adds $1.50/gallon per paycheck, based on each employee’s commute. In addition, they are considering providing paid bus passes for workers who don’t drive and have implemented a staff-wide cost of living increase in January—with another planned for July.

Some employers are responding by delaying or reversing back-to-office policies, encouraging more remote work where possible to cut down on commuting costs. Cosmetic Specialty Labs Inc. in Oklahoma has allowed employees who live more than 25 miles away to work an additional day from home and is considering gas gift cards.

Gas prices are affecting employees whose paychecks are already stretched thin. Three in 10 U.S. workers (30%) are struggling financially, and more than two in five workers (43%) are having difficulty meeting basic needs, according to research from the 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey by WTW.

According to the survey, more employees are living paycheck to paycheck — 41% this year versus 38% in 2019. Employees living paycheck to paycheck are almost twice as likely to leave their employer for a mere 5% raise (48%) compared with those not living paycheck to paycheck (29%).

“The link between financial stability and overall wellbeing has become even more precarious as employees fret over inflation, economic instability, and workplace challenges,” said Mark Smrecek, senior director, Retirement, WTW.  “Employees are now looking to their employers for support. Employers, in turn, can help employees weather the storm and enhance their financial stability by factoring in [financial] wellbeing when considering programs.”

Is your organization doing anything to help employees with gas costs? Let us know in this week’s Poll of the Week.

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