Fuel costs put dampener on U.S. workers' leisure time

Jul 12 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The high cost of fuel is impacting U.S. workers' leisure time activities and may also be leading to an increase in job turnover as commuting costs spiral.

Three-quarters of the 900 people surveyed online by recruiter Manpower said that rising gasoline prices have had an effect on their work-life balance, with two-thirds forced to curb spending on entertainment and hobbies as a result.

Other knock-on effects of high process at the pumps include dining out less, curbs on summer travel plans and a reduction in extracurricular activities for children.

"Workers are really feeling the squeeze of gasoline prices, including their work/life balance," said Manpower's Melanie Holmes.

"It's encouraging, however, to see that six percent of employers are taking steps to help their employees manage higher fuel costs. It's this kind of thinking that helps set employers apart from the rest of the pack."

The survey also suggested that high commuting costs are contributing to employee turnover, with one in three respondents saying they are considering finding a job that is closer to home.

That finding is similar to a Manpower survey carried out late last year which found that more than a third (35 per cent) of respondents were looking for a job with a shorter commute.

"High fuel costs are a concern, but they don't have to threaten employee retention. While employers can't be expected to fill everybody's gas tank, there are a number of relatively inexpensive things they can do to help workers cope with the cost of commuting," Holmes said.

Among employers that are providing assistance, a quarter have adopted remote working policies and almost one in six are subsidising public transport costs for employees.

One in five have organised carpools or a shared ride program and one in 10 have discounted or preferred parking schemes for carpool vehicles and motorcycles.

And as figures from the not-for-profit the Telework Exchange highlight, simply by working from home for two days per week, the U.S. government and white collar workforce could conserve 11.67 billion gallons of gasoline each year.

"In this competitive labor market, being an employer-of-choice means thinking smart and looking for opportunity," Holmes added.