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Gas is only getting more expensive. This is how some employers are easing the financial burden on workers

RTO policies are running into another snag: surging gas prices.
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· 3 min read

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For employees driving to the office or work site, commuting has presented a financial headache amid soaring gas prices. Headlines screaming “pain at the pump” aren’t lying. The average price for a gallon of gas in the US surged this month, hitting a historic high of just over $5, according to AAA. The spiking cost has compounded an RTO dynamic that’s already been fraught for many and presented a new wrinkle for employers: how to get workers to the office without depleting their personal finances.

Many companies have taken note and are devising solutions to ease the monetary strain on commuters.

A raise. At Mission Engineering, which manufactures guitar pedals, amplifiers, and other music equipment in Petaluma, California, CEO Paul Shedden told Marketwatch work has to be done in-person. In March, he gave each employee a raise of $2 an hour to compensate for the higher cost of commuting. At the time he said: “To take care of people that you care about, who are good at what they do, that’s a small price to pay, but nonetheless definitely triggered by the increase in fuel costs.”

Subsidies or gift cards. Pennsylvania-based pharmaceutical developer and manufacturer KVK Tech gave all employees $500 “in an effort to ease the financial burden of this global crisis,” the company announced in April.

Home Clinix, a healthcare company based in Salt Lake City, “gave gas and Walmart gift cards” to employees who commute to patients’ homes, according to Forbes.

“It doesn’t have to be anything grand or elaborate,” co-founder Danny Holmgren told Forbes in March. “It’s just taking the time and caring. Take a step back and recognize this is impacting your employees’ quality of life right now.”

Uh, working from home. Remote work, which ostensibly involves purchasing zero gasoline, has been adopted on a wide scale by many organizations, such as Meta and Airbnb. Hybrid formats have grown in popularity, too, with organizations like Deloitte embracing the new structure.

As employees opine about the rising cost of daily commutes, some are urging employers to be wary of mandating in-office attendance. “If you are the company that requires everyone to come in all the time, you’re a pariah,” David Lewis, CEO of the HR consultancy Operations Inc., told Fortune.

Zoom out. Last week, President Biden urged Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months in an effort to lower prices. “If this bill is signed and enacted…it will help motorists,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at gas-price tracking company GasBuddy, told CNBC.

Some members of Congress remain skeptical of temporarily nixing the federal gas tax, however. So, in the absence of imminent federal intervention, HR may have to get creative.—SB

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Quick-to-read HR news & insights

Our HR newsletter delivers need-to-know industry news and insights to HR pros every weekday for free.