With Fuel Prices Rising, U.S. Companies Work Quickly to Reduce Employee Travel

SEATTLE, WA (June 23, 2008) – It's not just you – business feels gas pains, too. In a recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), 66% of organizations reported that soaring fuel costs are having a moderate to very high negative effect on their business operations. And they don't see an end in sight. Of the 804 study respondents, 82% anticipate that concerns about rising costs will escalate over the next several months, and over half predicted that gas will rise to over $4.50 per gallon by the end of the summer.

The study found that business areas most affected by climbing prices are sales travel, with 49% tagging it as the top concern, followed by traveling to seminars and other non-essential travel (45%). As expected, air travel is suffering the most, with nearly 55% of all companies reporting that they are curtailing business travel via air by a moderate to very high extent due to higher ticket prices stemming from increased fuel costs. The bigger the company, the less likely it is to fly: of companies with 10,000 or more employees, almost 75% fall into this category.

To offset cost hikes, 33% of all polled companies reported that they are stepping up their use of technology options in lieu of physical travel. Technologies such as Web conferencing, videoconferencing and teleconferencing are increasingly being used by all companies, with larger companies (nearly 50%) reporting an even greater use than smaller companies. Companies are also rethinking when and how employees are working; a third of companies are offering additional flextime work options, and 27% are allowing for more telecommuting. Again, these numbers climb higher in larger companies, with flextime options offered by 51% and added telecommuting by 49% of respondents in companies with the highest employee counts.

"In order to maintain high productivity levels while keeping expenses in check, it's clear that companies are quickly changing work practices and policies in response to rapidly rising fuel costs," said Kevin Oakes, i4cp's CEO. "However, it's also clear that there is room for improvement. While the flexibility in work hours and travel is admirable, very few companies are spending the time to educate employees about ways to curtail their fuel consumption. Sometimes education is the best form of prevention."

Indeed, despite the obvious pain that rising fuel costs are causing to U.S. companies, very few reported that they are taking steps to educate their employees on how to help control them. Of all companies surveyed, only 4% reported that they are providing educational programs on gas-saving practices. Additionally, companies are not being quick to shell out additional dollars to employees; a full 77% reported that they have not raised mileage expense reimbursement despite the increased cost of traveling.

In general, however, most companies haven't experienced significant problems with attracting or retaining workers as a result of rising fuel costs. Sixty percent reported that rising fuel prices have had no or little impact on their ability to attract hourly workers, and 68% said the extent of their ability to attract and retain non-exempt salaried employees has been affected either not at all or to a small extent.

The Taking the Pulse: Fuel Cost survey was conducted by i4cp on behalf of one of its corporate members, in conjunction with HR.com, in June 2008. The full results of the survey are available exclusively for all i4cp corporate members.

About i4cp, inc.

i4cp is the world's largest private network of corporations focused on improving workforce productivity. Our vendor-free community facilitates innovation by giving our members – among the largest and most respected organizations in the world – access to:
  1. Peers to spark new ideas and prevent "reinventing the wheel,"
  2. Research to enable members to understand current practices and next practices,
  3. Tools to put ideas and research into action,
  4. Technology to enable members to easily access tailored information and execute workforce strategies.

With more than 40 years of experience and the industry's largest team of human capital analysts, i4cp is the definitive destination for organizations seeking innovative ways to improve workforce productivity. For more information, visit http://www.i4cp.com/