Pain at the Pump Draining Employee Productivity

Rising gas prices are affecting more than the family budget. More pain at the pump results in more employee stress on the job, according to Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Management at Florida State University's College of Business.

"People concerned with the effects of gas prices were significantly less attentive on the job, less excited about going to work, less passionate and conscientious and more tense," Hochwarter said. "These people also reported more 'blues' on the job. Employees were simply unable to detach themselves from the stress caused by escalating gas prices as they walked through the doors at work."

Hochwarter gleaned the information by surveying more than 800 full-time employees this spring when gas prices hovered at about $3.50 per gallon. All of the people surveyed work in a wide range of occupations, primarily in the southeastern United States. All drove personal transportation to work and had an average commute of 15 miles each way.

Survey respondents said gas prices were foremost on their mind, including a disgruntled factory worker who wrote, "I spend more time at work trying to figure out what I need to give up to keep gas in my tank than thinking about how to do my job."

Hochwarter's research will be submitted for publication later this summer. Among his findings:

  • 52 percent have reconsidered taking vacations or other recreational activities;
  • 45 percent have had to cut back on debt-reduction payments, such as credit card payments;
  • nearly 30 percent considered the consequences of going without basics including food, clothing and medicine;
  • 45 percent report that the escalating gas prices have "caused them to fall behind financially";
  • 39 percent agreed with the statement "Gas prices have decreased my standard of living"; and
  • about 33 percent -- or one in three -- said they would quit their job for a comparable one nearer to home.

Hochwarter's discussions with employees confirm the study's results. Many employees report that gas prices rank as the No. 1 water-cooler discussion topic, ahead of family, sports or work, he said. He found little difference in responses among different ages, gender, work tenure and occupations.

"Several employees said they simply could not escape the media onslaught of bad news regarding the future of gas prices, and many reported their financial futures were looking bleaker and bleaker," Hochwarter said.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Incident investigations

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2020

    November December 2020

    Featuring:

    • COLD STRESS
      Managing Cold Stress
    • TRAINING: FALL PROTECTION
      Providing Training for Fall Protection
    • PPE: HEARING PROTECTION
      Eight Tips for Hearing Testing Day
    • FACILITY SECURITY
      Incorporating COVID-19 Protections into Safety Programs
    View This Issue