Fruita Business Uses Incentive to Fuel Hiring and Employee Retention

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With gas prices hovering around the $4.00 mark, it can be a hard for some to commute to work. Now one Fruita business is footing the bill just to make sure it's staffed.

With a bustling economy here on the Western Slope, many businesses say unemployment is not the problem, but finding employees is. Errol Snider, the Chief Operating Officer of Family Health West in Fruita, says there are plenty of qualified people in our area. There's just a higher number of jobs that need to be filled.

"All of us employers continue to look for ways that we can attract new employees and even more importantly, keep them," said Snider.

To do that, he says Family Health West got creative. They now offer all their current employees and new hires a monthly gas stipend.

"We capped the employees cost of gas to come to work and go home at two dollars and fifty cents a gallon," said Snider.

Employees tell administrators how far they travel to and from work, and how many times they make that trip a week. Administrators then take a look at gas prices, subtract $2.50, then pay employees the difference. Snider says when you have some employees commuting from Mesa and Gateway, what a difference that makes.

"We have some employees that get in excess of one-hundred fifty dollars a month in gas stipends," said Snider. "So it's significant, it really is significant."

Family Health West currently employs close to 340 people. Once their new hospital opens September of 2009, officials say they will have to bump up that number to more than 400. They say that means not only will they have to hire new workers, but in a competitive health market, keep the ones they already have.

"The one positive thing of increasing gas prices for us has been it's now cheaper for some of our employees to drive to Fruita and work than it would be if they worked in Grand Junction, because they don't get reimbursements," said Snider.

Even though the stipends are an additional cost the health care facility has to front, employees and officials say it's well worth it.

"If you maintain ten percent of your employees because of your fuel reimbursement, it's a program you can't afford not to have," said Snider.

Family Health West says since it started running classified ads with their reimbursement program, they've had great success hiring new employees.

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