Business

He's rewarding his good employees by paying for gas

Gary Swaim has been thinking – a lot– about rising gas prices and their effect on part-time, lower-wage employees. He worries these workers may decide the job is not worth the commute and quit, leaving companies in need of workers.

When one of his three part-time employees moved out of state, Swaim, owner of Superior Cleaners in Morganton, increased his remaining workers' hours instead of hiring someone new. That gave them a chance to earn more money.

Then about a month ago, Swaim told his employees on a Monday to drive their cars during the week and meet him at a gas station on Saturday. He paid to fill their tanks.

Gas cost $3.67 per gallon then. He pumped $50 worth into one car. The other required more than $60 to fill. As he pumped the gas, he realized his employees would have to work 1 1/2 days to pay to fill their cars.

He devised a plan: a gas match program. When gas reaches $4.25 a gallon, workers can earn a gallon of gas for each day a worker comes to work on time and works a full shift, about five to six hours. He'll pay for gas in addition to the usual wage.

“I'm going to recession-proof my people so they have no reason to leave,” he said.

For example, if a worker completes five shifts, Swaim will meet him at a gas station the following Saturday. The worker will pay for the first five gallons of gas and then Swaim will pay for the next five gallons.

“My goal is a happy employee, an efficient employee,” Swaim said. “Take care of them, make them earn everything they get. But give them rewards for working hard.” Kerry Hall

Gary Swaim has been thinking – a lot– about rising gas prices and their effect on part-time, lower-wage employees. He worries these workers may decide the job is not worth the commute and quit, leaving companies in need of workers.

When one of his three part-time employees moved out of state, Swaim, owner of Superior Cleaners in Morganton, increased his remaining workers' hours instead of hiring someone new. That gave them a chance to earn more money.

Then about a month ago, Swaim told his employees on a Monday to drive their cars during the week and meet him at a gas station on Saturday. He paid to fill their tanks.

Gas cost $3.67 per gallon then. He pumped $50 worth into one car. The other required more than $60 to fill. As he pumped the gas, he realized his employees would have to work 1 1/2 days to pay to fill their cars.

He devised a plan: a gas match program. When gas reaches $4.25 a gallon, workers can earn a gallon of gas for each day a worker comes to work on time and works a full shift, about five to six hours. He'll pay for gas in addition to the usual wage.

“I'm going to recession-proof my people so they have no reason to leave,” he said.

For example, if a worker completes five shifts, Swaim will meet him at a gas station the following Saturday. The worker will pay for the first five gallons of gas and then Swaim will pay for the next five gallons.

“My goal is a happy employee, an efficient employee,” Swaim said. “Take care of them, make them earn everything they get. But give them rewards for working hard.” Kerry Hall

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