Employers seek to assist and engage workers in combating the increasing 'commuter crunch'

Employers are being encouraged to counter the increasing cost of commuting, by taking measures to assist and engage their hard-hit staff members.

The UK's commuters are used to the inhospitable costs they face in just getting to work, however the latest Hay Group PayNet UK Salary Tracker has revealed that workers can expect to spend on average 8% of their salary on transport costs in 2013, and the most down-trodden workers will face investing up to a third of their salary on commuting.

Already announced in December is the scheduled 4.2% increase in train fares, making the average annual season ticket 2,191, or 8% of the median UK salary of 26,082.

Also, despite the Chancellor postponing the proposed fuel duty rises in January, commuters on the UK's roads will still burn an average of 5% of their annual salaries on petrol (1,443 annually).

Those employees facing long journeys will see the biggest squeeze on real pay, according to the study.

An operative level worker in Birmingham could, in some cases, expect to spend nearly a quarter (23%) of their salary on rail travel, while petrol could cost a worker at a similar level driving in Wales up to one third (34%) of their annual pay.

Despite the mounting costs, however, there is positive news for those in employment or seeking recruitment in 2013.

Pay increases outstripped inflation towards the end of last year, for the first time since 2009, with a 3.5% increase boosting real pay.

Not only that, as the cost of travel increases faster than wages and inflation, employers are beginning to acknowledge the significant challenges employees are facing in terms of simply getting to work, and are making moves to help to ensure their best talent is not lost.

Hay Group consultant Adam Burden referenced the increasing concern over the significant proportion of salary being lost to travel, when he commented on the moves some employers are making.

He said: "There are affordable measures that organisations can take to help employees with the mounting 'commuter crunch', including flexible working, the opportunity to work from home or season ticket loans.

"In addition, employers who are concerned about losing key talent should ensure they measure employee engagement effectively and also consider offering more development opportunities such as training or promotion."

Copyright Press Association 2013