7 Ways To Support Your Staff as Price Rises Cause Concern
New data shows that 60% of workers think their employers should help them with the cost-of-living crisis. With inflation set to pass 8% – impacted by the pandemic, rise in NIC, high energy prices and unrest in eastern Europe, this is leading to disengaged and unhappy employees considering an uncertain future.
We are increasingly shocked by reported figures of over 2.4 million adults going without food for a day because they can no longer afford to eat and 43% of people struggling to afford their energy bills since price rises in March 2022.
A recent poll undertaken by CIPD found that financial insecurity is having an effect on individual performance at work and, although wages have risen in recent months, in many cases this has failed to keep pace with the rate of inflation. While raising salaries above, or in line with, inflation could be a solution – there are also other ways organisations can support their employees to improve their financial wellbeing.
How can employers support their workforce?
Employee benefits and discount schemes
Your employees want more than just a salary, they want a benefits package to support their lifestyle. A complete benefits package means you can offset the demand for salary increases, recruit and retain top players and it is more cost-efficient than you would believe.
A good benefits package can include:
- Life insurance
- Health insurance
- Occupational sick pay
- Eyecare vouchers
- Health and wellbeing services
Discount packages can offer:
- Restaurant vouchers
- Grocery vouchers
- Gift cards and cashback for popular retailers and services
If you are considering medical care, we recommend WPA NHS Top Up which allows the recipient to get money back on routine healthcare costs such as optical, dental, therapy, hospital parking and specialist treatments.
For discount packages, HR:4UK can assist you using Fizz Benefits – a platform dedicated to helping your people save money every day, with market leading benefits, rewards and discounts – these include retail discounts which cover approximately 98% of all online spend in the UK.
As well as being cost effective, providing such benefits doesn’t need to be the administrative headache you might expect and we’d be happy to help.
Salary sacrifice scheme
In these schemes, employees can exchange some of their ‘cash’ pay for tax free benefits in kind, such as company vehicles, bike to work schemes and childcare benefits. This is a great low-cost way to financially assist your employees.
Embracing flexible working
Fuel prices are at the heart of most price rises including public transport costs, therefore implementing a flexible working environment where employees can avoid these costs – even if it is just a couple of days a week – will aid in the financial wellbeing of your employees.
As an employer, you are in a great position to support your employees with financial planning advice – whether that be general financial planning, debt management or mortgage advice. Suggesting services to assist your workforce provides significant benefit to people struggling for whom this can lead to further issues e.g., mental health struggles around the emotional challenges that accompany financial issues.
Mental health aid
Your aim is helping your employees flourish and meet their potential. During a time of crisis – such as now – most organisations are ensuring this is done through health and wellbeing support for their staff. Mind.org are quoted as saying “Poor mental health can make earning and managing money harder. And worrying about money can make your mental health worse.”
We suggest offering a range of mental health programmes ready for your employees to access either in person or remotely, these should cover a broad range of issues that could be affecting employee mental health and wellbeing.
Income streaming services
Income streaming services are an option that allows employees to withdraw some of their wages before payday. This is gaining in popularity as a way of helping employees better manage their finances while also reducing, or completely avoiding, reliance on payday loans.
There are many services available, but one that is highly recommended is fastP.A.Y.E which allows employers to fund the streaming themselves helping employees avoid the dreaded ‘debt cycle’. This service does not charge a fee for those on minimum wage and gives employers full control over how much they make available and how often.
Awarding a one-off cost of living payment
If pay rises are not possible, another option to assist employees financially is a one-off payment called a ‘cost of living payment’ made as a one-off payment to assist with the cost of living during these challenges times, it would need to be clearly communicated this way. As a business you decide how much this payment will be, on the understanding that all employees must be treated fairly and in a non-discriminatory way when making this choice.
A Quick Roundup – Our Key Points for Employers:
Encourage communication, discussing why your employees are worried or struggling can help you as their employer to understand how best to support them within the workplace.
Set some guidelines for allowing flexibility, as everyone worries and reacts differently to stressful times; there are a few ways to do this such as:
- Allowing employees to take breaks at different times – this can assist if they need to receive advice on their finances or contact companies such as energy providers, allowing this flexibility to manage their lives and finances will aid in better overall production.
- Allowing company equipment to be used for personal use, such as telephone, computer, or printers. A lot of people will have access to these items at work but not at home, allowing this to be used for briefly for personal reasons could assist in employees managing their livelihoods during this crisis.
- Flexible working – according to a recent survey nearly half of employees polled tried to persuade their managers to allow them to work from home to mitigate rising fuel and travel costs. Where relevant, this may prove of great support to your employees.
Lastly, it is incredibly important to signpost sources of support. This is likely to be an upsetting and stressful time for your employees, so approaching this with sensitivity and understanding, letting them know there is both support in and outside the workplace for whatever they need, can be greatly beneficial.
We at HR:4UK can help you with a number of the options identified in this article, including the discount provider Fizz Benefits and the healthcare provider WPA. Let us work with you, connecting your employees to services we highly recommend to assist them with this cost-of-living crisis.
If you need any further information or assistance, we are always here to help – contact us today either at [email protected] or call us at 01455 444222 and speak to one of our friendly expert advisors.
A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.