It is likely that you are already aware, prior to reading this blog, that inflation has reached a record high and the UK is currently in a, in some cases, devastating cost of living crisis.
Is there anything employers can do for their employees? Of course, there is! We are here to provide a guide for you on how is best to support your team.
Why is it important?
Research carried out with over 1 million employees found that in 2022 the cost of living crisis has had a huge negative impact to the workforce’s financial well-being.
Many individuals are facing daily struggles and constant worry about the cost of living crisis.
Employees are more likely to be present at work if their financial worry is reduced which will in turn benefit the employer.
Employer’s own structures may be exacerbating an employee’s money issues e.g. making employees come into the office 5 days a week if their commute is expensive. Learning how to ensure that you, as an employer, are not making an employee’s financial position worse, can be a huge help and lessen their burden.
How can employers support employees?
We’ve listed below some examples of how you may be able to support your employees through the cost of living crisis (this list is not exhaustive):
- Have mental health first aiders in the workplace and ensure that they are well signposted, as well as easily accessible as financial issues are likely to impact on mental health;
- Get payroll right! The timing and accuracy of payroll processing plays a key role in the financial well-being of employees e.g. if they are usually paid at midnight and are not paid until 7pm one day, it can cause payments (such as direct debits) to bounce which leads to unnecessary stress;
- Signpost staff and provide access to financial aid and resources e.g. advisors, debt support charities such as StepChange and National Debtline;
- For those employees with parental responsibilities signpost them to advice regarding benefits they may be entitled to i.e. tax-free / 30 hours free childcare, to ensure they are not paying more than they need to be;
- If possible, have a scheme in place which provides for the employer to contribute towards some of the travel costs getting to and from the office;
- Allow staff to sell back unused annual leave should they wish to (however, please be mindful that employees do need to have a break and so this may not be the most beneficial method to support staff for other non-financial reasons, but it could be used as a short-term fix, if requested – they must also only be able to sell over the statutory holiday as they. Must at the very least take this in order to rest);
- Allow staff to work from home more often to save on the cost of commuting and travel expenses;
- Offer to pay for, or contribute to, a season ticket train or bus pass that employees can pay back to the employer monthly as they are generally cheaper than buying monthly passes;
- Increase the employee’s pay;
- Employers can give a one-off ‘well-being payment’ or ‘cost of living crisis payment’. Please be mindful that you should manage expectations if you do this and make it clear it is a one-off and they are not entitled to this regularly or again without the employer’s discretion
- Allow employees to have access to financial well-being programs;
- Have a policy in place to allow employees to get free eye tests, paid for by the employer and contribute to the cost of purchasing glasses;
- Find out whether any local businesses have any discounts for food or other amenities and provide this information to your staff;
- Provide corporate credits for a gym close to the office and offer free access to employees;
- Rather than buying Christmas presents for the team and spending excessively on a Christmas party, you could buy them vouchers or consider a bonus payment instead;
- Have food and snacks in the office that employees can help themselves to e.g. fruit, toast, or cereal;
- If you do not already, allow employees to have a second job where required (be mindful they have opted out of the working time regulations to work more than 48 hours and that you have sufficient protection for your business if they someone where else);
- Advise employees on their pension options, is this something you can increase?;
- Ask whether employees would benefit from salary sacrifice schemes (employees can pay for these before they are taxed) e.g. company cars or cycle-to-work schemes;
- Put income streaming services in place which allows employees to draw down some of their already earned wages before payday.
Some benefits that businesses have in place already may support employees at this difficult time and therefore reminding staff of these benefits could be beneficial. For example, if you have HR software such as Charlie HR, there may be discounts on there for the cinema or restaurants etc.
What are the benefits of supporting employees?
- The employees’ mental health will be likely to improve
- The level of worry across the team will reduce
- The ability to function properly at work without financial worry looming will increase
- Employees will feel that their employer cares
- Team morale will be boosted
- Employees are more likely to open up to you if they are struggling
We hope that the above is helpful and if you require any further information or support implementing these initiatives or polices, please contact us at Jodie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions at email@example.com