There’s no way to sugar-coat it: there’s a cost-of-living crisis in the UK right now, and things are only going to get worse.
For employers, it can be hard to know what to do for your employees or even where your role comes in, but it’s important for morale within the business that something is done; as we know, 71% of employees have said that they believe their employer has a social responsibility to them.
For many employers, who must also contend with spiralling bills, giving their employees a pay rise to keep pace with inflation is out of the question.
But there’s still much that organisations can do, and, in fact, most businesses are advantageously positioned to make their employees’ lives easier as their pennies feel the pinch.
1. Existing benefits
The first port of call should be to signpost your workforce to benefits they already have that they may have forgotten about or are altogether unaware of.
Some benefits, such as cash plans, may include access to shopping discounts to help save money with offers from hundreds of leading retailers. It’s worth checking exactly what you are already offering your people – it may be more than you think.
Ensure that these benefits are easily accessible, with information on how to access them clear on your company intranet or similar. You’ll also want to send an initial signposting communication to all your employees to ensure they know where their benefits are.
2. Employee assistance programme (EAP)
If your business offers an EAP, it can be a powerful tool when it comes to supporting employees through hard times. Most EAPs allow colleagues to speak to a trained professional about whatever’s on their mind and receive confidential support on financial issues, bereavement, mental health issues, and more.
3. Salary sacrifice
One way to increase your workforce’s’ take-home income is to arrange a salary sacrifice scheme, so they can maximise their pre-tax income.
They could end up paying a comparatively reduced price on things like childcare costs, getting to work, their pension, and more. And if someone is close to the higher rate income tax band, a voluntary increase in their monthly pension contribution could help them to stay within the 20% basic rate tax band.
4. Cash plans
Similar to the above, offering your staff a benefit like a cash plan will make healthcare maintenance costs more affordable for them. Even in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, it’s still important that your staff have the means to look after themselves; maintaining good health is far more affordable than allowing unchecked health to snowball into poor health.
5. Free online resources
Since inflation has hit a 40-year-high, we are all feeling the pinch. But there are many free online resources that can help:
- MoneyHelper (previously Money Advice Service) offers free and impartial advice about money and pensions
- Through the Citizens Advice Web Chat anyone can receive confidential, impartial advice about money worries
- For employees who prefer to speak to someone directly, StepChange Debt Charity offers expert debt advice and fee-free debt management help over the phone. They can be reached by calling 0800 138 1111.
6. Make hybrid working flexible
Even with the government due to give all UK households a set amount towards the end of this year to combat skyrocketing gas and electricity prices, many people are still worried about the cost of heating their homes this winter. Employees who have a hybrid working arrangement may want to come into the office more often than they usually do to avoid costly heating bills. Make sure that your employees know that if they want to come into the office more than they currently are, they’re welcome to.
7. If payroll isn’t working, fix it
Ensuring your employees are paid smoothly and on time has perhaps never been so important. One study showed that employees experiencing poor communication around their pay has made them feel so anxious they’ve considered looking for a new job. A quarter said their business was unable to keep up with other demands due to time dedicated to the payroll process. If this resonates with your company, consider investing in the proper payroll software to make the payroll process as stress-free as possible – for you and your employees.
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