Supporting employees with the cost of living crisis

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Are you managing or struggling? The most dramatic and frightening cost of living crisis for decades has hit the UK, and it’s worse here than it is in the rest of Europe thanks to Brexit. This time we really are all in the same boat. You’ll want to keep your business going throughout the crisis, and that means supporting your people in every way you can.

When they’re worried sick, stressed and scared, your employees won’t be able to focus on work. Businesses that put Cost of Living Crisis Strategies for employers in place will be better equipped to weather the coming storm.

Hang onto your hats! Explore our guide to supporting employees with the cost of living crisis. By the end of this article you’ll have some decent ideas around how to keep your people safe, happy, and focused in the right direction while they’re at work – whatever the economy throws at us.    

What is the cost of living crisis?

What’s going on? The term ‘cost of living crisis’ defines a fall in people’s real disposable incomes, the money left over after we’ve paid our tax, added any benefits, and adjusted the remaining amount to take inflation into account. Our disposable incomes have been falling fast since 2021 and the full impact won’t be felt for a while yet. There’s a lot more to come, according to the experts.

The crisis is mostly being laid at the feet of high inflation, which is outstripping wage and benefit increases. Recent tax rises have only made things worse. The massive increase in energy costs, particularly the wholesale price of gas, is down to Russia’s war on Ukraine, and there’s a Brexit element to it too, simply because the UK doesn’t benefit from EU mass-purchase energy deals any more.   

Average petrol prices were the highest on record in April 2022. Sharply increased demand for gas from Asia, low gas storage supplies in Europe, and the war between Ukraine and Russia have played havoc with global supply chains already in crisis thanks to covid. Ongoing pandemic shutdowns of factories in Asia and China have caused shortages.

Against a backdrop like this, engaged employees are easier to work with. One great way to engage people is to hold out a helping hand when the going gets rough.

What can employers do to help the cost of living?

You can do plenty to help. Your workforce will appreciate it, and a more engaged workforce is more loyal. This increases employee retention and reduces churn, which can cost a fortune in constant recruitment. When people love their workplace and their job, the company attracts the top talent.

Happy, satisfied workers pass positivity on to others. They deliver an excellent customer experience. An enjoyable, fair employee experience delivers profits. Here are some of the best ways to support employees through the current cost of living crisis, so they can help the business thrive through difficult times.   

Employee discounts scheme

An employee discounts scheme relates to the cost of living well, by providing a way for people to buy what they need at really good prices. These schemes are simple and straightforward, easy to set up. They drive increased levels of employee wellbeing as well as helping you attract top talent, improving employee retention, and giving financial savings to everyone. There’s a huge array of discounts available, including these popular products, services and experiences, many from online retailers:

  • Clothing and accessories 
  • Supermarkets
  • Cinemas and entertainment
  • Gyms and fitness centres
  • Holidays and travel
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Food delivery and takeaway services
  • Technology and electronics

Cycle to work scheme

The benefits of implementing a cycle to work scheme also tap into the need to save money and spend less during the crisis. It helps a business and its employees survive by cutting back on parking and congestion problems, reducing NI contributions by 15.05%, and building a healthier, happier workplace. It’s free to join. Members save as much as 49% off bikes and accessories, on top of the fact there’s no tax or National Insurance to pay on their new bicycles.  

Reducing their carbon footprint, cutting sky-high commuting costs, it all makes for a happier workforce, people who feel there’s a buffer between them and the fast-changing world outside. When you help improve people’s overall health and wellbeing, they reward you with better productivity, creativity, and determination to succeed. It’s a positive circular argument – helping your staff also helps your business survive the cost of living crisis.  

Mental health support

A crisis of any kind is stressful. When it affects your standard of living and might even threaten the roof over your head, your mental health can suffer. It’ll benefit you to assess and measure the employee experience and make sure everyone is managing the stress. Employee experience surveys are popular, a great way to take the overall temperature of people’s wellbeing on a quantitative basis. Staff focus groups add detail, depth, and texture to the fact-finding mission. They bring valuable context to the survey data, giving you clues about exactly how you can support your workers at this challenging time.

Existing staff metrics can also help you get a sense of how workers are feeling and how you might help them. Employee turnover rates and employee referrals both tell you when things aren’t as good as they could be. Customer satisfaction feedback does the same, as does data about employees progressing within the company. Once you know there’s an issue, you can make moves to support people in the right ways.  

Promoting existing benefits that help financial wellbeing

Financial support is always welcome, even more so when we’re in a fully-fledged crisis. So what are the most common financially focused benefits, and how do businesses use them to support a workforce?  

Access to an Employee Assistance Programme

Talking can help enormously. Just sharing a concern makes it shrink. Some employees only consider accessing an Employee Assistance programme when they’re having trouble coping with grief or mental health challenges. Make it clear your people can use the service to work through crisis-led financial worries with someone sympathetic, and figure out ways to cope better. If there’s a cultural barrier to asking for help, dispel it. If people are embarrassed to ask, reassure them it’s OK.

Discounts programme

When many families are facing impossible choices around whether to eat or heat, a good discounts programme can be a life saver for your people. Saving money on everyday items like groceries and other essentials can make a huge difference to families.

Providing a salary advance

Can you help workers juggle their finances by paying out a salary advance? Maybe you could provide small, discreet loans on request, to help alleviate the financial pressure.

Making technology and white goods purchases easier

A technology salary sacrifice benefit with free financing is a great way to let people buy the tech and white goods essentials they need without diving into the red.    

How will you support employees with the cost of living crisis?

Now, more than ever, we need each other. People need their employers to survive; businesses need great people to survive. Supporting workers through the cost of living crisis isn’t just about handing out money and benefits schemes. It’s about pulling together, seeing each other through hard times, succeeding despite everything. When you meet your employees half-way, they’ll reward you with loyalty, creativity, focus, determination, and hard work.

Our brilliant system helps you get the best out of your people in a multitude of ways. Book a free demo here, or contact us for an exciting exploration of the potential.