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Supporting employees during the cost-of-living crisis


Wednesday 31 August 2022

Supporting employees during the cost-of-living crisis
We’ve all felt it. Whether it be soaring energy bills or the reality of needing to put up your prices but dreading the affect it will have on your customers. The cost-of-living crisis is having a huge knock on affect on businesses in Northern Ireland and whilst we all try to contend with soaring business costs the concern for safeguarding our businesses doesn’t stop at the fear of the rising electricity bill.

At home, our employees are also faced with price hikes in food prices (8.7%), fuel costs (69.6%) and transport (14%) (Consumer Price Index) with 1 in 4 employees now saying money worries affect their ability to do their job (CIPD), meaning this is now a key issue for us as employers to consider. 

So how can we, as employers support our team during the cost-of-living crisis? Whilst providing an inflation-beating pay rise should automatically help, there are other ways that we can support our people during this cost-of-living crisis to help make ends meet and ultimately reduce stress and improve concentration and productivity in the workplace. 

 1. Normalise Conversations About Money

Whilst conversations about money may not be common in your workplace, having a management style that promotes employees being able to speak openly and honestly should help. Managers should be empathetic and approachable, encouraging employees to seek help when and if they need it. Whether it be a quick chat by the coffee machine, or a question added to your quarterly check.

2. Educating Your Managers

Whilst promoting good communication streams is crucial, this would be frivolous if your managers don’t know what to say. Providing training to your line managers on the company’s Reward and Financial Wellbeing Policies is paramount as well has where to signpost employees to, should they need additional help.

3.    Do you have a Reward Strategy?

If not, now is the time to have one. If you do, now is the perfect time to review it. In a recent CIPD survey, 12% of employees said their pay is not enough to support an acceptable standard of living and with businesses feeling the pinch, a reward strategy is a good option for both parties. By incentivising your employees in an area that the business needs it, you could see an improvement in the business alongside happier, better paid employees.

4.    Make changes to your Financial Wellbeing Policy

Even with a limited budget we, as employers, can make a huge impact on our employee’s financial well-being by just having a plan. With CIPD showing clear links between financial well-being and employee well-being and performance, a financial well-being policy is very important. 

Your policy should detail how to:
•    Assess those employees who are in need
o    By identifying those employees that need help early on, the business should be able to assist the employees as quickly as possible. Trigger points could be identified at the recruitment stage or during annual appraisals or regular reviews. By ensuring these employees are identified, the business can act.
•    Build support mechanisms 
o    Having a clear and concise process means line managers will feel confident in helping their team members. Your policy should provide a clear strategy and actionable points which will allow your line managers to best support their team.
•    Assess your policies success 
o    No policy is beneficial unless it is regularly reviewed and assessed. Feedback from line manager using it and the employees who need it is paramount to ensuring it will provide any benefit to the company.

5.    Introduce a Benefits Package.

A benefits package for employees is a fantastic addition to your employee’s package but only if your team know about it, use it and want it. 

If only 1% of your workforce use a bicycle, is a cycle to work scheme affective? Is this a good use of your time? Probably not. Think outside of the box. Why not consider retail discounts or childcare vouchers? A benefits package should work hard for those that need it rather than just looking good on paper.

Remember, for a benefits strategy to be affective employees should:
•    Find getting their benefits quick and easy
•    Be happy with the benefits package
•    Find the benefits package supports them at different stages of their life
•    Find communication about their benefits package is easy and information is accessible 

6.    Utilise an external source

If you are still not sure how you can best support your employees during this cost-of-living crisis, or at any point, why not utilise the help and support of an external source? Companies such as Kith & Kin Financial Wellbeing were established to ensure employers fulfil their duty of care to employees by prioritising financial wellbeing. With workshops and online trainings, they help support employers by offering assistance to employees in pensions, debt and credit management, managing your money and first time property purchases. 
Whilst there is no hard and fast rule for us to make it out of this cost-of-living crisis, there is also no hard and fast rule for how to support your employees during it. However, with 1 in 4 employees in the UK stating money worries affect their ability to do their job, we as employers can be sure it is of huge benefit to us to ensure our employees feel supported during this cost-of-living crisis.

To keep up to date with Jenna, check out her LinkedIn and CHILL Gas' Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.  

Wednesday 31 August 2022

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