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How to support employees with the rising costs of living

Posted on | Posted in Duty of Care, News

How to support employees with the rising costs of living

The 2022 cost of living crisis in the UK has seen a record number of households face the biggest decline in income since the 1970s.  The rise in the cost of living is due to several factors including the Covid-19 pandemic, rises in national insurance (NI) contributions, war in Eastern Europe, and skyrocketing energy prices.

As inflation hit 7% in March, the highest level in 30 years, employers may soon have a stressed and distracted workforce to support due to the extra financial pressure on household incomes. While a pay rise is one way to help, companies can provide extra support employees with the rising costs of living in other ways.

In the first instance, TALK to your employees

Have a private conversation with your staff to find out if they are worried about the rising cost of living and find out how their lives will be affected. Everyone’s circumstances will be mostly likely be different, so this won’t be a case of one size fits all.

Flexibility is key

Could you offer flexible working or compressed hours so the cost of childcare or commuting can be reduced for those who’d benefit? Or could you tweak the start and finish times so that a later train with a cheaper fare be caught? What about offering term-time- or job-sharing contracts. Think outside of the Monday to Friday, 9-5 box.

A flexible or hybrid working environment is usually now at the top of the jobseeker’s wish list and a key part of negotiations. People want a proper work-life balance, so are attracted to companies who offer flexible working arrangements from the get-go (and don’t renegade on the benefit).

Although remote working is very popular, there are workers who would still prefer to come into the office because it’s within walking distance from home and the free coffee is decent. By having a conversation with your employees, you can gauge what their priorities are and what works best for them.

Managers and a duty of care

Consider training the managers in your organisation be the Mental Health Aware so they can spot the signs of anyone who may be struggling with their mental health. Do you nurture a caring and supportive environment where workers feel looked after?

Managers who recognise the difficulties and challenges faced by their team members will be better placed to offer support and guidance in line with company policies.

Get the payroll right

It’s vital that your payroll department has the right payroll software to make sure employees are paid accurately, and on time. This ensures that no unnecessary stress is caused by missing direct debits or not being able to buy food or fuel.

If you have a new starter, you could arrange for them to receive some salary in advance rather than having to wait 4-6 weeks for the first pay cheque.

Or here’s a radical idea…

Although you can support employees with the rising costs of living in non-monetary ways, it’s a fact of life that money talks. If your staff need money to pay their bills and to live, how about increasing salaries and reducing profit for a couple of years? Or giving a one-off bonus to improve financial wellbeing? Pay your workers as much as you can afford and make sure that those at the bottom of the pay grade are looked after.

While the national minimum wage is compulsory, the real living wage (£11.05 in London; £9.90 in the rest of the UK) is voluntary. The real living wage is independently calculated and based on what people need to get by. Companies that opt into the real living wage scheme give their employees a wage that meets their everyday needs.

If you’d like to have a confidential chat about how to support your employees through the cost of living crisis, give Maxine a call on 01256 236997 or email maxine@wotestreetpeople.co.uk

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