How businesses can help employees

With news outlets reporting inflation at a 40-year high (the Office for National Statistics show that UK inflation rose to 9% in the 12 months to April) and energy prices expected to increase sharply again in October, employers may struggle to know exactly how to help employees with the soaring cost of living. Especially when facing supply chain disruption and cost increases themselves. Beyond inflation-busting pay rises, as a HR consultant, here are some other ideas that might be helpful.

Reviewing pay

Employees with finances squeezed more than ever creates a challenge for businesses. The obvious solution to ease financial worries amid the cost of living crisis would be to offer salary rises in line with, or above, inflation – not easy if the business is also feeling the pinch. But of course, anything less than this is effectively a pay cut, so what other incentives can you look at to help and retain and recruit the talent you need?

Benefits to stretch salaries

Are you providing benefits that help employees stretch their salary, for example a salary sacrifice scheme? Do you provide private healthcare, or insurance? Could you offer flexible and hybrid working opportunities that some employees may want to use to cut commuting costs?

Review existing benefits

How well do you communicate your existing benefits and are they working for your team? To help employees you might offer season ticket loans, a bike-to-work scheme or free or discounted gym membership. Are all the benefits you offer explained in your employee handbook and is there much take-up of them? Could you look at cancelling those that aren’t used and adding something that’s more valuable to your employees? If so, involve your team in discussions, and be creative with the rewards you offer to build a benefits package that works for them. Then mention your most popular benefits in job ads when you recruit.

Support your employees’ mental health

An employee with worries about their finances may understandably find this has an impact on their capacity to be as productive as usual at work. Remind your team leaders of this and cultivate a supportive company culture. Do you have and HR manager or HR consultant your employees can contact for support?

Communicate with your team

Share your business situation and involve your team and you will be amazed at their willingness to step up and help out. Sometimes the way announcements are phrased makes a big difference in how they’re received. Rather than saying “stop recruiting” tell your team you are pausing onboarding anyone new and then…

  • Consider the skills in your team and whether any of these are transferable to fill those gaps
  • Ask your team leaders if anyone in their teams has a development need that can be bridged by hopping into another department

 And if there isn’t enough work to go around

  • Look at part-time roles and whether you could create job shares
  • Consider a temporary reduction of hours

Are your team spending time absorbed in projects that are not adding value right now?

  • Pop them on pause so the team can focus on product/service delivery

Tips for supporting your team

  • Reduce unnecessary unpaid travel
  • Reimburse expenses quickly
  • Keep your team motivated by recognising their efforts
  • Give your team the opportunity to be heard; ideas and feedback sessions will work wonders
  • Be consistent in your messaging; mixed messages create worry
  • Keep your integrity by sticking to your values and culture

Find out more about ad-hoc HR support from our HR experts.

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