6 ways you can help your employees with the cost of living

We are all acutely aware that our employees face tough months ahead financially, and as HR and people managers, we are often their first port of call for support/ help. I know this weighs heavy on me for my clients. For some families, having to choose between heating and eating this winter, well, that’s not something I ever thought I’d have to deal with on this scale in 2022. It’s heart-breaking.

As employers, HR professionals, and people managers we have an obligation to look out for the welfare of our people to the best of our abilities, so, what can you do to help support your teams? This is the question many of us are exploring right now, and there is a lot of support out there and so this week I wanted to pull together a list of ways you may be able to support your employees in these difficult times. 

  1. Be open – transparency is crucial here, especially at a time some families are finding themselves in financial difficulty. Creating open conversations helps to remove the taboo of being in debt or struggling with finances, communicate your Employee Assistant Programmes, benefit options and internal support that is available. Also remember that it might not just be those on the lowest incomes that may be struggling. I know many people on decent salaries, those in the middle as it were, who are also struggling; those that live on their own and therefore only have one wage coming into their home, those with children – it’s affecting more people than you might first think.
  2. Consider inviting professional support inhouse, full time employees can struggle to get appointments outside their working hours. By bringing in debt support, financial companies, pension advisors, utility/energy companies etc. into the workplace it can help employees understand what help is available and provide an opportunity for them to save some money too.
  3. Signpost support available, giving the information can allow employees to reach out to the services available locally and create a way to manage their difficulties in private.
  4. Consider discount schemes, connect with local companies to negotiate discounts for your people. I’m a real fan of this as it’s a great way to help local businesses or other small businesses too, a win-win for me. Do your employees use a local café, coffee shop, transport company, reach out and see if you can negotiate a discount for them, every little helps right?
  5. Consider offering one off bonus or a small pay rise, now I’ve popped this last as I’m more than aware how difficult the cost-of-living crisis is impacting businesses too. It is, however, a great exercise to do and see what financial help/support you could offer. 
  6. Can you offer more flexible working so that employees can save on commuter fees etc? (Although as we move into winter months, we may actually find employees want to be in the office more to save on home heating/energy bills throughout the day – that’s why conversations with your staff are so, so important, so you really know what might help them.

Another thing some of my clients are doing is introducing financial education sessions in the workplace, these range from helping people make the most out of their savings, pension advice and general financial support that is out there. 

Not everyone will be struggling to make ends meet and some, especially those approaching retirement age will need reassurance too. Interest rate changes on things like mortgages, loans, savings are impacting across the board and just showing that you care enough to signpost the support that is available from the company right through to local and national initiative, well, that can go a long way with employee engagement, loyalty and boosting motivation.

We’d love to hear what you’re doing in your business too – let us know!

Things to look at here are;

Hardware – laptops, phones, workspace equipment

Software –VPN secure connection, online meeting capability, wifi speeds to support

Support functions – online helpdesks for tech issues, ordering systems for replacement equipment

Another important factor to consider is security – in the post GDPR world this will be key. Access to secure online cloud storage, lockable storage at home are just two key aspects and is there an awareness of how to safely dispose of confidential documents (for example)?

Once you are satisfied you have the correct infrastructure in place it’s time to look at how you manage a virtual team. The principles are the same as for office workers, in fact the only difference will be how you implement them. More use of technology like Skype to hold virtual meetings will increase. Thought will have to be given as to how you interact with your team, how you manage performance and output.

Remote working can be a lonely place, my advice is to be supportive, make regular contact and ensure they’re kept up to date with business activities, including any happening onsite. Staff that feel like you’re “out of sight, out of mind” is not going to make for motivated or productive staff.

Be inclusive, if there is an impromptu team lunch organised, a training session, an onsite activity, a Friday social after work – ensure the invite is extended to your remote workers.

Managing a virtual team well can deliver some amazing results for an organisation. You can attract talent you wouldn’t normally, increase productivity, reduce overheads and have an engaged workforce. What’s not to like? However, it’s true to say that agile working suits some businesses more than others and you do need the technology to implement and make agile working a true success.