It’s been a rough few years for everyone and just as we thought there was positive news on the horizon, multiple factors have conspired to create an almighty cost-of-living crisis. Few employers are in a position to hike up wages but there are some things you can do to ensure your team are protected from the worst impacts of the situation.
Be transparent and encourage honest conversations
Money is often seen as a taboo and most people feel a deep sense of shame about debt and the inability to pay their way. Spiralling debt or ongoing financial stress can create severe mental health issues which can lead to physical health issues. Enabling a spirit of open discussion, providing support and reassurance can be the difference between a short period of understandable anxiety and long-term stress.
Organise a financial advisory session for employees
A good first step in supporting staff would be to engage a financial advisor for a day. Combining perhaps an hour session with handy tips on managing your finances and later individual sessions where staff can discuss anything from pensions to switching energy suppliers. Make sure people know that these sessions are private and totally confidential and those facing real difficulties may be given the first opportunity to start taking control. The financial advisor will give them information on debt charities, ways of saving money and perhaps even suggestions for earning more. Having regular access to a financial advisor in company time may be the best thing you could do for your staff and is a great way of attracting and retaining talent.
Be transparent about the financial health of the company
We know there are plenty of companies who appear to have no budget for a long-overdue pay rise but somehow keep their shareholders awash with dividends. Those times are (or should be) past. If you are planning a round-the-world cruise while your employees are on the breadline, they will move on. On the flip side, if you are really open about the health of the business, demonstrate the savings you are making and show that you personally take a hit too, your team will support your decision-making.
Practical money saving
Don’t underestimate the small things that can ease financial pressures. Sometimes it’s tricky not to appear patronising or hypocritical in offering staff perks but well-thought-out, genuinely useful actions can mean a lot.
Help with transport costs
The cost of public transport is rising rapidly, as is the cost of fuel. This is going to have an impact on anyone commuting. You can help out in various ways, none of which will cost much. Firstly, if possible continue to encourage working from home. Over time, just one day working from home per week can amount to a significant annual saving in transport costs. Secondly, many businesses offer interest-free loans to staff to pay upfront for an annual season ticket. This can save hundreds of pounds when compared to daily fares and the upfront costs of a season ticket are prohibitive to many. The loan is then deducted from wages. Also think about the Cycle to Work Scheme which helps your staff get all they need to bike to work, get fit, be green and combat the cost of living crisis!
Set up a payroll savings scheme
Although no one gets more money with a payroll savings scheme many people find their finances spiral out of control due to unforeseen expenses. Boiler breakages, funeral expenses and car breakdowns are just some of the horribly expensive events we all encounter in life. Without a savings pot, people rely on loans that can come with exorbitant interest rates. This is so often the beginning of a spiral into debt. A payroll savings scheme is a good way to help staff save for unexpected events and if they never happen then a trip of a lifetime instead!
Bulk buy group
By bulk buying, you can save up to 20% on so many household products and groceries. Why not encourage staff to set up a bulk-buy consortium to save money on everyday items. You could offer some start-up capital and see how it goes. There’s always someone who spends their days looking for bargains and if those savings could help reduce living costs by even a couple of pounds a week then why not? Also, consider the environmental benefits of bulk buying some items. For example, if you buy a 20L bottle of washing-up liquid for distribution think of all the plastic being saved. Bulk-buying can have financial and environmental benefits and if you get the right people in charge it can be good fun. With a great team, it could expand into sharing discounts and money-saving ideas with the team. Consider a financial reward for the person/people who takes it on – it’s likely to be a very good investment of company money.