Whatever a company’s size or line of business, many of its employees will be feeling the effects of the current cost of living crisis.
Fuelled by soaring energy and food costs, UK inflation has already reached 9%, the highest level for 40 years.
Even the Governor of the Bank of England has acknowledged that it will reach 10%, and not everyone shares his optimism that it will peak this winter and return to around 2% in the next two years.
But there is plenty that employers can do to support their workforces during this difficult time other than by merely granting pay increases. And taking just a few such steps can engender significant loyalty.
Creating the right culture
An essential starting point is to ensure that you have a company culture in which financial worries are not considered anything abnormal.
This way, employees will feel less awkward reaching out for help and advice and less ashamed to admit that they can’t afford to join in a team meal or even drink out.
Line managers should be made to appreciate that those burdened with financial worries can be prone to bouts of irritability and can find it harder to make rational decisions. So, they need to treat them with kindness and listen to them at length.
Employees should also be made aware of the range of free help that is already out there for them, including any from the State.
They should know what benefits they are entitled to if they are off sick or need to take time off to care for elderly relatives or dependants.
Existing employee benefit ranges also often contain valuable free features, but many employees aren’t aware of these. So effective communication needs to be a high priority.
A health cash plan scheme, for example, can help towards routine dental and optical costs, including new glasses and towards a range of other minor medical expenses.
Many group risk schemes now offer virtual GP services and mental health support that can save those unable to get prompt NHS access from having to pay privately, and employee assistance programmes (EAP) are offering increasingly sophisticated debt counselling services and financial stress helplines.
Some specialist providers can offer vouchers giving discounts on items like shopping and cinema tickets to employees via the company intranet. Some of these cover half the overall purchase cost, although different schemes offer different rates of discount for different things.
When employers set up schemes with providers to offer such discounts, the onus is on the employee to make use of the benefit. There will be a cost involved for providing the scheme, but it should prove well worth it, and the registration process is normally relatively painless.
In cases where employers are looking to offer discount voucher schemes but don’t know how to do so, all is not lost because Chase de Vere can arrange a scheme via the voucher providers.
Another way of saving employees money is to introduce salary exchange schemes on pensions and other employee benefits. Because this will involve employees exchanging part of their salary in return for a non-monetary benefit, it will enable them to pay less tax and National Insurance.
Salary exchange can work particularly well in conjunction with Cycle to Work schemes, which employers may wish to consider introducing if they have a number of relevant employees. The schemes can create valuable savings for hard-up employees by helping towards the costs of their bikes and of their helmets and other accessories.
Providing workplace financial education workshops and seminars can also help employees learn budgeting skills and make the most of their money, and provide an avenue via which they can raise financial concerns.
Chase de Vere, which is unusual in the employee benefits space in also having an IFA arm, can design financial education courses specially to suit a particular organisation’s needs and circumstances.
If you would like to learn more about how Chase de Vere can help you with the introduction of discount vouchers, financial education services or new employee benefits, or help you communicate the features of existing schemes, then please don’t hesitate to contact your usual adviser.
Content correct at the time of writing and is intended for general information only and should not be construed as advice.