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Helping Lancashire businesses: Supporting employees’ financial wellbeing during cost-of-living crisis

How to support employees financial wellbeing during the cost of living crisis boost

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) cites that money worries affect 47 per cent of UK employees. HR consultant Helen Russell from North West-based law firm Harrison Drury, offers a range of options which employers can action to support their employees’ financial wellbeing.

Supporting employees through the cost-of-living crisis is an important part in promoting their health and wellbeing. Helping employees to manage these concerns can also help to maintain (or even increase) productivity. An obvious solution during the crisis would be to increase wages to ensure employees receive a fair and living wage, and this is of course something that businesses should consider. Unfortunately inflation is currently so high that few employers will have the luxury of simply being able to increase wages indefinitely. There are a range of other actions that employers may consider taking to help support their employees’ financial wellbeing, which include:

1. Employee assistance programmes

  • Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) allow employees to speak anonymously with independent advisers about matters they are struggling with.
  • Check if you have an employee assistance programme in place and if so, remind employees how they can access it.
  • If you do not already have an employee assistance programme, consider implementing one. Although EAPs come at a financial cost to employers, they are a valued tool for many employees and have seen a notable uptake in usage since the onset of the cost of living crisis.

2. Employee benefits

  • If not already offered, consider introducing an employee benefits package to assist in reducing employees’ outgoings.
  • Popular benefits packages include discounted gym memberships, salary sacrifice schemes, cycle to work schemes and health cash plans.
  • Large benefits packages can be costly but are generally cheaper overall than increasing salaries. Note that salary sacrifice schemes (for instance, which can assist in purchasing technological products) are a particularly tax efficient way of supporting employees.
  • Smaller benefits such as free snacks in the workplace may also be offered and help to improve day-to-day employee satisfaction.
  • It may sound obvious, but ensure you promote awareness of the benefits available to your workforce!

3. Financial education

  • Inform employees that they can access free and anonymous advice from the Money and Pensions Service.
  • You may also offer financial education seminars, sessions and information sheets which provide tips on topics such as budgeting, debt and saving.

4. Line management training

  • As well as educating employees, educate line managers and senior staff on financial wellbeing so that they can spot the signs that an employee is struggling financially (or for any other reason) and foster an environment where open conversations regarding money struggles (or indeed any relevant struggles) are welcomed, and support is provided.
  • Make sure that line managers are aware of any benefit packages and EAPs so they can signpost employees as appropriate.

5. Reduce financial stigma in the workplace

  • Create a workplace environment where employees feel able to talk about money by avoiding suggestions (both explicit and implicit) that finances are a taboo topic.
  • Publicising information about where help can be found may assist with this.
  • Normalise discussions about money and ensure employees know it is okay to discuss finances if they wish to.

6. Financial remuneration

  • As mentioned above, it is worth considering whether you offer employees a fair and living wage and if not, whether you have the financial resources available to increase salaries.
  • Beyond this, and to avoid costs mushrooming, you may wish to provide a one-off lump payment to employees. If you decide to do so, it is worth considering when the best time to offer the payment would be, based on your company’s particular circumstances and your employees’ demographics and needs.
  • You may also introduce a salary advance scheme, which allows employees to access some or all their wages once they have earned them instead of waiting until pay day.
    • This has the benefit of enabling employees who are facing financial emergencies to make payments as and when they are required, thus avoiding debt and reliance on loans which carry large interest rates.
    • However, there is a risk of employees becoming over reliant on early access to wages and struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month. Providing financial education and reducing financial stigma in the workplace can assist in preventing this.

About the contributor Helen-Russell In her role within Harrison Drury's employment team, Helen Russell provides clients with practical advice, guidance and coaching covering everyday HR issues which all employers encounter. Harrison Drury also offers HR Compass, an employer protection scheme offering external HR services which enables businesses to maintain a lean operation while being able to scale quickly to the demands of their business. Harrison Drury is a member of Boost & Co.

Boost is helping Lancashire businesses. We have a range of funded support programmes and a team of business advisers you can talk to. To speak to someone from the Growth Hub about business support, contact Boost online or call 0800 488 0057.

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