Q&A: How can employers support their staff through the cost-of-living crisis – when pay raises are out of the question?

Answered by: Kate Palmer, HR Advice & Constancy Director at Peninsula,

Employees and businesses alike are feeling the pinch of the current cost of living crisis.

With energy bills doubling and even quadrupling in some cases, petrol prices reaching record highs, and food prices rising at its fastest rate in a decade, it’s no surprise that 90% of UK households are feeling the impact, with 55% of people seeing their health deteriorate as a direct result.

Many employers will no doubt be hearing the question: “can I have a pay rise?”

And whilst those who are able to, should consider matching the rate of inflation (which is now at an astonishing 9% – the highest since 1982), the truth is that the vast majority of businesses will not be able to do that whilst remaining profitable.

Businesses too are facing rocketing costs, and as such, planned redundancies across the UK has surged to 103%.

So, what is the best way for employers to support their staff when pay rises are out of the question?

Many employers out there want nothing more than to help support their employees during these challenging times, but not every company is in the position to be able to give staff a raise right now.

Financial concerns can have a detrimental impact to mental health. This is evidenced by the fact that Health Assured has recently reported a 68% increase in calls to their helpline relating to financial concerns over the last two months.

Poor mental health can in turn severely impact morale and productivity, both of which can have a knock on effect in the workplace, so it is in employers’ best interests to support the financial health of their staff and help them save money – even if a raise may simply not be possible right now.

Here are some options to consider:

  1. Introduce hybrid or remote working

The past two years have proven the benefits of hybrid and remote working. Letting staff work from home more often means they can save money on commuting and lunches-on-the-go. With the soaring petrol prices and cost of public transportation, even working from home one or two days a week can have a big impact. On the flipside, a remote/hybrid workforce can also help employers save money on office space, heating costs etc.

  1. Offer perks and subsidised benefits

Benefits like a reduced gym membership, a cycle to work scheme, free counselling, healthcare, or even discount services like we utilise here at Peninsula in the form of BrightExchange and Perkbox,mean that staff can enjoy discounts on days out, food and drink, tech, food shopping, and everything in between, helping their pay stretch further and allowing them to continue enjoy treats they may otherwise have to cut back on.

  1. Offer generous entitlement

An offshoot of the pandemic is that many workers are now looking for a better work-life balance. So, by offering enhanced entitlements, on top of what is legally required, in terms of sick leave, annual leave, parental leave, employees can save money whilst feeling appreciated.

 

“Business owners are having to think outside the box when it comes to supporting staff through these challenging times. These three areas are a solid place to start to support staff as we navigate this crisis.”

Want to be a part of our research by answering some easy questions?