Many employees will be concerned about the cost-of-living crisis, and some may find themselves under financial stress. With voluntary pay rises not an option for many businesses now, employers may find themselves wondering how they can help staff who are struggling with the cost of living. If you are looking for alternative ways to support employees, here’s a few steps you may wish to consider.
Giving a ‘cost of living payment’
If pay rises aren’t possible but you wish to help employees financially, a one-off payment may be an affordable alternative way of giving employees some initial help with the increased cost of living. If you are considering this bear in mind:
- It would be for the business to decide how much to give as a ‘cost of living payment’
- It’s important to ensure that employees are treated fairly and in a non-discriminatory way
- It should be made clear that the payment is a one-off
If you think you may wish to give such a payment, please contact us to discuss your situation first. We can provide you with advice and support you in communicating with your employees.
Encouraging communication and thinking flexibly
Encourage employees to talk to you if they are worried or are struggling with anything, including the cost of living. If they feel able to have a conversation about it, this can help you to identify ways of supporting them (and others) in the workplace. This could for example be by:
- Allowing them to take their break at a different time if that would help them to contact companies such as energy providers or obtain advice on their finances
- Giving permission to use company equipment such as a company computer, printer, or telephone for such purposes if this wouldn’t normally be allowed and an employee would find this helpful
- Where possible, allowing time off if needed – this could be for attending an advice appointment or for other reasons. It will be important to agree what form any time off will take e.g., is it paid or unpaid leave? Does the employee wish to use holiday or is the time to be made up? We can provide you with advice on this so please contact us.
Allowing some flexibility where possible could lift a little of the pressure an employee is experiencing and support them to get the help they need.
Have you heard? According to a recent survey, nearly half of the employees polled were trying to persuade their managers to allow them to work from home more often to mitigate rising fuel costs. Where this could be relevant to your business, you may wish to make sure you are ready in case you need to deal with any flexible working requests.
Be ready to signpost external sources of support
If an employee is experiencing financial difficulty, it’s likely to be an upsetting and stressful time. Whilst approaching the situation with sensitivity and understanding will help to support employees in the workplace, they may also need specific advice on their situation from an external source. It can be useful to be ready to signpost employees to sources of free and impartial support where appropriate to do so.
If you have an employment law matter you would like help with, please get in touch.