For near on two years now, the cost-of-living situation has much of the population in a vice.
Inflation is running stubbornly high, nearly four times the target two per cent rate, and the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has increased rates for the record 14th time to 5.25 per cent.
Finances are squeezed tighter as spending power experiences its biggest fall for 70 years. Nearly four in ten people are reported to reach the end of the month with no money left as essentials like gas and electricity, rent and mortgage rates, and groceries, continue to climb in price, showing no signs of slowing.
And equally, business owners are strapped for cash too – in fact almost six in ten of the UK’s small business owners fear closure within the year.
So, as employees are demanding more support from their employers, businesses are struggling to stay afloat.
Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, shares his insight on how employers can ease the financial pressures facing their staff – even when a pay rise just isn’t possible.
“Employers are being inundated with requests for pay rises. And in an ideal world, they would of course be granted. But we need to remember that business owners are equally impacted by the economic situation.
“That’s why it’s important to review wider approaches to motivation and satisfaction, to meet employees’ expectations and avoid losing key people.
“A well-crafted benefits package can not only greatly enhance the overall wellbeing of your workforce but make their pay packet go further too.
“For instance, opting for salary sacrifice schemes can be advantageous for both your business and employees. You can use these to buy things like bikes and electric cars. Not only can it provide some financial relief to employees who may be struggling, but it can also help your company save on taxes.
“Having an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) for employees to access support is also an important benefit, especially at a time when so many are feeling stresses from increased financial pressures.
“Likewise, flexible or hybrid working arrangements can be explored, to help employees save money on commuting, just as enhanced holiday entitlements and dedicated mental health days go a long way in supporting staff.
“Other common benefits include subsidisations for things like medical appointments, season commuter tickets, gym memberships, or access to an online marketplace offering discounts on a variety of products and services, like BrightExchange, Perkbox or similar.
“In fact, when times are tough, perks that allow employees to still be able to enjoy the ‘niceties’ of life that are usually the first to go when budgets are tight, are very much in-demand. But it’s important not to be presumptuous about what is the best way to help your employees. Instead, speak with them and see what reasonable assistance they would find most helpful or appreciated. There’s no point in spending time, money, and effort in introducing a benefit that no one wants, needs or uses.”