It’s a difficult balance for employers. Rising costs across the board means that margins are tight, and you need to keep a close eye on the bottom line. That might well mean you can’t offer employees the pay rises they want and need.
But people are struggling with the rising cost of living in so many areas, how will your staff cope if energy and shopping bills carry on soaring, but their wages are not increasing in line with that to give them some additional support.
Employee benefits are always a plus – healthcare plans and gym memberships, discounts on certain purchases, cycle-to-work schemes – but it might be worth looking at what matters most to people in the current economic climate and seeing if there is more you, as an employer, can do.
What support do you offer to employees? It could be that something as simple as providing access to advice on benefits and tax credits is enough to help some of them increase their income each month.
It makes good business sense to support financial wellbeing. Employees who are worried about money may be less engaged at work. They may succumb to stress and that can lead to absenteeism, which in turn affects productivity.
Advice, or something like a payroll savings scheme can make all the difference, giving employees peace of mind that they are in control of their finances and are prepared for any unexpected outgoings.
Research shows that the spending patterns for a lower wage household sees the majority going on commuting, food and leisure, childcare, housing and utilities. These are the areas you can focus on.
That could include ideas like letting people work from home more often, or start at a different time if it means someone can avoid more expensive peak travel times. Can you provide free or subsidised meals or drinks at the workplace – even just a couple of days a week – or cooking facilities and fridges for those who want to reheat food brought from home.
Flexible working can ease the burden of childcare between two working parents, as can providing helpful advice on tax-free childcare schemes, and vouchers for food and clothing retailers can make a big difference.
If a company wants to be in a position to increase wages, one way to do so is to improve its own financial position. Easier said than done, admittedly, but HR can play an important role in reviewing processes within the workplace to see if it is possible to work smarter.
If individuals are offered incentives for increased productivity and their training looked at to see where skills can be enhanced, a company might well find it gains more capable and experienced workers. They will, of course, expect to be rewarded with a pay rise but that is still likely to be more cost effective than recruiting a new or additional member of staff.
Look at the organisation of the company and analyse salary rates and structures – is there a better way of working, are there areas where savings can be made?
The truth is that we are experiencing a period where costs are rising for everyone – businesses are feeling the pinch just as much as individuals and pay rises are, understandably, not always an option.
But understanding that everyone is facing challenges, offering as much guidance and support as possible, shows that employers are taking time to ensure their staff are not under too much financial pressure, and builds in an element of wellbeing and security as we all navigate these difficult times.
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