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Employers concerned about cost of living for their employees

A young couple sitting at the kitchen table with bills, laptop and calculator

With inflation at a 41-year high and living costs continuing to rise, many people will be worried about their household finances this winter -- and wondering where they can turn for help.

Employers can help ease cost-of-living concerns in several ways, from offering bonus payments to connecting employees with financial guidance via group risk benefits.

Nine in ten (92%) employers are concerned about how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting their employees, according to a survey among the members of GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector.

All of the members surveyed (100%) believe that employers are worried about how higher living costs are affecting employees' mental health. Other areas of concern include financial wellbeing (91%), social wellbeing (56%) and physical wellbeing (35%).

"If we think back to the financial crisis of 2008, mental health was barely on the radar of employers: home and work life were entirely separate entities and few employers would have provided any support, nor would employees have expected it," commented Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD.

"Roll on a decade or so and it is really positive to see employers recognising the impact that the rising cost of living is having on their staff."

Moxham added that by demonstrating genuine concern and providing practical help, employers have "a real opportunity to engage with their staff, many of whom may not have fully understood or utilised their employee benefits before".

In a separate survey by HR services provider Randstad, only a quarter (25%) of employees said they have received additional assistance from their employers to help manage the rising cost of living.

Most workers want to see more action from their employers in the next six months, including salary increases or cost-of-living bonuses and subsidies for daily expenses like cost of energy or travel.

However, not all support provided by employers needs to cost money, according to HR body the CIPD.

You should review your financial wellbeing policy and benefits package to make sure people know what help is on offer and how to access it. Also, it's important to create an inclusive environment that makes employees feel understood and recognised, and train managers to ensure they provide the right support to staff.

And if you can afford to offer a cost-of-living bonus, make sure it doesn't inadvertently do more harm than good for those who claim Universal Credit or Tax Credits.

"There are a wealth of benefits included within group risk benefits that can provide support to huge numbers of employees," explained Katharine Moxham from GRiD. "Many employers don't know they are there and don't realise they are free to access, so they don't communicate this support to their staff.

"It's an honourable intention to consider increasing benefits or funding additional support to help employees at this time but employers will also find additional help and support that they don't need to pay an extra penny for, if they utilise all the support available in their existing employee benefits, and particularly within group risk benefits. After all, employers are not immune from the current economic climate either with costs skyrocketing in many areas: group risk benefits may be one cost centre that doesn't need to be increased."

Posted by Fidelius on November 21st 2022

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