Five ways employers can support staff financially through difficult times

Financially, this is a worrying time for many people. Employees working in sectors hardest hit, retail, travel, hospitality, and professional services,are on furlough, uncertain when they will be able to return to work. Others are being asked to take a pay cut to avoid redundancy. Even those whose services are in high demand are concerned about the impact the current situation is having on the wider economy, and how that will impact their personal finances.

Worry, even low-level anxiety, impacts employee mental health. And we know that employers are extremely concerned about this issue at the moment. A recent survey from CIPD found that that nearly two thirds of respondents cited general anxiety as their organisation’s main challenge at present. It impacts sleep and takes its toll physically. At a time when we all need to pull together, employees need to be as rested, fit and mentally resilient as possible. Here are five effective ways an employer can show employees they care about their financial wellbeing.

Five ways to support your employee’s financial wellbeing

  1. Review your organisation's current approach to financial wellbeing in light of the current situation - If you don’t have one, now is a good time to define and pilot support. Ask staff what help people they most need to give them financial peace of mind during this difficult period. A short survey will do, now is not the hour to be issuing a national census style questionnaire.   

    Prioritise the support you offer on the basis of what staff say they most urgently need. Make sure you communicate the results to staff with a plan of action. Acknowledge that finances are a critical part of each of your employees overall wellbeing and encourage your people to not suffer in silence, but to ask for help.

    If you have an online financial education package remind staff it is there for them to use, if only to provide peace of mind.

  2.  Address burning fires – For a host of reasons, a percentage of your workforce will be struggling with debt. These employees will potentially be suffering from stress and anxiety about their situation, and you should triage them as such. Contact each individually to talk about how you can help them at this difficult time. The priority here is to stabilise their financial situation and prevent debt escalating. If you haven’t got one in place already, research debt consolidator and salary deducted loan partners who can help ease financial pressure with a fair and transparent pay back plan.

  3. Help salaries go further with employee savings – Everyone is feeling the financial pinch at present. Particularly for those who have been placed on furlough, every saving that can be made will make a big difference in the coming weeks. Even staff in robust financial health will appreciate help saving money on everyday purchases right now. 

    An employee savings platform is a quick and effective way to help staff save on everyday essentials such as their supermarket shop. For those looking to buy items to make their stay at home more comfortable, or need better provisions for working remotely, you will find a range of discounts across the major UK retailers on an employee savings platform.

    Even if you already provide staff with access to an employee savings platform, it’s amazing how quickly they forget to check it, especially now that so many are working from home and missing the posters and monitors dotted about the office reminding them to do so. In this case, be sure to communicate to them about the platform and the savings that can potentially make in these troubled times.

  4. Tax-free childcare – With most nurseries closed, critical front-line workers with pre-school children are turning to registered childminders to care for their children while they work. Remind employees that if they are eligible, the government has confirmed it will continue to pay 30 hours of free childcare.

    If you any of your employees are existing members of the old Childcare Voucher scheme, be sure to remind them to take advantage.*

  5. Cycle to work scheme - Key workers are understandably feeling nervous about travelling to work on public transport. Many are choosing to cycle, perhaps for the first time ever, while roads, even in major towns and cities, are so quiet.

    At the same time, employees working from home are being encouraged by the government to exercise, for which they are allowed to go outside once a day. Setting up a cycle to work scheme in your organisation is a great way to give employees access to a bike at a reduced cost. As the employer, you will also make significant NI savings for each employee that joins the scheme.

    Not every employee will be struggling financially. For many people it may be a niggling worry in the back of their minds. While you are focusing on employees physical and mental health, don’t forget to include their financial wellbeing.  Once life returns to “normal” you’ll have set a solid foundation to discuss longer-term financial wellbeing strategies.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you support he financial wellbeing of your staff, please click here.

* Unfortunately, the Government closed the Childcare Vouchers scheme to new entrants on 4th October 2018. This means that if you’re a parent looking to join Childcare Vouchers for the first time, or an employer looking to start a scheme in your business for the first time, that option is no longer available to you.

Author: Andy Philpott | Category: Blog | 14/04/2020 | 0

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