Acting quickly to mitigate the impact of rising living costs on employees was key to Edenred’s response to the cost-of-living crisis, says Claire McGettigan, HR Manager.
“As inflation reached its highest level in 40 years in Spring 2022, with no sign of falling before 2023, we knew we needed to act fast to help staff cope with sky-rocketing living costs.
Because, like many businesses, we had already made our pay awards for the year before the crisis started to bite in the Spring, it was clear that while we would need to relook at salary levels we also needed to look beyond pay and put non-salary benefits at the heart of our response to the cost-of-living crisis.
From informal conversations in the business and our regular all-staff calls, it was clear that colleagues were already feeling the impact on their personal finances and worried about what was to come.
With the rising cost of lunch and food shopping ranking high among concerns, we chose to make this the focus of the immediate targeted support put in place. Using our Ticket Restaurant Card - a card given to everyone when they join the business – we gave everyone in the business a one-off top-up of £200 which they could use to buy lunch or pay for groceries in any major supermarket, food outlet or restaurant.
A comprehensive package
Having provided initial support for employees, we were then able to step back and look at a more comprehensive package which would make a difference into 2023 as the cost-of-living crisis continued.
In assessing what to do, we worked to a set of core principles that the support should balance our people’s needs with those of the business, be simple to execute for a hybrid workforce, deliver maximum benefit to employees and the business while minimising additional cost and be sustainable over the long term.
The ability to measure the impact of the solutions was also critical so they had to be easy to monitor and report.
First, we identified which existing benefits would deliver maximum value and surveyed staff to find out what help they most needed. This insight helped to identify any gaps in the support we currently offer and focus our response on three priorities:
- Salary increase – we implemented a salary review in October and awarded all staff that had joined the company before 1st September 2022, a blanket pay rise.
- Targeted benefits – we conducted a further review through a cost-of-living lens. This allowed us to identify and add new benefits that focus on financial wellbeing and to bring them together in a cost-of-living hub.
- Increase communications about benefits - and explain how specific benefits can help with the cost-of-living.
As a result of these activities our package currently includes:
Flexible benefits – new benefits were added to support financial security including, Motorsave to help staff save on car maintenance and increased life assurance. We added Beneden health cover which Edenred funds. And new lifestyle benefits to help staff save money on two of the biggest household costs, car purchase and home technology.
Employee Discounts -. On joining, all staff have access to Edenred’s Employee Savings scheme. This is an easy and effective way for the business to help staff save money every day on essential items - food, clothes, insurance - as well as one off purchases like home tech, holidays and gifts. We ran a focused comms campaign to encourage employees to remember to use the discount scheme every time they shop.
Cost-of-living focused comms
We understand well no matter how good a package of support we offer it will only be effective if staff engage with it and use it. In addition to our usual monthly benefits email we sent staff a focused email to launch our new financial wellness package. This came from the leadership, explaining why they wanted to support staff in this way, the full range of support on offer, how staff can benefit from each and how to access.
To further help staff understand how a particular benefit will advantage them we put on virtual roadshows and webinars hosted by benefits experts. The roadshows created a real buzz around the new package and judging by the volume of queries we received, high levels of staff engagement
A monthly benefits communication acts as a gentle reminder to staff that the leadership team understands and empathises with the struggles staff are experiencing and is actively working to support them through the economic crisis.
Because these solutions are delivered via a digital platform we can quickly and easily monitor usage through the dashboard. Throughout 2023 my team will be able to respond to any changes in the external political or economic environment and adapt our support in line with any new needs staff may have as a result.
The dashboard reporting also provides the business with complete oversight and therefore control of spend.
We know from line manager feedback that even if we cannot match runaway inflation, the fact that the business has listened, acted quickly and put support in place has been highly valued by our people.
The challenge of inflation and cost-of-living is unlikely to go away in the near term, but we feel like we have the right support in place to mitigate the impact.”
Claire McGettigan, HR Manager, Edenred UK.