Shape your cost of living response
Public and private sector organisations share their approach to the cost of living crisis and reveal an emerging blueprint for success that can be used by any employer.
How do you provide the right support for employees during a once-in-a-generation cost of living crisis? There is no one right answer. Most employers recognise, quite rightly, that their response should be led by the unique make up of their workforce.
But what’s the baseline? What are the building blocks from which more tailored plans should emerge? We recently interviewed several HR leads from a range of public and private sector organisations with a mix of office, hybrid and field-based workers to find out. We discovered that while they aren’t following an established playbook – because there isn’t one for such a seismic shift – certain practical responses are starting to emerge as being universally useful.
- Organisations are listening more to their employees
From software companies to local authorities, employers are taking the pulse of workforces more regularly – either through official surveys or through improved communication through line managers that are being trained to listen to employee concerns more intently. This is critical to ensuring that communication stays open and honest and responses to the crisis stay flexible and relevant.
- More effort is being made to ensure employees can speak up anonymously
Not all employees are open to sharing any troubles they may be having – or indeed feel like they have anyone they can talk to if they work alone regularly. This has led to an increase in anonymous communications channels. As one HRD who works for an organisation dominated by field workers put it, “We have a 24/7 anonymous advice service run by an external provider that covers financial support. We’re aware that if someone really needs help and doesn’t know which way to turn this will be the place where they will start. Over the rest of the year, empathy with people’s personal circumstances and their wish for confidentiality is going to be crucial.”
- Creation of financial wellbeing hubs has been top of the agenda
While most organisations we talked to said that financial wellbeing has been on their radar for a few years, they also admitted that resources haven’t been as coordinated in the past as they could have been. This year’s cost of living crisis has been a catalyst for change that has seen employers pull all their financial wellbeing offerings and advice together into a single hub – with clearer signposting to both existing resources and new resources such as energy consumption advice services that have been added to tackle the current crisis.
- Financial, physical and mental wellbeing support is coming together
As well as creating financial wellbeing hubs, HR teams have also focused on bringing financial, physical and wellbeing together to provide more rounded and connected support. Many have also appointed new wellbeing leads that provide more accountability. “We believe in a holistic approach and are currently going through a process of relaunching our overall wellbeing strategy,” said one HRD working in the private sector. “This has meant transitioning the people who are accountable for all elements of wellbeing across the organisation into a new role called Wellbeing Business Partners.” This is a trend that will almost certainly continue beyond the present crisis.
- Communication is key – to all parts of the workforce
Without exception, all the HR directors we interviewed also stressed the importance of making sure that communication around financial support is clear and focused – and is also set up to reach field workers that rarely have access to PCs or a desk.
One HRD working for a local authority put it like this: “More than ever, we’re working closely with our comms team to make sure that people get the message that we’re here to provide support. Like lots of other organisations, we do have challenges around reaching all of our workforce, but we’re working hard to put systems in place to connect everyone and make sure that key information reaches everyone, regardless of how or where they work. We’re also prioritising improving our induction processes, so that our new employees are aware of the support available right from the off.”
Explore the full range of challenges facing HR leaders in 2022 in our Employer trends 2022 research report
Thank you to the following organisations for their contribution to the insights in this article: Cadent Gas, Civil Service HR, Leicestershire County Council, London Regional Employers Association, Network Rail, Renfrewshire Council. Right Fuel Card and Target Group.