The current financial crisis is causing anxiety and stress for many individuals all across the UK. With inflation at a 40 year high, many of us are fearing what will be around the corner. As a business owner, it is important to take care of your employees, especially during the current circumstances. Whilst it’s easy to think employees’ private matters are their own concern, it is inevitable that these will be carried into the workplace and in some cases this will have an adverse impact on their attendance and performance.
So, with bills increasing and financial pressures growing, it is important to think about how you can support your employees during the financial crisis by helping reduce stress and guiding them through the current climate. Not only will this help to maintain performance and productivity within your team, supporting employees in this way will help the long-term success of your business!
This blog discusses how you can support your employees during the financial crisis, through financial support and advice, mental wellbeing and discount schemes. We get that times are hard for businesses too, so what support can large and small businesses provide without breaking the bank?
Financial Support and Advice
Providing your employees with advice and help on how they can navigate their way through the financial crisis is an essential way of supporting your employees. It is likely they are feeling lost and overwhelmed therefore signposting them to where they can get answers to their problems is a great way of offering simple yet effective support.
Here are just some of the areas you could help:
Debt Support for Employees
23% of UK adults claim that being in debt is one of their biggest financial concerns, highlighting the importance of providing debt support to your employees. Reducing worries about debt is a great way of supporting your employees through the financial crisis.
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) is an arm’s-length body sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions. They help by providing impartial money (and pensions) guidance and even better, it’s free. For guidance on money troubles, everyday money matters (or even benefits, savings and pensions) visit their website or phone 0800 138 7777. Alternatively, Citizens Advice offer debt and money advice, from getting help with the cost of living, debt, budgeting, mortgage problems, rent arrears, borrowing and pensions.
In addition to signposting your employees to the expert advice that’s available, simply being understanding to them and making sure they know there is no judgment in your workplace will help. If you can afford to, you could even arrange for an expert to come into the workplace and run some workshops and one-to-one sessions.
Providing access to a financial health check by a qualified IFA (Independent Financial Adviser) is a great way to provide high quality support and advice. Some employee benefits platforms will include this as part of their package. The Benefits Cloud Cirrus package is one great example.
Managing your money effectively during the financial crisis is crucial, therefore ensuring your employees have access to expert advice on budgeting is a fantastic way of offering support.
It is now more important than ever to budget. However, Financial Capabilities claim that 39% of adults don’t feel confident in managing their money. This is evident through roughly 11.5 million people in the UK having less than £100 in their savings.
Both MaPS and Citizens Advice offer help with budgeting, with the Citizens Advice website even having a budgeting tool to help work out what you’re earning and spending and where you might be able to cut costs. The following tips won’t be appropriate for everyone, but may help some of your employees to budget more effectively:
Plan a month in advance
A great way to be more organised with your spending is to plan ahead for each month, understand where your money is going to be spent and what events you have coming up. This allows you to prioritise your spending, put money aside in readiness and assess what areas you need to reduce your costs.
Having financial goals
Having a goal for how much you want to spend or save each month is a great way of tracking your progress, encouraging and motivating the management of your finances. Seeing yourself hit your goal is a great feeling and encourages more positive financial habits.
Organise your bank accounts
Organising your bank accounts is an effective way of managing your finances, this allows you to keep track of your spending and budget your money. Creating pots of money for different outgoings is a great way of managing your money, for example petrol, food, gas and electric.
Simply sharing budgeting advice and encouraging them to budget effectively is a great way of supporting them through the financial crisis.
Employee Benefits claims around 42% of UK adults declared the increased cost of living has meant that they have to reduce or stop their regular savings.
Saving isn’t possible for everyone but enabling your staff to make informed choices is important. A financial health check, as described above will inevitably help. But as an employer there are other things you can do.
- To help with long-term savings for retirement, you can work with your pension scheme provider to review the scheme that’s made available to staff. Do you allow for additional contributions over the statutory minimum to be made and if so do you match these with an equivalent employer contribution? Do you provide an AVC (Additional Voluntary Contribution) or FSAVC (Free Standing Additional Voluntary Contribution) Scheme? Do employees have a choice of funds into which their pension contributions will be invested or is it just a default fund? There is a huge choice of schemes and providers in the market – as always it is essential to take good quality, independent advice.
- From an employee perspective, free, impartial guidance on pensions is available to the over 50s from Pension Wise, a government backed service.
- There are a range of Tax and Employee Share Schemes you can set-up, for example Save As You Earn (SAYE) or Share Incentive Plans (SIPs). These will not be appropriate or suitable for all organisations, so once again the importance of taking good quality, independent advice cannot be underestimated.
Mental Wellbeing – Mental Health
With the worries of the financial crisis increasing it is now more important than ever to support the mental wellbeing of your employees. Making a few simple changes could transform the mindset of your workforce and significantly support their wellbeing.
Providing a safe and non-judgmental environment will help your workforce feel able to talk about their problems and worries, and encourage your employees to discuss their problems with each other. In turn, this allows them to realise they are not alone.
This could be achieved by having 30 minutes at the start of every week where everyone is encouraged to discuss topics outside of work with their colleagues. This is likely to prompt conversations about their current situation and worries.
Creating this non-judgmental and positive workspace is also an effective way of being conscious of your employees’ wellbeing and a great way of prompting a positive mindset. Some ideas of how this could be achieved are:
- Music on a Friday through a shared Spotify playlist
- Team stretches in the morning before the start of the day
- Creating a rota for different staff to bring cakes in each week
- Simply putting inspirational quotes around the office
- Purchasing some plants for the office
These are all simple yet effective ways of boosting morale in the office, whilst increasing a positive mindset amongst your employees.
Consider signing your employee up for a discount scheme, which is another great way to support them throughout the financial crisis. It allows them to receive discounts on their day-to-day spending and get the most out of their pay.
Benefits Cloud is a fantastic platform which allows you to reward your employees’ efforts through discounts on top brands. There are multiple packages, allowing you to select the most appropriate one for you and your team members!
With a rolling monthly contract and hundreds of discounts available, it is the perfect platform to provide your employees with a chance to make the most out of their pay, whilst also rewarding them for their work.
Whilst not a discount scheme, salary sacrifice schemes are a great low-cost way to financially help employees by enabling them to pay less income tax and national insurance contributions. Under the scheme, employees can swap some of their ‘cash’ pay for tax free benefits in kind. Typically used to maximise pension contributions, it’s also available for childcare costs, bicycles and a host of others.
And most importantly… just be there for your employees. Make time to listen and voice your support to them and make sure they know they are not alone throughout this difficult time – this can go a long way.
7 – 11 November 2022 is ‘Talk Money Week’. There is loads of information available on the MaPS website, including downloadable packs to help you support your staff to find a way forward. These include a messaging toolkit, social media pack and links so you can embed their videos to your intranet or employee platform.
All content in this article is information of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Nothing in the article constitutes professional and/or financial advice and should not be relied upon, nor used to make any decisions affecting an individual’s or organisation’s financial wellbeing.