93% of adults have reported an increase in the cost of living compared with last year. Office for National Statistics
The monthly pay packet has never had to work so hard, with 7.8 million Brits struggling to keep up with the cost of their rising bills.
The cost-of-living crisis is hitting the UK hard, impacting employees' financial, physical, and mental wellbeing. Some situations are more severe than others, and whereas many households are only cutting back on non-essentials, others are struggling to find the funds to pay for essential items and put food on the table.
This graph from the House of Commons Library shows the number of emergency food parcels the Trussell Trust has provided since 2008. Whilst it may look like things have improved at first glance, the 2020–21 figure reflects the impact of the Coronavirus, which is when the reliance on food banks spiked. Illness and lockdown substantially impacted people’s household income, increasing the use of food banks. When the UK ‘went back to business’, dependence on food banks reduced by 15.35%.
Whilst the pandemic has impacted the current financial crisis, what matters from this graph is the comparison between 2019-20 and 2021-22 when the lockdown didn’t escalate figures. As we can see, there’s still a substantial rise of 16% - which follows the pattern between 2019-19 and 2019-20.
Alarmingly, when we look back to 2012-13 – almost ten years ago – there has been a 633.33% increase in demand.
With experts predicting that the cost of living will increase again in 2023, the number of families struggling to afford essential food and household items will only climb.
Essential Support for Your Employees’ Households
Along with the YouGov statistics revealing where Brits are cutting back on non-essentials and struggling to meet payments, the above graph is the reality for many people in the UK. This could include some of your people.
Educate & Support
Before we talk about how you can offer financial support to your employees, let’s focus on other ways you can help your people during the cost-of-living crisis.
Financial anxiety is a growing concern leading to additional workplace and personal stress. Prolonged and unmanageable stress can lead to ill mental health and exacerbate the initial financial difficulties. Without support or even intervention, the situation can quickly spiral.
Create a safe space and a supportive environment.
It’s crucial for your people to feel like they can turn to their manager or HR team for support and advice. To be open and honest about their financial situation and the difficulties they may be facing.
Just as with mental health, we need to remove the stigma around talking about personal financial situations, and this starts within the business.
- Provide financial education and create workshops with Financial Health First Aiders to give your employees the tools and knowledge to manage their money better.
- Embed an Employee Assistance Programme into your business. As well as including financial wellbeing features, it will provide your people with access to BCAP-accredited counsellors 24/7, ensuring there’s support available whenever they need professional and confidential help.
Whilst these steps only tackle part of the problem, they’re essential. If you’re planning to embed financial wellbeing benefits into your offering, you must ensure your people will make the most of them.
This starts with education.
For your employee wellbeing strategy to have maximum impact, it needs to support your employees’ minds and money. This is where our Employee Assistance Programme comes into its own.
Boost employee resilience by empowering your people to make good decisions and giving them somewhere to turn whenever anxiety and stress become too much to handle alone.
Stretch Salaries Further with Our Household Support Card
Just like their employees, businesses have to make money stretch further.
Towards the end of 2022, many businesses announced pay rises to support their employees. However, salary increases only go so far, aren’t sustainable in the long term, and aren't viable for many companies.
Employee benefits must be cost-effective and sustainable, and one of the best ways to make them successful is to put the power to save in your people’s hands.
We’re proud to say that our Household Support Card is a market leader in the prepaid card industry. We have over 80 retailers participating in our cashback scheme, giving your employees a chance to earn up to 15% cashback whenever they use their Household Support Card to purchase from them.
When your workforce embeds their prepaid cashback card into their daily lives, they can earn significant levels of cashback that support the cost of living. Powered by Visa, our Household Support Card can be used wherever Visa prepaid is accepted, giving your employees freedom and flexibility on where to spend their cashback.
Ease of Access
You need to ensure the uptake of employee benefits remains high because it’s crucial to helping them to be cost-effective. Communication and ease of access impact benefit uptake. When embedding a new wellbeing initiatives into your business, it’s essential to consider how employees will access them.
You can manage our Household Support Card via an app compatible with iOS and Android and link it to Google Pay and Apple Pay, so it’s perfect for people on the go.
All your employees need to do is keep it topped up!
A versatile solution, employers can also add funds to the Household Support Card as an employee benefit or use it for issuing cash rewards and bonuses.
Make Your Employees’ Wages Work as Hard as They Do
When your employees are in a good place financially, physically, and mentally, they’re more engaged with their work. By supporting them and their household, you’re helping to alleviate their stress and anxieties. It’s a small price to pay when helping them will also help your business.
Sodexo Engage has been supporting employers for over 60 years, and we continue to make it our mission to help you help your people succeed. Contact an employee wellbeing expert today for more information.