Cost of living crisis: what does this mean for your team?

We’ve dealt with a lot these past few years. And somehow it keeps getting harder.

We’re experiencing a 54% increase on the energy price cap, rises in National Insurance Tax, as well as Council Tax. And with a lack of support, many people are stuck with the difficult questions of how they’re going to get through the months ahead.

The cost of living crisis is a real threat in 2022. And remember, your team members are enduring it too.

The cost is rising

Whether it is your energy bills, fuel, or weekly shop (or likely all the above), the cost of living is rising at a ridiculously fast rate. Many of us are dipping into savings to make ends meet and things are getting tight. And this is without considering any unpredictable costs! In fact, only 60% of UK adults report they could pay an unexpected but necessary expense of £850.

Even Netflix is seeing a drop in subscribers due to consumers making necessary cuts to their monthly budget (or because you’re sharing your mate’s account. Don’t come for us, Netflix).

But seriously, it’s about to get really tough.

The stress of re-budgeting and figuring out how you can afford next month’s bills whilst carrying on with the normal day-to-day activities is a constant worry.

It feels heavy. There is too much pressure, and frankly, people have had enough.

The crisis may be socio-political, but there are things you can do as an employer to help.

Review salaries

The obvious solution to ease financial worries is to introduce a salary increase, in line with the rise of inflation. Which is at 7% to be exact!

But unfortunately, within most organisations, a blanket pay rise north of 5% is just not possible. A survey discovered that 12% have introduced additional help for employees, and a further 38% were considering it. While this is great, unless you are actually implementing a salary increase that is significant, it is simply not enough to support your team to ensure they are able to get through the crisis.

Organisations are now at risk of unengaged workforces if they are unable to help mitigate the cost of living crisis. And may we remind you of the ongoing Great Resignation?  While a mammoth pay rise may not be viable for your business, practising transparency and communicating about what you are doing is crucial to stop your teams jumping ship for salary alone.

Make mental health a priority

Given the deep links between mental health and financial difficulty, the well-being implications of the crisis are set to be huge. And this is going to take its toll on your employees. In fact, 33% of workers say they’re struggling to cope with work, citing the rising cost of living as a key reason for their poor mental health.

And it’ll cause a ripple effect throughout the organisation because, well, if your team is struggling, productivity will be down, so morale will take a hit, and so on.

It’s not your fault as an employer that the cost of living is on the up. But it is your responsibility to ensure you help mitigate the psychological risks.

So, what can you do about it?

PRIORITISE YOUR TEAM’S MENTAL HEALTH

Now, this is easier said than done but there are many ways to lend a hand to your team to support them and stop them from feeling like they’re drowning:

Listen to your team

Sometimes, especially when we are all in the same boat, we simply don’t know what to do to help. And that’s okay! We are all facing the wrath of rising costs and trying to navigate our way through it. But if we can leave you with one piece of advice today… listen to your team.

It might feel hard as a team member to openly discuss the issues faced. So, why not introduce an anonymous (and optional) survey or suggestion box that allows your employees to express their concerns and tell you what they need to feel supported. Whether you’re a team of 2 or 2,000, let their opinions be heard.

Of course, everyone’s needs are different, and you’re not going to be able to help them all, but asking your employees what they need is the only way to know. Sometimes, just feeling heard can make all the difference.

Review your benefits

Despite 69% of organisations increasing their benefit spending during the pandemic, only half of employees felt they received the right support at the right time.

When was the last time you reviewed your employee benefits? Is there anything that could be updated? Swapped out?

Today there are so many sites and platforms that can help you provide outstanding benefits that support your employees alongside their pay slip. Discounted weekly shops? Free cinema tickets? Money off phone bills? Cheaper gym memberships?

Despite the costs rising, your team shouldn’t have to sacrifice their hobbies and social lives. A small perk here and there has a dramatically positive impact on an individual’s monthly spending and allows them to have a bit of fun. You are allowed to enjoy your life after all!

In fact, the happier and healthier your team are in their personal lives, the more productive and creative they are at work. It really is a win-win.

Consider commuting costs

Do you work from home, in the office, or a mix of both?

If you’re in the office, what kind of commute do you and your team have? With train fares and fuel prices at an all-time high – it may be time to look for a sustainable solution to reduce these costs.

Carpools and cycling to work are not for everyone, but if they’re viable for your business, encourage your teams to take them up (who doesn’t love a carpool karaoke?)

And with train commuting numbers still down 38% since pre-pandemic levels, it seems like a lot of the UK has the same idea, and maybe hasn’t looked back since #WFH era.

So, let’s consider a #WFH or a hybrid model.

Not only will it dramatically decrease outgoings for your team (now that makes a change), but it will also reduce the amount of time spent commuting to and from work. And as mentioned, your team needs to be able to breathe outside of work.

Look, we get it, for a lot of workers, working from home isn’t viable. But if your team can perform their jobs from home, you need to seriously consider giving them the option.

Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Here’s how you can ace your remote working policy.

Be a team

Whether you support a change to reduce commuting costs, increase their salaries, review organisational benefits, or something entirely different, remember that your team’s mental health is a number one priority.

It’s tough out there and who knows what else life is going to throw at us. And it’s not always obvious when someone is struggling. But if you’re supporting and listening to each other’s needs, it will ease your team’s minds and hopefully allow them a sense of peace and security. They deserve it.

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