The cost of living crisis shows no sign of abating and every day brings a fresh new wave of depressing media reports. Only a fortunate few appear to be unaffected by the current circumstances and the looming recession, which means that many of your employees could be feeling the pinch. So, as a compassionate employer, how can you help staff with the cost of living crisis?
Recent research from the Office for National Statistics found that during the period of 26th October to 6th November 2022, when questioned about the issues currently facing the UK, 93% of adults stated that the cost of living was an important issue.
Furthermore, approximately 9 in 10 (91%) of respondents reported that their personal cost of living had increased compared to a year ago, while 77% reported an increase compared to just the previous month.
Financial worries can have a serious knock-on effect on virtually all aspects of one’s life. Worrying about money can cause insomnia, depression, anxiety, panic, and shame. It can place strain on relationships and the uncertainty of not knowing what’s around the corner can be truly debilitating.
Worse, if someone is already suffering from poor mental health, adding money struggles to the mix can only compound the issue. It’s a vicious circle and one that can be overwhelming and difficult to break.
It’s clear, then, that the cost of living crisis is rapidly spiralling into a mental health crisis. But what can employers do to alleviate their employees’ very real concerns?
How to help staff with the cost of living crisis
First of all, if you’re wondering if it’s your ‘place’ to get involved with your employees’ financial worries, allow us to reassure you that by doing all you can to provide cost of living crisis support is most definitely something that will be appreciated by your workforce.
After all, you’re used to identifying other issues in the workplace that cause mental health problems and, unfortunately, right now, money can be added to that list.
Plus, you don’t need us to tell you that an employee who is consumed by the rising cost of living and providing for their family or paying the mortgage or rent that month, is not going to be a fully engaged employee.
Money worries can be all-consuming and can easily take precedence over delivering top-notch customer service, delivering marketing campaigns that wow, or fixing back-end software issues.
The ‘minor’ trials and tribulations of a day at work can pale in significance compared to the knowledge that you need to stop by a food bank on the way home from the office so that you can put a meal on the table that night.
Put simply, a hungry, tired, stressed, and anxious employee is not an engaged, happy, positive and productive employee.
Cost of living support is crucial if you want to lessen the impact of the mental health tsunami we’re all facing and stop it from taking its toll on your people and your organisation.
Here are some ideas you might like to consider when it comes to helping staff with the cost of living crisis.
Offer financial education at work
In a recent survey, half of all employees who responded stated that they would like their employer to provide a financial wellbeing initiative. Providing financial education and guidance at work can make a massive difference to those who are struggling and don’t know where to turn for help or advice.
At present, it seems like every media outlet, be it print or online, and every website and blog is offering financial advice and money saving tips. And that’s great. But with so much content out there, it can be hard to aggregate the parts which are genuinely useful.
Both the cost of living crisis and the ensuing mental health crisis can be more effectively managed by employees when they are given the tools and information they need to cope. PUSH’s Tackling the Rising Cost of Living workshop is one way employers can help staff with the cost of living crisis by offering practical advice and actionable tips to better manage one's personal finances.
Remove the stigma of dealing with money worries
Not only is there a stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace, there is a stigma around financial troubles or debt too. Generally speaking, we find it hard to talk about money - especially when the topic is centralised around a lack of it.
And this makes it harder to deal with problems. Many people are embarrassed about struggling financially or being in debt but the sad fact is, there are not many of us who are immune to finding ourselves in very challenging financial circumstances.
One way of helping staff cope with the cost of living crisis, in particular when it comes to their mental health, is to proactively encourage them to access support, talk to their managers or HR, and not suffer in silence.
Ensure employees know where else to seek help
As well as providing internal solutions to help employees with the rising cost of living, it would be helpful for you as an employer to signpost some external resources that offer cost of living support.
This can be as simple as compiling names, contact details and a brief summary into a document that’s easily accessible online through your employee self service portal or adding info to your employee handbook.
It might sound obvious, but giving your employees a comprehensive list of places they can turn to help with the cost of living crisis (as well as with assistance with their mental health) could be an invaluable lifeline for someone who is panicking and unsure what their options are.
For example, the Citizens Advice Bureau has plenty of advice regarding the cost of living crisis and you might find that some eligible employees haven’t yet taken advantage of the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme discount. Meanwhile charities such as the Mental Health Foundation offer help to those suffering from their own mental health crisis.
Cost of living crisis support and PUSH
Helping staff during the cost of living crisis is not only the right thing to do for your employees, it’s the right thing to do for your business and its productivity and profitability.
No workplace is going to benefit from the rising cost of living or the impact it’s having, and will continue to have, on employee mental health and wellbeing. There’s never been a more vital time to take action.
The cost of living and mental health crises have motivated PUSH to create our Tackling the Rising Cost of Living workshop as a way for employers to empower their staff with the knowledge they need to better manage their finances - and their mental wellbeing.
The course is fronted by Finance Coach Lorraine McFall, who comes from both a legal and a financial background. With compassion and tact, Lorraine uses her experience to help your employees develop better relationships with money by creating a plan to reduce expenditure, control their utilities usage, claim the appropriate help from the state, effectively manage debts, reduce interest payments and many other money saving tips.
If you want to show your staff that you care about their wellbeing, offering cost of living crisis support is an excellent way of fighting the mental health crisis from within your organisation.
When money is not such a pressing issue, your people are better able to bring their best selves to work each day and perform to the pre-cost of living crisis standards that you know they are capable of.
Sign up for PUSH’s Tackling the Rising Cost of Living workshop
If you want to know how to help staff with the cost of living crisis in the most effective way possible, having PUSH by your side will be invaluable. We understand mental wellbeing in the workplace - it’s what we do after all.
Register for the Tackling the Rising Cost of Living workshop today and let’s all start looking out for one another while the country undergoes these challenging times.