Supporting your employees during the cost of living crisis

The latest labour market statistics published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) show that while the workforce in Northern Ireland is continuing to grow, wage growth across the year is well below the current rate of UK inflation. The cost of living crisis is of deep concern to families.

In a challenging economic environment, with ever increasing costs also affecting businesses, some employers may struggle to uplift wages at the pace of the rising rate of inflation. Our Family Benefits Advice Service has been hearing from businesses who are concerned about the impact this will have on their staff, and who want to identify other ways in which they can support them. Not only could this help their workforce, but it can also set employers apart in a competitive jobs market. Additionally, supporting employees can help improve workplace productivity, with research published by the CIPD earlier this year finding that financial insecurity is having a knock-on effect on performance at work.

So, as well as paying a fair and liveable wage, we have set out below just some of the ways employers can support their staff at this difficult time. The CIPD has produced some excellent guidance and resources to assist employers in supporting their employees’ financial well-being. These are available here.

  • Ensure your employees are accessing all the financial support they are entitled to

You can support your employees to maximise their incomes by ensuring they are accessing all of the financial support they are entitled to, such as with the cost of the registered childcare they need in order to work.

Most working parents are entitled to financial support with their registered childcare costs, and could save £1000s as a result. Accessing support with childcare may also help them to increase their hours of work.

Employers For Childcare can deliver free advice sessions for employers and their staff, setting out what support is available to their employees, and following up with one-to-one consultations.

To organise a free session for your staff simply email with your details and we will be in touch to get a date in the diary.

Alternatively, we would be happy to provide you with information that you can circulate to staff, who can then contact our team for advice.

  • Implement a financial wellbeing policy

You could implement a financial wellbeing policy that recognises and values the importance of employee wellbeing. This could be as simple as signposting staff to independent advice and guidance on money and debt guidance, or you could arrange tailored information sessions for your team. This could include assisting staff to review their pensions, ensuring they understand what they are saving and the financial benefits of their contributions.

  • Embrace flexible working

There are a wide range of flexible working arrangement that could benefit your staff including working remotely, working part-time, annualised or compressed hours, flexitime and job sharing.

Embracing flexible working can help to reduce travel costs for staff who are working from home for example, or help staff manage their use of childcare, and ultimately enable them to better balance their work and home lives.

Open up a conversation with your staff, and create a culture that is welcoming of flexible working requests.

  • Consider employee benefit and discount schemes

Offering a benefits package to employees can be a cost-effective way of enabling them to make considerable financial savings. For example, you could source a package that includes cover for dental treatment, eye care, free flu vaccinations or employee assistance programmes. You may also be able to access discounts for gym membership or special offers at certain retailers and services.

  • Raise awareness of salary sacrifice schemes

With the increase in national insurance contributions in April, salary sacrifice schemes can now be even more beneficial for employees. You can remind staff to maximise savings through schemes they are already members of, such as Childcare Vouchers, or consider introducing schemes – such as cycle to work.

Speak to our team for advice and guidance

Our Family Benefits Advice Service can support employers in introducing family friendly and flexible working policies and in understanding employees’ rights in areas such as maternity leave and pay, parental leave and flexible working. To speak to a trained advisor, free and in confidence, email Our Family Friendly Employer Guide is available to download from our website here.