4 tips for offering financial support as cost-of-living crisis rages
HR has always been a demanding area to work in. But in 2023, HR professionals are finding their responsibilities stretch far beyond their traditional roles.
The twin impacts of inflation and interest rate rises are being felt strongly by employees, hampering their performance, mood and, in some cases, even their ability to get to work at all. And in a recent YuLife survey, conducted in partnership with YouGov and HR community website HR Ninjas, 91% of HR professionals say they feel responsibility to help.
But what can they and should they be doing to help? Here are four tips for HR professionals looking to offer financial support:
1. Provide mental health support
How people feel about the state of their finances is a crucial contributor to their mental health. A recent YuLife survey found that 61% of UK adults agreed that financial stress hits their mental health.
Services such as employee assistance programmes (EAPs), which go beyond just mental health support, can be a vital anonymous resource for employees to self-serve and seek help in a way that suits them.
This enables employees to address issues before they affect their personal lives and professional performance. However, education is also needed to highlight how EAPs can help as a preventative measure – not just at crisis point.
2. Offer help beyond current benefits
Even with little or no budget, there are plenty of ways your organisation can financially support employees at low cost, or even for free.
For example, set the office coffee machine to free-vend, create a pantry of free food, or simply turn the heating up and encourage everyone to come into the office. Another popular initiative is giving everyone a wellbeing budget, say £20 per month, which employees can spend on anything that improves their wellbeing.
If your organisation has zero cash to allocate, there are things you can do, like putting up posters for charities that offer help. Education and awareness, and helping to create a culture where people feel more comfortable to just share the fact that they’re struggling, is free but important.
3. Consider insurance
While gestures like free food and cash payments help in the short term, it’s important to think about your longer-term strategy too.
One of the biggest causes of stress during the cost-of-living crisis is about the future. Particularly for parents, insurance can provide the security of a financial safety net when it’s needed most.
In the latest YuLife/YouGov financial wellbeing survey, nearly 40% of UK workers chose income protection or critical illness cover as the top policy a workplace can offer to help enhance their sense of financial wellbeing – a 5% increase since March 2021.
With the cost-of-living crisis making everyone more uncertain about the future, employee insurance will become more important in helping the workforce feel financially secure.
4. Improve communications
The financial wellbeing survey found that 62% of working adults say their workplace offers no financial support, or doesn’t explain it clearly. But the survey also found that 66% of workers would be uncomfortable telling an employer they're experiencing financial stress.
When there are many benefits available, it can be hard for people to know where to find everything – which, if they’re reluctant to ask, means they don't use them at all.
While it can be frustrating when messaging doesn't seem to be cutting through, there’s no alternative but to keep trying and find more imaginative and effective ways to promote benefits.
Employee benefits are an important part of a total employee offering. So it’s important to make colleagues aware of them and how they can help them in practical terms.
A simple FAQ sheet that covers the basics around the current policies available could during times of stress help to promote your benefits through webinars and newsletters. Another way to increase employee engagement is by centralising employee benefits on a platform.
In partnership with yulife
YuLife is the first digital life insurance provider on a mission to inspire life.