4 ways to use benefits to avoid another ‘Great Resignation’
The employer’s role is changing. Businesses are under increasing pressure to be proactive in providing support for their staff in a way that they never have before.
But if 2022 was the year of the pay rise as businesses reckoned with inflation at 40-year highs, 2023 should be the year of employee benefits that embrace a more holistic approach to supporting employee wellbeing. This can help boost staff morale, recruitment and retention.
The level of anxiety around the cost-of-living crisis is bigger than some might think — 61% of employees surveyed by Unum in conjunction with Censuswide1 said they were worried about managing financially. In other words, as we head into 2023 there’s no bigger issue for employees than the cost of living.
Financial worries are also hitting both physical and mental health, with 40% of employees saying they have low energy, 32% are unable to sleep and 25% are so worried about their finances they’re feeling depressed.
A third of emloyees left out in the cold
According to a poll conducted for the Financial Times by the Chartered Management Institute, one-fifth of UK businesses are giving staff additional benefits, such as travel subsidies, shopping vouchers and free parking to help with the cost of living.
However, Unum found that 35% of employees have received no cost-of-living support from their employer in 2022 at all. Moreover, nearly one-fifth (19%) expect to have to look for new jobs with better benefits or higher salaries in 2023.
But reaching for the salary lever to help prevent an exodus of the workforce may prove too simplistic; bosses should be thinking about their employees’ issues more broadly. And, as we all know, pay can only rise so much before increases become unviable.
If in doubt, think of the basics: how are you helping the financial and mental wellbeing of staff?
Below are some ideas to help ease the cost-of-living impact on employees:
1. Clear signposting - Make sure your employees are fully aware of all the benefits you offer and how to make the most of them. Amplify communication of Workplace ISAs and pensions as methods of providing long-term financial security.
Consider introducing a specialist financial wellbeing platform, such as nudge, to provide financial education, so employees learn how to act on their finances and feel more in control of their overall wellbeing. More immediately, signposting to interest-free season ticket loans and flexible working options can help cut commuting costs.
2. Employee assistance programme (EAP) - A comprehensive EAP provides confidential tools and resources on work, life, money and wellbeing for employees and their immediate family, often via a 24/7 helpline.
EAPs can help with budgeting, saving, investing, retirement planning and taxes. If you don’t have an EAP, let employees know that they can also get free, confidential and independent money and debt advice from the Government’s Money and Pensions Service.
3. Access to digital health and wellbeing services - Many employee benefits packages offer access to physical and mental health support services (such as access to remote GPs, counselling and physiotherapy) at no cost.
4. Communication - Keep channels open between employees and line managers about challenges they are facing to help break down the stigma associated with mental health or money problems. This helps deal with issues before they lead to stress-related sickness absence.
With only 15% of surveyed workers expecting their productivity to improve in 2023, employers risk losing stressed out employees if they don’t provide a benefits package that includes highly valued services that help current cost of living concerns.
Those that do will be well positioned for recruitment and retention in 2023.
1 Censuswide survey of nationally representative sample of 3,005 employed people, 30th September 2022 – 4th October 2022
In partnership with Unum
Putting people at the heart of employee benefits