` Responding to the cost of living crisis: 4 key tips | Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA)
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18 Mar 2022
by Alisdair Seenan

Responding to the cost of living crisis: 4 key tips

Good communication about the support you provide to your people will help them to focus on work and reduce anxiety over the rising cost of living

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Having dealt admirably with the disruption of the last two years, employers are facing a new crisis related to the cost of living that could have a significant on their employees’ wellbeing and performance at work.

Employers are also keeping a watching brief on talk of a ‘Great Resignation’ that is likely to be further fuelled by cost of living issues. 

All this means that many organisations once again need to ask:  What else do we need to do to support our people and drive retention in the coming months?

Another challenging year ahead

There’s no doubt employees’ fears over their financial affairs are real. In our latest annual survey of 2,000 employees, we found that 38% want help from their employer to improve their financial wellbeing. Many are also worried that salaries in the UK are failing to keep up with the cost of living  nearly half say that a rise would encourage them to stay in their job.

It's not just financial wellbeing that is concerning employees though. As the hybrid working experiment continues – and the pandemic still rumbles on – employees stress that they are still seeking more support with their mental wellbeing and achieving a better work/life alignment. They are also looking for more from their line managers. Our research found that 50% of employees don’t feel their line manager appreciates the work they do and only one-third think their managers understand them or offer progression. 

One in 10 say that they are looking to change roles in 2022  and this is a trend that employers will need to watch closely as the cost of living crisis starts to bite hard later this year.

Time to react and plan ahead

As we move on from the worst effects of the pandemic, it’s clear that new challenges are emerging and organisations need to continue building on what they have achieved over the last two years to retain happy and motivated workforces.  

The following four-point blueprint for action will help:

1. Listen to establish what your employees need

Firstly, it’s important to spend time taking the temperature of your organisation and the welfare of your employees – especially with regard to their concerns about year ahead and the looming cost of living crisis. 
The aim should be to establish any potential changes you could make to policies, employee benefits and financial and mental wellbeing support that employees need to work effectively.

2. Build on what you’ve learned

After two years of shifted working patterns, every organisation should now have sufficient data about productivity, hours worked, absence levels and other patterns of performance.
This insight, coupled with what your employees tell you about what they’re feeling about new pressures, will help you to form the foundation of a well thought out strategy.

3. Look at what competitors are doing 

If talk of the Great Resignation becomes a reality, employees won’t just judge you on what you do to support them. They will look at how that compares to your competitors and other organisations too.
Looking beyond your own situation will provide you with insight into what a realistic level of support looks like and ideas about how you can provide it.

In particular, understanding what is realistic to improve financial, mental and physical wellbeing will help ensure you meet evolving employee expectations.

4. Clearly communicate the support you will put in place

Proactive communication about the support you provide to your people will allow them to focus on work and reduce anxiety about the cost of living crisis and the support they need to achieve a good work/life balance in a hybrid working environment.

Employees want and expect good communication, so a key part of your planning will be to ensure they know the steps you are taking to support them in the year ahead. 

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