The cost of living crisis – practical ways to support your people
From the daily commute to the weekly shop, it’s becoming more difficult to make ends meet. UK inflation has reached a 40-year high of 9.1% and basics like food, petrol and energy are getting harder to budget for.
The story is similar in Europe and the United States. YouGov research shows bills increasing in major countries like Spain, Germany and Italy, with at least three-fifths of people spending more over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, American fuel prices spiked to $5.00 per gallon and inflation leapt from 8.6% to 9.1%. In New York City – where living costs are already 80.4% higher than the national average – food and energy prices jumped 6.7% since June 2021.
It’s no wonder that household cash concerns are finding their way into the workplace. In a recent CIPD survey, 28% of UK staff admitted money worries affected their job performance. Almost one-fifth (19%) said they had trouble sleeping. Another 19% thought their employer could do more to improve their financial wellbeing.
Although private equity and alternative investment firms, in the main, have excellent employee benefits, the crisis is a further opportunity to show your people additional support – particularly those who might struggle to bounce back from financial setbacks. If raising salaries in line with inflation isn’t an option, smaller acts of corporate kindness can make a measurable difference. Learn where your employees are feeling the pinch and provide practical help to tackle rising costs.
You’ll set yourself apart as a caring, compassionate employer – and your team will thank you with sharper focus, higher engagement and increased productivity. You’ll also stand out in a highly competitive employment market.
Begin with the basics – fair pay and helpful benefits
Start by ensuring your pay rates cover the current cost of living. Our latest Salary Insights report helps by benchmarking income across a number of professional support positions. The figures provide a snapshot of salaries over the last three months, based on seniority and service years in finance, private equity and alternative investments – download the survey below.
Without doubt, it’s important to review earnings in line with inflation – but remember that salaries aren’t the only source of meaningful support. An innovative benefits package can bring additional financial boosts.
Provide practical cost of living support
According to the Step Change debt charity, 15 million people in the UK are struggling to pay their energy, food and clothing bills – not to mention essential extras like healthcare and commuting costs. Financially savvy private equity and alternative investment businesses can help with a choice of hands-on benefits:
- Hardship funds, employee loans, saving schemes and pay advances offer useful cash injections and help workers take control of debt.
- Interest-free commuting loans make travel more affordable by spreading the cost of car parking and rail, bus and tram travel.
- Private medical insurance, eye care vouchers, dental cover and healthcare cash plans help employees save on medical care.
- The option to sell a percentage of annual leave converts unused days off into salary.
- Salary sacrifice schemes allow staff to reduce their pay in exchange for benefits like cycle-to-work programmes, season ticket loans and increased employer pension contributions. As a bonus, employers don’t pay NI contributions on the part your staff sacrifices.
Cut costs with creative working arrangements
Every month, the average commuter spends £66.31 travelling to work. The number jumps to £387.00 if they’re heading to London by rail. With petrol and public transport prices still climbing, smart schedule changes could significantly curb costs for employees.
- Home and hybrid working is an area that our sector has been slower to adopt and there still remains some resistance to offering it to support professionals. Providing more flexibility can lessen or eliminate commuting costs – often along with the expense of before- and after-school care.
- Flexible hours allow employees to cut travel spend and capitalise on off-peak rates, particularly Office Managers and front-of-house support teams who provide a vital onsite presence.
- Term-time contracts and revised summer hours soften the blow of holiday childcare – up to £263.81 per week for a child under two in full-time nursery. In the female-dominated professional support sector, fluid working patterns could lighten the load for thousands of working women.
The benefit to your business? Workers are more loyal to companies that provide flexibility and family-friendly practices. So while you’re easing financial stress for professional support staff, you’ll also be improving attraction and retention rates.
Cover life’s everyday luxuries
When your employees are on a budget, little touches make a big difference – and cultivate staff loyalty along the way. Consider what your people might be giving up to get by – their morning muffin, a latte with lunch – and fill in the blanks for them.
- Free or subsided lunches, drinks, snacks and fruit trim your team’s food bills and keep them fuelled and focused.
- Employee discount schemes provide savings on grocery, clothing, household, tech and travel purchases.
- A quality coffee machine delivers your workers’ daily shot without shelling out for Starbucks.
- Subsidised gym membership keeps your workforce fit and healthy for less – while reducing staff illness and absence.
- Clothing allowances help graduate-level Assistants and Receptionists kickstart their corporate wardrobe.
Offer money management expertise
Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) shows that around 50% of employers have a financial wellbeing policy in place – but only 11% actively focus on it as part of their overall HR and wellbeing strategy. Now’s the time to normalise the conversation around money at work.
Remind staff about your current benefits offering, including instructions on joining or contributing to your company pension scheme. As investment specialists, you could also draw on in-house expertise to provide further financial education. If you prefer to look externally, consider which money management tools would work best for your firm – from digital portals to full financial wellness plans:
- Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) address the big picture, connecting workers (and often their families) with qualified counsellors and advisors for emotional, financial, medical and legal support.
- Standalone financial wellbeing programmes help staff make better money choices with expert guidance on pensions, debt management and more.
- Personal finance apps give instant access to savings, planning, loan and banking advice.
For more information on financial wellness programmes, check out the CIPD’s guidance on getting started.
Look out for your team’s mental health
Financial concerns often affect motivation, self-esteem and overall happiness. So it’s sensible to tackle money worries and mental health side by side. There’s a range of resources to help:
- Delivered by MHFA England, Mental Health First Aid Training teaches key staff to spot the symptoms of emotional struggles, provideearly support and signpost appropriate services.
- The Mental Health at Work website, created by the Mind charity, offers a hub of free employer resources, including sector-specific toolkits designed for different mental health hurdles.
- Meditation and mental health support apps like Calm, Headspace and Unmind help employees find balance with wellbeing tools, mindfulness exercises and bite-size training courses.
A helping hand from Joss
At Joss Search, we know it’s our job to take care of our team – especially through the tough times. Work with us and we’ll deliver the fundamentals like fair pay, flexible hours and a generous annual leave allowance.
You’ll also enjoy thoughtful perks that put a little back in the bank each month:
- We work hybrid, heading to the office twice a week from 10am-4pm. Beyond that, you pocket your travel costs and decide when and where you clock in.
- Our employee assistant programme offers 24-hour helpline access to financial information and other essential support.
- As a Jossie, you’ll get free breakfast every day you’re onsite and lunch on us every Wednesday.
- Our swish coffee machine makes the perfect flat white. On the house, of course.
- Every month, we’ll treat you to a Best-Self Bonus to boost your wellbeing. Spend it on whatever lifts your spirits – from a spa trip to a Reiki session.