Help in a crisis

How to support your employees through the cost-of-living crisis, says Ben Mercer director at bike business Leisure Lakes Bikes

white background with pink pig Employees and workforces across the UK are feeling the strain of the cost of-living, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) finding that nearly half of households throughout the country have experienced their living costs increasing compared to the previous month. Not only can this have a huge impact on expenses for commuting but can have a significant knock-on effect on mental health and morale.

This is where employers and businesses can support their workforces during these difficult times to help keep morale and well-being boosted, as well as providing options that can help relieve some of the financial pressure that they're under. Before providing solutions to the issue, it's important to understand the reality of this crisis and how the ripple effects impact millions of workers in the UK. The rise of consumer goods and services by 9.6 percent in October 2022 and the inflation rate staying at 4.2 percent exiting December 2023 means that workers are forced to reevaluate how they manage their money and the resources available.

Financial insecurity has a huge impact on mental health, leading to increased levels of stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression. In fact, a survey from the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) found that 61 percent of therapists had reported clients experiencing anxiety over being able to pay household bills, 52 percent losing sleep due to their financial anxieties, and 49 percent cutting meaningful activities out of their schedules due to cost worries, including gym memberships. Adding the costs associated with commuting, which can range from paying for petrol (which has also seen increased fluctuations in price) to train and bus tickets, can mean another level of concern for workforces.

While businesses can't provide every solution for their employees, there are ways and steps that can be taken to ensure that they're supported where they're able to. Commuting costs is one area that can be focused on, such as by promoting alternative transportation options. This can be through organising carsharing for drivers in your workforce to pick up non-drivers and save on petrol or offering a cycle-to-work scheme to provide workers with bikes and encourage the embracing of more sustainable transport. Ben Mercer from road bikes business, Leisure Lakes Bikes has outlined the importance of considering a cycle-to-work scheme for workers: "Not only does it help with sustainable transport outlooks for commuters, but it also encourages a healthier approach to journeys to and from work. Cycling promotes a boost in both physical and mental health. The endorphins experienced through cycling can help improve mental health and allow employees to enjoy their commute more." Another option for businesses to offer is flexible scheduling or remote working which can help workers avoid peak times for commuting and reducing associated expenses. This can also contribute to greater support for employees to strike an improved work-life balance, while also saving considerably on costs related to work travel.

Commuting costs are not the only financial area that businesses can assist their workers with, as reviewing financials with some adjustments could help keep worker wages in line with inflation. Regular pay reviews with the chance of increases and bonuses can also improve retention of the talented employees within businesses, as it shows a level of commitment to supporting them in difficult economic periods. However, the cost-of-living crisis is also affecting businesses, meaning that financial options may not be as available as they would be usually. Instead, giving workforces the knowledge and resources to make more informed financial decisions around their spending, saving, and investing can equip them with skills that result in greater financial freedom. This could be done through the distribution of financial literacy resources or hosting seminars and workshops hosted by experts or financial controllers to offer more insight into the best way to keep your finances balanced. Finding a way to support employees through the challenges presented by the cost-of-living crisis is crucial to helping improve their financial well being, mental health, and the morale of the workforce. Implementing initiatives that aim to be more cost-effective and providing knowledge can help build solid foundations to get them more engaged and considering their own finances. This also helps to demonstrate their commitment to your employees and their well-being, developing a more compassionate environment to work in.

Share on Facebook