Businesses and individuals alike are facing a tough time financially at the moment. With fuel, energy and commodity prices rising at the highest rates in thirty years, cost of living pressures for both firms and households are causing considerable strain.
With the situation only expected to get worse as 2022 goes on, it’s important employers provide whatever support they can for their staff. Sure, businesses have their own problems. But employees are a key asset.
Staff who are feeling the strain financially at home are unlikely to be at their most switched on and productive at work. Money problems can lead to mental health issues, which could in turn lead to periods of absence.
Especially in uncertain times, businesses rely on hard-working, dedicated staff who can give their all to steer them through it. It’s therefore in any business’s interests to invest time and effort in looking after workers and helping them wherever possible should they be facing personal issues. The benefits are mutual.
Here are some practical ways you can lend a helping hand to any staff who are struggling with energy bills, transport costs, debt or any other financial matters.
Make it be known that your door is always open
Talking about personal finances can be a delicate issue. Many people don’t like to admit they are struggling, they don’t want to be seen as asking for help. It’s not something you can easily broach with someone directly, unless there are obvious signs of a crisis.
The best approach is to make it clear to all employees that you are always available if they do have anything bothering them. This ultimately comes down to your management style and the culture of your company. If you work hard to create an open, supportive culture, if you show willingness to listen and do what you can to assist people, you will earn a reputation as a sympathetic leader who can be relied on,
The first and biggest hurdle to putting a problem right is often talking about it. As a manager, you can make a real difference in overcoming that hurdle.
Be flexible about working arrangements
The government has made a big show of telling people they should be getting back to working in the office after all the disruption of the pandemic, no doubt assuming that will curry favour with the business community. But that might not be the best decision for your people in the current climate. If so, it isn’t the right decision for your business.
Listen to what staff are saying. How much is the commute into work costing them? If they can work effectively from home, is it worth causing unnecessary financial strain by mandating they have to come to the office? It will certainly be counterproductive if your employees become resentful because of it.
Also, be sensitive to issues like childcare arrangements. Many working parents are struggling with the high cost of pre-school care, or paying for nannies and after school clubs. Showing some flexibility in how, when and where your people work could save them considerable amounts, and will pay for itself in the loyalty and gratitude it earns.
Be proactive about organising car pools and other transport schemes
In the past, many employers have left it to staff to decide if they want to get together and lift share to reduce the costs of the commute. They are more likely to gain traction, however, if management takes on the organising themselves. By leading it from the top, you make it more a formal part of the company culture. As well as having financial benefits, it is also something to include in your sustainability policies.
Aside from car pools and lift shares, you could also get your business involved in the government-backed bike2work scheme, with grants for cycling equipment available to employees.