How can employers support staff during a cost of living crisis?
As the cost-of-living crisis continues, employers may need to do more to support their staff with rising costs. In this article we look at 5 practical HR steps employers might consider without increasing their fixed costs.
It’s not all about increasing wages, because economists will tell you that this just fuels a wage-price spiral, the resulting inflation eating up wage increases. We’ve come up with 5 practical measures employers might consider to alleviate the stress of rising energy and food bills, without raising long term salary costs.
A return to the office can actually support staff
Oddly enough the cost of living crisis might solve the ‘not returning to the office’ problem so many companies are struggling with just now. Returning to the office means not having to pay for heating a home office (and air conditioned offices speak for themselves after the summer we’ve had!) Now might be the time to talk to staff about the benefits of office working and whether staff can reduce the traveling costs e.g. by car sharing.
Office food & coffee
At the simplest level, providing basic food stocks in staff kitchens is a practical way of reducing employee’s bills. Fruit plus a combination of basic ingredients to allow the preparation of nutritious breakfasts & lunches will reduce bills at home and may be tax deductible. A good quality coffee machine is a valuable benefit in its own right, saving staff the need to buy expensively from coffee outlets. Linked to the previous point, this is another way to incentivise office working and rebuild disparate teams.
Salary sacrifice, to channel wages where they’re most needed
Salary sacrifice schemes can be tax efficient – helping staff purchase cycles and other benefits via deductions from salaries. Some employers may go as far as to offer electric company car schemes, and the provision of chargers at work could provide the power to charge them. Electric company cars are currently extremely tax efficient, and contribute to environmental policies too.
Temporary energy payments & loans to support staff
Higher wages stick forever, whereas energy prices will come down, bringing inflation down too. Employers might consider one-off payments to help towards high energy bills. One-off payments do not increase fixed costs and, while subject to tax and deductions, a series of smaller payments may be more appealing than loans. Interest free loans however are another option, though these should always be tied to a loan agreement (myHRdept can supply).
Reconsider flexibility (from a staff costs point of view)
In myHRdept’s experience, too many employers find reasons not to embrace flexibility rather than finding ways to accommodate it. Small changes to start and finish times may make a great deal of difference to staff fuel and travel costs. Lighter traffic and off-peak public transport can save staff money, but by showing flexibility, employers will gain loyalty too.
HR support from myHRdept
All myHRdept retained HR outsource packages contain an element of support time, perfect for discussing your staff cost saving measures with us. Now might be the time to review relevant policies, like expenses, homeworking and the HR aspects of your ESG policy.