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How To Help Employees Through A Cost-Of- Living Crisis

According to research by the CIPD*, over a quarter of employees in the UK say money worries affect their ability to do their job. This rises to nearly a third who say cost-of-living financial worries have negatively impacted their productivity at work.

In these uncertain economic times, the CIPD encourages all businesses to adopt a financial wellbeing policy or improve its existing one. Its survey shows that employees whose workplaces have such a policy tend to be satisfied with their employee benefits package, know what they need to do to get a pay rise, and feel comfortable asking their employer for help with financial problems.

On first glance, a salary boost may seem like the fastest route to job satisfaction, but we know that money isn’t the only key to retaining and recruiting employees. Besides which, most businesses are struggling with soaring costs themselves. Offering a pay rise that will keep pace with inflation is rarely an option. So, it’s little wonder that businesses are looking for smarter ways – such as financial well-being policies – to support their employees through times of financial instability.

Matt Russell, CEO of Zest Benefits says, “Helping your workforce navigate their way through this cost-of-living crisis is high on the agenda of many employers this year. Showing your employees, rather than just telling them, the true worth you place on them with innovative Employee Benefits communications is key. That way, your employees can access all they need to know about the total value of their employment, not just their individual rewards. And the cost to business can be fractional compared to the perceived value of the benefits.”


While there are predictions that inflation will level out or lower later this year, there’s no denying that 2023 has put everyone’s finances into sharp focus. A study by PwC in August 2022 stated that 86 percent of UK adults say they are concerned about day-to-day living costs. No employer wants a stressed workforce, so implementing measures such as making monthly earnings stretch further, a multi-dimensional financial package, and finding valuable ways to engage employees are no longer nice to have, they are now essential. Here are some ways to help employees through the cost-of-living crisis…

Salary Sacrifice

A salary sacrifice arrangement involves giving up an employee’s entitlement to cash pay, in return for a non-cash benefit. Of course, an employee doesn’t just give up this money. Instead, it’s used to ‘purchase’ something from their employer that is of value to them. Typically, this could be an ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) scheme; gym membership, or even pre-paid cards you spend with certain retailers.

The key point is that gross salary or pre-tax benefits offer advantages for everyone involved. They’re generally cheaper for the employer and make particular services much more affordable for the employee. In short, salary sacrifice can enhance the value versus cost of certain benefits even further.

Rewards that matter

Buying power allows businesses to acquire favourable deals or discounts with other local businesses – such as shops, salons, and gyms – and save staff cash on shopping, eating out, and leisure activities. At a time when people are feeling a squeeze on household budgets, the simple pleasures can be easily side-lined. Enabling employees to stretch their disposable income further with deals they may not be able to access themselves is a boost for the mood – and the bank balance.

One-off payments

Many companies are now giving their employees extra payments to help them out when it’s particularly needed. These lump sums – often given to the lowest-paid members of staff – are a way for businesses to show their financial support in a less costly way than a longer-term salary increase. In challenging times, that can amount to a big deal.

Knowledge is power

Financial education such as online support, seminars, debt support services, and access to financial advisors are invaluable to your employees if they’re experiencing financial difficulties. Further steps such as loan consolidation through payroll are even becoming more prevalent. Many businesses are opting to show their support with practical assistance that can provide peace of mind and a guiding hand.

Flexible finances

Benefits aren’t a one-size-fits-all option and different employees will have different needs and expectations – particularly when their personal cash flow may be in crisis. Zest’s Claims Centre allows employees greater choice and flexibility over their benefits. By giving employees a benefit claims account, you can make your employee benefits more flexible than ever and they can opt-in to exactly the most valuable benefits for their personal circumstances.

Show their worth

Showing employees the true value you place on them in actions and words is more important than ever. Reward communications enable the total picture of their remuneration – not just their salary – to be seen at a glance. When employees are stretched financially, it’s useful to understand all the different components that make up their total reward, such as pension, insurances, health care and other benefits. With Zest‘s intuitive Total Rewards platform, staff can see at a glance all their benefits in one place. When cost-of-living financial worries can seem overwhelming, it’s a comfort to know that their employer has their back.

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