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Why financially supporting your colleagues throughout 2024 is crucial

Is it time to look past the Christmas bonus and do more for employees during a cost of living crisis?

Money Talks. Money Makes the World Go Round. Mo Money Mo Problems.

Here at Zest, we love a good sing-song, and we could take to karaoke and belt out dozens of money-related hits given the time of day. We’ll spare you from our dulcet tones, but with Christmas right around the corner, should employers be doing more to support colleagues throughout the year, and not just at ‘a time for giving’?

An uncertain year ahead

It seems you can’t turn on the television nowadays without mention of the cost of living crisis. We’re living in a tough climate. Martin Lewis is arguably close to a knighthood, electricity bills are soaring, and the price of a Freddo sits at an alarming 40p (other chocolate bars are available).

HR leaders face a battle to maintain and improve culture. Our multi-generational workforce all have different needs, and keeping everyone happy can be tougher than old boots. So, we’ve looked into what financial support employers can provide to ensure your most prized assets are looked after throughout the year.

Financial wellbeing is for life, not just for Christmas.

It’s the Great Christmas Bonus conundrum.

According to research by Zest, six in ten (58%) workers aged 18-34 admit bonuses are a lifeline in the cost of living crisis.

There’s no doubt it’s a timely boost.

Whether that helps buy grandad an extra pair of novelty socks or saves for a non-festive rainy day, a few extra quid in our pocket is always a welcome gift. However, of those who receive a Christmas bonus, six in ten (61%) younger employees would prefer year-round financial support such as workplace savings schemes or discount vouchers over a one-off Christmas bonus – compared to just a fifth (21%) of older employees.

A Christmas bonus is a wonderful gesture, but it shouldn’t define your financial wellbeing support.

Pension education

We all love to live in the moment. But is it time to start looking out for future you?

Pensions can indeed be a touchy subject. It’s never easy to wave goodbye to cash you won’t see for a considerable amount of time, but a sensible approach to future savings can set you up for a financially secure retirement. That’s something that may seem impossible in today’s current climate.

The maximum state pension for those that reach 66, as things stand, is £10,600 a year. We hate to put the fear into you, but could you cover your entire day-to-day living costs with a weekly contribution of just £203.85?

From the weekend mavericks to the savvy savers, our benefit expert believes employees will need roughly £300,000 to fund their future after employment. That figure might replace the monster in your nightmares, so financial education is just as important as the financial package you offer.

Wellbeing fund

It doesn’t have to be all work and no play.

Some of us spend a large percentage of our time at work, and it can be an important part of our lives. But our health, wealth and self is key, and a wellbeing fund is the ideal way to help support colleagues who want to strike the perfect work/life balance.

Say you contribute £15 each month to an employee’s wellbeing fund. It enables your staff to use a pot of money to claim back cash spent of their own wellbeing. Be it gym memberships, fitness classes, optical or dental check ups to name a few, improving your wellbeing approach can help your people ‘benefit’.

Financial education tools

Knowledge is power. A simple way to help employees with the cost of living crisis is to point them in the right direction when it comes to financial education.

There’s a number of tools and platforms that can help colleagues stretch every penny. Save a few pounds. These include:

Discounts and savings

Who doesn’t love a yellow sticker at the supermarket?

When it comes to savings, an Employee Discount Platform could help your employees pocket up to £1,000 a year. Whether they’re looking to cut the cost on a trip abroad or save on the cost of the latest gadgets, providing the option to get something for less is always welcome.

A number of the offers and discounts are exclusive to the platform, with some of the UK’s most popular retailers and service providers there to save money whenever and wherever you need it.

Save-as-you-Earn (SAYE) scheme

Save As You Earn (SAYE) is a monthly saving scheme that gives you an option to buy shares in your company at the end of the scheme.

The scheme is set up by the employer and must be available to all employees who have been with the company for a certain amount of time.

Employees can save up to £500 each month while the scheme lasts – it usually runs for three or five years. At the end of the scheme, the employee can either take the money (and any bonus or interest) as cash or use it to buy shares in the company. The share price is set at the beginning of the scheme and can be discounted by up to 20% of the market value on that date – so, if the company does particularly well during the lifetime of the scheme, the employee will potentially end up buying them at a lower price than their current value. Plus, there’s no income tax payable on the sale of the shares!*

Other options include a Workplace savings plan or a Workplace ISA.

*There’s no NI for employee or employer, but the employee may be liable for Capital Gains tax on the “gain” between the price paid for shares and the sale price.

Improved benefits package

While Zest research shows that ongoing financial challenges are leading to a third (29%) of businesses admitting they’re unable to raise salaries, there is increased importance on benefits packages. Half (46%) of all employees say the benefits on offer are the most important factor when considering a new role, rising to 57% amongst younger employees.

Benefits packages are key to attracting and retaining top talent. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. A tailored package can boost motivation and productivity, and will arguably provide a more attractive proposition than a bonus incentive.

And how can Zest help you implement your benefits package?

The Technology of Benefits, we currently serve over 700 clients across the UK, as employers increasingly look for ways to improve their offering and stand out against other employers in what is a competitive employee market. Our platform provides a more personalised approach to benefits, offering a cost-effective solution to help employers to cater to the demands and needs of an increasingly varied workforce.

Get in touch today to see how we can help implement your benefits platform.



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